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Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Getting Started |

All About Engagement Rings III

All About Engagement Rings III


An Engagement Ring Guide

Part III

This is the third and concluding part of a three part article. If this is your first visit to the Engagement Ring Choice website, you may wish to read An Engagement Ring Guide Part I and Part II first. Taken together, these three posts will cover all of the areas that you should be considering as you choose your perfect engagement ring. As I publish more articles, I will start to cover the various aspects of engagement rings in detail. Feel free to sign up so that I can notify you as these posts are published.

 

Alternatives to Diamonds


Although diamonds are still the primary choice for engagement rings, a growing number of women are choosing alternatives to diamonds. Some opt for coloured gemstones to create eye-catching and unique engagement rings. Others choose simulated diamonds such as synthetic cubic zirconias or moissanites, which, to the untrained eye, look very similar to genuine diamonds. Here are a few reasons for considering an alternative to a diamond engagement ring:

 

Meaning

Perhaps you would like to choose a gemstone that has a special meaning to you. A popular option is to choose a birthstone engagement ring, with the gemstone related to your birth month taking centre stage. You can also choose the gemstone that represents the month in which you met each other. Or maybe you just love the colour of a particular gemstone!

BIRTHSTONES BY MONTH

January: Garnet February: Amethyst – March: Aquamarine – April: Diamond – May: Emerald – June: Pearl or Alexandrite – July: Ruby – August: Peridot – September: Sapphire – October: Tourmaline or Opal – November: Topaz or Citrine – December: Tanzanite or Zircon or Turquoise

 

Cost

On the whole, coloured gemstones and simulated diamonds are far less expensive than diamonds. Choosing an alternative to a diamond can significantly lessen the cost of your engagement ring (or give the option of a much larger stone)! There are some exceptions, for example, large rubies (above 2 or 3 carats in weight) are very rare and can easily rival the cost of good quality diamonds.

 

Ethical Choice

Choosing a coloured or synthetic gemstone can be a socially responsible choice as you bypass the ethical concerns linked to diamond production.

Learn More About Conflict Diamonds

In some unstable central African and West African countries, revolutionary groups have taken control of diamond mines and are using the proceeds from diamond sales to finance their fighting. The diamonds sold through this process are known as conflict diamonds or blood diamonds.

The Kimberley Process was established in 2002 by the United Nations in response to public concern about conflict or blood diamonds. It provides an international certification process that uses strict requirements to control the production of rough diamonds and prevent illicit stones from entering the legitimate diamond trade. However, it is recognized that there are limitations to this process and it is still often difficult to guarantee the origin of a diamond.

 

Coloured Gemstones


If opting for a coloured gemstone for your engagement ring, you can choose a precious gemstone (ruby, sapphire or emerald) or any one of a multitude of beautiful semi-precious gemstones. I discuss some of the more popular gemstones in the following section.

TIP: THE MOHS SCALE

Consider the durability of the gemstone that you choose. Certain gems are too brittle or soft for everyday wear, and may be better reserved for occasional rings. The Mohs scale is used to measure the hardness of gemstones. The scale runs from one to ten, with ten (the rating of diamonds) being the hardest.

 

Ruby Engagement Rings

Mohs Hardness: 9
Ruby Engagement Ring

Ruby Engagement Ring

Ruby engagement rings are beautiful and dramatic. Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum. All other coloured varieties of corundum (blue, white, green, pink etc.) are classed as sapphires. Rubies are extremely hard and make a good choice for an engagement ring. If you decide on a ruby ring, you will be choosing from a range of reds and deep pinks, with the deepest, blood red, being the priciest. When looking at ruby rings, aside from colour, your main concern should be the transparency of the stone.

 

Sapphire Engagement Rings

Mohs Hardness: 9
Sapphire Engagement Ring

Sapphire Engagement Ring

Sapphire engagement rings are a popular alternative to diamond rings. Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with the 18-carat oval sapphire ring that belonged to his mother, Princess Diana. While you usually see blue sapphire engagement rings, you may be surprised at the different colours that sapphires are available in. Rather than a blue sapphire ring, you could choose a white sapphire engagement ring, a yellow sapphire ring or even a pink sapphire ring. Look for colour and clarity when choosing a sapphire.

 

Emerald Engagement Rings

Mohs Hardness: 7.5 - 8
Emerald Engagement Ring

Emerald Engagement Ring

Unlike sapphire rings, emerald rings come in one colour – deep, glorious green. The name of this variety of beryl comes from the Greek word smaragdus, meaning green gem. Colour and clarity are the most important considerations when choosing your perfect emerald ring. Not as hard as sapphires or rubies, emeralds also tend to have many inclusions (imperfections) so are more prone to breakage when impacted. However, good emeralds are still tough enough to stand up to daily wear and so an emerald ring can be a good choice for an engagement ring.  

 

Opal Engagement Rings

Mohs Hardness: 5.5 - 6.5
Opal Engagement Ring

Opal Engagement Ring

Opal engagement rings are a personal favourite of mine. The name opal derives from the Greek opallos, which means to see a change (of color).  Opals come in various background colours from milky white to black and display sparkling flashes of yellow, orange, green, red and blue. Their multicoloured sparkle gives them a unique look. Opal rings are not for everyone, due to the fragility of the gemstone. However, if you are willing to provide a little extra care you can still consider an opal ring for an engagement ring.

 

Pearl Engagement Rings

Mohs Hardness: 3 - 4
Pearl Engagement Ring

Pearl Engagement Ring

Unlike other gemstones, pearls are not a mineral. Rather, they are formed within certain shelled mollusks, usually the pearl oyster or the freshwater mussel. Pearls are composed of translucent layers of mother of pearl that provide this gemstone with its exquisite and unique lustre. Similar to opal rings, pearl rings should not be considered as engagement rings unless you are prepared to be very careful with them. Pearls are soft enough to be scratched with a knife or a coin and so a pearl ring is likely to become damaged if worn daily.

 

Aquamarine Engagement Rings

Mohs Hardness: 7.5 - 8
Aquamarine Engagement Ring

Aquamarine Engagement Ring

Aquamarine rings are a dreamy and serene greenish blue, usually light in tone. The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin words aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea.  This gemstone is a member of the beryl family (as are emeralds). Once believed to protect sailors on long voyages, aquamarine has nowadays become the most popular of semi-precious stones used in fine jewelry. Aquamarine has a wonderful shine, is very durable and tends to be free from inclusions. Overall, aquamarine engagement rings are a great choice.

 

Amethyst

Mohs Hardness: 7
Amethyst Engagement Ring

Amethyst Engagement Ring

Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that, if cut well, will create a lot of sparkle. Amethyst occurs naturally in many places around the world but, historically, the finest amethysts were found in Russia. Amethysts featured highly in royal European jewelry in past centuries. Amethyst rings can vary in tone from a seductive light pinkish violet to a deep purple. Amethyst is not as hard as many other gemstones but, with some care, an amethyst engagement ring should stand up to everyday wear.

 

Tanzanite

Mohs Hardness: 6.5 - 7
Tanzanite Engagement Ring

Tanzanite Engagement Ring

Tanzanite rings range from a stunning sapphire-like blue to a rich violet-blue colour. Interestingly, this colour is achieved through heating the naturally dull brown gemstone. Tanzanite was discovered only in the late 1960s and is found exclusively in Tanzania. As tanzanite is generally less expensive than sapphire, it is often purchased as a sapphire alternative; however, people are starting to value tanzanite for its own beauty and colour. Tanzanite engagement rings require extra care as this stone is somewhat fragile.

 

Topaz

Mohs Hardness: 8
Topaz Engagement Ring

Topaz Engagement Ring

Topaz rings come in a rich rainbow of colours: white, blue, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, gray and even multicoloured, known as mystic. The most valuable colour of topaz is the golden orange-yellow colour, known as Imperial Topaz. However, blue topaz rings and other jewelry items are the most commonly seen. A blue topaz engagement ring can be an inexpensive alternative to a pricier aquamarine ring, while giving you the same choice of blues. Topaz has a high Mohs hardness but should be protected from hard impacts.

 

Morganite

Mohs Hardness: 7.5 - 8
Morganite Engagement Ring

Morganite Engagement Ring

Another of my personal favourites, morganite is a pale pink variety of beryl (similar to emerald and aquamarine). Morganite rings are a subtle pink to purplish pink and can look particularly lovely in rose pink gold. Morganite was only discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century and remains a relatively rare gem. As morganite has not taken off in popularity, it remains a relatively inexpensive gemstone, despite its rarity. If this colour appeals to you, a morganite ring is a great choice. This feminine looking  gemstone is very hard and will easily withstand everyday wear.

 

Peridot

Mohs Hardness: 6.5 - 7
Peridot Engagement Ring

Peridot Engagement Ring

Peridot is an ancient gemstone with jewelry pieces dating all the way back to the Egyptian Pharaohs. Peridot rings are an attractive and unique yellow green colour, which I personally love. The intensity of the colour depends on the amount of iron present in the peridot and deeper olive-green tones are generally considered more desirable than the lighter colours. Depending on your lifestyle, a peridot ring may not be a good choice as an engagement ring as this gemstone does not tend to wear well and would require some extra care.

 

Garnet

Mohs Hardness: 7 - 7.5
Garnet Engagement Ring

Garnet Engagement Ring

Interestingly, garnet is not a single mineral, but describes a group of several closely related minerals. Garnets come in a wide range of colours, but by far the most widely-known variety of this gemstone is the deep ruby-like red variety. This colour tends to simply be called garnet, while other coloured varieties are often given other names. An example you may come across is tsavorite, which comes in an emerald-like green. A garnet ring is a good choice as it will be reasonably hard wearing. Red garnets look particularly good in a vintage-style setting.

 

Other Considerations


This final section outlines a few miscellaneous ideas or considerations that may be useful to you when choosing an engagement ring.

 

Vintage Engagement Rings

Vintage Engagement Ring

Vintage Engagement Ring

Vintage engagement rings can be a beautiful, environmentally friendly and cost effective choice. Depending on your style, you can choose between Victorian engagement rings, Edwardian engagement rings or Art Deco engagement rings. In a future post, I will discuss the rings of each of these eras and give some advice on shopping for an antique ring.

 

Heirloom Engagement Rings

Heirloom engagement rings are extremely meaningful, linking the bride to previous generations. An heirloom engagement ring can save the young couple a lot of money. However, the ring may be completely unlike the bride-to-be’s dream engagement ring. In this case, you can consider resetting the stone. If you decide on this route, be careful to get the blessing of the previous owner of the ring, if they are still around, so as not to hurt feelings.

It’s my mother’s engagement ring so I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her close to it all.

Prince William

 

Affordable Engagement Rings

There are several ways to control cost when searching for the perfect engagement ring. Sign up to my email list and I will send you my top 10 tips for getting the most for your money when buying an engagement ring. I will not show you how to find cheap engagement rings; rather I explain several methods that can help you buy a beautiful and quality engagement ring that is within your budget.

 

Design Your Own Engagement Ring

You may wish to build your own engagement ring. Bespoke engagement rings are more expensive but you can truly personalize the ring. I will be writing a future post that will take a detailed look at custom engagement rings and what you need to know if you decide on this option.

 

Engagement Rings for Men

Traditionally, the role of proposer has laid firmly with the male, except, that is, in a leap year, when women may propose to men. However, it has become more common for women to propose to men in recent years and men’s engagement rings have started to appear on the market. This article has focused exclusively on engagement rings for women, but I will be taking a look at the growing tradition of men’s engagement rings in a future post.

 

Engagement Ring Insurance

Have your engagement ring appraised and insured against loss and theft immediately. You may wish to purchase an extension for your renters’ or homeowners’ policy for your ring. Alternatively, you can insure your ring through a company that specializes in jewelry insurance. You should also consider re-appraising the ring every few years to ensure that the full current value is covered.

 


I really hope you have enjoyed this three-part article as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It certainly has become a long post, but I hope that you have found the content informative and useful. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Lastly, if you would like to be notified as I publish more posts on this topic, please enter your email address below. If you do, you will receive my top 10 tips for getting the most for your money when shopping for an engagement ring. Don’t go shopping without them!

 

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