Engagement Ring Learning

Can any ring be an engagement ring? Must it be a diamond?

Must an engagement ring be a diamond ring? Or can any ring be an engagement ring? What is the convention… and does it really matter? Below, we give you all the answers to these questions and more.

1. Can a ring without a diamond be an engagement ring?

Yes, absolutely. There’s no rule that says you must buy a diamond ring for an engagement.

2. What type of engagement rings are there?

Almost any ring can be an engagement ring. There is no rule that dictates an engagement ring must have a particular stone or design, or be a certain size.

3. Reasons why some choose a non-traditional ring (that’s not a diamond)

There are many reasons why you might want an alternative style of engagement ring:

  • Maybe you prefer a coloured gemstone
  • Most people have a diamond ring, so you want something unique
  • Diamonds are expensive, so you want a more affordable alternative
  • A diamond ring does not reflect your culture or religion
  • You prefer a plain band
  • Maybe you do not want a ring at all

4. What if I disagree with my partner and don’t want to buy them a diamond ring?

Some people think that diamonds are the only “correct” stone for an engagement ring. You may disagree, and your reason is undoubtedly valid.

However, since this is about a big, important thing – your relationship – try to step into your loved one’s shoes for a moment.

Because an engagement ring is not really just a piece of jewellery. It is a very powerful symbol of tradition, family and love. Therefore, it is a question of the heart and of emotions. That is not an argument you can blast with cold logic and reason. You won’t win.

So think about this:

  • Tradition is powerful. Maybe your partner’s father bought a diamond ring for their mother and they want you to measure up in their family’s eyes. Maybe their father DIDN’T buy their mother a ring and it is a tradition your parner has desired to start ever since. Find out why your partner considers it so important.
  • A spirit of generousity always wins. A gift or a symbolic item you buy for a loved one is about them, not you.

Don’t make the mistake of going completely against your partner’s values, however silly they may seem to you.

Ask them, how important, on a scale from 1 to 10, a diamond ring is to them. Then ask yourself, how important on a scale from 1 to 10 is NOT buying a diamond ring.

Then, depending on the answer, try to find a compromise, like an alternative gemstone, that would satisfy you both.

Rest assured, there are plenty of options. Have an honest conversation and find some middle ground. Then take a look at alternative ideas below!

 5. What should I consider if I decide to go for a gemstone ring?

The main thing to consider with any engagement ring is durability. It has to last a lifetime of wear and tear.

We do a lot with our hands every day. Therefore, rings can easily get damaged or knocked, catch on clothes, doors, gym equipment or while cooking, skiing, gardening, playing with the kids… The risks are endless.

So the harder the gemstone is, the better!

Jewellers measure gem hardness from 1 to 10 on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness. Diamonds are the hardest at 10, which is why they’re so popular.

  • Sapphires and rubies are 9 – well suited to long-term daily wear
  • Tanzanite and topaz are 8 – within the limits for engagement rings
  • Emerald and aquamarine are 7 – you’ll have to be very careful not to knock or scratch them

6. I’ve been told the gem I want won’t stand wear and tear. What should I do?

Some gems are considered ‘soft’, i.e. below 7-8 on Mohs Scale. For example, pearl, garnet, opal and turquoise are not ideal for engagement rings.

Why? Because you’ll need to be very careful not to scratch or knock your ring, or expose it to sudden heat or soak it in water.

Consult your jeweller about gemstone care, if you decide on a ‘soft’ gem. The wearer should remove it while bathing, cooking and sleeping. Also, be sure to choose a sturdy gold or platinum setting that protects the gem, to keep it safe.

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7. What about quirky or unique designs?

You may want a unique ring. That’s great! There are no rules.

Just make sure your partner is on board. They’ll be wearing the ring so they need to love it as much as you do.

Overly quirky rings can have the downside of getting ‘old’ quickly. There’s a lot to be said for simple, timeless designs; you won’t get fed up looking at your ring, and classic jewellery is easy to match with all kinds of outfits.

8. I cannot afford a diamond… but my partner wants one anyway

If your partner wants a diamond, but the cost is a worry, you need to discuss it openly. Always remember, you have options. For instance, you can buy an affordable ring now and upgrade it later. Or choose 9K gold, which is more affordable than a setting of 18K gold or platinum.

TIP: Read our popular articles 7 Best Ways to Get a Bigger Engagement Ring and How do I get the best deal on an engagement ring? to learn how to buy a beautiful engagement ring on a tight budget.

5 Non-diamond engagement ring alternatives:

1. Sapphire rings

Sapphire is the hardest coloured gem at Mohs Scale 9. It’s beautiful and comes in many colours including blue, pink, green and many more. Sapphire is popular among celebrities; the Royal sapphire engagement ring passed from Princess Diana to Kate Middleton is the most famous.

Sapphire ring

2. Ruby rings

Ruby is made from corundum, the same mineral as sapphires. This means rubies rank 9 on the Mohs Scale, guaranteed to withstand wear and tear. Celebrities with ruby engagement rings include Eva Longoria and Jessica Simpson.

3. Lab created diamonds

Lab-created diamonds are a fusion of art and technology. They’re optically and physically identical to natural diamonds, grown from a mined diamond ‘seed’ in a laboratory; a sustainable choice. Budget-friendly, they can give you an up to 60% bigger diamond for your money.

4. No-stone rings

There are alternatives to rings with a stone. You could choose an Irish Claddagh ring, a lovers knot ring, or simply a plain band. Whatever feels comfortable to you or reflects your culture or customs is wonderful, as long as you both agree on it.

5. An item that’s not a ring

Some people don’t care for a ring at all, so they choose a non-ring alternative. This could be a tattoo, a locket, or an heirloom ring or a pretty chain around your neck. Or it could simply be a promise to love each other forever.

Final words of advice on can any ring be an engagement ring?

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to engagement rings. Whatever you both feel is the appropriate symbol for your relationship is the right choice for you.

As long as you shop for the best quality you can afford so that the ring can withstand daily wear and serve as a reminder of everything you meant o each other, then you have found the perfect ring for you.

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