Alternative Engagement Rings: Which Gemstone Is Right For You?

An engagement ring is one thing you will (hopefully) be wearing for the rest of your life, so getting it right is imperative. Among the many engagement ring trends you'll see everywhere in 2023 are gemstone rings. Offering something different than your standard diamonds, gemstone rings give you the ability to show your unique personality.

Price is a big consideration when picking out an engagement ring, as you'll want to ensure you're choosing something that's the perfect pick but at the right price point for you. There's a longstanding tradition that an engagement ring should cost three months of your salary, but for many couples, this is an outdated expectation. Instead, Oded Edelman, co-founder of bridal jewelry retailer James Allen, says that more couples are working together to figure out how much they want to (and can afford to) spend (via Glamour).

As an engagement ring is typically worn daily, longevity is key. The durability of gemstones is often rated through the Mohs Scale, which was invented in 1939 and continues to be used as the standard method for gemstone hardness. For reference, a diamond stands at the highest level of 10 on the Mohs scale, meaning it's one of the most durable gemstones. On the lower end of the scale is pearl, rated 2.5 to 4.5, making it less than half as durable as diamond. If you're considering a gemstone engagement ring, here are some of the best.

A ruby ring is always eye-catching

The birthstone for July, ruby isn't just beautiful to look at. With a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, you won't have to worry about stray scratches, slips, or other marks on a ruby ring even if you use your hands a lot. Ruby ranges in color from bright red to pinkish red, but most have a similar hue to the above. In terms of price, rubies are one of the more expensive gemstones and can cost as much as if not more than diamonds. 

An emerald ring is nothing less than stunning

Those born in May can claim the dazzling emerald as their birthstone. As a stone, emerald is distinctive, charming, and can naturally appear in several shades of green. Generally considered more traditional than other gemstones, it features a rating of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. An emerald ring may not be quite as durable as a ruby one but will still stand up well against the test of time. However, much like rubies, emeralds are rarer gemstones, so they tend to be priced on the higher side.

Aquamarine is a pretty alternative to pricey precious gemstones

It may not be considered a precious stone, but aquamarine is a gorgeous choice for an engagement ring if you want to stay within budget. As seen above, aquamarine can come in many different hues, ranging from pale green to deep blue. It also has a hardness rating of 7.5 to 8, so it won't sustain major damage from everyday wear and tear. Due to the clarity of aquamarine, it usually looks more expensive than it is. Plus, aquamarine is often considered to bring good luck and protection, two things you'll definitely want by your side.

Feel like royalty with a sapphire ring

Just as strong as it is beautiful, sapphire lands at a solid 9 on the Mohs scale. A precious stone on the same scale as emeralds and rubies, sapphire rings certainly aren't cheap. However, they do have a major affiliation with royalty due to Princess Diana's engagement ring being made of sapphires and diamonds (via Town & Country). Striking in any shade, sapphires are commonly thought of as pure blue but can actually be a greenish blue like in the photo above. White sapphires are also a thing, and make a good alternative to diamonds.

Embrace classic romance with a morganite ring

Relatively new to the engagement ring scene, morganite's delicate pale pink shade makes it undeniably feminine. Morganite rings vary on both sides of the price scale depending on the size of the stone, the metal used, and any embellishment. Featuring a Mohs rating of 7.5 to 8, morganite may look pretty as a picture but it's surprisingly tough. It's also less in-your-face than brighter gemstones like rubies and sapphires, which could be a plus if you're more of a laidback jewelry person. 

Elegant and dazzling, amethyst is a good option if you're on a budget

The amethyst stone acts as a grounding presence, something that's desperately needed as you get swept up in wedding preparations. Slightly less durable at a 7 on the Mohs scale, amethyst is still a truly stunning and unique choice for an engagement ring. Its shimmering purple hue can range from lilac to lavender, all of which look truly incredible set in either silver or gold. When it comes to cost, amethyst is extremely affordable, costing much less than similar non-precious stones like aquamarine. 

An onyx ring will bring some gothic glamour to your life

An onyx engagement ring may feel daring, but is actually one of the most elegant gemstone choices out there and is perfect if you love gothic glam jewelry. Guaranteed to never go out of style, black onyx will catch the light for a striking shimmer effect. It's rated a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, meaning it's durable but will still scratch, so it isn't the best option if you work with your hands. It falls in the middle range of the price scale.

Those born in January can pay homage to their birth month with this gemstone

Potentially overlooked due to it being the birthstone for the very first month of the year, garnet is nonetheless a gorgeous choice for an engagement ring. Featuring a similar look to rubies but generally less expensive due to it not being considered a precious gemstone, garnet is stunning in its own right. Its darker red hue is mysterious and refined, though garnets are less durable than rubies, landing at a 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale compared to a 9 for rubies. 

Lesser known than sapphire, alexandrite could be your perfect alternative

According to jewelry designer Helen Ficalora, alexandrite is a "very valuable, rare, unusual, and expensive stone" (via Brides). Often seen in a blue hue like with the ring above, alexandrite can also be green, red, pink, and yellow amongst other colors. These colors depend on factors like light, too. Alexandrite may be on the pricier side (some cuts can be more expensive than diamonds!), but, at an 8.5 on the Mohs scale, it's a great option if you're looking for something that will last for years to come.

An opal ring will never appear dull

Opal may be beautiful, but you should think twice before getting an opal engagement ring. One of the least durable stones on this list at only a 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, an opal ring is best if you plan to only wear it only for special occasions. Still, the gemstone has much to offer despite its lack of hardiness. There are two types of opal, common and precious, with the former often featuring a fluorescent hue as seen above. Ever-changing, an opal ring is an ideal choice if you want a jewelry piece that will change each time you wear it.

The blue of this gemstone is as deep as the ocean

If you're looking for the deep, rich blue shade sapphire is usually associated with, you might want to look into lapis lazuli. Rated a 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, lapis lazuli is another gemstone that's made for occasional rather than everyday wear. Even at its highest-quality cut, lapis lazuli is a very affordable gemstone in comparison to sapphires, making it an excellent budget-friendly engagement ring option. Plus, it symbolizes courage, truth, and healing, always good traits to have on side.