While diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, having a diamond engagement ring may not be for everyone—or for everyone’s budget. Luckily, there are several different conventional and unconventional alternatives that can show personality or style without breaking the bank. Additionally, if you would like to stick to the classic diamond look without paying a natural diamond price, it’s good to know that you have options there as well. Here we will be breaking down 7 of the most popular alternatives to a natural diamond ring that still maintain a high level of quality.
First up, if a natural diamond is not in your budget, but you would still prefer one, the next best thing to look for is a lab-grown diamond. While these gems possess all the same physical properties as a naturally mined diamond, a lab-grown diamond is formed inside a lab that recreates the environment where a natural diamond is formed. It is impossible to tell the difference between natural and lab diamonds with the naked eye, but with prices up to 50% less than a natural diamond, a lab diamond might be the way to go for your budget. A 1-carat lab diamond can range from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on shape, clarity, and cut.
Moissanite has such similar properties to diamonds that when the jewel was first discovered, it was mistaken for a diamond. Moissanites are the second hardest gem in the world, only rated second to diamonds themselves, making them durable for everyday wear. Moissanite is known for its unique sparkle and brilliance, which is one of the only visible differences between it and a diamond. With a 1-carat price range from $500 to $1,000, moissanite offers all the benefits of a diamond with more sparkle at a fraction of the cost.
Before diamonds became so popular for engagement rings in the twentieth century, sapphires were the common standard. This gem’s beautiful array of colors matched with its high level of durability keeps it at the top of the list for diamond alternatives. Sapphires come in white, pink, teal, royal blue, yellow, and peach. If you are hoping for something that looks similar to the clear white color of a diamond, a white sapphire might be the way to go. A 1-carat sapphire ranges from $800 to $4,000, depending on color and shape.
If you are searching for a classic but unique alternative for your engagement ring, rubies are worth mentioning. While known to be a bit pricier than some of these other options, rubies offer brilliant color and the same durability that competes with sapphires. The most prized rubies have a deep crimson color that is said to embody love and passion—a fitting symbol for an engagement ring. A 1-carat ruby will cost between $1,000 and $1,500, depending on its properties.
Like rubies, emeralds are gems that have stood the test of time, maintaining value and popularity throughout the centuries. Known as the “gems of royalty,” emeralds have an intense green hue to them. They are also known for having inclusions, or minor imperfections within the jewel that are created during formation. Lab-grown emeralds tend to have fewer inclusions and maintain a clearer look, but many embrace the imperfections in a natural emerald as it brings about a more real, organic look to the gem. A 1-carat emerald runs between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on shape, clarity, and whether natural or grown within a lab.
If you are searching for something a bit more unconventional, it is worth looking into aquamarine. With its durability comparable to emeralds, aquamarine can be worn daily, only needing to be removed during rough activities. The beautiful pale blue coloring gives it an organic look that is loved by many. However, it is notable that this gem is not known for its sparkle, like moissanite or sapphire. Aquamarine is known for being very affordable, with a 1-carat gem costing between $500 and $800.
Lastly, another unconventional alternative is morganite. This gem ranges from a light pink to an orangey peach color, with the same level of durability as emeralds and aquamarines. Unlike aquamarine, morganite is known for its sparkle and overall brilliant presentation in addition to its beautiful blush coloring. Morganite goes well with a rose gold setting as both colors have the same warm tones. This is one of the most affordable diamond alternatives that still maintains a high level of quality, with a 1-carat morganite costing between $400 to $600.
Diamonds are classic and are loved for many good reasons, but if you are wanting something different or less expensive, it is important to know that you have other unconventional and affordable options as well.