Engagement rings have been worn since at least Roman times. However, you may be surprised to learn that Diamonds were only usually given by the aristocracy until as late as the 1940s. Until that time, more colourful gemstones were far more popular, so choosing an alternative engagement ring is nothing new.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
In the late nineteenth century, the famous Diamond group, De Beers, started mining Diamonds in South Africa on an industrial scale. (It is believed that all the Diamonds ever discovered until then would have fitted into a suitcase!) Suddenly, Diamonds were everywhere, and were affordable to the masses. By the 1940s, the market was saturated and prices were falling. De Beers put their thinking caps on and came up with a strategy to increase the desirability of Diamonds.
First of all, they worked with the Gemological Institute of America to create the Diamond Grading Scale. This increased the apparent rarity of Diamonds by encouraging customers to disregard the majority of Diamonds coming out of the ground as being ‘inferior’, and so drastically increasing the prices of the top grades.
Secondly, they ran a huge marketing strategy to increase the perceived value of Diamonds. They used the slogan ‘A Diamond is Forever’ to paint Diamonds as being a ‘timeless’ and ‘classic’ choice for engagement rings, when in fact it was a relatively new idea at the time. The line was created in 1947 by Frances Geraghty and by 1951 it was reported that 8 in 10 brides were receiving a Diamond as an engagement ring in the USA. Quite a result for four carefully chosen words, and a phrase that was later voted the slogan of the 20th century.
ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS?
Yes! Here at Gemporia, we believe that there are so many other beautiful gemstones created by Mother Nature which deserve to be loved and treasured, and which are all too often overlooked. They’re also a great way to really express personality and uniqueness. So why not consider bringing a little bit of joy, a little bit of colour, and a little bit of individuality into your proposal? Breaking with tradition for an engagement ring and going non-Diamond is just another way of showing how thoughtful and creative you are.
DO I HAVE TO SPEND A MONTH'S SALARY? OR IS IT THREE MONTH'S?
We have the marketing departments of various jewellery houses over the years to thank for this, too. There is simply no set amount, no 'official' expectation on what should be spent on an engagement ring. Like the choice of stone, the amount spent is entirely up to you.
At Gemporia, we truly believe that to take ownership of a gemstone is to tell its story. If Mother Nature is the foreword, creating the stone and all the beauty within, we're just the prologue, discovering your well-hidden gem, setting it in jewellery and making sure it finds a forever-home. You write the rest of the chapters in the book and tell a gemstones story as you wear the piece throughout your life, as it soaks up your memories and experiences and its meaning grows and grows.
So only spend what you feel is appropriate. What really matters most is what the gemstone represents now, what it will come to mean in the future and that it will one day be an heirloom, passed onto the next generation to continue its tale.
Please don't think of these as inferior to a Diamond because they are more affordable – they just haven’t had millions of dollars in advertising spent on them to raise their prices! Remember, it's the sentiment and meaning that matters, not the number on the receipt.
If you love the idea of a very individual ring, another great way to really reflect a personality is in the design of the ring itself. Vintage designs, Celtic designs, trilogy settings, eternity bands, cluster rings, cocktail rings, and floral designs are all worth considering.
Or you could try an unusual cut – cushion cuts, Emerald cuts, Asscher cuts, princess cuts, heart cuts, marquise cuts, as well as pear cuts, are all great options if you are looking for something a little bit different.
If none of these stones takes your fancy, there are so many other rare and fascinating gemstones in a rainbow of colours available, which are all worth thinking about, particularly if your budget doesn’t stretch to a Diamond. Here are our suggestions for colourful alternatives to Diamond for an engagement ring.
If you still think that a colourless gem would be the most appropriate choice, Zircon is a fantastic option. Boasting double refractivity, a Zircon has twice the fire and twice the sparkle of a Diamond, but at a fraction of the cost. Not to be confused with Cubic Zirconia, which is a man-made fake, Zircon is completely the work of Mother Nature. It needs to be seen to be truly appreciated, and it's not a stone you're likely to take your eyes off when you do.
Have a look at our Zircon gold rings here, and it looks just as stunning in silver too.
Said to represent fertility, hope, and new growth, Emeralds are one of Mother Nature’s most mesmerising treasures. Known for the unique inclusions running through each one, Emeralds are some of the most individual gemstones – perfect for celebrating a unique relationship. John F Kennedy famously gave Jackie Kennedy an Emerald engagement ring
Explore Emerald gold rings here, and why not have a look at our silver selection too?
At 1000 times the rarity of a Diamond, a Tanzanite ring is a great way to express love. Said to represent new beginnings and tranquillity, Tanzanite is named after its discovery in 1967 in Arusha in Northern Tanzania. A Tanzanite ring is a little bit softer than a Sapphire, so would need a little more care. However, it is worth it! Due to a phenomenon known as pleochroism, it displays purples, blues, and violet-pinks when viewed in different directions. For this reason, it is an incredibly popular stone, particularly among our staff!
Have a browse through our Tanzanite gold rings here, or what about silver as an alternative metal?
Ruby has been regarded as the ultimate gift of love for centuries. A rich red Ruby is always eye catching and always romantic. It is also a very hard gemstone, making it ideal for day-to-day wear. Jessica Simpson famously sports a Ruby Engagement Ring. It works particularly well in vintage designs for a statement look.
See a stunning selection of Ruby gold rings here, and our radiant silver selection can be found right here.
All too often overlooked in the varied world of colourful gemstones, Aquamarine is a light, crisp blue in colour - very reminiscent of an idyllic summers sky with no cloud. The gem is from a very distinguished gemstone family - the Beryl group - which not only features Goshenite as it's colourless variety and Golden Beryl as a glowing yellow type, but also Morganite in all its soft pink splendour. It's most famous member is the aforementioned Emerald, with its world-class greens. Blue has come to be associated with trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence and stability - all things to benefit any relationship, especially one heading for marriage.
Shop for Aquamarine gold rings here, and don't forget to see how stunning it looks in silver too.
BIG BOLD ENGAGEMENT RINGS
For more unique and unusual engagement rings, we'd recommend a browse through our Lorique collection too. Many of the pieces in this luxury collection are one-of-a-kind, perfect for an engagement ring, and the gemstones selected for these pieces are among some of the finest we've ever sourced.
Want more suggestions for different engagement rings? Click here.