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9 Diamond-Alternative Gemstones For Your Engagement Ring

by Elana Jovero

Traditional diamonds are gorgeous, but as relationships continue to evolve, the jewelry that defines those relationships must evolve with it. Here you will find nine alternative stones that are perfect for the bride or groom who want something a little unique to celebrate their love. 

1. Salt and Pepper Diamonds

Salt and pepper diamonds are so unique that virtually no stone looks alike. They are colorless like a white diamond, with heavy black, white or grey inclusions, that are cut typically in larger rose-cut styles. They can appear in so many ways, resembling mist or space. 

One reason to love these stones is their dark romantic feel, with inclusions that can look like bubbles, stars, or even carbon. To me, they’re wild and ethereal.

 2. Spinel

Spinel comes in a wide array of colors, from reds and purples, to grays and blacks—typically a very cool toned stone. If you’re an Autumn, this stone is definitely for you. They actually have a lot in common with diamonds, being both durable (8 on the Mohs scale) and singly refractive. 

For thousands of years people believed spinel had the power to enhance passion and healing. Found typically in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Tajikistan alongside sapphires and rubies, spinels have been left out of bridal jewelry until recent years. 

3. Montana Sapphires

We have all heard of sapphires - a popular choice for engagement rings, but have you heard of Montana and Parti Sapphires? With true ocean vibes, these stones come in a variety of light blues and greens, sometimes with yellow rays of sunshine within them.

For the last 100 years, Montana sapphires have been only mined from—you guessed it—Montana. They are completely exclusive to the area, making them incredibly unique and rare for your custom engagement ring.

4. Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a stone close to my heart. They can be found in shades anywhere from pink, green and purple to gray, yellow and blue. When colors combine, they’re called bi-color, meaning it has a blend of two or more colors.

Tourmalines are slightly less hard than sapphires at 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale, but will still stand the test of time in an engagement ring. This is the perfect stone to add a pop of color to your stack without breaking the bank.

5. Champagne Diamonds

Champagne diamonds are typically light brown or champagne colored, and come in a wide range of shapes and cuts. They get their color through traces of nitrogen trapped during the formation of the stone, with the higher the nitrogen content creating a deeper color.

Mined largely from Australia, Siberia and Africa, champagne diamonds are plentiful and easy to find. They are slightly less expensive than a traditional white diamond, and therefore can give you a bigger rock for your buck. 

6. Rustic Brown Diamonds

If you loved the look of salt and pepper diamonds, but want something warmer to wear, these are the perfect stones for you.

Like little landscapes of their own, they have the shine of a clear diamond, but they have a multitude of colors and inclusions within each and every stone, giving it a very earthy look.

7. Lab-created Diamonds

Lab-created diamonds are one of the fastest growing stones in popularity today: they are virtually undetectable from a natural diamond, but made under perfect conditions within a lab. This allows you to get a much, much bigger stone for a fraction of the cost (we’re talking about ¼ of the price).  Brides today love this option to get the size and look of a stone they may not have had the budget for otherwise. Beyond this aspect, there is no mining involved, so it's even more environmentally friendly than an ethically-mined diamond.

8. Dendritic Agate

Milky stones featuring branch-like inclusions, dendritic agates appear almost as if the gemstone has trapped trees and leaves inside. However, this isn't the case. This completely natural stone is formed when minerals are trapped during the crystallization process over the course of hundreds of years. With no two the same, these stones are hauntingly beautiful and unique. As these are the most delicate of the group, they need to be treated with far more care to last a lifetime.

9. Morganite

Here’s one for the brides obsessed with pink. They have a diamond-like feel and look, with that special pop of color. This is a demure stone that makes me think of blush wedding dresses made of tulle and pink chrysanthemums filling your special day. There’s something so magical about the color of pink and blush, perfect for a softer bridal look.