Colored Gemstone Engagement Rings

The traditional engagement ring in many countries is diamond. This is actually a fairly recent development, dating back to huge diamond finds in South Africa around 1870. There was such a large supply of diamonds that a major advertising campaign was mounted by the De Beers consortium to associate diamonds with love and marriage. The campaign took decades to succeed, but it eventually changed the culture of marriage.

Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring
 Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring

However there are some signs that the diamond ring tradition has begun to weaken, and that many couples contemplating marriage are considering alternatives. The reasons for change are many, including difficult economic times, the bad publicity surrounding blood diamonds, and the perceived lack of individuality of diamonds. Some consumers have come to understand that diamonds are not rare and that the prices are kept artifically high by the cartel that controls the supply and distribution of diamonds.

Colored gemstones present an attractive alternative to diamonds for engagement rings because of the large range of colors and the many different styles, sizes and price points. Celebrities have also help make colored stone engagement rings a fashion trend. The most famous case was the blue sapphire and diamond ring that Prince Charles gave to Lady Diana Spencer upon their engagement in 1981. The same ring was used by Prince William for his engagement to Kate Middleton in 2011. Prince Andrew, the younger brother of Prince Charles, also gave his fiancee Sarah Ferguson an engagement ring with a colored gemstone in 1986 -- a pigeon's blood ruby.

Ruby Engagement Ring
 Ruby Engagement Ring

Thus far the jewelry industry has not been very enthusiastic about marketing colored gems for engagement rings. Retail jewelers are knowledgeable about diamonds, but less familiar with colored gems. Undoubtedly the diamond industry would prefer to maintain the status quo. Many couples who want a colored gemstone engagement ring end up buying a colored stone from a specialized gems dealer and then having it set by a jeweler in a design of their choice.

Not every type of colored gemstone is suitable for an engagement ring which is worn every day. The top choices, based on hardness and durability, are ruby and sapphire. Other suitable choices include spinel, tsavorite and spessartite garnet, aquamarine, alexandrite and chyrsoberyl. Some popular stones such as tanzanite are not really hard enough to be worn every day.

Top grade colored gemstones can be found in a wide range of cuts and sizes. But high quality sapphires and especially rubies can be quite expensive in larger sizes. Though rubies are always red (or pink-red), sapphires can be found in many different colors, including blue, green, yellow and pink.

See our selection of Fine Sapphire and Fine Ruby
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