Choosing an engagement ring is perhaps one the most difficult and expensive decisions you will ever have to make. And there’s a lot riding on it! Many decide to propose with diamond engagement rings; but is this absolutely necessary? I spent some time researching the possibilities and will be sharing all that I found here today.
So, do engagement rings have to be diamond? An engagement ring does not have to be diamond, although it is somewhat customary and traditional for them to be so. In reality, there are many different gemstones and options that you can consider for an engagement ring including man-made diamonds, other gemstones, knots or family heirlooms.
Irregardless of the type, style and gemstone of ring you choose, what is most important is that you purchase a ring with your partner in mind. They should be able to enjoy for many years to come.
Let us now take a closer look at the reasons why diamond engagement rings are often used, other stones that look similar and the best alternatives to diamonds.
We also look at what you could potentially get instead of a diamond engagement ring and answer that infamous question; do engagement rings have to be expensive.
So, be sure to keep reading if you are in the market for a ring and you would like to make a more informed decision!
Do Engagement Rings Have To Have A Diamond?
Engagement rings do not have to have a diamond. They can, and often do, include other gemstones.
That being said, diamonds have almost become synonymous with engagement rings.
And here is why.
Diamonds have been widely cited as being the gemstone in engagement rings since the middle of the 20th century.
In fact, it has almost become tradition and customary that they are used.
Think of it this way.
There is somewhat of an expectation that an engagement ring features a diamond because this has been popular within the last century.
In fact; there is added reason for this.
In 1938, the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign to turn the fortunes of diamonds around.
During the Great Depression, the price of these stones collapsed and engagement rings were losing their popularity among younger women. So much so that only 10% of engagement rings contained a diamond.
The marketing campaign pushed the importance of the 4 C’s (cut, carats, color and clarity), released the slogan ‘diamonds are forever‘ and successfully persuaded the consumer that an engagement ring should only contain diamonds.
Between 1939 and 1979 the sales of diamonds in the US rose from ~$20 million to over $2 billion.
So, as we can see; there is a reason why engagement rings are associated with diamonds.
But it is not a fair, or accurate one.
Its somewhat cloudy.
But where does this leave us as the modern day customer?
Well; its ultimately up to us.
We only have to think about the purpose behind an engagement ring.
Its used as a gift to propose and represents an agreement for a future marriage.
Therefore, its entirely possible for it to include any stone.
What Stones Look Most Like Diamonds?
There are a number of different gemstones that look like diamonds. The main ones being:
- White Topaz
- White Sapphire
- White Quartz
- White Zircon
- Cubic Zirconia
These are perhaps the most similarly related gemstones. And while they are much more affordable, only Moissanites (synthetic) compare in sparkle to diamonds.
Each of those gemstones above have their advantages and disadvantages, although all are considered as potential options if you were looking for an alternative.
Equally, the larger the gemstone, the less likely it will be able to compare with a diamond of the same size.
What Can I Get Instead Of A Diamond Engagement Ring?
There are a number of different and recommended options when it comes to a diamond engagement ring alternative.
And while diamonds are still a popular choice, other gemstones are becoming increasingly more popular.
Other gemstones can also introduce stunning colors; giving a ring something a little bit different and uniqueness.
Perhaps the most colorful include emeralds (green), rubies (red) and sapphires (blue) and are all worthy of consideration.
That being said, if you did prefer the look of a diamond but simply cannot afford their price, fantastic alternatives include Moissanite and White Sapphire (and those other gemstones referenced in the section above.)
Ultimately, there are no limitations on the gemstone you decide upon. Its up to you.
And of course, is chosen with your partners preferences in mind!
Let us quickly run through your options in further detail below:
Moissanite is the most common and popular choice here, but cubic zirconia is another option too.
These have been manufactured to look exactly like diamonds, although are made up of a completely different material.
In recent years, and with the advancement in technology, there are even “lab-grown” diamonds available on the market.
These are created through a special process with the purpose of creating a diamond equivalent; visually the same, chemically the same.
So much so that telling the two apart is almost impossible unless you had an advanced and sophisticated microscope.
It is perhaps the closest thing to a diamond.
You’ll actually be surprised at how many different gemstones there are; and many have their own traditions and meanings behind them.
For example, an Opal gemstone signifies love and passion, whereas Ruby signifies love and fire.
Whether a gemstone is for you and your partner however entirely depends on preferences for other colors.
As the name suggests, this is a ring that comes from the family. Passed down over generations.
Its always a good idea before purchasing a ring to speak with your family to check whether any heirlooms are available to be passed down.
These can be really beautiful pieces, with a lot of meaning.
If the ring is not the right setting or style for your partner, you can always get it modified (re-sized or changed in style).
Engagement rings do not have to be expensive, although they should be an indication of your dedication and commitment to your partner.
With this in mind, generally the more you pay and the more expensive the ring, the more you are committing to your relationship.
What better way to show your devotion than with a significant purchase.
That being said, what is expensive to one person may be different entirely to the next.
It all comes down to what you can afford and your own budget.
Equally, your partner may have preferences and desires for an expensive diamond ring, or she may actually want a Moissanite that comes at a fraction of the price.
It is all about context.
If you are looking for some pointers however, consider this.
The average size of most engagement rings are in the region of a half to one and a half carats.
In monetary terms this is usually within the $1500-$5000 price range.
This also works out at 1-3 months salary for most people.
Although you may need to save more, or you may even have some money saved from before.
Either way, it is not the price you pay, but what is means to your partner.
The Bottom Line
Engagement rings do not have to be diamond, although they typically have been over the last century.
However, with a little research you can soon see how and why this became the norm.
Whether you agree with it or not, the truth remains the same.
You should look to get an engagement ring that your partner will enjoy and cherish for years to come.
That could mean a diamond ring. They may have their heart set on it and it may be something that they even expect.
Or it could mean another ring altogether. Man-made, another gemstone or even an old family heirloom.
Perhaps the best thing you can do is to have a conversation with your partner ahead of time.
Seek out their preferences, find out what they like and go from there.
Consider your budget, what you can realistically afford, and also what your final decision could mean for your partner.
Sometimes, we just have to spend that little bit more on a diamond. Even if we do not personally really see the need to.
Yet, it may mean something to the other person, or you may be in a more fortunate position to have a choice.
It all comes down to context.
But do take a moment to think about it.
Hey, I’m Allison – a bride-to-be and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I have accumulated since researching for my wedding over two years ago. I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding.