The most popular gemstones for engagement rings don’t seem to change in the long run. It’s easy to see how anyone alive in the 21st century could think that diamonds are the be-all and end-all of engagement rings. But if we take a closer look at the history of engagement rings, we can see that even diamonds are a trend more than a rule.
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Engagement jewelry existed in the Victorian era, and even engagement rings were the norm for those who could afford the expense. Queen Victoria herself had an engagement ring in the form of a gold snake with rubies for eyes and an emerald atop its head. That may sound very unconventional by today’s expectations of engagement rings. And now we can begin to see that engagement rings haven’t always been what they are today.
Moving forward to the 1950s, we see the birth of the diamond engagement ring. Famed jewelers, De Beers launched an advertising campaign for their diamond rings with the slogan ‘a diamond is forever’. Arguably one of the best advertising campaigns in history, if not at least one of the most profitable, diamonds from that point on became the norm for engagements in much of the world. De Beers’ influence has been so far-reaching, young couples born even as late as 2000 are expected to turn to diamonds when popping the big question.
Are diamonds still in fashion for engagement rings? Yes, it is one of the classic options for proposal rings. But, what are the most popular alternative gemstones for engagement rings today?
Current market research suggests that emeralds are the most popular choice for colored gemstones. One of the reasons that diamonds are so popular – other than their innate beauty – is the hardness of the stone itself. Since most engagement rings are expected to be worn every day, the gemstone has to be tough enough to take some wear and tear. Diamonds are strong enough to handle a lot, while emeralds are a touch softer. With a 7.5 score on the Moh’s scale (a general measure of the strength of a gemstone), emeralds are still quite strong. They are fairly resistant to scratches and chipping, but perhaps shouldn’t be worn on days where they are more likely to face damage, such as during physically demanding tasks.
Emeralds are defined by their various green shades, from deep forest-y greens to brighter, lime-green hues. In recent years, there’s been an increase in popularity in natural, earthy colors, and this appears to have extended to gemstone preference. Green is a versatile color for an engagement ring, complementing most skin tones, and all metal colors. Emeralds are the birth stone for people born in May. You could consider this if either you or your fiancé have May birthdays. Or, if you wanted to go an alternate direction, you could use an emerald engagement ring if you plan on proposing or tying the knot in May. That way, your engagement ring can symbolize the birth of the next stage of your lives together.
Next on the list of popular gemstones for engagement rings is ruby. Directly opposite one another on the color wheel, red and green couldn’t be more different. In gemstones, however, rubies and emeralds can both represent the unification of two people. Where emeralds represent spring and new life, rubies are indicators of deep passion and undying love. Red has always been associated with strong and powerful feelings, and rubies are beautiful engagement ring gemstones for this reason. They sit quite high on the Moh’s scale at 9.5, making them more suitable to frequent wear than emeralds. Again, however, it’s advised that they don’t be worn every day. Just to ensure the safety and security of the stone.
Rubies aren’t limited to red tones, if you’re interested in exploring other avenues. They also appear in a variety of pink/purple shades that can cover anyone’s preferences. Being the birthstone for those born in July, the rich, warm colors of rubies match the summer just as well as the winter. Rubies complement all skin tones and all metals, so you really can’t go wrong. The ‘best’ rubies – those that are valued highest – are called ‘pigeon blood’ rubies, due to their intense redness. These are mined in Malaysia mostly, and are certainly a statement in and of themselves. If you don’t want rubies to rule the show, there’s always the option of a trilogy ring with a central diamond, and smaller rubies acting as accents to the main event. There’s always a way to customize your wedding and engagement rings with color, however much you want!
More popular in America than the U.K., moissanite is quickly becoming a popular stand-in for diamonds. Standing strong at a 9.5 on the Moh’s scale, moissanite is a good option for engagement rings. Visually, they are very similar in appearance to diamonds, except a fraction of the cost of most diamonds in a similar size. Furthermore, moissanite can claim less exploitative mining practices in its production than many diamonds.
Recently, the number of those researching the possibilities of pearl engagement rings has increased. Although their lustrous shine is enviable, and they are a classic element of jewelry, they come with a slight warning label. What you need to know about pearls is that they are very soft, and can easily be affected by a variety of chemicals. The expression when it comes to pearls is ‘last thing on, first thing off’. They also need to be stored away from other pieces in order to avoid damage. Don’t let that put you off though. Pearls are stunning, and can be brought out for special occasions as a beautiful and unique engagement ring.
A big contender in recent trends, moonstone engagement rings are potentially on the rise. Moonstone is an amazing gemstone, almost luminescent and ethereal in their beauty. Romans believed moonstone was made from rays from the moon itself turning solid; and in turn it was associated with Luna and Selene, Roman and Greek Goddesses of the Moon, respectively. Moonstone is only a 6.0 on the Mohs scale, however, and so should be worn with care and sparingly.
Diamonds do not have to be the universal rule of thumb when it comes to buying an engagement ring. The key is to do your research thoroughly so you know what you want, as well as what’s best for you and your lifestyle.
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