In my last blog, I discussed alternatives to traditional engagement rings, including stones set low in a wide band, metal bands with intricate engravings, and “poesy” rings inscribed with a romantic message on the inside, outside, or both.
In this blog, I offer two more engagement ring options to consider.
Option 1: The Tough Love of Jade
Jade is one of the toughest materials on Earth and comprises both nephrite and jadeite. The term jade is used to refer to both nephrite and jadeite, even though they are different minerals with distinct physical properties. Each stone comes in a wide variety of colors and price points. For example, a simple black nephrite band can sell for a bargain $15.00, whereas the finest translucent jadeite ring can cost as much as a large diamond.
When set into metal, jade is most often carved into cabochons (top right figure)—smooth, rounded shapes to be set into prongs or bezels.
Jade can also be carved into a ring from a single piece, called a hololith. A simple band is the most common type of hololithic ring.
A third traditional shape for jade rings is the saddle ring (bottom right figure), which features an oblong form on top of a band. A saddle ring can be a long piece of jade set into precious metal or a similar shape carved as a hololith.
At either end of the price scale, jadeite and nephrite are both beautiful and tough enough to take a lifetime’s worth of wear. Nephrite jade is available most commonly in shades of green, cream, white, and black, and is typically an affordable option. Jadeite jade is highly prized (and more highly-priced!) in vivid green and lavender, but also comes in an array of other colors. Jade stones are often sourced from Canada, New Zealand, China, Guatemala, and Burma.
Option 2: Diamonds Aren’t a Girl’s Only Best Friend
Diamonds are a great gemstone for everyday wear, which is an important consideration for engagement rings. Luckily, diamonds aren’t the only gemstone that can take what life dishes out. Although no other stone is as hard as a diamond, gems such as sapphire, ruby, and alexandrite also stand up well and display legendary beauty.
Rubies and sapphires are two varieties of the mineral corundum. Sapphires can be found in every color (except red, which is ruby), giving couples a wide range of choices. Both gems are sourced from many locations worldwide, and small quantities of sapphires are also mined domestically in the United States, most famously in Montana.
The gem alexandrite has great appeal, as it literally changes colors in different light settings—from green to blue in daylight and red to purple in incandescent or candlelight. This prized quality of alexandrite, along with its hardness, make it a good choice for an extraordinary engagement ring.
Although the best Russian, African, and Brazilian alexandrites are scarce and very expensive, a small, fine-quality gem of this kind is dazzlingly different.
As you can see, there are several wonderful alternatives to conventional engagement rings that are both beautiful and special. With so many possibilities, there is every reason to choose something that is uniquely yours.
About the Author
C. M. St. John is a Graduate Gemologist and Appraiser at The Provident Loan Society. Gems and jewelry are a lifelong interest and much easier to collect than architecture, which is her other great passion.