To Diamond Or Not To Diamond?
Alternative Gemstone Rings

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, or so the saying goes. But are diamonds ‘worth it’?

Sparkling, elegant and timeless – for Matthew Ely, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Diamonds can take millions of years to grow. This fact alone, combined with their remarkable durability, has cemented the diamond ring as a ‘symbol of eternal love’, with diamond engagement rings and diamond wedding bands being the classic ‘go-to’ for decades.

Of course, not every ‘girl’ is Marilyn Monroe. In recent years, we have seen an increasing trend for alternative non-diamond rings – whether gemstone engagement rings or statement cocktail rings with a bright splash of colour.

“The four gemstone rings that have certainly increased in popularity are sapphire, emerald, ruby and aquamarine,” says Matthew Ely.

Ruby Engagement & Wedding Rings

Long valued for their rare beauty and typically associated with love and passion, rubies – the red variety of corundum – are incredibly sought after as a non-diamond alternative.

“Rubies are often chosen by more mature couples, for second proposals or updated engagement rings,” says Matthew.

“The alternate option is to feature rubies in rings where they are not the centrepiece; for example, a diamond encased by rubies for a colour pop. This definitely plays into the art deco engagement ring trend.”

Featured: Platinum Ruby & Diamond Eternity Band, Emerald Cut Diamond Ring

Sapphire & Diamond Eternity Band Wedding Ring

Sapphire Engagement & Wedding Rings

Iconic yet unique, sapphire engagement rings come in a rainbow of colour options, fit for a princess. Perhaps the most famous was the 12-carat royal blue Ceylon sapphire engagement ring worn by Princess Diana, and later by Kate Middleton.

“I’ve certainly seen a trend towards sapphire engagement rings in recent years,” says Matthew.

“There has been a particular interest in teal-coloured sapphires as an alternative to the traditional blue sapphire, with yellow and pink being the next two popular colours.”

Featured: 18ct White Gold, Sapphire & Diamond Wedding Ring

Emerald Engagement & Wedding Rings

Coveted by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Ancient Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, emerald engagement rings and emerald dress rings are unique alternatives to the traditional diamond ring.

“Emerald is a little bit more quirky. It is often selected by more mature couples, or those who have an affinity with this beautiful gem,” says Matthew.

“I’ve worked on a few pieces recently that are slightly more traditional, but with highlights of green emerald for a unique colour pop.”

Featured: 18ct Yellow Gold, Emerald & Diamond Ring

Aquamarine Engagement & Wedding Rings

Derived from the Latin “aqua marina” which means “sea water”, Aquamarines were once believed to be a precious treasure from mermaids.

Princess Diana famously owned an emerald-cut aquamarine ring flanked with diamonds and set in yellow gold, which she wore during her 1997 visit to Sydney.

“Aquamarine engagement rings are a unique yet stunning choice,” says Matthew. “They are often selected by those who just love the colour, have blue eyes or an affinity with the ocean.”

Featured: 18ct White Gold, Aquamarine & Diamond Ring

Statement Cocktail Rings

Whether it’s a special occasion dress ring, an anniversary present, or a statement piece for everyday wear, diamond (or alternate gemstone) rings are by no means limited to weddings and engagements. “Dress rings often feature large, statement diamonds – with fancy coloured yellow diamonds being a popular trend in 2021,” says Matthew.

As for non-diamond rings, “aquamarine cocktail rings are our next most popular gemstone, featuring stones that are a really beautiful, saturated blue, as opposed to a more washed-out blue or grey.”

“From the same Beryl family as aquamarine, light pink morganite is another great performer in cocktail or dress rings. I’ve got clients who want the same ring in the two “watercolours” – one in aquamarine and one in morganite.”

Finally, Matthew highlights emerald as a stone that has been trending for a couple of years – “but of course, like every piece, I’d craft them in a style that’s timeless and will be a ‘forever’ piece”.

While diamonds are the classic choice for engagement and wedding rings, alternative gemstones like ruby, aquamarine, emerald and sapphire have gained popularity in recent years. So, which would you choose?