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Should You Get a Gemstone Engagement Ring?

An engagement ring is a significant investment. It symbolizes a promise and is worn with that promise in mind. While the most popular stones for engagement rings are still diamonds, other gemstones are becoming an increasingly favorable option, with 10% of engagement rings in 2019 being a stone other than a diamond.

Gemstones are colourful, unique, and stand out in a ring. There is much to consider when it comes to gemstone engagement rings so we'll explore some popular gemstones and the factors to consider before purchasing one.

Popular Gemstone Engagement Ring Types

Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most popular gemstone engagement ring types:

Sapphire

Sapphire is a precious gemstone that always stands out. Although it comes in various colours, it is best known for its blue variety. The blue sapphire is believed to invoke wisdom and is said to represent devotion. Sapphires sometimes contain inclusions, an internal feature within the stone, that can benefit the stone when polished.

Sapphires make excellent centre stones in gemstone engagement rings because of their toughness, being rated a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Sapphire engagement rings offer peace of mind as sapphires are not easy to break, as they are not only tough, but have a low "cleavage" or likelihood of breaking.

Sapphire engagement rings have long been associated with royalty, most famously the ring worn by Princess Diana, now worn by Kate Middleton.

Sapphires may not be as sparkly as other stones, but they are still eye-catching. Their striking colour will make a statement on any hand, while their durability makes them a safe choice as a centre stone or accent stones. It is also easy to care for sapphire engagement rings as they are simple to clean, requiring only some warm water and mild soap to regain their shine.

Emerald

The emerald is another precious gemstone, famous for its brilliant green hue. Emeralds are said to promise loyalty for the wearer and represent unwavering love. The emerald is historically one of the most popular coloured stones.

The emerald is rated 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale but can be susceptible to breakage due to inclusions and other characteristics. Often, emeralds are clean with wax or oil to minimise inclusion visibility. Emeralds are, however, generally more fragile compared to other precious stones.

An emerald engagement ring is unique because of its remarkable colour. Not to be confused with the "emerald" cut, emerald engagement rings have been popular dating back to ancient times. Jackie Kennedy famously wore an emerald ring given to her by John F. Kennedy.

While an emerald can be prone to some wear and tear when not handled properly, it is still viable as an engagement ring centre stone. Emerald engagement rings should be cleaned frequently with a soft cloth to remove dirt build-up, and with a damp, soapy cloth, then rinsed under water.

Opal

Opals are unique, vibrant gemstones that are always eye-catching. The opal is said to bring enthusiasm and passion to the wearer. Queen Victoria gifted each of her daughters opal jewellery on their wedding days.

Opals are remarkable, irridescent stones that can reflect multiple colours in the right light. The opal comes in several varieties, most commonly white, black, or crystal. An opal's clarity is determined by its transparency, with opaqueness valued in certain types and total transparency valued in others.

Opals are generally fragile and can break more easily in jewellery. They are rated 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, and are more susceptible to cracks and other surface imperfections. While they do make beautiful engagement rings, they are not as durable as other stones. An opal engagement ring needs to be treated with great care.

If you do choose to make an opal the centre stone in your engagement ring, it's paramount that you take extra special care of it. Opals retain water, so be sure to remove the ring when it is exposed to large amounts of water. Because they are softer stones, clean an opal engagement ring with a soft cloth and mild detergent. Be sure to avoid drastic temperature changes as well.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a brilliant blue gemstone known for its lustre. The colour can range from a greenish-blue to dark blue. Aquamarine is said to be a calming stone that inspires trust. Legend says that these stones come from mermaids' treasure chests, making them meaningful to those who love the sea.

These stones are generally transparent and typically have few imperfections. Occasionally there can be some inclusions that are visible to the eye. Aquamarine is rated 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale.

An aquamarine engagement ring will stand out due to its unique blue hue. Its dazzling shine will catch any eye as they tend not to have many visible imperfections. It also makes an ideal engagement ring because it is remarkably durable and not prone to breakage.

Because the aquamarine stone is more durable, it will stand the test of everyday wear. It will, however, still need to be cleaned and cared for. It can be cleaned with a soft toothbrush or cloth and soapy water every week, as well as deep cleanings every few months.

Morganite

Morganite is a beryl variety gemstone, in the same family as emeralds and aquamarine. It comes in a salmon-peach colour, a delicate pink that sometimes appears orange or purple. Morganite is said to be connected to the heart, bringing compassion and promise to the wearer. Generally, it does not have inclusions that are visible to the eye. It is rated 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale.

Morganite has recently spiked in popularity as the centre stone in engagement rings for women, particularly when paired with rose gold. The stone's pastel pink hue is a softer look than most other stones, giving it a uniquely feminine appearance. Morganite engagement rings are romantic and dreamy and are associated with sweetness.

Because of its durability, morganite makes a good choice for a centre stone. While it can be susceptible to damage, it is generally stronger than other stones and can withstand everyday wear. It is safer, though, to remove it before activities where it could be damaged. To care for a morganite engagement ring, clean it with warm, soapy water, not anything chemical-based.

Ruby

The vibrant red ruby is a precious stone known for its deep colour. It is one of the most expensive gemstones available - the purer red the colour, the more valuable the stone. The ruby is a stone of nobility, said to promote confidence and represent passionate commitment.

The clarity of a ruby is dependent on their brightness and transparency, which can be diminished by visible inclusions. Occasionally, however, these inclusions can soften the colour of the ruby and increase its value.

Rubies have traditionally been a popular choice for engagement rings because of their colour being associated with romance. A ruby engagement ring is bold and invokes thoughts of passion and deep love.

Rubies are rated 9 on the Mohs scale, meaning that they, along with sapphires, are second only to diamonds when it comes to toughness. This means that they are incredibly durable stones and are suitable when placed in engagement rings.

Because rubies are durable, they can be worn daily. They are not likely to be scratched or broken, and make excellent centre or accent stones for engagement rings for women. They can be cared for with steam cleaning or cleaned with a damp cloth.

Amethyst

Amethyst is a purple semi-precious stone that is a variety of quartz. The purple hue can be so light that it is nearly transparent, or so dark that it makes the stone opaque. It is the most popular purple gemstone on the market. Amethyst is said to have protective qualities, to enhance intuition, and promote passion. It has a Mohs scale rating of 7. Amethyst typically has a low cleavage.

An amethyst engagement ring is remarkable for its purple colour. It will be a unique and striking centre stone, but it will show wear and tear over time. Because it is a generally softer stone, it will start to show marks made by harder materials, especially if worn when doing activities. It is still a special stone. It simply will be affected by the elements.

If you choose to wear an amethyst as the centre stone in your engagement ring, it is important to be gentle with it. Remove the ring before activities that may harm the stone, and be sure to clean it with warm, soapy water. It is not best to steam clean an amethyst. Amethysts can also fade when exposed to too much harsh light, so be sure to keep the ring out of the sun.

Topaz

Coloured topaz is rare to find in nature. Known for its striking blue and yellow varieties, topaz can be seen in other colours of the rainbow, such as pink, purple, and even clear. Topaz is said to bring gentle healing and joy to the wearer.

The transparent gemstones are generally free from inclusions or other imperfections that are visible to the eye. With a Mohs scale rating of 8, topaz is a remarkably strong stone. However, it has a nearly perfect cleavage, meaning it is highly susceptible to cracking.

Because it does have a perfect cleavage, it is necessary to be cautious with a topaz engagement ring. Take care to remove it before strenuous activity that may mean the ring could be damaged.

To clean a topaz engagement ring, simply wash it with mild soap and a soft brush or cloth; mild cleaning agents can also be safe to use.

Diamonds

While gemstone engagement rings are growing in popularity, a diamond engagement ring still continues to be the most popular of the engagement rings for women. They are ranked as the toughest minerals on the Mohs scale, at a 10, meaning no other materials can scratch them.

They are also brilliant in their quality, often so clear and high in clarity that there are no imperfections visible. Diamonds are also said to symbolize commitment and faithfulness, making them ideal symbols for engagement rings. There is nothing quite like a diamond.

Popular Settings

Choosing a stone for the engagement ring is only one part of designing an engagement ring. To best display the stone, it's important to choose a setting that you like and feel compliments the choice you have made.

  • Halo setting: A popular setting style for a gemstone engagement ring is a halo setting. This wraps the gemstone in diamonds or other stones to bring out the sparkle and shine of the stone.
  • Three-stone setting: Another popular setting is the three-stone setting, with one centre gemstone and a stone on either side of it to compliment the centre stone.
  • Sidestone setting: This features smaller stones lining the band of the ring that add to the sparkle of the centre gemstone.
  • Solitaire setting: There is also the traditional, solitaire setting where the gemstone itself is the main focus of the ring.

Caring For Your Ring

Because gemstones can vary in hardness and durability, it's necessary to take special care of them so that they will last a lifetime. They can be more susceptible to wear and tear, or show signs of aging, so be sure to remove your ring before certain activities like dishwashing, gardening, exercising, and other activities where your ring could get scratched.

When it comes to cleaning your ring, most gemstones can be cleaned with mild soap and a soft brush or a cloth. Certain stones, like opals, should be washed more carefully, and not be exposed to too much moisture. It is best to avoid harsh cleaning chemicals when it comes to gemstone engagement rings.

Final Thoughts

Gemstones offer a unique look for engagement rings, and the variety of stones means there are options to suit every taste. Before settling on a gemstone engagement ring, be sure to understand its specific caretaking requirements so it can become a precious heirloom in your own family for years to come.