Ten of the Best Alternative Stones for Engagement Rings – Ideas for Every Budget


Glittering, alluring and rare, it’s little wonder the diamond became the most popular stone for an engagement ring. Over the years, jewellers have perfected their cuts to produce an exquisite sparkle – just what you want when you first place an engagement ring on your finger. These stunning stones formed deep within the earth’s crust over three billion years ago have become synonymous with love and luxury. But for some, a diamond doesn’t hold quite the same appeal. What are the best alternative stones for engagement rings if this isn’t your gem of choice?   

Whether you have ethical and environmental concerns over diamond mining and can’t afford a sustainably mined stone or prefer a different aesthetic, there are plenty of other stone options. But which one is right for your engagement ring? Our helpful guide to the ten best alternative stones not only helps you if you’re looking for a stone like a diamond, but it will also walk you through some of the best colourful alternatives stone for engagement rings for those who’d like their ring to pop for a different reason.

Why diamond alternatives are on the rise  

Humans are creatures of habit and tend to be swayed by trends. The trend for diamond engagement rings, costing a month’s worth of salary (and now commonly three months’ worth), started in the 1930s with De Beers, a diamond miner and jeweller. Their clever marketing campaign with the tagline “A diamond is forever” still has a profound effect on our choice of engagement rings.

But change is afoot. One major driving factor is how the likes of the blood diamond scandal shaped public opinion on mined diamonds. As our understanding of the social and environmental impact of mining diamonds grew, so did the demand for an ethical diamond alternative stone. From lab-grown diamonds that only jewellers can tell apart from a natural diamond to gems that share a similar appearance, there are options for those who still crave the unmistakable sparkle of this timeless stone.

Budgets have also played a role in the rise in popularity of diamond alternatives; now that we’re deep within the cost-of-living crisis, this has never been more relevant. Savvy

consumers have realised that there are stunning engagement rings with different gemstones that sit at a lower price point while still meeting the recipient’s style aspirations. The idea that an engagement ring has to be expensive is finally passing.

If you’re someone who likes their jewellery to be a little bit different, whether that’s bursting with joyful primary colours or sweetly romantic with soft hues, you can use your engagement ring to champion your individuality by opting for a different gemstone.   

What are the pros and cons of diamond alternatives

If a natural diamond isn’t for you, you’ll be delighted to hear that there are plenty of benefits to choosing a diamond alternative stone for an engagement ring.  

Reduced cost is by far one of the most positive aspects of buying an alternative gemstone. Everyone wins if you can find an engagement ring that your partner will love and that costs far less than you would have spent on a diamond ring. Opting for a stone other than a natural diamond often means you can choose a style and stone size that would’ve been out of your budget had you headed down the traditional route of a diamond ring.

Individuality is another crucial benefit. Though diamonds come in many different colours, you may not be able to find the vibrancy of colour within a diamond.

Beautiful and affordable as they may be, your diamond alternatives will lack the extraordinary strength of a diamond. If we put aside all the clever diamond branding that’s taken place over the years, the truth is diamonds are actually a very practical stone to have in a ring that you wear every day. They can only really receive significant damage to their surfaces at the hands of another diamond, making them a durable addition to a ring. When you have a diamond alternative stone in your engagement ring, you must be mindful of its vulnerability to damage.

Choosing the right alternative stone for an engagement ring

If you’d like to buy a stone similar to a diamond for your engagement ring, you’re in luck.  

Though still on the higher end of the budget for some, lab-grown diamonds are a good choice if you’re only avoiding this type of stone because you have concerns over mining practices. Grown using carbon, heat and pressure, just as natural diamonds were made in the earth, lab-grown diamonds are, to all intents and purposes, a diamond. They look the same. They have the same hardiness. They will only differ to a jeweller’s trained eye due to a mark imprinted on their base by the lab that grew them.

If you’d like a gemstone that looks like a diamond but at a much more affordable price tag, there is no denying the beauty of both the white sapphire and moissanite. These are also excellent choices if you want a ring that you don’t need to be too careful with since both gems rate highly on the Mohs scale of relative hardiness.  

Are you worried that a diamond alternative stone for your engagement ring won’t offer the wow factor? You’ll find plenty of brilliance in well-cut examples of moissanite, ruby and morganite.

When you’d love to work within a smaller budget, find natural splendour and visual impact with amethysts, morganites and aquamarines. These are some of the least expensive gemstones that work well in an engagement ring, but you’ll need to take good care of them, as hardiness is not their strong suit. These softer stones can be damaged more easily than a diamond, and both aquamarines and morganites can be dulled by common household cleaning products. So be ready to remove your engagement ring before any manual work, and keep a pair of marigolds prepared for washing up and cleaning.  

If you’re choosing a diamond alternative because you want your ring to have more personality, you can enjoy being the proverbial kid in the sweetshop, exploring all the different colours of gems available. As you move on to explore our top ten best alternative stones for engagement rings, you’ll get a taste of just how much choice you have.

Our top ten diamond alternatives  

Some gemstones have already been thrown into the arena as a potential alternative to the diamond, and here you can learn more about these and others. Don’t forget, you needn’t limit yourself to just one type of gemstone. If they’re compatible in terms of hardiness, you can embrace a true kaleidoscope of colours in your engagement ring. Or, if you like things pared back and elegant, you’ll find delightfully demure diamond alternatives in our selection below, too.

  1. Lab-grown diamonds – a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and this old adage couldn’t be more relevant with a lab-grown diamond. Your engagement ring will have all the brilliance and impact of a natural diamond because, chemically, the stone in your ring is a diamond! Stunning, unbeatably strong and timeless, a lab-grown diamond is the ultimate natural diamond alternative for an engagement ring.
  2. Moissanites – only discovered around 120 years ago, moissanites were initially mistaken for diamonds until they underwent analysis. You can choose a transparent variety that will give you that dazzling diamond look or opt for a coloured variety. As you know, these rate highly on the Mohr scale, making them a wonderfully durable stone. If you want a large rock but can’t afford a diamond of that size, a moissanite is the most economical stone similar to a diamond. One of the key features of this stone is its unique rainbow sparkle (often compared to a disco ball), making a moissanite ideal for anyone who wants their engagement ring to have plenty of wow factor.
  3. Sapphires – effortlessly elegant, this classic gemstone of the jewellery world looks delightful in vintage style rings (indeed, they were the engagement ring stone of choice before the diamond took centre stage). There are also plenty of jewellers incorporating them into contemporary designs. Tough and resilient, they’re a very wearable stone and offer a superb intensity of colour. Popular engagement stone hues include royal blue, but you could choose pink or peach for a softer look.
  4. Aquamarines – a little lower on the Mohr scale than some of the other offerings on the list, the ethereal pale blue of an aquamarine makes this gem a fabulous centrepiece of romantic and quirky engagement ring styles. An affordable stone, this isn’t the gem if you’re after brilliance; instead, you would choose it for your love of its dreamy ocean aesthetic.
  5. Morganites – also not the toughest gems in the jewellery box, morganites are still fairly durable and are growing in popularity as a diamond alternative stone in engagement rings thanks to their pretty blush tones. The pink, peach and blue varieties are especially well-loved and offer a feminine vibe. Morganites can be cut to produce a notably dazzling brilliance.
  6. Emeralds – another classic gemstone for rings, these stones offer up that unmistakable shade of forest green, which can be used in either a striking modern design or a whimsical piece. If you take precautions, they can be durable stones, and though they aren’t the most budget-friendly stones, their rich colour means even a smaller gem can still provide plentiful impact.
  7. Rubies – a real eyecatcher, rubies are the stones if you want an engagement ring that stands out from the crowd. Their scarlet colour (and there are pink varieties, too) offers that link to love and passion. Get the right cut, and a ruby will provide more sparkle than you might expect, or you can find a simple-cut stone that glows with that poppy red hue. Though you may spend a little more for a ruby than some other coloured gemstones, like an emerald, you can still make an impression with a smaller stone.
  8. Amethyst – the humble amethyst offers an excellent price point with a glorious, vibrant violet colouration. This regal purple stone can twinkle happily when carefully cut and works very nicely in Celtic or royal-inspired designs. Choose between darkly deep purples and cute, pastel hues. Be careful with this pretty gem, as its softer nature leaves it a little vulnerable to damage.
  9. Opal – a gemstone that offers an entirely different look, an opal can create a unique, feminine engagement ring, making a milky centre stone that gently glows with all the colours of the rainbow in a similar style to mother of pearl. There’s something magical about this type of stone, which makes it well-suited to designs infused with whimsy and antique-style pieces. There is no escaping the fact that opals are soft stones, so you’ll need to be very careful with them. Consider engagement rings with a low setting to keep the opal safe and protected.
  10. Topaz – if you’re keen to bring a collection of colourful stones together in one engagement ring or to find just the right shade, it’s well worth diving into the divine colour chart of the topaz. The bold colours that work well for an engagement ring include pink, red, green and blue. They have enough hardiness on the Mohr scale to make them a wearable stone, and the right shine can set them sparkling.

For something truly unique, why not consider:

  • Peridot – an earthy, olive-green stone.
  • Onyx – offers an edgy black aesthetic.
  • Labradorite – which features an unusual, speckled effect.
  • Lapis lazuli – a deep blue stone with glittering gold flecks.
  • Quartz – a rock that looks perfectly imperfect with its striations and powdery colours.

Whether you want a stone like diamond or something completely different, the right gemstone is waiting to make your engagement ring your new favourite piece of jewellery.