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Color Me Unique: Color Gemstone Engagement Rings

The number of choices is massive when you consider a color gemstone engagement ring. Start with a “big idea” to begin to narrow down those choices.

Diamonds aren’t for everyone. Fashion-forward women who want to make a personal statement might veer off the usual engagement ring path, and a non-traditional color gemstone engagement ring may be just the thing.

Color on the ring finger of the left hand can grab attention with a unique and unexpected look. It can be flashy or subtle, depending on the color and the setting (not to mention the size) and whether it’s flanked by diamonds or other gemstones. Royalty and celebrities for many years have opted for beautiful color gemstone engagement rings.

When you consider color gemstones for the engagement ring, the number of choices can overwhelm — the possibilities are practically endless. You face countless types of gemstones, many of which also come in different colors and saturations.

So start with a “big idea.” Thinking about a favorite color, an unusual or rare gemstone, or something with significance like a birthstone will help you narrow down your options.

The wide world of color gemstones

When you think about color gemstones, you might naturally think first about sapphires, rubies and emeralds — the Big Three of gemstones. Each is available in a range of tones in its well-known color, from blindingly rich to quieter blues, reds and greens, respectively. Sapphires come in a variety of colors as well.

Even though diamonds are the subject of many songs, movies and media buzz, a very fine-quality natural sapphire, ruby or emerald is as rare as a fine diamond, and may be just as or more expensive. But many are affordable, and there is more variety to color gemstones than the Big Three. Here are a few examples:

  • Tanzanite, only discovered in 1967, is a rich blue-to-violet or purple gemstone that has become popular.
  • Topaz, known traditionally as the orange-brown November birthstone, is colorless and transparent in its pure form, but is usually tinted by other substances that give it a range of color from the popular light blue to spectacular pink-red, purple, yellow or orange colors.
  • Maybe she’d like a ring that keeps ’em guessing. Alexandrite actually turns different colors in sunlight; under fluorescent light, it looks like an emerald; and under incandescent light, it looks like a ruby!
  • Though not true minerals, cultured pearls are another alternative for an engagement ring. They come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. Pleasing and warm in appearance, pearls lend their luster to engagement rings. Many women value pearls for their softness and femininity.

You might consider her birthstone when thinking about a color gemstone engagement ring, connecting her special month to the birth of your new life together. Or pick the stone for the month you met, first kissed or got engaged, or for the month of your planned wedding.

Navigating the world of color gemstones

Diamond sellers have done a lot of work to make diamonds pretty easy to understand, with the 4Cs grading scale and a straightforward way of describing value. Color gemstones are a little trickier, so it’s important to buy from a reputable jeweler. A few things to know:


Generally, the more vivid the color is, the more expensive the gemstone. Like diamonds, cost is based on rarity, and naturally deeply hued gemstones are rarer than those that are paler or less vivid in color.


It’s typical for some gemstones to undergo some kind of “enhancement” process — often intense heating. These treatments make it possible for most people to own beautiful color gemstones. But your jeweler is legally obligated to tell you about any known treatments.


If you’re considering a color gemstone or cultured pearl as the center stone for an engagement ring, talk to your jeweler about whether the gem of your choice is practical. An engagement ring worn every day can endure a great deal of wear and tear. Sapphires and rubies are almost as hard as diamonds, but softer gemstones like emeralds or cultured pearls might be subjected to damaging bumping or scratching, especially with wearers who are very active. If you choose a more delicate gemstone or pearl for your engagement ring, talk to your jeweler about selecting a setting that will help protect it.

Lab-created color gemstones

Lab-created gems are identical to those formed underground and mined. They’re “grown” in a lab under the same conditions of heat and pressure as a gem that forms underground, yet have the advantage of having the ultimate color and clarity. Again, it’s a great way to get a beautiful color gemstone at an affordable cost, but your jeweler needs to disclose that the gemstone is synthetic.

If you’re looking for something fashionable yet out of the ordinary, a color gemstone engagement ring may be the perfect choice!

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