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Gone are the days when the only difference between your engagement ring and the next one that passes by is the diamond shape or type of metal. Nowadays, there are increasingly more choices in bridal jewelry for both engagement rings and wedding bands that are allowing brides to get creative with their forever jewelry. While diamonds currently remain the most requested stone for engagement rings, various gemstones are slowly inching up in popularity. “Blue sapphire, emerald and ruby are the big three in terms of requested gemstones,” said Shannon Delany-Ron, the CMO at JamesAllen.com.
Not only has the requested types of rings shifted, but brides-to-be are also getting inspiration from more places than ever before. The most common sources of inspiration, according to the jewelers we spoke to, are Pinterest and Instagram, with a handful of celebrity ring photos being brought in as well. “We also get clients who have inspiration from family heirlooms that they want to modernize,” said Madeline Fraser, founder and CEO of Gemist, a custom jewelry site out of LA.
How to pick the best gemstone
So, how do you know what to look for in different gemstones compared to the 4 Cs of diamonds (cut, color, clarity, and carat)? “Gemstones are all about choosing the color first, then shape and carat weight comes second,” Delaney-Ron explained. It is important to note that gemstones are ranked by hardness on the Mohs Hardness Scale, with diamond coming in highest (or most durable) at 10 and pearl coming in at only 2.5, meaning it’s highly breakable. Before you decide which stones you want on your ring, consult the Mohs Hardness Scale and take into account the gemstone’s durability.
Ring trends come and go, but at the end of the day, the style of ring and type of stone that you choose is a deeply personal decision.
“Our advice is always to choose your ring the same way we choose our partners — by finding the one that makes you smile, and makes your heart beat fast,” says Rony Vardi, founder and co-creative director of Brooklyn-based Catbird.
The best unique engagement rings and wedding rings
We’ve rounded up some of the best of the gemstones out there that are likely to inspire your bridal ring search. We included some of the most popular gemstones among brides-to-be (including a few diamond rings) and chose styles and designs that are relatively affordable — CNBC previously reported that the average engagement ring costs $5,900, and all of our picks sit below that price.
Best diamond rings
This three-stone, emerald stunner is what engagement dreams are made of. The VOW by RC is Ring Concierge’s most affordable line as diamonds only go up to a maximum of 1.99 carats. They also offer a home try-on program so you can really get a feel for how your dream rock will fit your finger.
Alternating diamonds adds a luxe feel to the signature David Yurman cable design, but the ring is simple enough to pair with any engagement ring. The intertwined classic platinum with sparkly diamonds could also symbolize the joining of two souls, just like the act of matrimony.
Best lab-created diamond rings
Lab-created, aka lab-grown diamonds, are an ethical alternative to mined diamonds that still hold all the same optical properties, so they look identical to the naked eye. “Rounds are the most popular diamond shape, so it makes sense that more customers opt for round diamonds with lab-created since they are more affordable,” said Ajay Anand, CEO of diamond ring marketplace Rare Carat. This ¾-carat sparkler from Gem & Harmony packs a punch without denting your wallet.
Coming in at over 5 carats, this lab-grown diamond wedding band is relatively affordable and looks just like regular diamonds to the naked eye. Choose between a white, yellow or rose gold band to perfectly match your taste and engagement ring.
Best emerald rings
One of the most common gemstone requests, emerald has a nontraditional feel with a slight nod to, well, tradition. When paired with a darker metal like yellow gold, it enhances the warmth of the green, making it appear richer. “A ring that features diamonds alternating with colored gemstones creates a beautiful and sparkly look,” said Ryan Kelsie, a gemologist at online jewelry company Ritani.
Alternating bezel-set diamonds with prong-set emeralds, this delicate band gives off vintage, art deco vibes. And at a lighter shade of green, it could perfectly complement a darker engagement stone. “This creates a gorgeous gradient or ombre effect,” said Helen Ficalora, jewelry expert and founder of Helen Ficalora jewelry.
Best sapphire rings
Channel your inner Princess Diana with this gorgeous 1.05-carat sapphire stunner. The royal blue of the gem really pops when surrounded by a sea of crystal clear diamonds. “Sapphires come in many variations, so you can always find your perfect shade of 'something blue,’” said jeweler Nicole Kopelman, CEO of Nicole Rose Jewelry Inc.
“An important thing to consider is [that you] love your wedding band on its own, not only in concert with your engagement ring,” said Vardi. This ring, which features 26 baguette and round sapphires sat along a band of gold, can be easily stacked with other favorites or can stand alone as a statement piece.
Best ruby rings
“A favorite in the 1920s-1940s, you’ll see ruby in a lot of antique jewels,” said Lauren Priori of Philadelphia-based L. Priori Jewelry. While this Kapes showstopper isn’t technically antique, it has antique features with its ornate, halo-esque design and vintage-feeling platinum band.
"When choosing the perfect ruby — the deeper, richer the red, the richer the stone,” said Kopelman. A ring as unique as the gem itself, this curved heart design should comfortably fit next to an engagement ring. According to the brand, a percentage of the profits are donated to breast cancer research, so you can feel good knowing you are giving back while adding a gorgeous ring to your finger.
Best turquoise rings
There’s a reason turquoise is so commonly seen in this style of ring — it literally keeps the precious stone safe. “Even though turquoise is a softer gemstone, setting it in a bezel setting can be highly protective,” said Sarah Ortega of Denver-based Sarah O. Jewelry. Whether set on a band of white or yellow gold, turquoise is one of those special gems where you can’t really go wrong.
This chunky band could complement a thin engagement ring nicely, while the small pops of teal stand out. “Although not as sparkly as typical transparent gemstones, a striking sky-blue color gives this stone an earthy quality that will resonate with anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature,” said Suzanne Sachs, the expert behind VintageDiamondRing.com.
Best topaz rings
This is not your average pear-shaped ring. “Topaz is available in an exceptionally wide range of colors, but Imperial topaz — which features a brownish-red hue — is the most recognizable and valuable,” said Sachs. Surrounded by white diamonds in a wave design, this unique ring should grab attention.
Gorjana White Topaz Nesting Ring (sold out)
A nesting ring is named so as it can gently cradle another diamond or gemstone when worn together. Not only could this highlight your bigger stone, but it can also appear as though they are one fabulous ring. “White topaz is bold, different and ubiquitous — a brilliant way of making an independent fashion statement,” said jewelry designer Dale Novick of Dale Novick Fine Jewelry.
Best moissanite rings
Next to lab-created, Moissanite is the closest thing in terms of details to a regular diamond, and is a popular alternative among brides due to the lower price tag. Recently made popular among future brides since being seen on the ring fingers of stars like Emily Ratajkowski and Ariana Grande, “a toi et moi engagement ring is quickly becoming a new classic for the modern bride,” said Kopelman. ‘Toi et moi’ means ‘you and me’ in French, and the juxtaposition of these pear and princess cuts not only feels modern, but also feels, and looks, expensive without a hefty price tag.
East-West diamonds (read: diamonds laid horizontally rather than vertically) have been trendy in recent years, and this modern design has an old world feel. The way the baguette is set apart from the rest of the diamonds makes it almost feel like a whole second engagement band. “Under sunlight, moissanite stones tend to exhibit a fiery and colorful sparkle, sometimes called the ‘disco ball’ effect,” said third-generation jeweler Jen Oliak of Ounce of Salt Jewelry.
Best pearl rings
If this pearl ring looks familiar, you aren’t going crazy. This is Emma Stone’s exact engagement ring, and it’s relatively affordable. The diamond snowflake motif perfectly accentuates the delicate pearl. But be warned — like we mentioned before, a pearl ring could be risky. “Special care should be taken with a pearl ring as this is an organic gem that is easily scratched or affected by chemical exposure,” advised Delany-Ron.
Eleven freshwater pearls on the metal color of your choice feels extremely elegant. “Pearls are often associated with innocence and modesty, and of course, romance and love, all of which are ideal traits for wedding jewelry,” said Sachs. Given the raised setting of the pearls, we definitely recommend using extra caution when wearing this ring.
Best opal rings
The scalloped-edged, filigree frame enhances the beauty of the opal with ornate, yet not overpowering details. “Opals don’t just sparkle — they glisten, change colors and feature fantastic flashes of light that continually demand attention,’ said Sachs.
This eternity band radiates a pearly kaleidoscope of colors in daylight, for an ethereal feel that can mimic your bridal beauty. However, similar to pearls, opals are a delicate stone, so this ring should be removed before cleaning the house with any harsh chemicals.
Best aquamarine rings
Set like a solitaire but studded with small diamonds like a pave, this unique ring could be perfect for the indecisive bride. The cushion cut of the gem has a softer effect than the harsh, square edges of a princess cut, while the soft blue and white gold add an almost icy feel to the ring.
Open cuffs have all the sparkle of an eternity band, but sit much nicer side-by-side with other rings. A small, pear-shaped aquamarine stone adds a slightly playful touch. “I love incorporating hidden ‘peek-a-boo’ gems within designs as a fun way to incorporate color without fully committing to a bold shade,” said Alex Austin, the event planner and ring designer of Alex Austin Events and Design.
Best morganite rings
An alternative version of a toi et moi design, this style is bound to please the dainty jewelry lover. A gold band brings out the peachiness of the morganite for a soft, romantic feel. You can even get the inside of this ring engraved with your wedding date or initials for a personal touch.
The best part about a half eternity band is that no one knows it is only half eternity except for the wearer — and half the diamonds means half the price. This art deco, vintage-inspired band would enhance any diamond shape while balancing geometric trends. “The soft pink shade pairs beautifully with rose gold,” said Kelsie.
Best amethyst rings
“The deep, dark purple hue [of amethyst] looks exquisite when paired with diamonds or fixed within an ornate, antique setting,” said Sachs. A twisted, braid-like halo on this ring from Jared adds intricate detailing to supplement the beauty of the amethyst.
A quirky, chevron style is an alternative to the curved, crown-like, wedding band trend. “Stones with a light, translucent shade of lavender look especially beautiful when showcased within silver or platinum,” said Sachs. This arrow shape can actually drag the eye in the pointed direction, giving the fingers a longer, slimmer appearance.