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18 December 2023

6 engagement ring gemstones that aren’t diamonds


If you’re here, reading this blog post, perhaps you’re on the cusp of proposing to your one true love and considering an engagement ring either without diamonds, or with an added gem or two to complement the diamond.

We’re here to help you choose the perfect gemstone for your engagement ring, with the guidance and expertise of Bristol-based contemporary jewellery designer, Jacks Turner.

When it comes to her unique jewellery designs, Jacks’ first love is diamonds – the mixture of the captivating sparkle and subtle colour brings her beautiful designs to life.

Many people believe that diamonds are colourless, but only the purest diamonds with no imperfections appear colourless. Jacks loves to use diamonds with more character and colour, as you can see in her stunning Le Lac Rose-Cut Diamond Ring and Le Lac Medium Diamond Slice Ring.

It’s the presence of nitrogen in a diamond which gives it a yellow or brown tint, while boron creates a blue diamond. Diamonds with other impurities can appear green, black, pink, orange, purple, and red.


But even with all those possibilities, if diamonds aren’t quite right for your dream engagement ring, here are 6 other gemstones to consider.


1. A sapphire for an exquisite engagement ring gemstone

If Jacks had to rank all the gemstones, sapphires would come second, after diamonds.

One of the first engagement rings Jacks ever sold had an amazing blue and white sapphire, which totally took centre stage. One half of the emerald-cut stone was clear, the other half was vivid blue. When set into a minimal modern ring design it looked incredible.

Sapphires are always thought of as blue, but the wide variety of colours and shades is what makes sapphires really special.

They range from blues, to greens, yellows, oranges, pinks, and can even change colour under different lights, or have really interesting colour mixes and inclusions within the stone – choosing a sapphire is like being in a candy store.

Jacks always tries to find the more unusual ones, taking inspiration gathered from the stunning lakes and forests of Côtes-d’Armor where she spends her summers.

Left to right: Oval Sapphire Diamond Ring, Teal Sapphire and Diamond Trilogy Ring, and Oval Green Sapphire Platinum Ring.

Sapphires have a similar (although not quite as intense) refractive quality to diamonds, as well as being a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, just below diamonds at 10.


2. A ruby for a red engagement ring gemstone

Rubies, like sapphires, are a variety of the mineral corundum. The Gem Society explains, “the presence of chromium is largely what makes a corundum gemstone red. All other varieties of corundum (anything not red) are classified as sapphire.”

Rubies make a wonderful gemstone for jewellery that will be worn everyday – like an engagement ring – because they’re a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning they’re hard-wearing. They’re also the second most valuable gemstone after diamonds.

When using rubies in engagement rings, Jacks likes to mix the subtle hues, such as pairing pink-ish rubies with darker red rubies, perhaps with a sprinkle of diamonds. Pink sapphires also pair beautifully with rubies.

She also favours setting rubies in yellow gold metal, as this really helps to bring out the stunning richness of the reds.


3. An aquamarine for a sea-blue engagement ring gemstone

Aquamarine is a beautiful sea-blue gemstone, ranging from pale blue to blue-green/teal. The darker toned blue gemstones are the most valuable and coveted, and large aquamarines can fetch a high price.

Associated with loyalty, an aquamarine makes a beautiful engagement ring gemstone, especially if your soon-to-be-betrothed partner loves the ocean almost as much as they love you.

Care is still needed with this stone, though aquamarine is a pretty durable 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale.


4. A tourmaline for an intensely-coloured engagement ring gemstone

Another of Jacks’ favourite alternative engagement ring gemstones is the tourmaline. It’s not as hard-wearing as diamonds, sapphires and rubies, rating as 7-7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

But tourmaline makes up for it with intense greens, blues, pinks, yellows, browns and black, depending on whether iron, magnesium or lithium is present in the gemstone. Sometimes, they even have two or more colours present in the same stone.

When combined with diamonds, a beautiful tourmaline stone will give you an engagement ring you just can’t stop admiring.

Plus, tourmaline is said to “calm the negative emotions that upset relationships” – which sounds like the perfect property for an engagement ring!

Blue/Green Tourmaline Ring & Green Tourmaline Silver Ring


5. A topaz for an alluring & affordable engagement ring gemstone

Topaz is a beautiful gemstone that is more affordable than diamonds, sapphires, rubies and tourmalines. It comes in a wide variety of colours, although you don’t get the wide assortment of shades in each colour that you do with sapphires.

There is some variation, for example you can get sky blue topaz, London blue, and the Swiss topaz is also a blue gemstone. When ordering a specific colour of topaz, it will more than likely be that colour – whereas with other gemstones, it can be tricky to exactly match 2 of the same colour.

You can see the difference between the different shades of blue topaz used in these rings by Jacks – Asymmetric Sky Blue Topaz Ring & the London Blue Topaz Silver Ring (below).

Topaz can also be yellow, orange, pink, or colourless, and is an 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, however a level of care is needed to ensure that the stone doesn’t chip or crack. Extreme temperature changes, chemicals and abrasive cleaners should all be avoided.


6. A green amethyst for a subtly coloured engagement ring gemstone

Green amethyst is a beautifully soft, pale green gemstone, which Jacks uses often in her jewellery. The colour is so elegant and understated.

Green amethyst is a popular stone for those who are self-gifting, but it would make a perfect alternative engagement ring too.

Technically, green amethyst is actually a prasiolite, or green quartz gemstone. The subtly green-coloured stone can be found naturally, or can be made artificially by gently heat-treating purple amethyst.

Again, care needs to be taken with green amethyst, as the stones are not as hard as some of the others we’ve listed – it is a 7 on the Mohs scale.

Jacks’ Asymmetric Green Amethyst Ring & Green Amethyst Silver Ring


Jacks always recommends using a gemstone higher on the Mohs hardness scale for engagement rings, such as diamonds, sapphires and rubies. These precious stones will more likely withstand the rigour of constant wear over time.

If your heart is set on a gemstone that is lower on the Mohs scale, then more care will be needed. They can be easily scratched, and will need cleaning more often to keep them looking their best, due to their relatively low light refraction.

If you need further guidance, have a read through our other engagement ring blog posts –


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Jacks Turner an British independent contemporary jewellery designer in her Bristol jewellery workshop.

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Online Orders

Our ‘Made to Order’ Christmas deadline has now closed.  Next order dispatch will be after 3rd January 2024.

We still have lots of lovely ‘Ready to ship’ jewellery gifts on our website – Shop the link below. Last posting date for Christmas ‘ready to Ship’ orders is 21st December.
Or follow the link to our stockists. 

Jewellery Consultations will Open from 4th January 2024

Wishing you a lovely Festive Break and Thank You for supporting my independent jewellery business. 

Merry Christmas, Jacks