Some Engagement Rings Feature Gems Other Than Diamonds

by - Thursday, June 06, 2013

If you’re ready to pop the question of your lifetime, you'd better buy a ring. It’s an expected engagement present that represents the undying love you and your fiancée share. Diamonds in engagement rings have been popular for over a century, but there are many alternatives. There's a variety of gems that express all the emotions you feel, and they'll often provide a more personalized, sentimental and affordable option to a traditional diamond.

Where did Engagement Rings Originate?

Since prehistoric times, rings of some kind have been part of the marriage relationship. Early man tied braided grass cords to their mate’s wrists, waist or ankles to symbolize that she was under his control. Greek grooms in 200 BC gave their brides an iron ring to wear after the ceremony. Just as with their predecessors, the ring symbolized a man’s ownership of his wife.

Eventually, the engagement ring became a symbol of more than ownership. Its unending circle came to symbolize the characteristics of marriage, including love, faithfulness and friendship, and engaged couples began representing that symbolism with a variety of materials. Thimbles served as rings in the 1700s, with women wearing the ring portion after the tip wore out. Victorian jewelry of the 1800s even included human hair and a variety of gems in various settings. 

A 2002 Fairchild Bridal Group study discovered that up to one in three couples spend two months’ salary on this single ring. In total, US couples spend up to $6.7 billion annually on engagement rings.

  So Why Diamonds? 

Diamonds in engagement rings and the custom of the modern day engagement ring both made their appearance in 1477 when Austrian Archduke Maximilian gave his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, a ring with an M made from thin, flat diamonds. At that time, people considered diamonds to be charms that were able to enhance marital love, but the precious stones were only affordable to royalty.

It wasn’t until 1867 that diamond engagement rings became the norm for the masses, however. That year, the diamond industry exploded with the discovery of an abundance of these precious gems in South Africa. "Common people" could suddenly afford the sparkling jewelry enhancing gem. Tiffany & Company took advantage of the discovery with the Tiffany setting, a six-prong design that showed off the brilliance of the sparkling diamond it held. Sears & Roebuck and other catalog companies also offered affordable engagement and wedding rings as early as the 1890s.

Diamonds remain popular gemstones in engagement rings today because they're durable and beautiful and they symbolize the commitment of eternal love in a marriage. These valuable gems are also often considered to be priceless heirlooms. Even during the Great Depression, when money was desperately tight, Americans protected their diamond rings and passed them down between generations.

  Consider Alternative Gems 

Despite their popularity and value, engagement rings have contained alternative gems throughout history. They are just as meaningful, sparkly and beautiful as diamonds. Rubies signify eternal love and were a popular gem from 1600 to 1700. Colored stones, including amethyst, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and turquoise, continued in popularity through the 1800s. While each of these gems are beautiful in their own right, they can also carry special significance for the engaged couple. 

  • Amethysts cultivate a sober mind as they symbolize sincerity, piety and wisdom
  • Citrines bring cheer and happiness
  • Emeralds represent hope, fidelity and faith
  • Garnets attract friendship and improve self–esteem 
  • Opals portray balance, beauty and hope
  • Pearls invoke integrity, innocence and purity
  • Peridots indicate purity and protect against negative emotions
  • Rubies represent royalty, contentment and peace
  • Sapphires portray faithfulness and loyalty
  • Topazes activate attraction
  • This partial list of diamond alternatives illustrates a variety of available reminders of true love, faithfulness and integrity, three essential marital characteristics. Anyone who wears a ring with an alternative gemstone enjoys a unique piece of jewelry that’s also personalized, sentimental and affordable.

    Buy a Personalized Ring

    Any woman will prefer a handcrafted ring over a mass-produced ring. It shows you really know your fiancée’s preferences, personality and style. With an alternative gem in her engagement ring, she knows she’s one of a kind in your eyes, heart and life.

    Promote Sentimentality

    Buying an engagement ring with an alternative gem can greatly increase the gift’s sentimental value. Use a gem from her grandmother’s favorite ring or from your mom’s necklace. Or choose a setting that allows you to add both of your birthstones. A sentimental gem helps create a lovely heirloom that grows in value because you had it handcrafted just for her.

    Save Some Cash

    Utilizing alternative gems can be more affordable than you think, particularly if you hire a jewelry artisan to make it by hand. While an alternative gem is valuable – sometimes even more valuable and rare than diamonds – you can customize the ring to be as affordable or expensive as you want. With the money you save, you can splurge on a luxurious honeymoon or start a house fund.

    Don’t pop the big question until you have an engagement ring in hand. But instead of buying a diamond ring, at least consider an alternative gem that expresses your unending love and devotion shared between you and your beloved.

    … written by Images Jewelers has been creating fine, handcrafted, jewelry for nearly 50 years. Located in northern Indiana, the staff and artists at Images Jewelers have been providing wearable works of art to customers the world over. You can follow them on Facebook to see the latest in creative jewelry design.

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