Here we are again, second guessing your dreams of that funky colored, uncommon engagement ring stone that no one else has.
Don't get us wrong -- we love a unique ring and are all about unusual stones! However, we're also here to help you make good choices that will last a lifetime.
Here, we detail 5 'moderate risk' engagement ring stone options with details about why they might (or might not) be the jewel of her dreams.
IS TOURMALINE A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING?
Tourmaline is a gemstone of moderate hardness (7-7.5 on the Mohs scale) that comes in a rainbow of color options and can be found with varying degrees of clarity. Tourmaline can be both radically affordable and incredibly expensive, depending on the desired color. For example: Paraiba tourmalines, which are a one of a kind electric neon blue-green color are so rare that they can command prices of up to $10,000 a carat. At stark contrast, Black Scorf tourmaline, one of the most common opaque colors is incredibly affordable and their cost can be compared to Citrine or Garnet.
Unique bi-color or tri-color options might be a reason to select Tourmaline as an engagement ring (although, Sapphires come in bi-tones, too). For example, Watermelon Tourmaline can be striking -- exhibiting saturated areas of green, pink, and/or white (clear) juxtaposed. Other bi and tri color options might be available, too. There are beautiful ranges of blues, greens, turquoises, and pinks from saturated deep rose colors to paler watermelons, as well as many desaturated versions of these same colors, so there are a wide number of color options available. Some of these colors are unique to Tourmaline, while some might be rivaled by other stones that are harder and more durable, like Sapphire. Thus, it's our opinion that if the color you seek can be found elsewhere in a more durable stone -- look at Sapphires instead.
If you're set on a color you can't find outside of Tourmaline, though, there are certainly worse choices out there. Just know that you'll need to treat your stone with a little more care and that you might have a little more maintenance down the road.
IS AQUAMARINE A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING?
Aquamarine is a typically pale, light blue gemstone best known as the March birthstone. A member of the Beryl family (a sister stone to Emerald and Morganite), Aquamarines are often eye clean and flawless, even as sizable specimen. Like Emerald, it is a 7.5/10 on the Mohs hardness Scale, however it is a stronger choice from a durability standpoint because of it's clarity.
Aquamarine can range from an extremely pale (almost clear) blue to medium and darker tones, and sometimes has a green hue to it. Typically, the darker the color, the more valuable the stone. Darker Aquamarines may also be more valuable as an engagement ring stone because of their increased ability to hide dirt/grime and oil better than lighter stones as well.
While not our first choice for an engagement ring stone, Aquamarine is certainly not our last either. For someone who desires a pale blue color and possible large size without the traditional intense brilliance and sparkle of a Diamond, Aquamarine may be a good choice. Our recommendation is to look for a medium to dark blue to avoid feeling the need to clean your ring 24/7.
IS EMERALD A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING?
Emerald is one we've touched on before (it actually also made our list of 7 WORST engagement ring stones), but it's quite a controversial one. It's got a solid history of being used as an engagement ring stone (from political figures like Jacqueline Kennedy and the Duchess of Windsor to celebs like Halle Barry, Angelina Jolie, and Beyoncé), and there's truely nothing quite like it's amazing range of green hues. We're honestly a bit on the fence about this one ourselves, but it warranted a place on this list because some people simply LOVE the look and historical precedent of an Emerald engagement ring.
While some Emerald specimen are truely bad choices, others fall solidly in the 'moderate risk' category. With this gem -- it's all about the individual stone.
Although it technically comes in at a 7.5 on the Mohs scale, Emerald is a 'type III' stone, meaning one of their characteristic traits is the exhibition of extensive eye-visible inclusions. Inclusions make stones weak and more prone to damage, so despite the stone's technical hardness, it's actually quite easy to chip or damage an Emerald, and the likelihood of this is a sliding scale -- the more included a stone, the more likely it is that it will chip or break with wear. In addition, certain types or locations of inclusions can make a stone more or less susceptible to damage, so it's important to work with a trusted jeweler or gemologist when selecting a stone.
Keep in mind that it will be next to impossible to find a 'flawless' Emerald, so your strategy will be to find the best stone your budget will allow, and inspect it thoroughly for telltale inclusions. (this is where your trusted jeweler comes into play)!
Emeralds of an ideal engagement ring quality do command a high price, so you will be opting for this stone out of the love for the gem, not as an economical option compared to other traditional stone choices.
IS TOPAZ A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING?
Topaz is an economical stone that is available in green, orange, yellow, white (technically 'clear') and it's most widely known hue: blue. One reason to consider Topaz as an engagement ring center stone might be certain specific color choices. For example, the London Blue hue (a widely accepted result of irradiation and subsequent heat treatment) is really specific to the gem, and you'd be hard pressed to match this unique color in any other gemstone. Similarly, Imperial and Precious Topaz both have an unusual, mellow neutral or earthy tonality to them that some might find attractive. These stones are typically desaturated in color and range from a peachy to orangey hue.
Where Topaz as an engagement ring truely excels: size. One can find a sizable Topaz for an engagement ring at a bargain compared to other traditional options. However, a little food for thought: the larger the stone, the more likely it is to see wear and tear, particularly when worn daily.
Buyer beware: There are many Topaz varieties available, and many with their own unique names and special treatments. Some 'colors' of Topaz are not colors at all, but surface treatments. It would be wise to avoid any stone with a surface treatment as an Engagement ring stone, as these will not be durable enough for this type of jewelry.
IS IOLITE A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING?
Iolite, a stone you've likely never heard of, ranks equally to Tourmaline on the Mohs scale, coming it at a 7-7.5. It's an uncommon stone choice for an engagement ring, but it falls into the 'moderate' risk category, and it offers a unique color that you might be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Iolite's range from pale to deep purple colors with a blue overtone. In particularly nice specimen, the color can be similar to the more popular Tanzanite, however typically Tanzanite will be a richer, more saturated color. Iolite, when compared to Tanzanite, is quite a bit more economical in price and also a bit harder. Tanzanite, by comparison, is softer -- soft enough in fact that it makes our list of 'worst choices' for an Engagement Ring. Iolite is not typically treated in any way, so that could be seen as a favorable attribute if the origin and 'naturalness' of a stone is important to you.
If she's into a purple stone, it will be much easier to both locate and afford an Iolite than your other viable option -- a Sapphire. Particularly if size is important, as purple Sapphires are difficult to track down and most tend to be smaller than a carat in size.