Top 7 WORST stones for an engagement ring (and amazing alternatives!)
Here we are again, ruining your dreams of that super uncommon engagement ring stone that no one else will have. Although we're all about the most unique rings and stones, we're also here to help you make good choices, and the standards exist for good reason.
As for the 7 stones detailed here...we know they're beautiful, but they're just not practical for the ring of a lifetime.
WHY PEARL IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
Pearl engagement rings have a moment every so often, mostly as a result of someone famous getting one (we see you, Emma Stone and Arianna Grande).
Pearls are a beautiful phenomenon of nature -- symbolically one in a million: miracles made from scratch. They easily lend themselves to love stories and they are a wardrobe classic. Symbols of purity, loyalty, and integrity -- it's no wonder they infatuate some to the point of wanting to wear one special one forever. Elegant, unusual, and affordable -- pearls can be an attractive choice as an engagement ring. Unfortunately, a lifetime with a pearl engagement ring will prove to be a high maintenance endeavor.
On the Moh’s scale of hardness, pearls come in at only 2.5-3, making them one of the softest gems available. This low number means that they can be scratched or abraded by just about anything, as just about everything is harder than they are! Pearls are meant to be worn in specialty jewels, not every day. Everything from hand soap to hair spray can damage or dehydrate them, as they're porous in addition to being soft. As if they needed one more strike against them -- pearls are mostly glued into their settings, as their shape does not lend itself to being prong set (a strong mechanical setting that wraps metal around the contours of a cut gemstone). Any number of daily activities and encounters can risk their survival -- and it's simply a lot to ask of a pearl to last a lifetime with daily wear.
If you're dead set on a pearl engagement ring, be prepared for the possibility of loss and likelihood of replacement at some point, if not on multiple occasions. Perhaps you can satisfy your pearl craving by treating yourself to a pearl of another kind in another format that won't get as much wear and tear -- a special occasion necklace, for instance.
We recommend finding a white star sapphire as an alternative. Star sapphires are opaque cabochons and have a unique 'star' feature -- making them visually somewhat similar.
WHY MORGANITE IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
Morganite as an engagement ring choice is a bit of a controversial topic. It may not be the worst choice, but it's certainly not the best either. A moderate risk choice, Morganite (a 7.5-8 in mohs hardness) is technically the pink variety of Beryl. It's a beautiful pale pastel color -- varying from peach or salmon to violet-pink. It is a sister-stone to an Aquamarine and Emerald (both also technically Beryl), but it does reign slightly superior to an Emerald because it tends to be free of inclusions. It is beloved for it's neutral coloration and affordable price point. While the hardness of a Morganite is moderate, it will be more likely to chip, break, or abrade with wear. It will not hold up over the years as well as a harder Sapphire or Diamond. Additionally, it tends to require a lot more frequent cleaning, as it gets foggy and loses sparkle very easily. If you go with a morganite -- you'll find yourself taking it off before you wash your hands or put on lotion, not to mention every time you use cleaning supplies. It's likely that over the lifetime of the ring, you'll end up needing to have the stone re-surfaced at some point, which will re-polish the surfaces and restore shine and sparkle after a stone has become dull from being scratched.
*Double Trouble: People who love Morganite typically love it in a rose gold setting. This invites even more trouble, and we don't recommend it. Rose gold is SOFT, and will be less durable, more likely to bend or change shape, and as a result -- you'll be more likely to lose precious stones (especially teeny tiny ones in a shank or halo).
We recommend finding a peach Sapphire as an alternative. Sapphires are much harder and more durable, and come in every color! Ranges of pale pinks to salmons are available. Some of the rarest colors in this range are called Padparadscha Sapphires.
WHY OPAL IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
A fun, highly unique out-of-the-box choice for an engagement ring, we applaud you for wanting to express your individuality and do something different -- but we must beg and plead with you to not go the route of an Opal engagement ring. Opal might be the absolute worst choice -- or at least an even tie with a pearl-- as an engagement ring stone.
Opal, like pearl, is magical but oh-so-porous. It can be damaged by something as innocuous and commonplace as water! It's super soft as well, and will become scratched and abraded very quickly. It's sensitive to humidity and heat.
We've known a number of brides who have had to come to terms with the mistake of falling in love with an opal engagement ring -- and who have desperately tried to replace them repeatedly only to arrive at the same conclusion we give you here: Opals just won't last a lifetime. If you need an opal in your life -- find a killer pair of earrings or necklace, and spare your fingers and wrists the hassle.
We recommend finding a white star sapphire as an alternative. Star sapphires are opaque cabochons and have a unique 'star' feature -- making them visually somewhat similar. Another alternative would be a milky white diamond, which would be much more durable with a similar white look without the 'flash'.
WHY TANZANITE IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
There's no denying it: Tanzanite is stunning. It's every bit as unique as her, and will stop people in their tracks. Despite all of this-- we recommend you proceed with caution when considering a Tanzanite engagement ring.
A tanzanite gemstone only ranks at a 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, which makes it fairly soft -- softer, in fact, than dust (which itself is often composed of tiny particles of quartz). Additionally, it has perfect prismatic cleavage. Although that might sound like a good thing, it actually means that if it’s struck, it is likely to cleave or break along a perfect line. This means the stone can and will literally break in half if it's knocked just the right way. For this reason, it's not recommended to clean the ring in an ultrasonic either -- meaning you must be more careful with who and how the ring is cleaned, and you will be doing more manual cleanings at home with a toothbrush.
Similar to a morganite, Tanzanite will also lose it's sparkle easily and require regular cleanings to restore it's brilliance. It will also be easily scratched, and will likely require resurfacing sometime during it's lifetime.
We recommend finding a purple or blue Sapphire as an alternative. Sapphires are incredibly hard and durable, and are available in lots of shades of blue and purple.
WHY AMETHYST/QUARTZ IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
You may already know where this is going since we mentioned it before.... but Amethyst or colored quartz of any kind is not a good engagement ring choice because it can be scratched by anything equally hard, or harder than itself. Since quartz actually exists in dust, it means that virtually everything your future quartz engagement ring comes into contact with is potentially capable of scratching it. As a result, a ring with a quartz as a center stone will get scratched and abraded over time, and it will most certainly require resurfacing or replacing.
In addition, quartz is a fairly soft stone and will be prone to chipping and cracking. It's extremely affordable, though, so if you are budget conscious and have no problem replacing your stone regularly (and, importantly, won't get attached to 'the stone'), you might be alright considering a quartz. Quartz, alternatively, might make a good stand-in stone if your budget is small and you plan on upgrading to a more durable stone later.
We recommend finding a purple Sapphire as an alternative. Sapphires are incredibly hard and durable, and, while less common in purple, can be found.
WHY MOONSTONE IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
Moonstone is a milky, iridescent stone that is unique and vibrant. Unfortunately, it's not a great choice for an engagement ring. It's another soft stone that's notorious for having cleavage that can make it shear apart with just the right (or, wrong) hit.
We recommend finding a white star sapphire or Milky Diamond as an alternative. Star sapphires are opaque cabochons and have a unique 'star' feature -- making them visually somewhat similar. Milky Diamonds have a unique appearance that is quite similar to Moonstone with far superior hardness.
WHY EMERALD IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING
Emerald is a bit of a controversial topic when it comes to engagement rings. Although it has a history of use, it's not a particularly durable choice. There's nothing like the beautiful mystical color of the Emerald, and it's got an allure all it's own. Although it technically comes in at a 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it's a 'type III' stone which can be a bit deceptive. This means that Emeralds are in a category of stones that are known to exhibit extensive eye-visible inclusions. Inclusions make stones weaker and more prone to damage, so although an emerald is technically hard -- it is still quite likely to be damaged when worn daily. It will be next to impossible to find a 'flawless' Emerald, although in theory, if you could, it would be stronger. Inclusions that reach the surface of the gem may increase its risk for chipping.
We recommend finding a green Sapphire or green Moissanite as an alternative. If you simply must have an emerald -- stay away from stones with surface-reaching inclusions, and make sure you choose a setting that will protect it as much as possible.