Engaged couples are embracing diamond alternatives, even though some are nearly as expensive as the real thing

·3 min read
A jeweler places a moissanite gem into a ring.
Insider spoke to a gem expert about diamond alternatives. Ivan-balvan/Getty Images
  • People typically propose marriage with diamond rings.

  • But alternative stones like moissanite and white sapphires are becoming more popular.

  • A jeweler told Insider about the benefits and drawbacks of three diamond alternatives.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Although diamond rings are the standard ring for proposals in the US, more and more couples have been embracing diamond alternatives in recent years.

Look-alike gems, such as moissanite or white sapphires, can be a great option for couples who want a more cost-effective or environmentally friendly ring for their proposals.

But an expert says there are pros and cons to going the non-diamond route.

Moissanite, white sapphires, and white aquamarines are three of the most popular diamond alternatives

Gem specialist Benjamin Khordipour of Estate Diamond Jewelry told Insider that moissanite has become popular over the last 20 years.

If you're looking for a sparkly alternative to a diamond, moissanite is most likely the best choice for you, because it has a similar hue and shininess.

Moissanite's brilliance and refractive qualities are different from those of diamonds upon close inspection, but only an expert or someone examining the ring closely would be able to tell the difference between a moissanite and a lower quality diamond ring, according to Khordipour.

White sapphires and aquamarines also have the white hue of a diamond, but Khordipour said they are even less sparkly than moissanite. It would be fairly easy for anyone to tell that rings made of white sapphire or aquamarine weren't diamonds.

In addition, the three alternative gems are also softer than diamonds, which means they're less durable. They can be worn every day, but you should expect more wear and tear from frequent use than you would from a diamond.

The alternatives can be more affordable than real diamonds, but that's not always the case

Diamond rings are expensive, and waiting to propose until you can afford a large diamond can delay engagements and marriages.

Although they can be a cost-effective option, Khordipour said that alternative rings aren't always more affordable than diamond rings.

For instance, if you buy a one-carat moissanite ring, it will likely cost around $1,500, according to Khordipour.

You can get a lower quality diamond for around the same price, so you wouldn't actually save money by going for the alternative.

Guy putting engagement ring on girl's finger proposal
Some diamonds might be the same price as an alternative gem. Shutterstock

However, white sapphires and aquamarines are much more affordable than a diamond. Khordipour said a one-carat aquamarine could be as affordable as $100, which makes it a great option for couples looking for a less expensive ring.

It's also important to keep in mind that moissanites, sapphires, and aquamarines don't have the same resale value as a diamond, as Khordipour, who specializes in vintage and antique gems, told Insider.

You wouldn't be able to make money off of them later, so they aren't an investment in the way that diamonds are, according to Khordipour. He advises against lab-grown gems for the same reason.

At the end of the day, you should pick the engagement ring that's right for you

There are pros and cons to all gems, which is why Khordipour recommends couples just pick the type of ring they like after doing their research.

"I always tell people to buy what they love," he said.

And if you're interested in diamond alternatives but worried about what others will think, Khordipour encourages people to remember that diamonds only became the standard gem for engagement rings in the 1930s.

"It was actually very popular for pearls, rubies, and sapphires to be used for engagement rings as much diamonds," he said.

So whether you choose a real diamond, a gem that looks like one, or a more colorful alternative, just make sure you're picking the ring that feels right for you.

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