SELECTING YOUR ENGAGEMENT RING GEMSTONE (Part 2)
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT! BRIEF GUIDE TO POPULAR COLORED GEMSTONES FOR ENGAGEMENT RINGS
This is the second part of a two-part article regarding colored gemstones for engagement rings. Part 1 can be found with this link: https://westernsagestudios.com/engagement-rings/selecting-your-engagement-ring-gemstone/
Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds have traditionally been the gemstones of choice for engagement rings. The popularity of these gems for engagement rings is expected to continue. All are expected to hold their value and desirability for the long term. Other gemstones, such as morganite and Mahenge garnets have recently become popular. Below is a summary of the most popular colored stones for today’s engagement ring.
Natural colored diamonds (referred to as fancy diamonds), such as yellow, blue and pink are available but are beyond the budget of most couples. Other natural colors such as black, chocolate and champagne are more reasonably priced. In the last several years, treated diamonds in several colors have entered the market. These diamonds are irradiated to bring out these colors. Treated diamonds are relatively inexpensive compared to naturally colored diamonds.
Our diamond inventory currently includes only natural, uncut stones. If you are looking for diamond rings, and are located in Southern California, we suggest Mandel Jewelers. They are celebrating the 50th year in business and can help you in your selection.
Moissanite is a rare, naturally occurring crystal, and is a popular substitute for diamonds. However, it is extremely rare, and not found in sizes suitable for jewelry. Therefore, moissanite used in engagement rings are lab-created and are beyond the scope of this article.
SAPPHIRE AND RUBY (INCLUDING MONTANA SAPPHIRES)
Sapphires and rubies have been the king of colored gemstones for generations, and have historically been amongst the most popular colored gemstones featured in engagement rings. Both sapphires and rubies are of the same material (corundum). In fact, ruby is merely the red version of sapphire. Sapphires and rubies are considered “precious gems” and generally are more valuable than other gems. Many do not realize that gem quality rubies are rarer than diamonds, and the title of “most valuable gemstone” has shifted several times in the past few years between diamond and ruby.
Sapphires and rubies are the third hardest gemstone in existence, after diamond and moissanite. Sapphires and rubies have no “cleavage” and are not prone to chipping as are some other gemstones. Sapphires also come in every color. Therefore, sapphires and rubies make excellent choices for engagement rings.
During the past few years, sapphires from Montana have become popular for engagement rings. They are one of the few precious gems mined in the United States. Montana sapphires tend to be a bit brighter and lighter in color than other sapphires. In selecting a sapphire from Montana, try to select a clean gem that exhibits a lot of sparkle. Montana sapphires come in numerous colors, such as the classic “teal” (greenish-blue), various shades of blue, yellow, orange, green, pink and purple. Some Montana sapphires also exhibit a color shift depending on the light source. We currently carry a supply of Montana sapphires that are suitable for engagement rings.
Garnets are available in every color. It used to be said that blue garnets don’t exist, but a deposit of blue garnets was recently discovered. Historically garnets were not considered a desirable gemstone because of the abundance and low price of pyrope garnets. However, the discovery of pink, green, grape, and bright yellow stones has altered this perception, and garnets have made their way into engagement rings.
Tsavorite garnets are some of the brightest green gemstones available, even more, green than emerald. They also have a higher refractive than many other gemstones, and thus have lots of “sparkle”. Due to limited supply, prices have increased, with some tsavorites exceeding $2,000 per carat. Nonetheless, tsavorite garnets are still priced less than emeralds of similar quality. Tsavorite garnets are technically softer than emeralds, but are more durable, and therefore can be used in engagement rings if care is exercised. Tsavorite garnets attract attention in any jewelry and bring years of pleasure to whoever wears them.
Yellow Mali garnets are another bright gemstone. In fact, the refractive index of Mali garnets is high enough that even included stones exhibit quite a bit of sparkle.
Several varieties of pink to purple garnets are available, such as rhodolite, umbalite, and Mahenge. Recently, Mahenge garnets have become popular in engagement rings, although all pink garnets make for attractive gemstones. Many of these gemstones exhibit a degree of color shift, from pink to red to purple depending on the light source.
We carry all the above varieties of garnet in inventory, many of which are not listed on our website. Please feel free to contact us if you do not see exactly what you are looking for.
Spinel is one of our favorite gemstones. It is available in all colors, is a very bright gemstone, and is durable enough to be worn in an engagement ring with proper care. Spinel mimic sapphires and rubies in appearance. In fact, spinel and sapphire were not recognized as different gemstones until the 18th century.
Spinel has not historically been considered a popular gemstone for engagement rings. Nonetheless, jewelers and consumers are beginning to discover its virtues. In certain colors, its brightness exceeds that of sapphire. We currently carry spinel in inventory suitable for engagement rings.
Morganite is a naturally occurring gemstone, the pink variety of beryl. It is related to emerald and aquamarine. Morganite generally does not have the internal fractures like emerald, and is, therefore, less prone to chipping. It is hard enough to be used in an engagement ring provided care is exercised since it is not as hard as diamond or sapphire.
Morganite has recently been heavily promoted by many jewelers and is available in quantity and in large sizes. This is due to the discovery that colorless beryl can be treated to change its color to pink through a combination of irradiation and heat. Colorless beryl is first subjected to irradiation, which changes the color of some crystals to a brownish-pink. The brown tones are then eliminated through heat treatment. This combination of treatments greatly expanded the supply of morganite on the market, allowing the current promotion of this gemstone as an option for engagement rings.
Treated morganite is a very bright, attractive gemstone. However, some in the industry are concerned that the pink color of treated morganite will eventually fade if exposed to sunlight. This is based on color fading experienced by certain types of topaz and kunzite. The color in naturally pink morganite does not fade, and we believe it is premature to speculate whether treated morganite will suffer color fading.
We expect the supply of treated morganite will continue to increase. At this time, we cannot predict whether the current pricing of morganite will be sustained in the long term. Much of this will likely depend upon the future demand for pink gemstones.
If you are set on pink but want a gem that is naturally colored, be assured that there are many options available. Sapphires and spinel are both good choices since both are durable enough to be worn in rings. Garnets and tourmaline are also available in pink. These are softer gemstones but can be worn in engagement rings if care is exercised.
Historically tourmaline was not considered for engagement rings, but this has changed in the last few years. Pink and red (rubellite) tourmaline has become popular, as well as bright green chrome tourmaline. Most pink and red tourmaline tends to be a bit sleepy, so try to select gemstones that exhibit vivid colors. Chrome tourmaline is different. It is a very bright gemstone, exhibiting as much sparkle as tsavorite garnet. Chrome tourmaline is a good alternative to emerald for someone considering an emerald. In fact, it is chromium that gives both emerald and chrome tourmaline its unique green color.
Tourmaline is approximately the same hardness as garnet, but a bit softer than spinel. Care should be taken if tourmaline is the center stone in an engagement ring.
We currently carry rubellite and pink tourmaline in inventory. We are also in the process of faceting a parcel of chrome tourmaline, and expect to have this material cut and added to inventory shortly.
Aquamarine is a variety of beryl and is related to emerald and morganite. It has been featured in engagement rings in the past, and several large jewelers are currently marketing aquamarine rings. It is not brittle like emerald, but it is not as durable as sapphire, so care must be taken if worn in an engagement ring. Most bright blue aquamarine is heat-treated to bring out its full color. It can be a very attractive gemstone.
Emerald is the green variety of “beryl” (see Aquamarine and Morganite). Emeralds have been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Emeralds are featured in several famous engagement rings worn by celebrities. Emerald is one of the harder gemstones. However, emeralds tend to contain internal fractures, and are difficult to facet in any shape other than the “emerald cut”. For this reason, they are prone to chipping. Therefore, emeralds may not be a good choice for an engagement ring, unless the gemstone is mounted in a bezel setting and care is taken when worn. Even then, the emerald may eventually chip or crack.
If green is your color, we suggest considering either a tsavorite garnet or green tourmaline. These gems are available in bright green. Although technically softer than emerald, both tsavorite and tourmaline are more durable.
Other gemstones that have become popular recently in engagement rings are tanzanite, pearls, opal, moonstone, topaz, peridot, and zircon. Most of these gemstones are soft or not very durable, and we do not recommend mounting them in a ring that is meant to be worn every day. Topaz and zircon are harder but tend to be a bit sleepy, and there are other gemstones displaying the same color that are much brighter and more suitable for engagement rings.