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In the past few years, non-diamond engagement rings have become increasingly more popular. Often times a man will purchase an engagement ring featuring a non-traditional stone or his future wife's birthstone in the main setting. There are a number of reasons for this, including cost considerations or the desire a more unique proposal.
While these gemstones can look great and add dashes of color to a woman's style, many advise against non-diamond engagement rings. There are a number of reasons why these rings may not be suitable for everyday wear (and the truth is, most women want to be able to wear their engagement ring year round). Here is a look at a few non-traditional engagement ring stones, and some considerations you should take into account before buying.
Topaz is a beautiful stone that comes in a variety of colors, from yellow, to orange to the well known blue hues. It is a very strong stone, with a Mohs rating (a scale from 1 to 10 used to gauge mineral hardness) of 8. Topaz is recognized by the National Association of Jewelers as the official birthstone for November.
Unfortunately, the popular and highly desirable blue topaz may not retain their luster forever. These stones are almost always treated in a laboratory to add color to their initially colorless forms. But laboratory treated topaz has a thin coating that eventually results in a noticeable loss of color. This thin coating also means that the gems must be worn and handled gingerly, as they are prone to noticeable scratches.
Topaz jewelry is beautiful, but it should not be regarded as an accessory that will last a lifetime.
Opals are classified as "secondary precious" gems, the second most expensive category of gemstones. The appearance of any two of these stones can vary greatly, as they can express every color in the visible spectrum. Often, multiple colors will "flash" or "play" across a single stone. The opal is a moderately durable stone, with a Mohs rating that ranges from 5.5 to 6.
There is one fact about the opal that has been slightly blown out of proportion, but still needs to be considered. If the gem becomes too dry, it will almost certainly develop noticeable cracks. Because of this, some people swear that the only way to keep an opal in good condition is to soak it in water. This process is definitely overkill, as the moisture an opal absorbs from contact with human skin is usually enough to keep it from sustaining any major damage. Still keeping an opal free from extremely dry conditions that could result from storage or extremely arid climates makes it far from ideal as an engagement ring gemstone.
Amethyst shines a beautiful, deep violet color. It is the official birthstone of February, and has a maximum Mohs scale rating of 7. This rating can be less, depending on impurities in the stone. Because the hardness of Amethyst varies, it can easily be cut into a variety of shapes, such as squares, ovals, hearts and more.
Unfortunately, this ability to be easily shaped is one of amethyst's greatest weaknesses. The varying degree of hardness means that the gem, if not bought from a 100% reputable jeweler, is somewhat prone to show blemishes over time. A deep purple amethyst can hide scratches internal cracks for a time. Lighter stones make these problems much more noticeable.
Pearls fall under the category of "organic gemstones," a classification that also includes natural amber, red coral and jet. As you are probably aware, pearls are unique in that they are formed within living creatures (oysters) as opposed to inside the earth's crust. As such, they are considered the most valuable organic gemstones in the world. They are also one of the three recognized birthstones of the month of June.
While they are breathtakingly beautiful, many would advise against a pearl as the main stone in an engagement ring. As they are formed naturally inside a living being, pearls come in a wide variety of shapes — including drop, button and oval. The most highly sought after round pearls are very rare and, as you can imagine, relatively expensive.
Pearls are also very soft gem, with a Mohs rating of 2.5 to 4.5. There are varying reports as to their susceptibility to damage due to changing temperatures or dryness, which is due to the varying degree of hardness. In short, pearl jewelry is not meant for everyday use, which makes it a poor choice for an engagement ring.
The emerald is considered a very precious stone, almost as precious as the diamond. With a durable Mohs rating of 7.5 to 8 and, depending on quality a purity, an illuminating green color, it's no wonder why these gems are in such high demand.
But how do they work as engagement stones? Compared to some of the other choices on this list, they lend themselves much better to this purpose. But Emeralds require special treatments that can be quite inconvenient. Believe it or not, an Emerald must be periodically "oiled" to maintain their luster. The oiling process almost always takes place in a vacuum chamber, and if often followed up by a number of care techniques, such as steam cleaning and ultrasonic treatment.
The result? An emerald with a great shine. But over time, these treatments damage the gem's structural integrity, and even this very hard gem can crack and show major blemishes.
There is no doubt that the many varieties of gemstones available are great options for different types of jewelry: Rings, earrings, bracelets, etc. But when it comes to everyday wear and durability, nothing beats a diamond.
Diamonds can be worn year round, regardless of heat and humidity factors. With a Mohs scale rating of 10, you and your fiance can feel at ease knowing that the stone on your finger will stand the test of time without worries of cracks or abrasions. Alternative stone engagement rings may be one of today's biggest fads, but as you've read above, nothing beats a classic, timeless diamond.