Get Engaged with Color! Your Guide to Colored Gemstones


Does your love glow with passion like a ruby? Make your blush like a pink diamond? Is it new and luscious like the grass green of a tsavorite garnet? Or destined to be true sapphire blue? If you’re looking for a diamond alternative, celebrate your love with colored gems that reflect your personality and demonstrate your individuality.

Diamonds have retained their popularity for so long due to their durability. All other gemstones are less durable to varying degrees. If you’re choosing a colored gemstone for an engagement ring, you’ll want to choose a gemstone that’s suitable for everyday wear. Or, if you choose a more fragile stone, you can wear your engagement ring for special occasions and then wear your wedding band every day.

There are many factors that determine how well a gemstone will wear including hardness, brittleness and growth structure. It’s a lot to assess, with more than a hundred varieties of colored gemstones from which to choose. Luckily, we’ve done most of the work for you! Compiled is a list of gemstones suitable for a lifetime of wear:


Fancy Diamonds

Colored or “fancy” diamonds occur naturally in all colors. Any natural occurrence of a fancy diamond is extremely rare, especially those that are blue, red or violet. These stone sell for exorbitant amounts. However, diamonds are now being irradiated to produce fancy colors. These irradiated diamonds, typically in blues, browns, yellows and greens, are often less expensive than their white counterparts.
Cost: about $300-$2,000 per carat



Fine rubies are rivals in rarity to all stones except natural colored diamonds. Rubies have long been associated with both love and passion; they capture the color of the blood coursing throughout hearts and the essence of an ember glowing with heat. Large rubies, more than 5 carats, of exceptional quality are exceedingly rare and can sell for more than $100,000 per carat. Rubies of good quality can be found at prices similar to white diamonds. Technically, ruby and sapphire are both composed of the same mineral: corundum. All corundum not red in color are called sapphires.
Cost: about $1,200-$10,000+ per carat.



Sapphires are known for their beautiful cornflower blue color. Blue sapphires have long been an engagement ring option in Europe, like the famous Princess Diana engagement ring. However, sapphires are not limited to blue hues; they come in virtually every color, and fine quality yellow and pink sapphire easily can be mistaken for diamonds. White sapphires also can be used as diamond substitutes and are a great and extremely inexpensive choice for accent stones. Sapphires are symbols of truth and fidelity; folklore indicated that a sapphire would change color should a spouse stray or fail to be “true blue.”
Cost: blue sapphire about $400-$5,000+ per carat; yellow sapphire about $60-$750 per carat; pink sapphire about $250-$2,000 per carat; white sapphire about $100-$1,000 per carat.



Chrysoberyl comes in yellows, lime greens and browns. Its color-changing variety, alexandrite, appears green in daylight and red in incandescent light. Alexandrites are so rare that the price for a significant solitaire stone would likely be prohibitive. However, chrysoberyls in the yellow, green and brown varieties are among the great bargains of the gemstone world. If you like yellow diamonds, citrines, smoke quartz or peridots, consider chrysoberyl.
Cost: about $40-$70 per carat.



Spinel is an extraordinary gemstone with a lackluster public relations department. It comes in all colors, and it’s often been mistaken for ruby and sapphire, even in famous jewels owned by royal families. Because it can be mistaken for other stones, spinel has gotten a reputation as a lesser stone. However, just the opposite should be true. If a stone equals the beauty of a ruby or fine sapphire, it should receive equal praise. Although spinels in true red colors are very rare, other fine varieties of spinel are available, and some are relatively inexpensive.
Cost: about $50-$700 per carat



The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word that means “mixed color” or “more color.” Tourmalines come in every possible color, including black. Occasionally, multiple colors occur in one crystal. Tourmaline can be used as substitute for any other gem. One of the great things about tourmaline is its wide variety of unusual colors: magenta, pink-orange, lime-green, blue-green and so on. If you’re interested in colored gemstones because they’re unusual, find a one-of-a-kind tourmaline for your engagement ring.
Cost: about $75-$10,000 per carat


Tsavorite Garnet

Tsavorite garnet was first discovered in 1967 in Tanzania and later mined in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Tsavorite are the color of spring grass, rival emerald in color, and surpass them in durability, price and sparkly. Only the finest emeralds show better color than good tsavorite. Green gems are incredibly versatile; they will complement almost anything in your wardrobe. Green also has long been associated with spring, new life and fertility.
Cost: about $200-$1,000 per carat


Spessartite Garnet

Spessartite, first discovered in the 1800s, comes in a variety of red and organge hues. The most prized version is called the Mandarin and is a bright true orange, sometimes called “Fanta” — as it’s the same color as orange soda. Unlike common red garnets, spessartites are more durable and refract more light. A good Mandarin garnet sparkles like an orange diamond. Fine red spessartite can substitute for ruby (tough they all have a slight orange tint). If a couple is separated by distance, red garnets have the reputation for keeping a beloved one safe and ensuring their return.
Cost: red spessartite garnet about $40-75 per carat; mandarin spessartite garnet about $60-450 per carat



While many gemstones have a story, jade’s is an epic. Jade has been associate with wealth and fertility in Asia for thousands of years. It is a Chinese tradition to wear jade to attract love, and Chine bridegrooms often give their intendeds a gift of jade. Jade is extremely durable, and ancient peoples made it into a variety of practical items like axes. A jade ring can survive a lifetime of wear with little or no evidence of being worn. Because of its longevity, jade gained a reputation for instilling long life, and possibility immorality, in its owners. The Aztecs buried jade with their fallen leaders to help them in the afterlife. Natural jade comes in many shades of green as well as yellow, pink, red, purple and black.
Cost: about $50-$1,000 per carat

(Editor’s Note: Stones better saved for special occasions include amethyst, aquamarine, chalcedony, citrine, emerald, iolite, common garnet, smoky quartz and natural topaz.)

How to assess colored stones

Color saturation is the first consideration when buying colored gemstones. A color should be deep and unmistakable, but not so dark that the stone has no sparkle. Colored stones should be bright and sparkle in the light. A loose stone that is dark will appear even darken when set.

Clarity is the second thing to pay attention to when purchasing a gemstone. Clear stones allow light to enter unobstructed and dance inside your gemstone. Flawed stones stop the play of light. Flaws are also problematic because they aren’t just visual flaws; often they are structural flaws that make a gem subject to shattering.

Cut is the third consideration. A cut gemstone should be symmetrical, have no chips or scratches, and catch the light from all angles.

–Garnet Greene

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  1. […] The Rumor is that since Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother’s sapphire ring, sales of sapphire engagement rings have doubled across the world. We believe the trend is here to stay. Engagement rings can be colorful! […]

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