Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they are not the only choice for a breathtaking engagement ring. More brides-to-be are choosing other gems to be the focal point of their engagement rings in an effort to stand out or save money.

Here’s what the experts say about the trend and how to choose a ring that will last a lifetime.

Big Three and Other Gems

“The most popular gemstones usually chosen for engagement rings are known in jewelry circles as the big three: sapphire, ruby and emerald,” explains Jennifer Gandia, co-owner of Greenwich Street Jewelers.

Richly colored sapphires and rubies are hard gems, making them ideal for daily wear.

The vibrant green hue of emeralds is eye-catching, but these gemstones are softer and may risk damage over time.

Other non-traditional stones include peachy pink morganite and green tourmaline in shades from forest to seafoam and cool blue aquamarine. Tanzanite is another popular choice known for a rich deep blue or purple tone. This stone is pretty rare since it was only recently discovered near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Not all brides are nixing traditional diamonds — they just don’t want them as the center stone. Some rings include smaller diamond accents while others pair a diamond and a gemstone as the centerpieces to add pop of color. Some brides are even opting to add an attention-grabbing (and pricey) black diamond.

Unique metals are also on the rise. Instead of traditional gold, silver or platinum bands, many couples are choosing rose gold and copper based rings to pop the question.

Besides looking beautiful, non-traditional gemstones come with an added bonus: they tend to come with a lower price tag than diamonds. By saving a little cash on the ring, you can put more towards your wedding day, honeymoon or a new home.

Taking a Nontraditional Step

Whether you’re just looking for a unique ring, or you are trying to stretch your budget, there are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering a nontraditional gemstone.

First, you may be able to attain the look of a diamond for less. Moissanite is a naturally occurring silicon carbide that shares many diamond characteristics minus the price.

Second, and most importantly, be sure to pay attention to the hardness of whatever gemstone you choose.

“One must always consider the hardness and wearability of a gemstone before choosing it for an engagement ring, since it will likely be worn daily a lifetime,” says Gandia.

©CTW Features