Alternative Engagement Ring Ideas – Unique Vintage Stones

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You are here because you are looking for a beautiful and meaningful engagement ring that does not have a diamond as it's center stone, you want something a little different, you want alternative engagement ring ideas.

The focal use of diamonds in engagement rings only came into fashion during the 1930's. Before that, various other precious stones were used, including sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. Vintage rings are a prefect niche for finding alternative stones as their focus. With a vintage ring, you will also find stone cuts that are different from modern cuts, giving more uniqueness and charm to your ring. 

In this article, you will learn about alternative center stones for engagement rings, their symbolic meaning, as well as links to Etsy for shopping ( I love buying vintage jewelry on Etsy).

Alternative Engagement Ring Ideas 

alternative engagement stones - sapphire gem ring-


Sapphires can come in a variety of colors, but the most popular is deep blue. Sapphires make a beautiful central stone, with their deep blue color invoking feelings of serenity and luxury. They are a favorite of royalty and have been used in jewelry for over 2000 years. Kate Middleton wears a sapphire engagement ring encircled by 14 round diamonds. 

Sapphires were popular in the past as an engagement ring stone because it was believed the color of the stone would fade if the wearer was untrue. 

Sapphire gems look amazing when paired with diamonds. The best metals are platinum, followed by palladium and 18k gold. Sapphires are an expensive gem, especially if they have not been heat treated. When buying a vintage sapphire ring, make sure your ring comes with an appraisal and/or a certificate of authentication.

See our buyers guide to vintage sapphire engagement rings

  • Month Association: September
  • Zodiac Association: Taurus
  • Hardness: 9 out of 10 on Moh’s Scale, making them resistant to scratching.
  • Meaning: symbolize love, truth, and commitment.
  • Season: A perfect choice for an autumn or September wedding.

alternative engagement stones - ruby gem ring


Rubies come from the same mineral as sapphires, a mineral known as Corundum. Rubies are always red, whereas sapphires can be blue or a variety of other colors. Rubies are one of the most valued gemstones of all time. They are valued for their beauty as well as their association with love and passion.

Rubies are believed to imbue the wearer with guidance, knowledge, and the ability to make the right decisions. High-quality rubies cost, on average, $1000 per carat. When buying a vintage ruby ring, make sure it comes with an appraisal and/or a certificate of authentication.

Read our buyer's guide to vintage ruby engagement rings

  • Month Association: July
  • Zodiac Association: Capricorn
  • Hardness: 9 out of 10 on Moh’s Scale, making them resistant to scratching.
  • Meaning: symbolizes long lasting passion and affection.
  • Season: A perfect choice for a summer wedding.
guidance, knowledge, and the ability to make the right decisions.

alternative engagement ring stones - garnet


Garnet was a popular stone during the Victorian era, it was associated with creative energy and protected the wearer from melancholy and evil spirits. Garnet was an ancient symbol of friendship, they were often exchanged between parting friends to ensure they meet again. 

Garnets are a relatively affordable gem, making them perfect for a couple on a budget. The best metals for garnet engagement rings are platinum, palladium, silver or yellow/rose gold.

Read our buyer's guide to vintage garnet jewelry.

  • Month Association: January 
  • Zodiac Association: Aquarius
  • Hardness: 6.5 - 7.5 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes friendship, commitment, and stability. Promises one’s love, devotion, and fidelity.
  • Season: A perfect choice for a winter wedding.



The deep green hue of an Emerald reminds us of the constant renewal of nature through the generations. It encourages growth, reflection, peace and balance. During the middle ages, a man would give a woman an emerald ring before embarking on a trip because it was believed it would help her remain faithful.

Emerald is a symbol of youth and spring, it is a stone of beauty and enduring love. It represents rebirth and the ability to grow and change. A new young couple is embarking on a new journey with many unforeseen obstacles in the future, emeralds give a dash of humility and strength to get through these challenges.

The best metals for emerald engagement rings are platinum, 18k rose or 18k yellow gold and palladium.

  • Month Association: May
  • Zodiac Association: Cancer
  • Hardness: 7.5 - 8 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes love and faith. Gifts the wearer with foresight.
  • Season: A perfect choice for a spring wedding.

alternative engagement ring stones - pink tourmaline


Tourmaline rings come in a variety of colors and cuts that will suit just about any budget, but when it comes to engagement rings, pink tourmaline is the most popular, as pink tourmaline reminds us to trust in the power of love.

It is believed that tourmaline is found in all colors because it traveled along a rainbow and gathered all the the rainbow's colors.

Tourmaline makes a beautiful alternative to diamonds, and is more affordable. Tourmaline's intricate color variations make them exotic and unusual, while their beauty is a perfect compliment to a couple beginning their life together.

  • Month Association: October
  • Hardness: 7 - 7.5 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes emotional and spiritual love, balance, and devotion.
  • Season: Perfect for a fall wedding. 



Topaz is a very affordable stone for an engagement ring. In its natural state, topaz is usually a colorless and transparent. Occasionally, topaz can be found naturally in light gray, very light blue, brown, or light yellow colors. Rarely, topaz is found in deep pink or red-yellow colors.

Modern topaz stones are often treated with radiation to produce more vibrant colors. The stone will be labeled with an "R" if it has been treated.  

White topaz is a wonderful and affordable alternative to a diamond.

Topaz is a gemstone that is believed to help calm heated emotions and give the wearer the energy needed to get through draining or troublesome events. During the Middle Ages topaz was thought to heal both physical and mental disorders and prevent death.

  • Month Association: Yellow - November, Blue - December
  • Hardness: 8 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes strength, healing, and protection. Topaz is said to help the wearer stay true to themselves within a relationship.
  • Season: Topaz works for any time of year. 

alternative engagement stones - amethyst


Amethyst is a stone that is associated with the highest, purest aspirations of human kind. It is an affordable gemstone with a beautiful purple color. Amethyst connects us to dream world and bestows spiritual wisdom, it protects the wearer form self-deception and evil spirits. 

Amethyst is said to bring emotional stability and inner strength. This stability and strength can enhance flexibility and cooperation. This gem can help you understand your own needs, wants, and desires in your relationship, it will stimulate your heart and open yourself up to more love.

  • Month Association: February
  • Zodiac Association: Pisces
  • Hardness: 7 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes spirituality, sincerity, and purity.
  • Season: Perfect for a February engagement or a winter wedding. 

alternative engagement stones - peridot


Peridot is associated with protection, it protects the wearer from anger, nervousness, and anxiety by calming the emotions. Peridot nurtures relationships with wisdom and understanding, it also represents joy and laughter.

For engagement rings, it is best to stick with all natural unenhanced peridot gemstones, as these will be the most durable. A high-quality peridot gem with cost about $40 per carat, making it a very affordable gemstone option. 

Peridot gems looks stunning in a solitaire design, but also pair well with diamond or pearl accents.

  • Month Association: August
  • Zodiac Association: Leo
  • Hardness: 6.5 - 7 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes joy, love, and trust.
  • Season: Perfect for a summer or spring wedding.



Aquamarine is a durable gem that will stand up to everyday wear. It has a gentle sparkle that looks great in a variety of cuts. 

Aquamarine is associated with water and was traditionally given to sailors to protect them while they were at sea. It washes away negative feelings and protects against chaotic events. It facilitates calm and healthy relationships.

Aquamarine stones look beautiful when paired with rose gold.

Check out our buying guide to vintage aquamarine engagement rings.

  • Month Association: March
  • Hardness: 7.5 - 8 on Moh’s Scale
  • Meaning: symbolizes courage and communication. Reminds you to express your love for one another.
  • Season: Perfect for a spring wedding.


I hope this article has helped you see the potential of choosing a stone other than a diamond for your engagement ring. There are many beautiful gems that are durable, affordable, and hold meaning that relates well to long-term love. 

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions! What is your favorite alternative gemstone?

Happy Shopping!

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12 thoughts on “Alternative Engagement Ring Ideas – Unique Vintage Stones”

  1. That is some very beautiful Jewlery. Most Vintage Jewlery comes from our relatives that have passed which makes it really worth so much more in my mind. I think all the best Jewlery comes from the past. It was made so much better kinda like cars and furniture. I would love to own a few Vintage peices.

  2. I have never been a “traditional girl.” I don’t see the appeal in huge diamonds. The jewelry featured on your page is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!! I would LOVE to have any of those pieces over a diamond ring. The meaning behind the other stones has so much more than the biggest diamond. The vintage look makes it even more appealing as it brings a sentimental aspect to the jewelry. Our loved ones usually pass beautiful pieces down to us and this reminds us of the love and sentiment behind it.

  3. I really like the clean layout of your page, as it made this post really easy on the eyes. A few small things I would suggest as improvements:

    1. “A high-quality peridot gem with cost about $40 per carat, making it a very affordable gemstone option. ” change the “with” to “will”

    2. I noticed that under some of your gemstone selections you mention an approximate price per carat. I found this to be helpful information, so I wish it had been available for all the stones that you listed.

    Overall though, this post was clear and informative, and I really like the clarity of the images you used. Great job!

    • Hi Brittaney, thanks for pointing out my word mistake 🙂 I wanted to put an approximate price per carat for all of the gemstones, but some of them have such a variation in price depending on a variety of factors that it didn’t seem practical. I will do some more research and see if I can come up with an easy way to give people information on average prices, maybe I will create a gemstone price guide in the near future. Thanks so much for your input!

  4. I enjoyed reading about how to buy vintage jewelry. I especially enjoyed reading about the different stones and their information such as the month and zodiac sign the represent. I had never seen the meaning of the stones before, that was very interesting.

    Lots of different options and gave me some good ideas for future reference and gift buying.

  5. It’s funny that I would come across this post because this July my girlfriend and I will be together for 10 years, yes a decade. I have not proposed yet for whatever life issues I will not discuss but I feel it is finally time and hope life will help me make it happen.

    Either way these are nice alternatives to the traditional wedding ring and in my opinion, I like them a lot more. Not sure which stone to go with, do you have a suggestion as to which is your favorite?

    • Hello Salvatore, congrats on 10 years! It is so hard for me to pick a favorite, and everyone is so different in their tastes so I can’t guarantee your girlfriend will like my choice. If you have more money to spend, a ruby or blue sapphire is an excellent choice. If you are on a budget I would choose a topaz because it comes in a variety of colors, while still being hard enough to resist scratching.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. This offers a great alternative to those of us who are a little more budget friendly with our spending, especially when planning a wedding. We all know how quickly things add up when planning such a big life event. I loved seeing all the beautiful stones. I’m an October baby, so Tourmaline is definitely my favorite, and I can see it looking beautiful in a fall wedding with fall colors! Thanks for sharing!


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