Exploring Colored Stones for Engagement Rings

Exploring Colored Stones for Engagement Rings

Jeremy and I are engaged. I've written before about what I think of the diamond industry, and the fact that De Beers has been brainwashing the entire country into believing that

  • Diamonds = Love
  • Diamonds = Committment
  • Diamonds = Forever

I like to think for myself, and I don't buy into the mass thinking that in order to get engaged, you get a diamond. Diamonds aren't even as pretty as other gemstones. Contrary to what De Beers wants you to think they aren't even Rare! Sapphires, Emeralds, and Rubies are all much rarer than diamonds. Whats more, these colored gemstones have a beauty and presence that diamonds can't match.

Emeralds are too soft and fragile to be worn as every day rings, so that takes them out of the running for engagement ring gems that are meant to last a lifetime.

But sapphires and rubies (both in the corundum family) are the second hardest gem (after diamonds). Diamonds are a 10 on the MOHs hardness scale, while sapphires and rubies are a 9. The MOHs scale is not linear, however. And its only based on the definition of hardness as the ability to scratch a softer material, which while helpful, is not the only factor in determining durability. The Mohs scale is a purely ordinal scale, so the differences between each number is not linear or logarithmic. For example, diamond (10) is 4x as hard as corundum (rubies and sapphires, 9), while corundum (9) is 2x as hard as topaz (8). So basically, the Mohs scale can be taken as scale of relative hardness.

Either way, corundum (sapphires and rubies) are hard enough for everyday wear as an engagement ring. They may be somewhat less hard than diamonds, but even diamonds can be chipped and worn down. It is surprisingly not uncommon for people to chip diamonds on the girdle, so getting a diamond does not guarantee that it is "forever."

Due to some excellent advertising, diamonds are believed to be the rarest of gemstones. But if you think about it, all of the women you know probably own at least one diamond. Diamonds are actually not very rare at all, in fact, among gemstones, diamonds are actually the most common.

The mineral corundum is fairly common, but gem quality corundum (sapphires and rubies) is quite rare, consisting of only 1% of all mineral corundum found. The most common is blue sapphire. Many people are not familiar, but sapphires can come in almost every color, including green, yellow, purple, pink, orange, etc. The red colored ones are called rubies. The pinkish orange sapphires are known as padparasha, and are highly prized, as they are only mined in one mine in Sri Lanka, and are very rare.

It may be surprising that blue sapphires are more expensive than say green or yellow sapphires, since green or yellow are more rare. But as with everything, it is not rarity that drives pricing, but demand. The highest demand is for deep blue sapphires, so these are the most prized and most expensive.

Rubies are the red variety of corundum, and are much rarer than the blue ones. Rich reds are the most prized, and a large clear red ruby will fetch a very high price.

My Engagement Ring

Personally, I like colored stones a lot better than diamonds. Colored stones are also typically cheaper than diamonds (but a high quality colored gem will still cost $1-2000 per carat). And getting a colored stone means you avoid being a shill for the diamond industry.

I am a proponent of getting what you like, not what society thinks you should get. If you like diamonds, then get diamonds. But if you like sapphires or rubies, or even topaz or something else, get that instead. You'll save a little bit of money so you can upgrade your setting or save for your future life together.

I will be getting a Sri Lankan blue sapphire that is unheated and untreated. It will be custom cut by the lapidarist Jeff White. I will be updating this blog with pictures of the stone in progress as well as the final result when it is finished. I am planning on setting the sapphire in a platinum solitaire setting. I like the Vatche Royal Crown setting. It is a 6-prong trellis style, which seems very elegant.

The Vatche Royal Crown setting I am considering. Picture this setting with a blue sapphire. 

The Vatche Royal Crown setting I am considering. Picture this setting with a blue sapphire. 

This picture shows the 6 crossed prongs in the trellis setting nicely. 

This picture shows the 6 crossed prongs in the trellis setting nicely. 

Do you have any opinions on sapphires vs diamonds? Which would you choose? And do you have any thoughts on designing my engagement ring?