The word “traditional” is heavy with meaning and emotion. But when it comes to the engagement ring or other types of jewelry, there really is no “traditional” to speak of. Many different gems have been used in jewelry for centuries, from rings and earrings to pendants and bracelets, and yes, in engagement rings.

Diamonds have been featured in engagements rings for a relatively short period of time. They are viewed as traditional mainly due to very effective marketing by diamond distributors. In reality, traditional engagement rings have featured a variety of precious stones, or in some cases, no stones at all. Non-engagement rings have done the same, offering many different gemstones that give the purchaser and the recipient the opportunity to choose a stone color that they truly enjoy – one that fits their style and personality perfectly.

Choosing a More Personalized Touch

Todays buyers are making it clear that they want something unique in their jewelry choices, a piece of quality jewelry that reflects their individuality and this is opening the door for the return of rings that offer a greater variety of precious stones.

In truth, diamonds are not every girl’s best friend. Many women prefer emerald or aquamarine, citrine or ruby, tanzanite or garnet, or any of the other gemstones that provide unique, radiant beauty every bit as appealing as diamond – without the extensive marketing budget that drives up costs! These gems offer something that diamonds usually lack– lustrous color. While diamond reflects and refracts light, other gemstones are rich with radiant body colors of their own including deep blues, sparkling greens, rich reds and many more appealing tones. They exude beauty, depth and quality inherent to their individual makeup.

Trending Away from Diamonds

A growing number of couples are choosing stones other than diamonds for their engagement ring. The figure is close to 40% and growing each year. This won’t spell the end of diamonds but it will give brides-to-be the freedom to choose a gemstone they truly love and enjoy wearing. Birthstones are a popular choice for the sentimentality and splendor they offer. And for those that appreciate the beauty of diamonds, you can still add them to the mix in support of your preferred sapphire, amethyst, opal or other gorgeously colorful gemstone.

And when the ring is being considered for other purposes such as anniversaries or “just because” special moments, savvy buyers are recognizing that a diamond should only be chosen if that specific stone is considered the most desirable by the recipient. Otherwise, their favorite gemstones should be given center stage in the purchasing decision. Modern consumers are shunning the marketing hype to choose what they personally find the most appealing and meaningful.

Gemstone Jewelry Offers More Options

Beautiful gemstones certainly make wonderful centerpieces for rings, for both men and women. But it is also true that rings are not the preferred type of jewelry for many gem-lovers. Whether it is because a ring interferes with their work, or they simply prefer the look and feel of a bracelet, necklace or pendant, or a pair of earring or cufflinks, alternative gemstone jewelry is more popular than it has been in decades.

Why not consider a pair of lovely earrings featuring your girlfriend’s or wife’s birthstone for her upcoming birthday? Perhaps your guy would prefer a rich garnet or emerald ring instead of a colorless diamond for the gift you are considering. A dazzling sapphire or ruby pendant on a quality gold chain will turn heads as often as a diamond. Diamonds require quite a bit of light to truly sparkle, whereas colored gemstones exude their rich beauty in more varied lighting conditions. When a diamond is viewed from the side or observed in low-light settings – such as a candlelight dinner or a romantic moment by the fireplace, many times it will lack it's characteristic sparkle. A tanzanite, citrine, ruby or other gemstone will make effective use of the light and radiate magnificently from every angle.

Diamonds in the right light are lovely, no one will deny. But don’t make the mistake of viewing them as the only option in your upcoming jewelry decision. Be sure your eyes are open to the radiant beauty of other gem stones, whether you choose them in a ring to mark a special occasion or employ them in another thoughtfully chosen piece of jewelry. There are many popular alternatives to buying her (or him) a diamond ring, ones that more uniquely reflect who they are, and those may prove to be the most cherished gifts they ever receive.