Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Engagement ring series: Using other gemstones as the main stone of choice

What are my other options if I don't want a diamond solitaire as the main stone?

Increasingly, I’m getting more and more queries of this kind, whereby clients tell me that they’d very much prefer not to get a diamond solitaire. This, however, leaves them completely in the dark, because their options are now thrown completely wide open. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds though – there are a few practical considerations that will help make the choice easy to make.

Because the engagement ring is supposed to last forever, with the option to pass it down the generations, I recommend that clients not to go down below a Moh’s hardness of 8. Anything less would have a higher tendency of having it chipped if knocked against an object or dropped. This limits the options drastically: only diamonds are 10, and those are out because of choice. Next, at 9, come sapphires and rubies. At 8 ½ and 8, choices open up a little wider to chrysoberyl, alexandrite, emeralds, spinels and topazes.

Most people want to keep within the traditional “precious stones” – sapphires, rubies and emeralds and therefore, that eliminates more options. Within these three, sapphires always tend to be the most popular choice because of the sheer variety of colour within this gemstone.

Separately, emeralds are always green, and are mostly heavily included save for the rare few top quality ones. They are also oiled to cover up internal cracks – this is an accepted practise in the gemstone trade as long as it’s revealed. The problem though, is that craftsmen need to be extra careful when setting the stone because what might look to be an unincluded gemstone might be filled with natural cracks and is thus a lot more fragile than it looks. Rubies are always red, and most clients tell me that the stone colour is a little too overwhelming for everyday use.

Thus, by default, sapphires are almost always chosen. I’ve written more about it here. And will probably talk more about other viable engagement stones in future as I've been getting other queries about them.
Next topic: How much should I expect to budget for the ring?

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