Updated June 22, 2021 2:49 PM PT

Engagement Ring Alternatives

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Tired of looking at cookie-cutter engagement rings? You're in the right place. Check out these unique alternatives before shopping.

Traditional diamond engagement rings can feel stuffy and old-school. Your engagement ring should be as unique as you are.

There are a lot of creative, avant-garde, and modern designs to choose from. You don't need to stick with the typical diamond gemstone.

Get inspired by these incredible and out-of-the-box ideas below.

What is a Good Alternative to a Diamond Engagement Ring?

Today, more couples than ever are choosing alternative engagement ring styles to showcase their personalities.

Gone are days when the "perfect ring" came in a blue Tiffany's box. With so many eco-friendly options and indie jewelry designers propping up, the solitaire three-prong setting feels out-of-date.

The good news is that you have standout substitutes for the age-old diamond engagement ring.

1. Lab-grown diamonds

If you are partial to diamonds, you can save big with a lab-grown engagement ring. The technology replicates the chemical and physical makeup of a natural diamond. The real difference is the price tag.

Let's put it this way: A 1-carat lab-grown diamond sells for $4,200, while a naturally mined diamond of equivalent quality is priced at $6,000. (Read more: Lab Diamond Prices)

Plus, they're made in a lab and free of any potential human rights violations or negative environmental impacts. Regular diamond mining can cause erosion, deforestation, and ecosystem destruction.

So, synthetic stones give you major sparkle without the cost or guilt. That's a win-win.

What are the top ethical engagement ring alternatives?
  1. Lab-grown diamonds
  2. Moissanite
  3. Other synthetic gemstones (such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds)
  4. Secondhand sources for the gemstone (reuse and recycle)
  5. Fair trade gold for the setting

Remember, every dollar you spend can go toward more sustainable brands. Just do your research and purchase wisely.

2. Moissanite

Moissanites are absolute stunners - and they won't break the bank. These stones resemble diamonds but are actually composed of silicon carbide.

Because natural moissanite is super rare, the majority of moissanite sold are lab-grown. The average cost of a 1-carat moissanite is just $600 - perfect for the budget-conscious couple.

No wonder the gemstone has been increasingly popular with younger generations.

Best cheap engagement ring alternatives
  • Moissanite, for all the reasons listed above
  • Go with a smaller diamond
  • Gemstones and birthstones for a very unique look
  • Pass down a family heirloom

3. Fluorescent diamonds

Fluorescent diamonds have a higher-than-average fluorescent level. This means that when a diamond is exposed to UV light, it'll emit a colored glow.

It's pretty much impossible to determine if a stone is a fluorescent diamond with the naked eye. So you'll need to select your fluorescence level while shopping.

This is a great option for someone who loves to express their flamboyant personality and stand out from the crowd.

Engagement Ring Stone Alternatives (No Diamond)

If the options above are too safe (a.k.a. boring) for you, then consider nixing the diamond altogether. Here's what you can wear instead.

  1. Morganite
    Pink-lovers rejoice. You can buy this trendy gem in a variety of pink shades from light peach to deep salmon.

  2. Sapphire
    You can thank Kate Middleton for sapphire's sudden resurgence in popularity. Sapphire's classic deep blue hue is sophisticated but cool.

  3. Emerald
    This rock is one of the most sought over and highly desired stones in ancient history. And it's also a symbol of eternal love. Keep in mind that emeralds are stunning, but very fragile. Opt for a halo style instead of prong setting to protect the gem.

  4. Ruby
    Rubies make an eye-catching statement, and it's one of the most durable precious gemstones. After all, red is the color of love, so why not propose with it?

  5. Pearl
    If you really want to challenge tradition, take a look at pearl engagement rings. They're cute, preppy, and elegant.

  6. Raw stone
    Is your look a little rough around the edges? Well, your engagement ring can be too. Raw and uncut stones aren't cut and polished like a traditional engagement ring.

    Instead, they have a one-of-a kind appearance with their natural shape and texture. Real talk: This style is for daring and unconventional brides.

What are the best inexpensive, non-traditional engagement ring alternatives?
  • Tattoo rings - hey, it'll last forever and you'll never lose it.
  • No ring! March to beat of your own drum and do you.

Best Non-Traditional Engagement Rings

Who says you even need to wear your engagement ring on your finger? The standard engagement ring might not work for everyone.

  • Ring on a necklace
    If you don't like wearing jewelry on your fingers, try putting the ring on a necklace. This'll make it easier to wear, no matter what profession or lifestyle you have.

  • Charm bracelet
    Historically, charm bracelets have been used to commemorate major milestones. And what bigger milestone is there to share than your marriage?

  • Locket
    Lockets were worn by our ancestors to remember loved ones or represent the beginning of a new romantic relationship.

Engagement Ring Alternatives for Him

Want to surprise your special man with an engagement gift? Then you have a few options.

First, let's clarify a few things.

The engagement ring can be worn by one partner or both. Some men like to wear male engagement rings to show their commitment to the relationship.

Engagement rings are different from wedding bands. An engagement ring is given at the time of proposal, whereas a wedding ring is exchanged at the wedding ceremony. Wedding bands worn by men are much more common.

The average cost of a man's wedding ring is around $510, while the cost of a man's engagement ring can range from $100 to thousands of dollars.

But you don't necessarily need to give a ring as an engagement gift. Here are a few popular alternatives.

  1. Watch
    You can give a watch to reciprocate an engagement ring or in lieu of an engagement ring. It's all up to you. Luxury watches are popular but expensive. So expect to shell out at least $1,000 for this option.

  2. Engraved tie clip
    Surprise your partner with an elegant new tie clip. He can wear it on the wedding day and cherish it for years to come.

  3. Cufflinks
    Personalized cufflinks are another item that he can wear on his wedding day. Engrave the gift to express your feelings and make it your own.

  4. Go on a trip
    Nowadays, more people are investing in memories rather than material possessions. You can use the money toward a once-in-a-lifetime vacation abroad. Plus, this adventure could symbolize starting a life together.

  5. Pop the question with a pet
    If your partner is an animal lover (and you're on the same page about getting a pet), try proposing with a dog instead of a diamond. It's a joyful way to show your commitment to one another.

What to Do If You can't Afford an Engagement Ring?

Don't feel pressured to buy a ring just because other people are doing it.

Engagement rings cost an average of $5,500. If you skip the ring, you and your partner can use the savings toward a down payment on a home, a trip abroad, sky diving lessons, and more. The options are endless.

Is it OK not to have an engagement ring?
You can totally propose without an engagement ring. In fact, you should propose in any manner that best speaks to your special forever love. A ring is just a physical representation of your emotional commitment.

What matters the most is standing next to the person you love on your wedding day. And your feelings for one another will speak volumes louder than any ring could.

Wedding ring alternatives
If you and your partner want no-ring options for wedding bands, then look no further.
  • Ink it up with matching tattoos
  • Frame your wedding certificate
  • Get matching necklaces
  • Buy several bottles of wine on your wedding day and drink a bottle on every anniversary
  • Plant a tree sapling

What Experts Say

CreditDonkey asked industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions about engagement ring alternatives.

Here's what they said:

Bottom line

If traditional engagement rings are a yawn for you and your partner, then feel free to explore outside the box. You can choose non-diamond rocks or skip the ring altogether.

What's most important is you and your special person starting a life together. And how you choose to express that sentiment is up to you.

Amber Kong is a content and creative at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Amber Kong at amber.kong@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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