Updated September 19, 2022

Engagement Ring Alternatives

Read more about Diamonds

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

Gone are days when the "perfect ring" came in a blue Tiffany's box.

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

Whether you're looking for a diamond look-alike or a colorful gemstone, there are tons of more affordable options.

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

Diamond Ring Alternatives That Look Like a Diamond

Do you love the white sparkliness of a diamond? Or maybe you just don't want others to know that your ring is not a real diamond.

In any case, check out these alternatives if you want a diamond look-alike.

1. Lab-grown diamonds

Best for: if you still want a diamond

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

Let's put it this way: A good quality 1-carat lab-grown diamond sells for $1,800, 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 lab-created gemstones (such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds)
  4. Recycled or previously loved gemstones
  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

Best for: if you love super sparkly stones

Moissanites are absolute stunners - and they won't break the bank. The average cost of a 1-carat moissanite is just $500 to $600 - perfect for the budget-conscious couple.

These stones resemble diamonds but actually came from space! Because natural moissanite is super rare, all the moissanite sold today are lab-grown.

Next to diamonds, moissanite is the 2nd hardest gemstone known to man (9.25 on the Mohs scale). They can be considered a forever stone that will last a lifetime.

Moissanite is actually even sparklier than diamonds. Compared to diamonds, they emit more of a rainbow sparkle. It's a beautiful choice if you love a flashy ring.

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. White Sapphires

Best for: if you want a natural diamond alternative

Sapphires also come in white color, which resembles a diamond. The cost is about $800 - $1,500 for one carat.

Sapphires rank 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. This is hard enough that they won't scratch or chip easily with daily wear.

However, white sapphires tend to look a little cloudy (i.e. not completely clear). They're also nowhere near as sparkly and brilliant as a diamond.

For this reason, they're not our favorite alternative. But it could be a good choice if you want a real precious gemstone alternative that's not made in a lab.

4. Cubic Zirconia

Best for: if you're on a tiny budget

Lastly, if you're REALLY on a budget, cubic zirconia gives you the look of a diamond for just $20. The average person cannot tell the difference.

CZs are made in labs from a man-made material. They are not gemstones. They only look like a diamond, but have completely different properties.

Cubic zirconias are always colorless and flawless - the equivalent of a "perfect" diamond. They're also super sparkly. Like moissanite, they tend to have more of a rainbow sparkle.

However, while they are durable (8.5 on the Mohs scale), they will still get scratched. Then the stone will start to look cloudy and dull. With daily wear, a CZ may only last 2-3 years before needing to be replaced.

Since CZs are so cheap, they're usually also set in cheap metals like silver and stainless steel. These can tarnish and look bad. If you go the CZ route, consider upgrading to a gold (or even platinum) ring. That will elevate your ring and make it feel more special, while saving thousands on the stone.

Heirloom engagement ring

An heirloom engagement ring is one of the most special gifts you can give. A ring that's been passed down for generations can be the perfect way to let your partner know that she's now officially part of the family.

Plus, heirloom rings are often one-of-a-kind, unlike the mass produced rings in the big jewelry stores.

Other Gemstone Engagement Ring Alternatives

If the options above are too safe (a.k.a. boring) for you, then a white stone is not what you want. These gemstones add a splash of color - the perfect way to express your personal style.


Pink-lovers rejoice! Morganite has become very trendy in recent years. This pretty gem comes in a variety of pink shades from light peach to deep salmon.

They resemble pricey pink diamonds at just a fraction of the cost. A 1-carat morganite ring will set you back just a few hundred bucks.

Morganite and rose gold rings are a match made in heaven. It's the ultimate pinky ring for romantics.

However, morganite is a softer stone (7.5 on the hardness scale). You would have to be more careful not to scrape it or bang it around.


You can thank Kate Middleton for sapphire's sudden resurgence in popularity.

Sapphire's classic deep blue hue is sophisticated but cool. If you're not into blue, pink and yellow sapphires also make beautiful statements.

Ranked 9 on the hardness scale, sapphires are ideal gemstones for engagement rings. There are few things in your daily life that will be hard enough to scratch a sapphire.

If you're looking for an ethical stone, you can even get lab-created sapphires. Another plus is that lab technology can create higher quality stones with more vivid color.


This stunning green rock is one of the most sought over and highly desired stones in ancient history. It's also a symbol of eternal love.

Emeralds rank 7.5 - 8 on the hardness scale. This is hard enough for jewelry, but they are more prone to scratches if you're not careful. They're also more brittle and can break if struck in the right way. Opt for a halo ring instead of prong setting to protect the gem.

High quality natural emeralds can fetch quite a high price. But just like sapphires, you can find lab grown emeralds. Because lab emeralds have fewer internal fractures, they are often more durable.


This bold red stone 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?

Rubies are also ideal for engagement rings, as they're very durable (9 on the Mohs scale). In addition, they have no cleavage, which means they won't chip easily if struck.

You can find rubies in a whole range of prices, but in general, they are among the priciest gemstones.


Birthstones can be a meaningful sentiment. They're colorful and fun, depending on her birth month.

Semi-precious stones, like amethyst and peridot, are much more affordable. They have unique colors that's not easily imitated. These stones will definitely stand out!

The downside to watch out for, though, is that most semi-precious stones are only 6.5-8 on the hardness scale. This is not ideal for everyday wear. Or you'll have to be very gentle when wearing them.

Birthstones By Month:

  • January - Garnet
  • February - Amethyst
  • March - Aquamarine, Bloodstone
  • April - Diamond
  • May - Emerald
  • June - Alexandrite, Pearl, Moonstone
  • July - Ruby
  • August - Peridot,Spinel,Sardonyx
  • September - Sapphire
  • October - Tourmaline, Opal
  • November - Citrine, Topaz
  • December - Tanzanite, Zircon, Turquoise


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

But pearls are very soft - only rated 2.5 to 4.5. A lot of things in your daily life can scratch a pearl.

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.

Diamond Alternative Pros

Should you go for a diamond alternative? Here are some advantages:

  • Cheaper pricing: Expect to pay $5,000 - $6,000 for a good quality 1-carat natural diamond. That's simply not in the budget for many people. Other gemstones or (lab diamonds) cost just a fraction of the price.

  • More unique: Don't want a ring that everyone else has? Alternative gemstones make a bold statement with a splash of color. You can express your own individuality and style.

  • More ethical: If you have ethical concerns about diamonds, choose a lab-created stone. Lab stones are made in safe environments with fair wages. Plus, there are no destructive mining practices involved.

    There are a ton of options now - from lab-created diamonds, to moissanites, to even sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.

Diamond Alternative Cons

But there are also downsides to consider:

  • Not as durable: Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth. Other gemstones are not as hard. At 8 Mohs hardness (like emeralds and morganite), a stone may scratch with daily wear and abuse. If you do get one of those stones, be more gentle when wearing.

  • Less value: Natural diamonds will hold some value, especially if they're high quality. But lab diamonds and most colored gemstones will have very little to no resale value at all.

    But in general, you should think of an engagement ring as a special gift, and not as an investment piece.

  • Untraditional: Not all brides are going to be okay with an alternative engagement ring. Some want a diamond (or at least something that looks like one). Be sure to discuss with your partner first before surprising her with an alternative stone.

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 $5,225. 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 specialist 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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