What are the Best Precious Gemstones for a Center Stone?
Choosing the Best Gemstone for Your Unique Engagement Ring Starts at Ken K. Thompson Jewelry!
If you want a truly unique engagement ring, look no further than precious gemstones. There is a rainbow of colors beneath the earth, and gemstones come in such a huge variety of colors that they represent nearly every major hue, including green gemstones, blue gemstones, red gemstones, purple gemstones, and more!
When compared to diamonds, gemstones seem to offer endless variety, and better yet, they each have their own gemstone meanings and cultural significance. On the other hand, unlike diamonds, not all gemstones are ideal for an engagement ring's center stone.
When shopping for gemstone engagement rings, knowing what you’re trying to find and why is important. Our team of jewelry experts here at Ken K. Thompson Jewelry has prepared a helpful gemstone shopping guide with a quick list of gemstones and gemstone cuts that would make for a stunning center stone for your unique engagement ring! Let’s dive in and discover the true beauty of precious colored gemstones, as we hope this guide makes your next engagement ring buying decision easier than ever!
Why Not Diamonds?
Before we look at rare gemstones and gemstone rings, it’s beneficial to review why people have most commonly turned to diamonds as their engagement ring center stone of choice. Diamonds have been the mainstay for engagement rings for more than a host of great reasons. For just about as long as the tradition of exchanging rings has been around, diamonds have been the most popular gemstone choice, and it’s not only their rarity that makes diamonds incredibly valuable.
Beyond their obvious beauty and scarcity, a diamond’s value is tied to its durability. Diamonds will hardly ever scratch, break, or shatter, unlike some other gemstones that are much softer in their chemical makeup. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t good options for ring settings beyond the ever-famous diamond!
When looking for a gemstone ring for your engagement ring option, remember not all stones are created equally. Many gemstones don’t have the durability or hardness to last as a center stone on a piece you wear every day like an engagement ring. Thankfully, given the sheer variety of gemstones, it’s still easy to get the color you want, coupled with the proper durability so that it will last the test of time as your cherished center stone!
The Mohs Hardness Scale and You
We won’t be getting too deep into the chemistry behind why, but every gemstone has different properties that make some better than others for everyday wear. The first, and perhaps most important, is the material's hardness. This is commonly measured using the Mohs Hardness Scale.
The Mohs Hardness Scale goes from one to ten and measures the scratch resistance of materials. In the most basic terms, the higher the Mohs Number, the harder the material. Harder materials can always scratch softer materials, and as you go down the hardness scale, the more easily scratched it becomes.
Diamonds are a perfect 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They are the hardest mineral substance known on Earth. This means they can only be marked or cut by other diamonds. This is a big part of why diamonds are so popular as center and accent stones in jewelry.
Interestingly, the tiny dust particles in the air score an average of 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This means the hard quartz particles in dust can damage your jewelry if you aren’t careful about your gemstone selection. When selecting your engagement ring center stone, make sure it scores above 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, or even the dust in the air could potentially damage your stone.
For this reason, we recommend against using soft gemstones as center stones in jewelry. Opal, which scores a hardness of 6 on the Mohs Scale, is a beautiful example of a stone to avoid for the jewelry you’d wear every day, like your engagement ring. Even cleaning an opal ring by wiping off dust can cause microscopic scratches that will become visible over time.
Alternative Engagement Rings with Beautiful and Durable Gems
Once you’ve definitely decided to ditch the diamond, it quickly becomes clear that there is a whole world of precious gemstones to choose from. If you are searching for a unique engagement ring and all you know is that you don’t want a diamond, the task of narrowing your search can seem daunting at first. But if you know your tastes and a little bit about rocks, you can find a gemstone that’s as durable as it is beautiful.
A good way to go about the decision is to start with color. There are good options for every color of the spectrum, so let your imagination run wild. Start with primary colors, and work from there. Blue, red, or green are the most common diamond alternative precious gemstone colors, so starting with those three might make for a great way to begin to narrow your search.
Corundum is a mineral that comes in a variety of colors and is exceptionally hard, but you likely know it best for its primary gem variations: Sapphire and Ruby (Sapphire Gemstones & Ruby Gemstones).
Both Rubies and Sapphires make great choices for engagement rings because of their exceptional durability. All corundum stones score a 9 on the Mohs scale, making them second only to diamonds in terms of hardness.
Sapphire Engagement Rings
Sapphire gems are typically blue but have been found in yellow, orange, green, brown, purple, and violet hues. Non-blue Sapphires are called fancy sapphires, and the fancy variations can feature two tones, star-like asterisms, and color-shifting properties too. There's more variation amongst sapphires since rubies are classified by their red color. So, essentially every non-red corundum gem is classified as a sapphire.
Ruby Engagement Rings
Rubies are red-hued corundum gems that range from pink to deep blood red. Generally, all corundum gems with dominant red hues are classified as rubies. However, more recent classifications have left some softer pink hues to be labeled as ‘pink sapphires’. Both make great choices given their durability.
The next two gemstones we will be focusing on are Beryl gems. Beryl is a relatively common mineral that naturally forms hexagonal crystals. In its purest form, Beryl is colorless but can be green, blue, yellow, pink, and even red in rare cases.
Green beryl is more commonly known as emerald and pale blue shades are aquamarine. These gems are generally hard enough for everyday wear, at a 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, but can be relatively low in toughness because of high inclusions.
Emerald Engagement Rings
Emerald is the last of the ‘big four’ gemstones. This puts them right up there next to stones we’ve covered previously (diamonds, rubies, and sapphires) in terms of value. And while emeralds are stunning, their tendency to have high inclusions makes their toughness relatively poor.
Aquamarine Engagement Rings
Aquamarine is relatively common and the most affordable of the gemstones discussed, but that doesn’t mean it lacks beauty. The stunning pale blue to light green color is evocative of an ocean at rest. And the lack of inclusions means it’s tougher than its emerald counterpart. This way you can get all the beauty of a premier gemstone, without the price tag from the rarity.
The Big Four Gemstones and more! They’re all at Ken K. Thompson Jewelry!
Now you know the pros and cons of the big four gemstones: Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. (Plus a bonus lesson about the benefits of aquamarine). The next big question is where to go to find the perfect alternative engagement ring.
The answer is Ken K. Thompson Jewelry. We have a wide selection of alternative gemstones that would make great center stones for engagement rings. Come in today, and discover the joys of precious gemstones.
Don’t forget to book an appointment with one of our jewelry experts on staff so that we can provide you with the personalized attention you deserve. We’ll see you soon at Ken K. Thompson Jewelry in Bemidji, MN.