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She Doesn't Like Diamonds... No Problem

Which Gemstones Are Best Suited for Engagement Rings?

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Engagement Ring
James Johnson Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images
If you think engagement rings must always contain diamonds, think again. My guest is Antoinette Matlins, P.G., gem and jewelry expert and author of many books, including: "Engagement & Wedding Rings: The Definitive Buying Guide For People in Love!" Published by GemStone Press, Woodstock, VT.

Break away from modern tradition and choose something other than a diamond engagement ring. Ms. Matlins offers some tips.

Diamond Alternatives

A young man recently asked me a question that really got my attention. He wanted to "pop the question" but couldn't afford a diamond. Nonetheless, he wanted to mark the moment with a ring and asked about buying an imitation CZ or "synthetic moissanite," the new diamond imitation that fools diamond testers.

Well, it may fool some, but it will never fool her. Nor should you even try. For all you men out there facing the same dilemma, take heart. Today there are many romantic and affordable alternatives with which to create that special moment.

First, the most important thing about an engagement ring is its symbolism. The ring itself is meant to symbolize something beautiful, rare, and precious, like the love the couple hopes to share for life. The ring doesn't have to be costly, and it doesn't have to be a diamond ring (just take a look at the British royal family —- the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne and Princess Diana received sapphire engagement rings, and Princess Sarah Ferguson, a ruby). Your choice must simply show thoughtfulness and caring, and incorporate appropriate symbolism.

For example, there are many colored gemstones that have historical associations to love. Red stones symbolize the heart, and thus, passion and a zest for life. With red, one instantly thinks of ruby, but the same symbolism can be conveyed very inexpensively with red garnet, or with a little larger budget, red tourmaline, or for a little more, red spinel. All natural gemstones, and all beautiful.

We can find similar choices for green (which symbolizes faithfulness and continuity) where choices include not only emerald, but green garnet or green tourmaline; for blue (which symbolizes spirituality and purity) in addition to sapphire we have blue spinel, iolite, and blue tourmaline. You might also combine whatever stone you choose with a small diamond on each side, thereby completing the ring with the symbolism of diamond, which, because of its unrivaled hardness was believed to be indestructible.

And lets not forget the gem that has been associated with love and with the wedding itself longer than all others, the pearl; one might seek a natural pearl in an antique or heirloom piece.

There is also a tradition of using a birthstone in the ring--hers or his--something connected to the couple in a very personal way, perhaps also combined with diamonds and their symbolism.

So whatever the budget, whatever the message, there are beautiful, rare, symbolic and precious choices. Just as you've found the "real thing" in your bride-to-be, go for the real thing in the ring you select. You can get her a CZ for the anniversary!

About the Author
Antoinette L. Matlins, P.G., is an internationally respected gem and jewelry expert, author, and lecturer. Her books are widely used throughout the world by consumers and professionals in the gem and jewelry field alike.

Editor of National Jeweler magazine for almost a decade, her articles and comments on buying and selling gems, jewelry, and gem investment have appeared in many national and international consumer and trade publications.

Trained by her father and co-author; Antonio Bonanno, she has gained wide recognition as a dedicated consumer advocate. Ms. Matlins has spearheaded the Accredited Gemologists Association's nationwide campaign against gemstone investment telemarketing scams. She has been seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN, educating consumers about gems and jewelry and exposing fraud.

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