A Complete Guide And Small Secrets Of How To Choose A Gemstone For Engagement Rings

The world of precious pieces offered by jewelers is endless and can be limited only by the size of your banking account or the degree to which you want to impress your loved one at the engagement. The rest is up to you, totally. But how to choose the right engagement ring in this vast sea of stones and gold or platinum? The point is, there are trends to follow and recommendations a jeweler can provide. But again, how to fit it all into a selection process if you are not a jeweler? Where to look and what to ask for?

We’ve decided to make a brief of a brief on choosing the best stones for engagement rings, so to say, and set you on a particular track that won’t let you fail or get lost along the way.

Is a Gemstone Engagement Ring a real thing?

Traditionally, an engagement ring features a rather big stone, in contrast to a wedding band or a promise ring. So a statement ring with a rather impressive stone or a cluster of stones (usually three) can be considered a gemstone engagement ring. The ring should really be visible and catch an eye (the bigger bling should be emanated by a cocktail ring only).

Now what stones to choose? Naturally, they should be precious or semi-precious stones. The classic dichotomy of choice is whether it should be diamonds or other engagement ring stone type. However, there is more to this choice than simply the names and colors of stones.

Gemstones are graded not only according to their purity and clarity, but also according to their hardness, toughness, and stability. Since an engagement ring is to be worn daily as a symbol of your eternal and indestructible love, it’s vital that the stone itself stands the test of time and wear. It’s really disappointing (and seen by some as an ominous event) when a stone in the ring chips, cracks or falls out and gets lost. So, to avoid it here’s what you need to know about the hardness and stability of some of the most popular stones for the engagement ring.

The Mohs’ Scale And What It Has To Do With Gemstones

You’ve probably heard about the Mohs hardness scale. It’s perfectly applicable and routinely used for measuring the hardness and durability of gems. This scale goes from 1 to 10, grade 1 standing for softness talc (yes, that soft baby powder), and 10 standing for diamond’s hardness. So, it’s reasonable to choose stones that will have a hardness close to 10, right? Well, not as many stones can boast of being diamond-hard, and it’s not necessary for stones to be worn in everyday life. It’s enough to remember that dust has a hardness of 7 (yes, these annoying particles are that hard), and to prevent your gemstones from scratches and unintended damage, pick the gem with a hardness of 7.5 or higher. In this range, there is a vast pool of good stones for engagement rings to choose from.

Selecting an Eternal Gem: Stones That Won’t Degrade With Time And Wear (and Ones That Will)

Now that we know what to look for in gems except the purity and brilliance of color, let’s explore the most popular and durable options out there.

Diamond: Durability And Timeless Elegance

Diamond scores 10 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, that’s why it’s literally forever. The stone is very durable and can become a valuable inheritance for your grandkids (just in case). Pearls, for example, make a poor investment because they degrade with age. If you don’t plan that far, just remember that diamonds are classics, they can go well with any set of other gemstone rings or shine on your hand alone, and they are resistant to scratching or breaking. They can only be damaged by high heat, but so are many other stones. Whether you choose to buy a solitaire (one-stone) ring or a three-stone ring, or a ring with a cluster of smaller gems, your purchase will be a good investment and an item to be appreciated for many years to come.

Sapphire: A Cheaper But Equally Stunning And Durable Alternative

Surely, the excellent qualities of diamonds are matched by their price, but the engagement ring should not obligatorily cost a fortune. Corundum is a family of gemstones that are beautiful, valuable, and sturdy, but cost less than diamonds. Sapphire is the best representative of such gems. Sapphires have long been used in premium jewelry, and the ring of Princess Diana that inspired many copies and spin-offs is one of the examples. Sapphires look good alone or in a halo of small diamonds or zircons. Blue sapphires are traditionally set in white gold or silver, while other colors of sapphires like pink or black (to name but a few) are set in gold. The hardiness of these engagement ring stones is 9 out of 10, which makes them perfect for daily wear. Such a ring will always look impressive, and if you choose to get a wedding band or eternity ring with a sprinkle of diamonds, they will make a spectacular pair.

Ruby And Aquamarine: Noble, Tough, And Beautiful Stones

Ruby is one more stone from the family of Corundum, which means it is valuable and durable. Like Sapphire, ruby is evaluated according to its color intensity and purity. Inclusions are undesirable because they lower the quality and appeal of stones. A hardness of 9/10 makes ruby suitable for a central stone in an engagement ring, and its blood-red color will shine alone or surrounded by smaller colorless stones.

Aquamarine has its name from the Latin word aqua – water.

It is fully transparent, with an amazing blue-greenish tint of a clear lake or seawater. Darker-toned stones are valued higher than light-colored ones. Aquamarine looks equally elegant in gold and in silver, and its relatively lower price makes it possible to buy a substantial stone for a reasonable sum. Some of the best antique jewelry sets include aquamarines as their centerpieces, so why not revive the good old tradition? Besides, despite its ephemeral looks, this gem is rather tough against tear and wear, with its rating of 7.5/10 on the Mohs’ scale.

Topaz And Alexandrite: Durable Messengers Of Your Eternal Love

Topaz is often overlooked as the centerpiece of engagement rings, and this is for no reason at all. The stone features amazing blue color with cold steely undertones, it is neither greenish like aquamarine nor navy like sapphire. It is pure blue as it is. It is a perfect center of a three-stone ring (one big topaz guarded on both sides by smaller colorless diamonds or zircons) or as a solo stone on a slim band. Each variation is strikingly beautiful, so consider this option carefully. In terms of hardness, topaz is a rival to the Corundum family, with its hardness of 8.

Alexandrite is one more valuable stone that is returning into fashion from relative obscurity. It has a fantastic change of color from greenish-blue to purplish-red when the light falls from different angles, so you can understand why it is so appreciated. Its hardness is an impressive 8.5/10, and you don’t have to worry about wearing the ring daily. The jewel will proudly stand for the strength and longevity of your commitment to each other.

Precious Outcasts: Damage-Susceptible Pearl, Opal, And Emerald That Are Not Fit For Daily Wear

You may wonder why emerald or pearl did not make it to the top of recommendation, but there is a reason for it. These precious inserts are notoriously known for their fragility and instability, so the daily wear of an emerald ring will be problematic.

Emerald is 7.5/10 by the Mohs’ scale, but its hardness is undermined by its utter instability and proneness to chipping and cracking. Actually, emeralds without inclusions or small cracks inside are practically non-existent, and that cloudy pattern or dots and shapes inside the stone are called the ‘garden.’ The fewer inclusions, the more valuable the stone. But even the smallest crack makes the stone likely to fall apart from daily wear. That’s why those wonderful rings and tiaras made of emeralds are worn for special occasions only, being stored in protected vaults and boxes for the majority of the time.

Pearls are not stones in a direct sense; they are many layers of calcium put together into a small shiny gem by a diligent mollusk. So alas, this wonderful creation is very susceptible to impacts of all kinds, from scratching and breaking to losing the sheen due to chemical reactions. Besides, smaller pearls can de-attach from the ring and get lost without a wearer noticing it. There is a reason that pearls are not the best gemstones for rings and are usually made into necklaces – in such a way, they will last longer and will not face the regular tear-and-wear that rings usually undergo.

Finally, opal, the charming mysterious stone, is also very fragile. It has only 6.5 points on the Mohs scale, so it’s even softer than regular dust and can get easily scratched just from daily wear, even without any serious impact. Besides, opal breaks equally easily, so you’d better reserve it for a brooch or some other more protected jewelry piece.

Diamond And Gemstone Shapes You Can Pick And Choose From

Now that we’ve decided on what stones to choose and what not to choose for an engagement ring, let’s consider what ring gem shapes are available.


A round shape is the most universal one. Typically reserved for diamonds, it fits the majority of other gems. Round cut helps to bring out the shine and the color, enhancing it with the rainbow of evenly distributed sparkles. That’s why this shape benefits colorless diamonds greatly – their transparency becomes a concentration of colorful sparkles and play of light.


The princess cut is also frequently found in diamonds but can also be applied to other types of stones for rings of high hardness. Princess cut is a square shape of the stone face where corners and edges are clearly defined (in contrast to cushion cut). This shape captures light and lets it pass through the stones easily for maximum visual effect and it also underscores the nature of gems as crystals with clear and sharp structure. This cut is hard to perform and so it costs more than other cuts.


A fancy heart cut can be applied to diamonds, but other colored stones benefit more from it. The cut is very romantic, but it also adds shine and depth to the stone due to its complex dual shape on one side and a sharp edge on the other. This cut is rather rare, so if you find such a ring, buy it confidently.


This is one of the oldest stone shapes for rings that belongs to the classics. Most colored gems look well in this shape and they can be complemented by a halo or even a complex arrangement of smaller stones, whether colorless or colored. The shape lacks defined edges, and that’s why there is a lower risk of chipping a piece of stone. Look at the old pictures or at hands of modern celebrities to see how popular and versatile this shape is.


This shape is close to oval, but one rounded end is gently narrowing along the stone’s length into another tapered end, here’s the name pear (one may call it a drop shape if you wish). The shape is usually used for raw stones of irregular shape, where round or princess cut is impossible and the pear shape helps maximize the potential of the stone. However, it looks very elegant and unusual, so if you find a stone of this cut, it is a good investment.


This shape, when translated to ordinary human language, is an oval with both ends gently tapered. The shape is excellent for slim fingers since it looks very delicate. Due to the presence of defined edges, the cut is possible in hard stones and requires a properly made setting that secures the potentially fragile parts.


The cushion shape is just what it says: a square with rounded edges. It looks balanced and cozy, equally suitable for a solo role or for a central place in a halo of smaller stones. This engagement ring stone shape accentuates the depths of color and clarity of the stones, so it’s great for gems that have no inclusions. This cut is great for all stones, hard and relatively soft, as the absence of sharp edges reduces the risk of unintended damage to the stone.


It’s rectangular with rounded edges, and it’s the most spectacular cut. The crown (the visible side) has a wide table (the biggest central surface) and a few narrow facets (cuts on the edges of the table), which brings out the color and the rich depths of the stone. This cut is excellent for colored gems of good quality because their color immediately pops out while the light rolls gently inside the stone. If you want to go big and bold, buy a ring with a big stone of radiant shape, and it will be a real stunner.

Gemstones That Are Excellent As Engagement Ring Center Stones

As you have probably heard many times, it all depends on the tastes of the lady you plan to give a ring to, and on your budget. So, if you know what colors your sweetheart prefers or what her birthstone is, choosing the engagement ring center stone becomes somewhat easier.

Engagement Rings With Aquamarine

They are fine for ladies who love subtle coloring since aquamarines are transparent and light to medium blue-green. The stone is beautiful, and since it’s cheaper than diamonds or sapphires, you can get a really big stone with a reasonable price tag. The stone is suitable for those born in March.

Engagement Rings With Topaz

These precious pieces look very impressive with their steely-blue topaz centers. Set in white gold or silver, the stones make a lasting impression on everyone around. Topaz is the birthstone of December people, and it nicely reminds us of the bright blue skies and sea waves when it’s cold and gloomy outside.

Engagement Rings With Garnet

These are excellent for those who seek deep coloring in a gem and look for engagement ring different stones that have some history behind them. Garnet was known as a decoration several thousand years ago, and throughout history, royals and famous people appreciated garnet and purchased jewels with this stone. It’s hard enough for daily wear and makes a cool centerpiece alone or in combination with other stones. Wine-red garnet is for those born in January, and its rich coloring reminds of bright berries that remain on the bush branches through the winter or spicy mulled wine that is great for chilly evenings.

Engagement Rings With Alexandrite

Such rings are impressive in their own right, they are rather expensive and very regal in appearance, in their radical change of coloring under the different lighting. June is the month of alexandrite, so if your sweetheart is born in this balmy summer month, go for an alexandrite engagement ring.

Engagement Rings With Peridot

They are interesting in that they feature a stone that is both yellowish and green, closer to light-green, like a lemon that is only starting to ripen. The stone is transparent, and this feature makes the color look fresh and elegant. One can compare peridot to citrine and beryl, yet citrine is honey-colored, with a warm sunny tint, and beryl is greenish-yellow. Peridot goes on the greener side, vibrant and reminiscent of the spring. Peridot is the stone of August, so if your girlfriend prefers light-green tones, choose a peridot engagement ring.

Engagement Rings With Sapphire

These deep-blue confections are worthy of kings and queens (yes, the comparison is well-trodden, but it is nevertheless true). Famous tiaras, necklaces, and rings often feature a central sapphire or a whole set of sapphires, and it’s not surprising, given their wonderful color and hardness. Sapphire engagement rings are forever, like diamonds, and if you later decide to purchase a pair of earrings to match the ring, the set will be really aristocratic – and suitable to wear every day in terms of stability and durability. Oh, yes, sapphire is the stone of September, if you need this clue.

Engagement Rings With Ruby

These ones are as precious and popular as sapphire ones. Both stones belong to the Corundum family, durable and hard, and the colors of stones are rich and very beautiful. It’s for a reason that the whole palette of colors in design carries the name ‘jewel tones.’ Ruby is red, blood-red, or cherry red, there are even star rubies, so you have plenty of options to choose from. Anyway, a ruby ring will be a fine and long-lasting token of love. Ruby is the stone of July, the month of Caesar, and the gem is definitely matching its month in its aristocratic looks.

Popular Engagement Ring Stone Sizes In Carats And Millimeters

Usually, stones are measured in carats, and while it may sound impressive, this measure says little about the actual size of the stone. Carat is a unit of weight, so to understand what you are looking for, it’s better to know how it corresponds to dimensions in millimeters.

For round, princess, and oval stones the measurements/weight in carats ratio may differ, so we will cite the most common size/weight pairs. Definitely, you may find ring stone sizes that are way bigger (or smaller) than the ones mentioned here, but what we offer are classics that look good on a finger and don’t make your wallet hurt.

For classic round shape:

  • The 0.03 ct stone has a 2 mm diameter (they look good in halo or cluster compositions);

The 0.10 ct stone has a 3 mm diameter (fit for a

  • very slim band or three-stone rings);
  • The 0.25 ct stone has a 4 mm diameter (a modest solo stone ring);
  • The 0.50 ct stone has a 5 mm diameter (a common stone size for engagement rings);
  • The 0.90 ct stone has a 6 mm diameter (that’s a pretty nice gemstone ring, we’d say);
  • The 1.25 ct stone has a 7 mm diameter (you do want to impress your lady, right?);
  • The 2.00 ct stone has an 8 mm diameter (that’s a stunner that will catch the eye of everyone around).

For the princess cut:

  • The 0.05 ct stone has a 2 mm diameter (again, good for halos or clusters);

The 0.15 ct stone has a 3 mm diameter (imagine a

  • very slim band);
  • The 0.25 ct stone has a 3.5 mm diameter (a modest solo or three-stone ring);
  • The 0.40 ct stone has a 4 mm diameter (a popular stone size);
  • The 0.75 ct stone has a 5 mm diameter (one more popular size);
  • The 1.20 ct stone has a 6 mm diameter (that’s a stone on the chicer side);
  • The 2.00 ct stone has a 7 mm diameter (the star of the show);
  • The 3.20 ct stone has an 8 mm diameter (a bling that will cost quite a lot).

For the oval cut:

  • The 0.10 ct stone has 4x2 mm dimensions (a very small stone fit for clusters or multi-stone rings);
  • The 0.26 ct stone has 5x3 mm dimensions (fir for a narrow or fancy band);
  • The 0.50 ct stone has 6x4 mm dimensions (an understated solo stone ring);
  • The 0.90 ct stone has 7x5 mm dimensions (a good stone size);
  • The 1.50 ct stone has 8x6 mm dimensions (a very good stone size);
  • The 2.10 ct stone has 9x7 mm dimensions (an impressive stone);
  • The 3.00 ct stone has 10x8 mm dimensions (a really bold one);
  • The 4.20 ct stone has 11x9 mm dimensions (go big or go home, as they say).

Recapping The Key Points Of Choosing Stone For Engagement Rings

With everything we’ve tried to explain to you so far, it should not be that hard to pick an appropriate option from different gemstones for engagement rings that your sweetheart will love. Let’s recap it:

  • Find out the stone and the precious metal your lady prefers;
  • Look for a stone that is durable enough for daily wear;
  • Find out if your loved one is interested in specific birthstones or lucky stones;
  • Find out her ring size;
  • Look for specific recommendations on how to find a perfect stone of the desired class, if it should be transparent, opaque, with inclusion, without inclusions, etc.;
  • Decide on the different engagement ring stones shapes;
  • Clarify in advance if you can resize the ring;
  • Decide how much you can spend and what stone size you can get for the decided sum;
  • Look through several recent collections and trendy wedding sites to see what center stones for engagement rings are in fashion now and what rings are sold best right now;
  • Look at the gathered info, compare rings to it and choose the perfect one.


Is there a ‘traditional’ stone for an engagement ring?

Usually, the go-to stone is a diamond. Other popular stones for engagement rings are sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, and garnet.

Which stone is the best for a truly impressive engagement ring?

Any stone that your loved one and you find beautiful and meaningful is the best for your engagement, just mind that it should be tough enough for everyday wear.

What gemstones are too fragile and soft for everyday wear in a ring?

Although very beautiful and valuable, the following inclusions are not recommended for daily wear: emerald, pearl, opal, and amethyst.

What gemstone is durable and will last really long?

Diamonds are ‘forever,’ and the Corundum family is going neck to neck with them, rubies and sapphires being the most known representatives.

What is the luckiest gemstone, or how to choose a personality-matching stone?

There is no universal lucky stone if we approach the question from this side. Every zodiac sign, every element, every month, and every season of the year have their dedicated stones. So clarify what your sweetheart considers to be her lucky stone and then go for it. For example, amber is considered to be a very positive and lucky stone for many, but people under the Taurus sign are strongly discouraged to wear it since it is believed to bring bad luck to them. So, it all depends, and you’d better ask in advance the person you plan to give the stone to.


As you see, there is a bit of science and practical approach behind choosing the best stone for engagement ring, but we are sure that you’ll cope with the task perfectly. Just pick the right jewelry shop or studio to work with, decide on what you need, or at least have some information at hand, and the selection journey will be fun. Giving a great engagement ring to your loved one will be an even bigger joy for both of you!

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