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What's Your Inspiration?

Alternative engagement rings

Updated June 1, 2023

This article is part of our What's Your Inspiration series, where we explore the personal touches and sources of inspiration our customers bring to their engagement rings.

Designs with character

Diamonds, solitaire settings, basic bands… they’re all beautiful, safe choices for engagement rings. Still, not everyone wants to follow the crowd and go with the flow. What if you want something a little less conventional? Something just a bit further from the beaten path? That's music to our designers' ears! There are so many ways to bring a creative edge to your engagement ring. Whether it’s playing with gemstone colors, exploring unusual gem shapes, reshaping silhouettes, the possibilities are wide open when we start brainstorming and sketching. Let's get those creative juices flowing by rounding up a few of our favorite alternative engagement ring designs.

Uncommon colored gemstones

Perhaps the easiest way to go alternative is to shake off the diamond center stone. Colored gemstones are a perfect alternative to diamonds, bringing a personal touch to every ring. We’re always impressed by the creative ways our customers use stones of every shade and shape to bring a bit of personality into the design.


Some gemstones have unique features that make them less common engagement options, but that just means they’re ideal for alternative pieces. The tourmalinated quartz in this ring is so striking, with lines of black tourmaline breaking up the otherwise clear sparkle of the quartz. Topaz and opals—the couple’s birthstones—bring a splash of color to the whole piece, and the angular, pointed design hints at the mountains where the couple had their first date.


We don’t see enough orange in engagement jewelry, and this flaming orange sapphire is burning a hole right through our hearts. It’s such a brilliant choice for an engagement stone, signifying the fiery love between two people. The intertwined band and double prong setting are also subtle finishing touches, and diamond accents along the band really help that color pop.


It’s not hard to see why Hindu mythology tells us that moonstone is made from solidified moonbeams, and this one appears to be floating out of its rose gold setting! An uncommon but lovely choice, the cabochon moonstone is the true heart of this piece, with the rose gold setting and white diamond accents highlighting its luminous appearance.


Opaque gems like opal are ideal for future brides who aren’t impressed by the sparkle of diamonds. The dark opal at the center of this ring will make you feel as though you’re carrying a little shard of rainbow with you everywhere you go. Add in the delicate diamond accents and spiraling metalwork crafted into the shape of a phoenix, and you’ve got an alternative ring worthy of all the stares it will inevitably receive.


Is there anything more lovely than carrying a little bit of sunshine with you to brighten your day? This glowing citrine can help you do just that, and it’s a sunny alternative to more typical center stones. The elongated shape and sleek tab prongs give the engagement ring a modern look, contrasting beautifully with the more rustic element of the hammered gold band.


There’s something about green stones and bezel settings that suits alternative brides, and we adore the combo. The blue-green tourmaline our gem experts sourced for this ring has a deep, rich hue and minimal facets, echoed by the ring's hexagonal bezel setting. In turn, the white moissanite accent stones on either side really help the gem’s color pop and bring a healthy sparkle to the overall piece. Having a larger moissanite in the center of each cluster also elongates the hexagonal tourmaline for a slimmer silhouette.


Did you know: diamonds weren’t actually a popular choice for engagement rings until the 1900’s? That’s right, gemstones like sapphire and ruby often took center stage, and this striking yellow sapphire is a perfect diamond alternative for a vintage setting. The stone’s Old European cut and warm, citrus tones are ideal for the intricate beadwork and subtle petal design of this ring, with all of them coming together to produce an incredible antique aesthetic.


If your answer to the question “How do you like your coffee?” is “Black, like my soul,” then you may want to try a black gemstone as a diamond alternative. Black onyx is a bold gem that’s great for a chunky facet pattern like the one in this ring. As if the stone itself wasn’t fierce enough, the compass-oriented claw prongs and delightful detail around the onyx as well as the two topaz side stones exude character.


More black? Perhaps you love diamonds but crave something a little edgier? Have no fear: black diamonds are here! Nicholas designed this ring for his partner, Carolyn, knowing she'd love this striking center stone. He told us that she'd want an understated design ("she doesn't wear a lot of jewelry") but one that would still turn some heads ("she isn't flashy, and doesn't like to show off, but at the same time I want this to be something she would show off a bit"). We think he got it just right. The pointed marquise stone has a bottomless black glow, but the glittering white diamond accents keep the design grounded and bridal. Just look at how good it looks on her hand!

More stones, more fun (2-stone and cluster styles)

At the heart of most engagement rings lies the center stone: a gem that shines above the rest and serves as a promise between two people. But... rings with a single center stone are a dime a dozen. Why not switch it up with a center arrangement of two, three, or even more gems for an unusual—but no less eye-popping—display of sparkle.


The pair of sizable diamonds in this two-stone ring are giving us major “red carpet” vibes. With a silhouette similar to that of Emily Ratajkowski’s famous engagement ring, this yellow gold band boasts an elegant pear-shaped stone as well as a princess-cut diamond with a white gold center to enhance their bright sparkle. The pear-shaped diamond is also slightly tilted toward its partner, as if the stones are embracing one another.


When it comes to two-stone rings, there’s nothing more alternative than flipping the concepts of “center stones” and “accent stones” on their heads. This ring takes two trillion moissanites and places them in the accent stone position alongside a vertical band of smaller moissanite gems. The finished look is polished and modern, and the east-west orientation of the larger moissanite gemstones gives the piece angular appeal.


If pure white sparkle isn’t your thing, incorporate a colored gemstone into your two-stone ring for an alternative to dual diamonds. These twin marquise stones are actually a lab-created diamond and a cool blue zircon, and their soft color combination and angled orientation reminds us of gentle blue waves. The undulating wedding band designed to match this incredible ring is also one-of-a-kind, as it sharply dips downward to accommodate the shape of the center stones.


Once you open up your center stone options, the alternative color combinations become endless! Take this two-stone style, which features a pear-shaped diamond and a dreamy green sapphire in a yellow gold setting. The color green is said to symbolize a happy and successful marriage, making this unconventional sapphire a clever substitute for more traditional gem choices.


There are also several white stone alternatives that can mimic the glow of a diamond in your ring (without having to purchase one!). The hexagonal moissanite in this ring is dazzling, and the matching green opal at its side only enhances its brilliance. The color play of this opal reminds us of a swirling nebula, which complements the starlike formations around the gems for an out-of-this-world engagement ring.


It’s amazing how you can use the two same gemstone varieties in so many ways when designing an alternative engagement ring. Although this ring also sports a pair of green and colorless gems like our previous example, and a pairing of pear and square like number 10 above, it couldn’t look more different than our previous entries. The pear-shaped diamond and soft, hexagonal emerald feature elongated silhouettes that are set tightly against one another for a unified appearance, and peep the blue-green glow of that emerald!


Do you want to avoid a white center stone altogether? No problem! We adore the vivid emerald tone of this “pair of pears.” The dual green emeralds are a fabulous alternative to white gems, and they're lab-created, so they offer durability as well as personality. The line of petit diamonds that connect the two center stones brings out the deeper tones of these two emeralds.


When two center stones aren't enough, many couples choose cluster settings as an alternative to standard styles. We’re loving the luxe, colorless sparkle of this all white cluster, which features a large, emerald-cut stone surrounded by round, square, marquise, and pear-shaped diamonds. The yellow gold setting really amplifies the colorless nature of these diamonds, and the way they sparkle together magnifies their fire, brilliance, and scintillation.


Cluster settings can feature gems of any shape or color, and so it can be exciting to mix and match patterns and finishes to create something entirely new. The three stones at the center of this ring could not be more different, yet they work together beautifully. The oval-shaped diamond provides ample brilliance, the white pearl produces a mystic glow, and the kite shaped salt and pepper diamond brings it all together with its white-flecked pattern and geometric shape to complement the round edges of the other stones.


Three-stone rings can act as a happy medium for couples seeking an alternative to the simplicity of two-stone rings and the busy arrangements of a cluster setting. This refined three-stone ring features white diamonds, and the round, square, and oval stones take center stage on the simple yellow gold band. We also love the way those sleek claw prongs give these gemstones a sharp, more modern appeal. Minimal, yet absolutely going to turn heads. We just about melted when we read Kacie's post, sharing the story of these diamonds:

“I catch myself staring at this ring about 50x a day. An incredibly special heirloom I love almost as much as the man that gave it to me. All 3 diamonds were worn on my mom’s own ring finger at one point in time, the oval being her OG engagement diamond, the square a 10 year anniversary upgrade from dad, and the round, well that one is a longer story… I never imagined planning a wedding without my mom, and I know how much she looked forward to the day she got to do it all with me. Anyone that has lost a loved one knows all happy things have a bittersweet side, the “I wish they were here” side. As painfully cliche as this sounds, at least now I’ve got 3 little pieces of her with me through the dress shopping, the decorating, down the aisle, and on my hand forever. 🤍”


This is easily the most organized “cluster” ring we’ve ever seen. The whopping 5 pear-shaped moissanites of this band setting form a glorious array of white sparkle without any one stone attracting the majority of the attention. The gems are graduated with a larger stone at the center, but the effect created by their arrangement makes them appear as one.

Give it a twist (changing the center stone’s orientation)

Turning your stone within its setting is an easy way to add alternative flair to an otherwise classic look. By simply tilting the orientation of your chosen center stone, the ring takes on an entirely new perspective, and you’ll love the positive feedback from family and friends who will definitely be saying, “I wish I’d thought of that!”


This marquise moonstone embodies witchy chic, and the east-west orientation is a whimsical alternative style for wearers who prefer a more understated setting. The peachy rose gold and white accent diamonds along the side of this setting also bring out the moonstone’s adularescence, its distinctive, shimmering blue glow.


With both an uncommon orientation and an unorthodox center stone, this ring is certainly a brilliant alternative design. Onyx is a relatively hard black gemstone, so it’s durable enough to stand alone as a center stone. The reverse tapered white diamonds and rose gold setting compliment the faceted stone beautifully, but what we can’t see is the special, black diamond accents below the stone that carry a secret message and make this piece even more special!


Alternative orientations aren’t just for gems with elongated silhouettes. This trillion tanzanite is a rare but stunning choice for a center stone, and turning it just slightly means you protect the gem’s precious corners from snagging and create asymmetrical appeal. The tightly braided band on one side of the gem continues the asymmetrical design, and small accent stones add pops of sparkle around the vivid violet-blue of the tanzanite.


This ring is chock-full of alternative design choices that highlight the beauty of the east-west design. The half-bezel setting provides both protection and ample room for light to enter the center stone, giving it an orange-toned brilliance. The knot design of the band is also special — a callback to this customer's Nordic ancestry that plays nicely with the checkerboard faceting of the garnet.


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Line drawing of ring setting

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