This article is part of our Exploring Gemstones series, where we draw inspiration from the incredible world of gems.
We're a bit nutty about gemstones. Ok, maybe more than just a bit. Sure, we love diamonds. But the world of colored gems is packed with so much variety, color, and surprise. We cherish every opportunity to learn about rare and unusual gemstones, to help our customers find the perfect center stone, and to create the perfect setting for the perfect gem. It doesn't hurt that one of CustomMade's founders is a gem collector, who regularly wanders in with an unusual spinel or zircon or golden beryl — and then we all geek out a bit over his latest find.
So we decided to gather up ten rings we created over the last year with unusual center stones. From those that are incredibly rare to those that aren't often picked for an engagement ring, we're confident you'll find at least one or two that catch your eye!
You may be familiar with the color change version of chrysoberyl by its more familiar name — alexandrite. You may also have heard of cat's eye chrysoberyl, a cabochon cut of the gem that displays the distinctive cat's eye phenomenon gemologists refer to as chatoyancy. But chrysoberyl can also be faceted to create a beautiful faceted gem displaying bright yellow and green colors. The one we picked out for this customer showcases a warm, yellow tone, and pairs perfectly with the floral gold setting we designed for it.
Why chrysoberyl? This customer was initially considering an opal, to ensure the center stone for this special ring would be unique. After discussing the durability considerations, he decided that chrysoberyl (with its excellent wearability) would provide the uniqueness he was looking for, with just a bit less risk of wear and tear.
Tiger's eye may be more familiar as another gem with the distinctively — ahem — eye-catching phenomenon of cat's eye. The most familiar look for this gem features a deeper brown color with the distinctive line that gives it the appearance of a feline eye. We love this look, but for this ring, we opted for a different side of the gem. This tiger's eye engagement ring features a warm, honey golden center stone that pairs with onyx and citrine accent gems to create an arresting color contrast.
A truly rare gem. A mineral called diaspore that goes by several names as a branded gemstone, including Zultanite and Csarite. The gem is mined in Turkey and, relative to most other gemstones, is among the most rare. This one was brought to us by one of our customers, who asked us to help him create the perfect setting for his unique gem. The engagement ring we designed together sets the large, cushion cut gem in the blossom of a flower ring. It's open, yellowish green color folds elegantly into the pointed prongs and petals of the white gold setting.
Iolite tends to play second fiddle to the incredibly popular blue of sapphire and the violet-blue of tanzanite. But the intense, rich color of this gem deserves a bit more love. This iolite engagement ring showcases the dark blue of the gem, with a secondary purple hue, which pops beautifully against the white gleam and ornate detailing of the ring we designed.
Jade has long been a popular gem for all sorts of jewelry and sculpture, but it very rarely turns up as the center stone for an engagement ring. At the risk of tooting our own horn a bit, we'd say this ring makes a pretty strong case for more jade engagement rings! The vivid forest green gem stands out perfectly against the sparkle of diamonds and white gold around it.
We'll let you in on a little secret: most of us had never heard of poudretteite before we took on the project of creating this ring. It's among the most rare gemstones on the planet and, for this customer and his special someone, a really meaningful gem. He worked with us to design this tiara-inspired promise ring, featuring their special blushing pink gem at its center.
This customer envisioned the theme of the sun as the central element of his engagement ring design — so what could be a better center stone than Oregon sunstone? This beautiful gem can be found in a range of colors, including popular shades of coppery reds and oranges as well as earthy colors like the greenish-yellow of this gem. There's a warm glow at the heart of this stone that fits its name and the theme of the ring. Not only is the choice of center stone unique, but its cut is an unusual elongated shape, which we framed with a modern, minimalist bypass setting.
There's a long history of bloodstone being used in stone-set signet rings, but we rarely see it in engagement rings. Its distinctive appearance comes from the scattering of red inclusions in the deep green of the surrounding stone. The name implies a far more grizzly look. The actual bloodstone ring we designed here is elegant, quite delicate, and uses the dark green of the center stone to draw out more of the nature inspiration in the band's vine and leaf design.
Quartz is a common mineral — its many colored forms are well known by names like amethyst, citrine, and rose quartz. Its colorless form is usually not nearly as exciting. Unless, of course, threads of black tourmaline were trapped inside the colorless quartz crystal as it formed. In which case, it's one of the most arresting and unusual gems around!
This ring absolutely required a stop-you-in-your-tracks gem to match the intricate and macabre band details behind the center stone. Now, I expect the tourmalinated quartz will hold your eye for just a few more seconds before you realize there are skeletons just behind it! 😅
A stone with such a vivid color, its name is synonymous with an iconic shade of blue. It's been popular for as long as people have been making jewelry and, for this unusual and beautiful ring, we selected this long sliver of blue with a constellation of speckling scattered across its surface. The character of the lapis combines perfectly with symbols of our customer's design that give the ring the appearance of an unearthed treasure from antiquity. Once the metal has picked up just a bit of tarnish and wear, this lapis lazuli ring will look like it's been handed down through the generations from some ancient empire.