What's Your Inspiration?

Non-traditional 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 that take personalization to the next level

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting a popular engagement ring style, many brides crave something that's totally one-of-a-kind. Traditional rings are refined, sparkly, and delicate, but it can be exciting to use your imagination and dream up something unconventional, a design that’s entirely your own. Whether you’re looking for a bold, architectural shape, rare colored gems, or a ring that brings your interest to life, here are some examples of ways we can help you make a non-traditional engagement ring that speaks to your soul.

Inspired by the things you love

In his book High Fidelity Nick Hornby famously has his lead character declare that "what really matters is what you like, not what you are like." Sure, that may take things a bit too far, but there's an element of truth in that for some of our customers. You love the things you love, so why not highlight those passions in the ring you'll wear for years to come? By adding references to your partner’s hobbies, beloved books, favorite animals, etc. into your engagement ring design, you can create a one-of-a-kind piece that carries much more sentiment than a traditional ring design. Plus, the ring tells a story that your fiancée can lovingly tell for the rest of forever.


Whatever your interests may be, we can help bring them to life and create a non-traditional engagement ring that’s also a tiny work of art. Take this hemp-inspired ring we crafted for a client: the graduated semi-halo of green tourmaline act as leaves, and the unconventional black diamond center draws in onlookers. We also love the extra beaded prongs along the center stone, as they add a little texture and highlight the faceting of the deep green tourmaline.


When we say we can include any interests into your ring, we do mean ANY. Take a look at this playful, Zelda-inspired design: instead of a singular center stone, it uses the couple’s birthstones, peridot and imperial topaz, to form the legendary Triforce! Lovers of the franchise will instantly recognize the golden, triangular citrine as the pieces of the Triforce, and the peridot gem at the center may serve as a reminder of Link’s traditional outfit in the games.


Even if others don’t recognize the interests you incorporate into your ring’s design, they can still serve as a shared secret between you and your spouse. This ring takes inspiration from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, with a daring bypass design that features a feather motif directly related to the series’ character Sakura. In fact, that’s where the pink tourmaline comes into play as well: it’s a nod to the name “Sakura”, which refers to the popular pink cherry blossom trees in Japan.


A favorite animal or insect is also a really sweet symbol to use as inspiration for a non-traditional engagement ring. This client used a bumble bee as his muse, combining dainty citrine, aquamarine, and black diamonds within a Celtic knot to form a sweet little bee. We’re sure his fiancée will have her friends and family buzzing with one look at this honey-sweet design. Don't roll your eyes at us — we're just getting started with these puns!

Uncommon cuts and colors

We can custom cut a gemstone as well as source specific gem colors to personalize your ring even further. Some colors are certainly less traditional center stones, and we love using less common gemstones to create stunning looks that fit our clients’ needs in addition to their personalities. The diamond is no longer the king of center stones, and it’s easy to create a totally different setting with an unconventional gem!


Cabochons do not get enough love in the engagement jewelry world! They’re such a sophisticated look for a non-traditional ring. The cabochon emerald in this ring has plenty of “jardin”—or natural inclusions that produce color—to set it apart from traditional faceted emeralds. We love the organic feel of this stone, and it looks stunning in this vining band.


A custom cut stone can really set your engagement ring apart from the pack. Take a look at this arresting coffin cut emerald, which features a sturdy base that narrows elegantly toward the peak of the stone. It’s in a rose gold bezel setting to contrast the green color, and the accent diamonds make the translucent center of the stone pop.


White diamonds receive tons of love, but black diamonds are notoriously underrated as center stones. Black diamonds can look rather different depending on how they are cut, and the elongated hexagon stone in this ring has a large table that lets you stare into its jet black depths. Add in a custom rose gold band and a ballerina halo of white diamonds, and you have a non-traditional ring that will make others drool over its timeless beauty.


Another unsung hero of non-traditional rings, salt and pepper diamonds each feature a unique color pattern that means no two diamonds are exactly alike. The salt and pepper diamond in this ring has a hexagonal cut that emphasizes its distinctive pattern, and the sleek, v-prongs on either end were a smart choice for both protection and modern flair. We also adore the tapered baguette diamonds on either side that offer a little extra glow to complete this modern, angular ring design.


We love the growing popularity of moss agate—it’s such a striking center stone for an engagement ring! Moss agate has one-of-a-kind color variations that make each stone a distinctive display of verdant green hues, and we love how this client accented the hexagonal agate with two tiny diamonds. We’re also digging the royal vibes from that tiara-inspired wedding band, which introduces a third petite diamond at its peak to tie the look together.


Speaking of tiaras, we can’t get enough of the adorable emeralds on top of this Kingman turquoise center stone. While emerald is a fairly common engagement stone, veined turquoise is often reserved for other types of jewelry due to its more delicate nature. However, if you take care of it, turquoise is a novel stone choice for engagement jewelry, and it’s said to signify passion and motivation (perfect themes for marriage, right?).

No Center Stone, No Problem

Not a fan of rings with center stones? Band-style rings may be less traditional, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful. It can feel liberating to forego the stressful process of selecting a center stone. Instead, engagement bands are a fun way to add as many different gemstones as you’d like…or, none at all!


Engagement bands give you the opportunity to play with more gemstone colors and shades outside of diamonds for your non-traditional ring. This client chose sky blue and swiss blue shades of topaz to produce a bi-colored design that shimmers in the yellow gold band setting. The mix of round and hexagonal gems also adds texture to the look, creating a band that can be proudly worn as an engagement ring.


You can also combine two band looks for a non-traditional wedding set. The dainty round diamonds of the first band in this set match seamlessly with the branch design of the second band, creating a unified ring when worn together. Rather than rely on a center stone, this engagement band lets the tiny, sparkling diamonds that act as buds on the branches of baby’s breath—a favorite flower!—take center stage for a hint of brilliance.


Your engagement band doesn’t have to conform to traditional silhouettes either — and it can absolutely be as bold and showstopping as any center stone. This cluster style band has a sweeping, falling leaf design that showcases shades of blue and green via sapphire, aquamarine, and emerald gemstones. The band’s design has a subtle infinity symbol in it, making it a great standalone ring to signify the eternal nature of your love.

Splashes of color to please your inner Jackson Pollock

If you’re going to choose a non-traditional gemstone for your engagement ring, you might as well spice it up! Pairing a gem with a complementary or completely contrasting colored stone can make for some really striking designs, and here are a few of our favorites.


There’s something about warm and cool tones coming together that’s so special. The sunny citrine and cool aquamarine of this ring seem to orbit the center diamond, providing a subtle detail that brings your attention to the steep edges of the marquise stone and enhances its colorless nature.


We have a confession: we have NOT been giving blue and orange color combos the respect they deserve! We love the rustic textures created by this combination of clay-orange sunstone and deep turquoise, which both pair nicely with the red tones of the rose gold bands. Add in the salt and pepper accent stones, and you have a recipe for a ring that friends and family members will be fawning over for years.


Combining colors with similar undertones can make a ring design cohesive while still making a splashy statement. The citrine and jade in this 25th anniversary upgrade ring match the sunny yellow undertones of the gold band for a colorful cluster that looks perfectly put together. Fun fact: the center diamond is the original stone from the engagement ring our client bought his wife, and the four other diamonds that make up this cluster design symbolize their children. How meaningful!


We love combining sparkling and opaque gems to create an entirely new look. Take this ring for example: the cool blue and purple tones of the alexandrite match the blue-green color play of the three white opal "leaves". Or are they a comet trail? Or a splash of water?

Custom silhouettes

There’s no better way to break with tradition than to design a ring with an uncommon silhouette, and we’re here to make your engagement ring ideas come to life! When your ring's unique shape catches the eye even from a distance, you'll have people constantly coming closer to see the look you've designed that's like nobody else's ring and is so totally you.


If you’re going to design a custom silhouette for your ring, why not get creative? This ring consists of concentric rings clasped together like an elaborate, geometric puzzle. The dainty moissanite at its center gives way to a colorful spray of sapphires before reaching the outer rings, which sport spirals of sparkling moissanites. The floral design is soft but detailed, giving onlookers ample time to gawk and wonder how each piece fits together.


Sometimes, less is more when it comes to custom engagement rings. Our client wanted to incorporate the constellation Orion into this ring’s design, and he chose an edgy, architectural silhouette in yellow gold to signify the star formation. Three lab-created diamonds sit at the center of the design to symbolize the stars of the constellation's iconic belt, and the open concept of the piece is perfect for minimalist brides who want a hint of sparkle without appearing flashy.


Is there anything more beautiful than a perfectly executed, Art Deco-inspired design? We think not, and this custom engagement ring with geometric detailing is our proof. The client said an Art Deco design was a must, so our skilled designers placed an asscher amethyst at the heart of open, graduated chevron metalwork. The angles of the metal pieces ripple away from the stone, increasing its perceived size and giving the piece an architectural look.


A subtle design can take a ring from ordinary to extraordinary, and that’s exactly what happened with this feather-inspired piece. The band design is simple at its core, but our team took extra care to create a feather-like appearance on each side of the band. The peacock feathers seem to hold the lab-created center diamond in place, while the Mozambique garnet accent stones bring just a touch of color to the ring.


There’s something so special about opals: their opalescent flashes of color scatter just under the surface and ensure that no two stones are exactly alike. This non-traditional take on a bypass ring boasts a vibrant black opal that looks even more colorful against the white diamond it's paired with. We love how the opal and the largest diamond look like two celestial bodies passing one another in the sky: such a remarkable silhouette for a uniquely colored gemstone.

Heavy metal

Many clients prefer to focus on rings with detailed metalwork over sparkling gemstones, and we are absolutely here for it! Making the most of a bold precious metal design is a creative way to steer a ring away from a traditional, centerstone-focused look. Plus, metal pieces are often more affordable than traditional gemstone styles, so it’s a win win.


Mixing metals of varying hues is a clever way to add color to an engagement ring. Take this flower-inspired ring for example: a sunrise-inspired burst of rose gold mirrors a sunflower design in yellow gold, like yin and yang divided by a delicate curve of white gold. The three gold hues contrast perfectly with the gemstones in this design — sapphire (a blue sky framing the sunrise) and black diamond (the heart of the sunflower). Completing the design, Jesse asked us to include opal and garnet, their two birthstones, set side by side inside the band.


You can even use metal to add depth and layers to a ring, subverting the traditional notion that the center stone must be the focus of a piece. The golden orange citrine at the center of this ring is partially covered by a floral rose gold overlay, inspired by the curves of Nenya, the ring worn by Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The shoulders of the ring include dragonfly and leaf details. For an additional pop of color, we added green peridot "leaves" around the edges to complete the Elven, nature-inspired theme.


Another way to use bold, sculptural metalwork to create a non-traditional ring design is by letting the details of the band do the talking. This client’s ring is straight-up angelic! She asked us to take inspiration from a video game symbol that was meaningful to her, and our design team explored several bold concepts from that starting point. While the Mozambique garnet at the heart of this design is a stunner, its beauty is closely tied to the carved, feathery details in the yellow gold setting.


Two things favor the bold: fortune and heavy metal ring designs. We love when clients go all out with their metalwork, incorporating beading, filigree, sweeping shanks, and other complex elements like the ones we designed into this sculptural piece. The asscher diamond at the center has a step cut that seems to draw you in, while the bypass design of the band makes the gem appear as if it’s floating.


You can create an intricate sculpture with just a little extra (ok, maybe a LOT of extra) metalwork for a bold engagement ring that will absolutely turn heads. Speaking of turning heads, this owl design uses beautifully textured rose gold to mimic the texture of feathers. The owl surrounds a bezel-set lab-created diamond, and its eyes are smaller diamonds in a similar bezel setting.


It’s pretty inspiring to see what our talented craftsmen can create with just an idea. Our team used the client’s notes to craft a detailed metal flower and vine design that could put Mother Nature to shame. Green tourmaline, alexandrite, and aquamarine accent stones bring this metal marvel to life with bright blue, green, and purple tones. You can even see the veins of each flower petal if you look closely!


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CustomMade designs and creates one-of-a-kind, custom engagement rings and fine jewelry. Each piece we create is inspired by you, designed for you, and made just for you.

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