Sometimes you just have to break tradition. We’ve all heard the old cliché that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but what if that doesn’t hold true for you? As beautiful as diamonds may be, many people prefer to wear wedding rings with colored gemstones—whether as a matter of individual taste, for the gem’s cultural significance, or just because of the jewel’s personal significance. Whatever your reasons, here’s a guide to the ins and outs of nontraditional gemstone wedding bands.
Photo Credit: Garnet Girl Designs
A Short History of Birthstones
By far the most popular reason for choosing gemstones over diamonds is their birthstone connotations. Birthstones have their roots in ancient Jewish traditions; it was once common practice for high priests to wear colored stones around their necks to symbolize the nations of Israel. The historian Josephus was the first to connect the stones with the twelve months of the year (as well as the signs of the zodiac), and his observations—interpreted in different ways over the next two millennia—resulted in the modern birthstone tradition of wearing the gem which corresponds with the month of your birth.
Choosing a ring with your birthstone is a fun way to add a personal touch to your wedding ring, but why not think outside the box? Think back to the day you met your fiancé, or another significant day in your lives together, and consider the birthstone that corresponds with that month. After all, your ring is meant to symbolize the strength of your relationship; making this tangible connection will remind you of the deep history you both share every time you look at your finger. Here’s a full breakdown of each month’s birthstone.
Another great thing to keep in mind is that gemstones have deep symbolic meanings, aside from their birthstone status. For example, sapphires aren’t just gorgeous September birthstones—they also represent truth, fidelity, and divine favor in some cultures. Garnets and emeralds are traditionally known as stones of love, passion, and intimacy, making them a perfect choice for lovers. Even if your partner isn’t aware of gemstone symbolism, explaining it to them could create a fresh connection for you both.
Photo Credit: kakissel
Some people also believe that gems (and nonprecious crystals as well) possess healing powers or other metaphysical capabilities. Gemstone healers say that the stones’ resonance and energy mixes with our own to guide our bodies along the desired path. For instance, those passionate garnets are often said to help heal, protect, and intensify relationships, while emeralds are viewed as an aphrodisiac. Diamonds alone apparently have no healing qualities, but they do intensify the traits of other gems (making a diamond and emerald ring a potent combination!). If you’d prefer a band that not only looks beautiful, but might just improve your quality of life, consider the spiritual possibilities—they might surprise you.
Of course, some gemstones require greater care than diamonds, which are more resilient due to their superior hardness. For instance, you should never use ultrasonic cleaning on gems such as rubies or topaz, and emeralds, opals, & tanzanite are very sensitive to sudden temperature changes & household cleaning products. Pearls are especially fragile; never use vinegar or vinegar-based cleaners on pearl jewelry, as the acid will actually cause your pearls to dissolve! On the other hand, these gems are also much less expensive; a sapphire of the same size and shape as any given diamond may cost up to $400 less, so a damaged gemstone is slightly easier to replace—but obviously, you’ll want to avoid that at all costs.
You might also want to keep in mind that colored gems might clash with some of your favorite outfits! Most diamonds have the advantage of being colorless, so they’ll go with anything, but just try wearing rubies with that bright green summer dress you just bought. Luckily, some stones come in an array of colors—pink or yellow sapphires, green garnets, and more—but these variants can come with a heftier price tag.
Photo Credit: Ruby Girl Jewelery
So which gemstone should I choose?
In short, pick anything you want! In years gone by, we thought that when it came to wedding bands, our options were slim—diamonds, or nothing. Luckily, nontraditional wedding rings have recently surged in popularity, with some daring brides choosing to wear rings that have no diamonds whatsoever. These days, there’s no need to stand by tradition if it doesn’t suit you! The most important thing to remember is that your wedding ring should mean something special to you and the one you love. Whether you choose based on birthstone, cost, personal significance, or even just because it’s your favorite color, pick a stone that will make you happy every time it catches your eye.
Sam Riedel is a gemstone specialist for Allurez Jewelers.