a journey toward non-traditional wedded bliss, with style

The bling factor March 25, 2008

I was really touched when my fiancé asked if we could design my engagement ring together. While we did lose the element of surprise, we gained an opportunity to create a ring that represented us as a couple, and since I intend on wearing it for the rest of my life, I wanted to make sure it was something that we both loved. Neither of us are particular fans of the diamond industry so we wanted something with a classic vintage look but with a unique centerstone. We ended up with this emerald cut natural yellow sapphire with a diamond band that still causes me to drive recklessly due to my staring at its sparkle.


Since we did a lot of ring related research, I figured I would share a little of what I learned for any other ladies out there that are looking for an alternative type of ring. If you are like me and want to wear it constantly, you do want to keep in mind that certain stones hold up much better and won’t be damaged as easily. While diamonds are the hardest stone, emeralds and sapphires are very close behind and in fact used to be the most popular stones for engagement before the DeBeers campaign.

Sapphires are especially appealing because they come in literally every color of the rainbow and in terms of sparkle and quality are very close to diamonds for a fraction of the cost. The Natural Sapphire Company is a good place to research what colors and cuts you like, and they also have a selection of cut stones and pre-made jewelry. We chose to go with a local jeweler, but we did a lot of our initial looking here and its a great place to start.


If you aren’t concerned about wearing your ring everyday then you have a lot more freedom to choose different stones and settings. Just browsing department stores you can find some really beautiful rings that will still be high quality and make a statement. This ring from Saks has that luxury look about it, and could have special personal meaning if your birthstone is a topaz.

Of course if you’ve dreamed of a diamond ring all your life, then go for it! But why not avoid supporting diamond cartels and go fair trade or vintage instead? Green Karat makes amazing ecologically friendly jewelry with recycled metals. Their diamonds are lab created, which can sound unappealing but really they have the exact same physical characteristics that diamonds do, without waiting for the whole thousands of years in the ground thing to happen.


Searching for a quality vintage ring can be a little like looking for a needle in a haystack if you have a really specific idea of what you want, but even if you do the looking is half the fun. You do want to be careful of condition obviously, but there are some great reputable dealers out there. One that I like is Adin Antique Jewelry. The other advantages of a vintage ring are of course that it is completely unique, and while it might turn some people off, I think it would be really cool to have a piece with a history, even if you don’t know exactly what that history is.


13 Responses to “The bling factor”

  1. Kennon Young Says:


    Great post- very interesting to see things form the consumer side as I am completely bias!

    As with recycled gold, ALL jewelry manufactured in the US contains 70-80% recycled material. Some of the sites you recommended do absolutely nothing different then any other jewelry store. They simply say kind things and operate under a large consumer misconception. Kinda makes me mad…..

    If you truely are going to get recycled metal, purchase gold from a pawn shop and refine it your self!

    By the way -GORGEOUS ring! Great choice. The kings and Queens of Europe used sapphires and rubies as engagement rings for centuries. Princess Di, for example, had a blue sapphire.

    Kennon Young, GG, CBJT
    Vermont Gem Lab

  2. Annie Says:

    Your ring is beautiful!

    I really enjoyed this post. More and more brides are choosing alternatives to diamonds, and you gave them some great options.

  3. Kira Says:

    My fiance and I made the same decision for the same reasons! Of course, his proposal was a big surprise to me, but we had talked about designing a ring and using alternative stones before hand anyway. I have a yellow saphire too and I absolutely ADORE it. Mine is a pear cut stone, but the ring looks fairly similar to yours actually; how ironic? Your ring is truly gorgeous. It’s wonderful to hear that I’m not the only one in favor of engagement ring alternatives and also who loves saphires! (Especially the yellow variety) 😉

  4. laragale Says:

    That’s awesome! I’d love to see a picture of your ring, pear cuts are beautiful!!

  5. Jane Says:

    What beautiful rings. There is something really romantic about a natural diamond and it’s not hard to ensure it’s a conflict free one. A lot of countrie’s economies rely on diamond trade.

  6. […] half the store’s collection of bands, we decided to get one custom designed for me to match my engagement ring. This picture is somewhat similar to what it will look like, with a curved band so the two rings […]

  7. Dorothy Says:

    I used to work in a custom design jewelry store where we sold many non-traditional engagement/wedding rings. I just got engaged and have a beautiful purple to ceylon blue color-change sapphire as a center stone which was made there.

    Because we did such alternative stuff, we were always getting unique requests. We always suggested that people stay away from emeralds, because while emeralds are hard, they are also brittle. This is because of faults that will often appear because of the chromium within the stone. What this means is that emeralds can scratch many other stones but when struck/banged they may crack. This could be as simple as banging your hand against a door or table. Because of this, they really aren’t a great option to use in a ring you will wear all the time. Of course, with a higher-quality stone and great jewelry insurance, this concern can become moot.

  8. Elissa Says:

    Thanks for the great ring suggestions! I personally am a huge fan of blue sapphires… they look terrific in white gold!

  9. Very nice! Actualy, there is a growing trend towards doing things this way. More people these days want something that is unique and are not interested in the “off the counter” approach. I love your ring – very stylish indeed. the yellow sapphire looks to be a real beauty and the diamond sidestones really set it off.

  10. Great blog. I find it on Google.

  11. justin Says:

    Those are very nice. Not sure the prices!

  12. utah seo Says:

    ya, what he said!

  13. Check out good resource for buying sapphires.
    Lot of information on sapphires. also the Image Analyzer to analyse fake sapphire images is good

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