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Ditching diamonds: Engagement ring options

As the owner of Bloom Creatives, Caroline Gutierrez Goddard tells stories with words and photos -- and as such, is a regular contributor here at SheKnows.

If diamonds aren't a girl's best friend...

Think your engagement ring options are limited to diamonds? Think again. It's your finger, and you can decorate it with diamonds or pearls for all we care. In fact, diamonds did not become popular as engagement rings until the 1940s. They may not be the long-lived tradition that many assume the shiny stone is. Let's explore some other equally-sparkly options for your engagement ring.

engagement rings that aren't diamondsColored gemstones

A gorgeous round, blue sapphire in an antique pave diamond setting. Different? Yes. Non-traditional? Not really. A colored gemstone was the engagement ring of choice for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. In England, The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne and Princess Diana were all proposed to with sapphire engagement rings when their princes popped the question. Sapphires symbolize sincerity and faithfulness. Just recently Prince William passed down Diana's ring to Kate Middleton. So while celebs these days are showing off diamonds that are larger than life, many women still prefer the timeless touch of colored gemstones to symbolize their lasting love.

Your birthstone or another favorite rock can make for a beautiful and meaningful bauble, too. Rubies symbolize passionate love, while emeralds mean life, beauty and constant love. Pearls stand for rare and precious love -- the stunning purple-blue hue of the tanzanite is a perfect complement to an independent, confident woman. Remember, good quality colored gemstones are actually more rare than diamonds, making your ring even more precious.

Setting your options

A platinum Tiffany setting is beautiful, but not very original. If you're craving something different, investigate some other unique options. Anything goes when it's your ring.

An anniversary band is a banded ring set with multiple stones embedded all the way around, sometimes just halfway. It can be set with any stone you prefer and can double as your wedding ring if you wish.

A halo setting surrounds a round center stone with a circle of other tiny gemstones. These can be the same as your center stone or it can a contrasting gem.

An antique setting will bring a retro, unique look to your wedding set. Settings like these, often in lovely metals such as rose gold, white gold or sterling silver, can be found at estate jewelers, eBay or the jewelry boxes of your mother and grandmother. It doesn't get more classic than that.

Eco-friendly rings

It's no secret that mining stones and metal often is extremely destructive to the earth. If you want a shiny bauble but are concerned about staying green, check out some ethical engagement rings. Such pieces use metals and stones that are mined in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Brilliant Earth and Green Karat are two suppliers of such green beauties. Another option is to use a family heirloom, have a favorite stone reset and use recycled metals.

Go Stoneless

If sparkly and flashy are not your style and simplicity is the word of the day, there's no rule that says you must have a stone. If you want a ring without the flash, go for a band with an intricate engraving, weaving, braid or twist -- or just smooth, satiny gold. Wear it as both your engagement and wedding ring.

No matter what you choose, your engagement ring should be as special and unique as you are. You will wear it for the rest of your life, so make sure you love it and it speaks to who you are and what your relationship means to you.

More on non-traditional weddings

The Anti-bride: Planning a non-traditional wedding
8 Unique wedding ideas
Alternatives to wedding flowers

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