Unusual engagement rings

Unusual Engagement Rings: How to Pick an Untraditional Design

If you’re thinking of proposing, or you’re looking for an unusual engagement ring, it can be hard to know where to start. We asked the experts how to pick an unusual engagement ring to help you find something different for you one you love…

Choosing an Unusual Engagement Ring: Expert Advice

Unusual engagement rings

How do I find out what kind of engagement ring my partner would like?

It’s important when choosing an engagement ring to make sure you’re picking something your partner will like, as they’re going to wear it for the rest of the lives. Jeweller Emma Clarkson Webb suggests: “Look at the style of jewellery she currently wears: does she gravitate towards vintage jewels or is her style more contemporary?


“Equally have a think about the colour and style of gold she wears: whether it’s rose, white or yellow; chunky or fine. Take note of dropped hints: is she a coloured gemstone or diamond girl? Finally make sure you have a look at the size of her hands as this will really impact the choice of stone and design.”

Emma Clarkson Webb

Fellow jewellery brand Minka Jewels also has a suggestion: “If you want the ring to be a total surprise then talking to a best friend or sister can be really helpful to understand what they like and if there is a certain style or stone that they have in mind.”

Minka Jewels

Read more: Seven things to consider when picking an engagement ring

Can I buy an engagement ring without a traditional diamond?

Not everyone loves that classic, traditional diamond engagement ring, but that’s not a problem. “Sometimes a ring with a coloured gemstone can be even more exceptional: the top, gem-quality coloured stones are in fact very rare and should be looked upon as great alternatives to diamonds,” says Minka Jewels.

Minka Jewels

Emma is in agreement: “Coloured gemstones are incredibly special and infinitely more affordable. Long gone are the days when a round diamond was the only acceptable choice for an engagement ring – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing an engagement ring in 2020.

“Green-coloured stones are particularly popular at the moment – I recommend tsavorites, tourmalines and emeralds.”

Emma Clarkson Webb

Read more: Our guide to lab-grown diamonds

What are good alternatives to a traditional diamond?

There are lots of options for those looking for an unusual engagement ring with an alternative to the classic diamond. “Salt and pepper diamonds are great alternatives to a traditional diamond as they are much less expensive and have the most beautiful, feathery inclusions which really add to the personality of the stone: they are also infinitely more sustainable as they are mined at a shallower depth than a flawless diamond.

Emma Clarkson Webb

“Sapphires are also very popular as they are very hard and therefore incredibly durable, while tourmalines also make for beautiful centre stones due to their vibrancy,” explains Emma.

Emma Clarkson Webb

Read more: Our favourite sapphire engagement rings

If you are set on going for a coloured gemstone instead of a diamond, Minka Jewels has some great advice: “Coloured gemstones really are a great alternative, especially something with a good hardness that it is practical as well as beautiful. Sapphires and rubies are a great choice and come in a variety of colours (blues, greens, pinks, yellows, oranges and whites).

Minka Jewels

“Spinels are also a fabulous choice and something a little bit different: I recommend adding a few diamonds as accent stones as this allows the coloured stone to really take centre stage. What I personally love about using sapphires or spinels is that the stones are all so unique: no two stones look the same and you get a really good size for your budget in comparison to diamonds.” 

What are my options if I want an unusual engagement ring?

The options are basically limitless if you’re seeking the perfect unusual engagement ring.

Emma suggests considering the metal and settings for the perfect alternative engagement ring: “Rose or rhodium coloured gold are great options if she wants to move away from the more traditional yellow and white gold, while hammered or textured gold is a contemporary alternative to conventional polished gold settings. 

Emma Clarkson Webb

“I advise brides looking for something a little different to opt for a rub-over or spectacle setting rather than a traditional claw setting and suggest unusual shaped stones for those looking to move away from traditional diamond cuts, such as kites, bullets, trapezoids, epaulettes and hearts. 

Read more: Perfect princess cut engagement rings to propose with

“Coloured diamonds are a great substitute for the traditional flawless diamond: opt for a grey, champagne and salt-and-pepper diamonds as a chic, decidedly modern alternative.”

Minka Jewels recommends those looking for an alternative engagement ring to consider the choice of stone carefully: “I would always suggest going for a stone that has good hardness as engagement rings should be worn every day and you want to feel confident in its durability. I personally love spinels: they are mined in similar ground to Sapphires and Rubies and have been around for centuries. The Black Prince Ruby in the Crown Jewels is in fact a Spinel!

“The most powerful rulers in the Middle East, Europe, India & China all sought out this red stone (it comes in other colours too) and it was so highly prized at one stage due to its wonderfully vibrant colour-palette that it attracted crazy prices. 

Minka Jewels

“Coloured sapphires also make an excellent choice: they come in such a fantastic variety of colours, from blues to greens, to pinks and yellows. Cushion-cuts are a favourite shape of mine but asscher cuts are also something very unusual and ready to make a comeback.

Read more: The most beautiful oval-cut engagement rings

“In terms of metals: white gold, yellow gold and platinum all extremely popular but we are also seeing titanium making its way into the jewellery world too… watch this space!”

Once you’ve found the perfect unusual engagement ring, make sure you read our guide to taking care of your engagement ring to keep it sparkly and safe!

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