Does an Engagement Ring Have To Be A Diamond?


As a South African born in Johannesburg, aka the city of gold, and diamonds as well as De Beers S.A. (the world’s biggest diamond company) I exactly know the meaning of a diamond as an engagement ring jewelry.

More importantly, though, is that you are here to find out why engagement rings have to be diamond gemstones if any.

I’m confident I can help you make that right choice having 5 beautiful, but demanding sisters I’ve researched, compared and bought many pieces of jewelry. Moreover, where I’m from you learn a lot about diamond quality, gold, or mining as many relatives work in that field.

Traditionally a diamond ring is considered the gem of choice since Archduke of Austria introduced this custom in 1477. However, it took more than 500 years to make solitaire diamond engagement rings popular as the leading diamond exporter De Beers declared it the affordable new wedding ring norm.

The rise of the diamond gem as the preferred stone is part of history, clever sales and marketing, and a cornerstone of our modern wedding culture worth exploring.

More so, as to gain insights and the important answer if a diamond ring is really the only acceptable option for a successful engagement or if other suitable gems are capable of making her endlessly happy too.

Do Engagement Rings Have To Have a Diamond?

Over 51% of the U.S. population prefer a diamond center stone as an engagement ring and have spent over $6.22 billion in 2021 alone. Other popular engagement rings jewelry were moissanite, sapphire, and morganite gemstones according to research and markets. 

How diamonds remain, despite a rise in alternative engagement ring types,  the most sought-after stone with couples is indeed interesting and revealing in itself.

Quick Diamond Engagement Rings Historical Background

Weddings, as we know them today, are an invention by the Catholic Church, precisely by Pope Innocent, the Third (Source).

He only declared a wedding official when it takes place in churches. As the Vatican under him was a powerful force across Christian Europe, this declaration became law, then custom adopted by most regions under its rule.

However, not the diamond, but the gold engagement ring was then the common ring used for a betrothal. 

The reason behind that is gold was sufficiently available at that time and considered of high material and spiritual value. The changes to diamonds came generations later.

Diamonds as Choice Rings in Engagement (Financial Background)

Indirectly related to the traditional values set by the Roman Pope Innocent is the monetary meaning of engagement rings.

Up to today, a marriage was not simply a private arrangement of a couple in love. It was and partly still is a permanent change of family status, mainly by the female, but not only.

In the old days, a young, virgin girl stayed with her family and was guarded by her father until marriage.

On that special wedding day, she was transferred to a new household and her husband-to-be was the new caretaker.


For this valuable transfer, the groom had to pay a dowry, plus gift the bride a suitable wedding ring depending on his social and more crucially, financial status.

The transition from gold to diamond engagement rings is due to the discovery of mass diamond reserves at the mines of South Africa rather than to Maximilian of Austria who first popularize diamond rings above pure gold centuries back.

The leading diamond producing company of South Africa, De Beers, introduced the now-classic slogan diamonds are forever as the new norm for engagement rings to consolidate the leading role of this unique and lustrous gemstone.

The solitaire diamond ring sitting on top of a precious metal like fine gold or pure silver propelled De Beer as the ultimate wedding ring authority worldwide.

A brilliant sales and marketing strategy beyond the jewelry industry indeed.

This backfired as more diamonds on the market meant a drop in retail prices. The De Beers luxury jewelry company fought back and created for a long period of time a successful cartel that regulated the diamond world market price until recently (Source).

The controversies around the exploitation of the native Africans as cheap labor and evictions to make land expropriation during colonization and apartheid finally led to the uprising of the people. That eventually culminated in Nelson Mandela becoming the first democratic president of South Africa.

Back to the subject. A bride who happens to be left out before the official wedding kept the engagement ring as a consolation and financial protection since her virginity was exposed as well as her option to remarry was reduced.

The stigma of an unmarried woman was and in some parts of society and the globe is still an existing issue. The role of diamond engagement rings is therefore not just historically, but of financial matters up to today too.

Moreover, there is another value that is connected to diamonds and marriages that deserves your attention before making the right engagement jewelry shopping choice.

Practical Diamond Proposal Ring Background

Our third background highlights the practical meaning of why diamonds are a girl’s best friend, as famous Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe half sang, half breathed it to us unforgettably.

A diamond is the most precious stone not just concerning price, but inherent value. It is the hardest gemstone according to Moh’s scale, with a grade of 10 out of 10. This is a very useful characteristic that protects a diamond ring from scratches, unlike other stones which might end as dull rocks.

Since she intends to wear an engagement or wedding ring daily, it makes sense to choose a gem that will stand the test of time. Diamonds are hard to crack.

Yes, you can get a fantastic amethyst ring for your proposal, but it doesn’t possess the same strength and of course beautiful as well as perceived value or real market worth over time like a sparkling diamond ring.

These are the three historical, financial, and practical reasons why diamonds became the gemstones of choice before couples get their engagement and wedding rings.

Fast-forward to today, we have developed beyond the Catholic Church’s dogma on marriages as well as generally the role of women in our modern society.

Hence, it is in my humble opinion a legitimate question to raise if engagement rings still have to have a diamond sitting atop the metal piece of jewelry today.

What Can I Get Instead Of a Diamond Engagement Ring

You love diamonds, I know because most of us do and associate all the above characteristics and values sufficiently explored. 

Yet, there are alternative engagement rings that are getting more and more attention from grooms and brides.

Non-conventional marriages regarding wedding norms and wedding jewelry fashion are on the rise. 

Where do you fit in and what alternative gemstone rings are available, and are they even affordable?

3 Non-Diamond Engagement Ring Jewelry


In case you are considering to propose (lucky on:), but are not sure if a traditional diamond ring is the right one or you, in fact, know that she wants to settle for another gemstone.

Then let’s discuss the top 3 engagement rings alternatives to select from.

#1 Sapphire Engagement Rings

A Sapphire engagement ring is an excellent diamond jewelry alternative since its elegant blue color symbolizes royalty and faithfulness. A strong gem with a solid hardness scale of 9/10 worth considering when choosing the perfect engagement of even a suitable wedding stone for her.

#2 Ruby Engagement Rings

The ruby stone is another great engagement ring choice, as the red-colored gem represents love and loyalty. Moh’s hardness standard scale of 9 out of 10 makes it resilient against most external forces, while this July birthstone keeps shining and astonishing, just like a lustrous gemstone should.

#3 Emerald Engagement Rings

An emerald engagement ring typically presents true lasting love and hope, which is visible when choosing this sparkling green gemstone. With a hardness scale of 7.5 – 8 out of 10, it is rock solid stone selection. The birthstone May additionally adds a spring-like accentuation to it.

These (ruby, emerald, sapphire) are the top 3 diamond ring premium gem alternatives you can safely choose from to propose in style and with confidence. They are extraordinary gemstones regarding quality, shape, color, and therein great diamond replacements.

You have to of course consult her or other people of trust around her before you make the big ring purchasing decision, just like you do for the honeymoon, wedding party, and so on. 

Consideration and budgeting are always essential steps in a mutual-beneficial relationship.

In case you are a modern woman who wants to propose to her significant other, then feel free to use this jewelry purchase advice too. This is true for any other type of coupling, of course.

Should An Engagement Ring Be a Diamond  (Final Take)

Unique engagement rings can go beyond a diamond. There are spectacular engagement or wedding rings out there that are also important.

Why Is An Engagement Ring So Important?

An engagement ring is a symbol of longevity, trust, and value for the romantic key person in your life. Moreover, it is a traditional and, to a certain extent, financial representation. What kind of stone you pick is ultimately up to you (two). 

Next to gemstones as listed here, you can also give a customized tungsten engagement ring with your initials, names, or white gold engagement ring to her (or him). As more diamond alternatives for tying the knot emerge, choices increase.

The age-old notion that an engagement ring has to be diamond doesn’t need to hold true for your individual situation anymore.

The modern couple can have all options. If you prefer a conventional wedding jewelry selection, go ahead. 

Those who want something new and refreshing, take a stunning blue sapphire ring and show your serious commitment to the person you love and want to spend the rest of your beautiful life with – that’s fine too.

The type of ring is important, but secondary to the love symbol you want to gift with that breathtaking jewelry engagement rock, be it an emerald-shaped brilliant or dazzling red ruby gemstone.

The choice is yours, and now go and get it before she moves on.

Bill Dominic

Bill is an art history and business graduate. Moreover, he loves to test, compare, shop jewelry & fashion items for his 5 sisters, girlfriend, nieces when not enjoying a great novel.

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