The Best Diamond Alternatives For Your Engagement Ring

Diamonds have always been the go-to natural gemstone for engagement rings, but recently other gemstones have proven to be excellent diamond alternatives for fine jewelry.

Colored gemstones are a wonderful diamond alternative, displaying gorgeously vibrant colors and beautiful cuts that truly capture the beholder’s attention. Gemstones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphires make for exquisite statement pieces.

If you appreciate the brilliance and clarity of a gemstone like a diamond, a gem like a moissanite, cubic zirconia, and white sapphire makes for an excellent and inexpensive diamond alternative.

Designing an engagement ring doesn’t have to empty your bank account. A suitable diamond alternative can allow you to create an engagement ring style with all the brilliance and exquisiteness of a natural diamond.

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What Exactly Is A Diamond Alternative?

A diamond alternative can be virtually any gemstone used to create fine jewelry or engagement rings instead of traditional mined diamonds.

When the term “diamond alternative” is mentioned, most people typically think of diamond simulants, such as cubic zirconia, which are created to mimic the look of a natural diamond as closely as possible.

However, there is a whole world of diamond alternatives to consider. A diamond alternative may be best suited for individuals looking for a unique engagement ring that strays from conventional mined diamonds.

Diamond Alternatives That Resemble Natural Diamonds

There is a broad range of natural and lab-created diamond alternatives that closely resemble mined diamonds. However, it is essential that you do thorough research before deciding on a diamond lookalike, as these gemstones vary widely in terms of appearance, durability, and price.

Each diamond alternative listed below is classified as a diamond simulant because it looks so much like a natural diamond. A diamond simulant can have a natural or synthetic origin.

It is worth noting that lab-created diamonds do not fall into the category of diamond simulants as they are, in fact, real diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds have the exact same physical properties and chemical makeup as mined diamonds.

If you are confident that your vendor is honest and transparent about their products, there is nothing unethical about diamond lookalikes. These diamond alternatives will only be considered felonious if the vendor attempts to pass them off as real diamonds.

Natural Diamond Simulants

White Sapphire

Although sapphires are more famous for their blue color, this stone has many color variations. White sapphire is actually a much more affordable diamond alternative to any other colored sapphires.

If a natural white sapphire price still seems too hefty for your budget, keep in mind that synthetic white sapphires are also a liable option. White sapphires have incredible durability, but their appearance could never be comparable to the brilliance and scintillation of mined diamonds.

However, some actually prefer the softer color of white sapphire to a diamond.


White Topaz

Similar to sapphires, Topaz is commonly associated with blue. However, a White Topaz is an excellent diamond alternative. This natural gemstone has magnificent brilliance, though still not coming close to the remarkable dispersion of a real diamond. Still, White Topaz is a marvelous natural diamond alternative and is much more affordable.

White Topaz tends to chip and wear over time, but fortunately, it can easily be replaced due to the very reasonable price of White Topaz. If you want to buy this white stone to wear every day, consider choosing a protective setting to minimize potential damages to the stone.

14K yellow gold 1.8mm petite single white topaz birthstone ring by James Allen

White Quartz

Quartz is one of the most prevalent natural gemstones and is, therefore, an affordable diamond alternative. Even though a quartz’s beauty doesn’t compare to a well-cut diamond, it can still be polished and treated to resemble a mediocre diamond.

With time, quartz will also gather scratches and markings, so it is not an ideal diamond alternative for everyday wear.

White Zircon

The well-known Cubic Zirconia is a lab-created form of zirconium dioxide. In contrast, white zircon is a naturally occurring stone with a long history of being used as a diamond simulant.

A white zircon resembles a real diamond much closer than any other mined stone, but it is a very fragile gem that will abrade and chip quite easily.

Nevertheless, white zircon is an affordable and all-around wonderful diamond alternative.

Side note: Cubic zirconia is extremely rare in nature, and therefore, virtually all Cubic Zirconia available for purchase is lab-created.

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The Most Popular Natural And Lab-Grown Diamond Alternatives

Lab-Grown Diamonds

Also known as man-made diamonds, lab-grown diamonds were first created in the 1950s by a chemist named Tracey Hall. Hall utilized other poor diamonds, used for industrial purposes, to manufacture lab diamonds.

In the past decade, technology has advanced to the point that it is possible to create lab diamonds that are virtually indistinguishable from mined diamonds. As a result, lab-grown diamonds are undoubtedly the best diamond alternative for those who desire a diamond engagement ring but can’t necessarily afford the real thing.

Referring to lab-grown diamonds as diamond alternatives isn’t entirely accurate, as lab diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds. A lab-created diamond possesses identical chemical, physical, and optical properties as a mined diamond.

Using complex technological processes, the environmental conditions under which diamonds naturally grow are replicated to allow for the development of lab diamonds. As a result, lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds to the naked eye and likewise come in a variety of different grades, cuts, shapes, and colors.

The only way to distinguish lab-grown diamonds is by using specialized equipment suitable for detecting differences in crystal growth and trace elements.

Additionally, a lab diamond is a wonderful ethical engagement ring option because there is no environmental disruption involved in its creation. This is certainly not the case with a mined diamond.


Lab-created diamonds are significantly more affordable than mined diamonds of the same quality and size. Furthermore, lab diamonds are available in a variety of colors and carat weights, so you would easily find precisely what you are looking for for your engagement ring.


Lab-grown diamonds display the exact same level of brilliance as natural diamonds. Of course, the diamond’s cut will always contribute significantly to its brilliance, but lab diamonds come in many different shapes and sizes, so you will always find what you’re looking for.

Moreover, man-made diamonds display rainbow sparkle like a diamond does, as they both consist of pure carbon.

Lab grown diamond low dome seven stone ring in 14K white gold by Blue Nile


Until the beginning of the 20th century, sapphires were more popular than diamonds as a center stone in an engagement ring. Although blue is the adored sapphire color, other hues like teal, pink, peach, white, and yellow are all beautiful options for engagement rings.

Beyond the appearances, sapphires make for sustainable jewelry such as engagement rings because of their high durability. Sapphires come in at nine on the Mohs scale of hardness, so their strength is certainly adequate for daily wear.


As with many diamonds and other diamond alternatives, the price of sapphires largely depends on the size, cut, and quality of the stone. Whether it is a lab-created or natural stone will additionally affect the cost.

Nevertheless, sapphires are still appreciably less expensive than diamonds of equal size. For example, a one-carat sapphire will typically set you back around $750-$3500.


Their vibrant colors make lab-created sapphires one of the best diamond alternatives for an engagement ring. Every stone will display a different brilliance according to its cut and color. A light-colored sapphire will typically be cut deeper in order to create some dimension, whereas a dark-colored sapphire will have a shallower cut to optimize light entrance.

18K white gold sapphire and diamond ring by Blue Nile

Moissanite Stones

Moissanite was initially thought to be diamonds before scientists discovered that the crystals in moissanite stones consisted of silicon carbide.

Moissanite gems come in at 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it the second hardest natural mineral on earth, after diamonds. Moissanite gems are beautiful in solitaire ring designs or in conjunction with diamond accents. Because of the presence of silicon carbide, these gems’ durability comes closer to that of any other gemstone on the hardness scale.


The price of moissanite stones depends on their size, color, and shape, but a one-carat stone would typically cost anything between $400 and $1000. These gems are one of the most inexpensive diamond alternatives on the market.

Considering its remarkable beauty, moissanite is a very wise purchase that holds all the elegance of a diamond for only a fraction of the price.


The difference in brilliance is one of the most significant distinguishing factors regarding moissanite and diamonds. The unique faceting patterns of moissanite gems result in rainbow flashes of light dispersion.

This rainbow sparkle is often compared to the effects of a disco ball. Moissanite gems have a higher refractive index than any diamond, and whether it is a suitable alternative for you is entirely a matter of preference.

Shutterstock 402663280


Emeralds have been valued gemstones all throughout history, and they certainly make beautiful alternatives as a center stone for an engagement ring. These lovely green gemstones are associated with royalty and are prized for their elegant features.

According to ancient legends, emeralds can give the wearer healing and foreseeing abilities. They are also believed to provide protection against disease and evil.

Emeralds belong to the beryl family, and the elements chromium, vanadium, and iron are what give these gems their unique color.


A high-quality natural emerald can be priced very similarly to a mined diamond, all other factors being equal. However, finding a reasonably priced emerald is not too challenging.

You can opt for a lab-created emerald, which will sell for much lower prices than their natural counterparts. For example, a one-carat emerald will generally go for around $1000 to $3000.


While diamond clarity is assessed using 10x magnification, the clarity of emeralds is evaluated with the naked eye, as their inclusions are typically so prominent. Lab-created emeralds generally contain fewer inclusions than natural emeralds, but inclusions are not undesirable characteristics in these stones. In fact, inclusions are what make each emerald so unique.

The cloudy appearance seen in natural emeralds is valued by many for its antique air. However, it is well-known that inclusions contribute to lower durability. Therefore, lab-created emeralds are likely more suitable for an engagement ring because they have a higher value on the Mohs scale of hardness.

14K white gold diamond and emerald ring by James Allen

Amethyst Jewelry

Amethysts vary in color from deep purple to pale, pastel lavender. This stone is one of the most beautiful colored gemstones, in my opinion, that looks absolutely gorgeous in engagement rings, especially with surrounding diamond accents.

Amethysts have a hardness reading of 7 on the Mohs scale, contributing to their durable nature and making them ideal for lasting jewelry pieces.

Nevertheless, amethyst jewelry must be carefully handled in a ring setting if you will wear it daily.


Amethyst jewelry is shockingly inexpensive, average at $500 for a one-carat stone. This is undoubtedly a massive bargain, considering how beautifully unique this gem is.


Most amethyst stones contain no visible inclusions. They have excellent clarity and come in various carat weights and cuts.

14K white gold infinity amethyst birthstone ring by James Allen

Which Diamond Alternative Should You Choose?

There isn’t one single diamond alternative that will meet everyone’s needs. It is entirely a matter of preference and style. Shop for the stone that best reflects your inner self while keeping all the factors mentioned above in mind.

If you would cherish a lab-created stone in your engagement ring, moissanite is likely the best diamond alternative for you. Alternatively, if you desire a colorful ring, sapphires and emeralds present some wonderful qualities rarely found in other gemstones.

If you prefer natural stones but can’t afford a mined diamond, white sapphire is an excellent option. White sapphire resembles a mined diamond closely regarding durability and brilliance. Ensure that you are presented with is a natural white sapphire and not a synthetic version.


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