A Guide to the Most Popular Colored Gemstones

Considering something other than a diamond engagement ring? Here's what you need to know about gem center stones.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Dec 10, 2021
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Fact: Engagement rings don't always have to include diamonds. While a diamond is a common choice for a center stone, it's hardly your only option. In fact, according to The Knot 2021 Jewelry and Engagement Study, real couples are tossing tradition when it comes to their wedding jewelry. We surveyed over 5,000 couples who got engaged in 2021, and 10% of respondents said their engagement ring includes an alternative precious gem center stone.

If you're looking for something completely unique (either for yourself or your S.O.), a colored gemstone might be the right pick. After all, your engagement ring should be a piece of jewelry that embodies your personal style—especially because you'll wear it every day for the rest of your life. "Most people immediately think of a diamond for the center stone of an engagement ring because that's what they have always known or seen," explains jeweler Stephanie Gottlieb, noting that your engagement ring design is a good opportunity to show off your favorite hues. "Mixing color into your jewelry wardrobe is the perfect way to express your personality and add a pop of fun."

Beyond serving as a piece of self-expression, opting for a unique gemstone color also allows you to sport a ring that's unlike anyone else's. "A colored gemstone engagement ring is a one-of-a-kind look that not many other people have as opposed to, say, a round brilliant diamond solitaire," says Jillian Sassone, founder of Marrow Fine.

Yet, if opting for a bold center stone like red rubellite, green peridot or yellow sapphire feels like too much of a commitment, you can always create a colorful wedding stack with bands or multi-stone rings that show off your favorite gems. "A lot of our clients experiment by introducing color in a two-stone design, with one diamond and one gemstone paired together," Gottlieb explains. Adds Sassone: "Adding an alternative gemstone stacking band is less of a monetary commitment, but it adds a little personal touch to your stack to create a bespoke look."

So, if a unique gemstone color is right for you, there are a few things to know before you buy. That's why we've compiled this comprehensive list of gemstones by color. Start with this chart below to brush up on common colored gemstones—then read on for detailed information about each gemstone's meaning and birthstone correlation, the colors it's available in, and how durable it is. From vibrant blue topaz to moody black opal, here's what you need to know about gemstone colors for engagement rings.

Chart list of colored gemstone names and colors

Alexandrite

Green and purple alexandrite gemstone colors
NickKnight/Shutterstock

Kicking off our list of different colored gemstones is alexandrite, which is a variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. Because it was discovered in a Russian mountain range, it was named after Czar Alexander II, the heir to the throne at the time.

Alexandrite Colors

Alexandrite's characteristic blue-green to red color change makes it a desirable gemstone, with plenty of options for your jewelry. Its color can range from deep purple to dark blue with green tints.

Alexandrite Birthstone

Alexandrite is the birthstone for June, along with moonstone. It also represents the 55th wedding anniversary.

Alexandrite Meaning

Alexandrite is the gemstone of luck and prosperity. It also represents balance between the physical and spiritual realms, and can bring you into the balance of who you are.

Alexandrite Durability

Alexandrite is an 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is a system used to classify a gem's resistance to scratching. When it comes to gemstone jewelry, a stone with a higher number is generally safer for use as it'll be less prone to scratches or chips. Generally speaking, experts recommend opting for a colored gemstone with a rate of 7 or higher for engagement rings.

Amethyst

purple amethyst colored gemstone
Sudjai Banthaothuk/Shutterstock

Next on our list of different colored gemstones is amethyst, which is a purple variety of quartz. According to The Knot 2021 Jewelry & Engagement Study, 3% of precious gem engagement rings are amethyst.

Amethyst Colors

Amethyst gem colors are available in a variety of purple hues, from light lilac to deep purple, or sometimes even red, blue or green.

Amethyst Birthstone

Amethyst is known as February's birthstone. But beyond that, amethyst is also the gem that represents the sixth wedding anniversary.

Amethyst Meaning

The name "amethyst" comes from Ancient Greek, and it's loosely derived from the word "intoxicate." According to folklore, wearing amethyst gems and drinking from amethyst cups could protect from intoxication.

Amethyst Durability

Amethyst is a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it a safe choice for an alternative engagement ring gemstone.

Aquamarine

Light blue aquamarine colored gemstone
NickKnight/Shutterstock

If you have a hunch that aquamarine gemstones have a greenish-blue hue, you're correct. As a variety of the gem beryl, this gemstone color has a clear connection to water and the ocean—and it makes up 4% of precious gem engagement rings.

Aquamarine Colors

Aquamarine gems come in a range of blue-green hues, from very light blue to pale green. This gem can also be color-treated to have a dark blue appearance.

Aquamarine Birthstone

Aquamarine is March's birthstone, and it's also the gemstone representation of the 19-year anniversary.

Aquamarine Meaning

Given its light, playful color, aquamarine is associated as a symbol for youth and happiness. Aquamarine was also known as the "mermaid's stone," as early sailors believed the gem was blessed by Neptune to provide fortune and protection. Some even carved the likeness of Neptune into aquamarine gems and wore them as necklaces during journeys at sea for safety.

Aquamarine Durability

Aquamarine falls between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it a suitable choice for a gemstone engagement ring.

Citrine

Light yellow citrine colored gemstone
DiamondGalaxy/Shutterstock

Of all the different colored gemstones, citrine—a variety of quartz—is one of the rarest.

Citrine Colors

Citrine is generally known to be a yellow gemstone, though its colors can range from pale yellow to earthy brown or reddish-orange. However, because natural citrine is so rare, most offerings today are heat-treated amethyst quartz.

Citrine Birthstone

Along with topaz, citrine is the birthstone for November. It's also used to commemorate the 13th wedding anniversary.

Citrine Meaning

Because its color is light and bright, citrine is known to promote spiritual qualities of joy, abundance and energy.

Citrine Durability

Citrine's Mohs hardness rating falls around 7, making it safe for daily wear.

Emerald

green emerald gemstone color
Byjeng/Shutterstock

As one of the most beloved alternative engagement ring gems, vibrant emeralds are a timeless crowd-pleaser, as evidenced by our survey: Emeralds make up 5% of precious gem engagement rings. "Emeralds are very popular with our clients, and have been for a while," says Sassone. It's a variety of beryl, and because it's so renowned it's considered the standard for green gemstones.

Emerald Colors

Emeralds are most closely associated with a vibrant green color, though they can be found in varieties that range from yellow-green to blue-green.

Emerald Birthstone

Emerald is May's birthstone gem. It's also associated with the 20th, 35th and 55th wedding anniversaries.

Emerald Meaning

Throughout history, this precious stone has been a symbol of truth and love. They're also known for offering healing powers and protection.

Emerald Hardness

Emeralds are ranked 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale—however, because this gemstone often has inclusions visible to the naked eye, this makes them more prone to daily wear and tear. If you're thinking of buying an emerald engagement ring, you'll want to be sure the design has a supportive, low setting to avoid chips or scratches.

Garnet

Dark red garnet gemstone color
STUDIO492/Shutterstock

Garnets are generally known to be red gemstones. It's a silicate mineral, and it has a glass-like luster.

Garnet Colors

Although the name translates to "dark red," garnets can actually be found in a variety of gemstone colors, ranging from dark red to blue.

Garnet Birthstone

Garnet is January's birthstone, and it's the gemstone iteration of the second wedding anniversary.

Garnet Meaning

It's said that the name for garnets was inspired by the rich red hue of the pomegranate.

Garnet Durability

Garnets tend to fall between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, so proceed with caution when it comes to this jewelry variety. If you opt for a garnet engagement ring, make sure it has a strong, protective setting that sits lower on your hand, like a bezel or a halo.

Moonstone

White and clear moonstone gems
Viktoriia Lisina/Shutterstock

If you've got an affinity for astrology, you might love the mystical vibe of moonstone jewelry.

Moonstone Colors

The moonstone gem is aptly named for its milky, lustrous sheen. While moonstones range in color, they often have a shimmery finish with blue, purple or gray swirled shades.

Moonstone Birthstone

Along with pearl and alexandrite, moonstone is known as June's birthstone.

Moonstone Meaning

Ancient Romans once believed that moonstone came from—you guessed it—the moon. While we know this not to be true today, the stone has plenty of associations with supernatural and lunar folklore thanks to its ethereal iridescent sheen.

Moonstone Durability

Moonstone generally has a 6-6.5 rating on the Mohs scale, making it one of the softer rocks on this list of gemstones by color.

Morganite

dark pink morganite colored gemstone
Somjit Chomram/Shutterstock

Pink lovers will have a soft spot for morganite engagement rings thanks to their warm, rosy hue. As the rarest beryl variety, it's the most expensive—but it's also a trendy alternative engagement ring center stone because it's still more budget-friendly than a diamond. Our survey data found that 6% of precious gem engagement rings are morganite.

Morganite Colors

Morganite gems come in a range of light, peachy-pink tones.

Morganite Meaning

Although morganite is sometimes referred to as a "pink emerald" because of its natural beauty, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) states that this term is misleading since it has a different composition from an emerald gem. The stone, which is named after financier J.P. Morgan, is believed to be a symbol of divine love.

Morganite Durability

Morganite falls between 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, which means it's durable enough for daily wear.

Opal

Lustrous multicolor opal gemstone
925R/Shutterstock

There's something inherently captivating about this celestial stone, which accounts for 6% of precious gem engagement rings. When it comes to jewelry, most opal gems are cut and polished to create a cabochon, which is a gem that's completely smoothed and polished without internal facets.

Opal Colors

Opals come in many different colors. While the most common styles have a milky, multicolor blue-gray finish, they can also come in almost any shade, from yellow, brown, gray or onyx. So, if you're looking for jewelry that undergoes color change, you might love opal given its ability to appear in different shades through various angles and lighting.

Opal Birthstone

Opal is the birthstone for those born in October, and it's used to mark the 14th wedding anniversary.

Opal Meaning

In the Middle Ages, opals were believed to bring good luck to the wearer because they can include every shade of the color spectrum. This is one gemstone to heed with caution, though—some myths said that opals were bad luck to wear on your wedding day. That superstition has since faded, though, and you can find plenty of stunning opal engagement rings on the market today.

Opal Durability

Opals fall between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale, which is an important consideration to keep in mind when looking for an engagement ring. Because it's a softer gemstone, look for a ring with a protective setting and avoid wearing it for activities that heavily involve your hands.

Rose Quartz

light pink rose quartz gemstone color
Vvoe/Shutterstock

As you might be able to guess from its name, rose quartz is a quartz variety named for its light, rosy color.

Rose Quartz Colors

Unlike smoky quartz, which is known to be a light gray or black gemstone, rose quartz has a feminine pink-ish tint. Rose quartz gems can vary from very light and delicate to medium pink.

Rose Quartz Birthstone

Rose quartz is a secondary January birthstone, behind garnet.

Rose Quartz Meaning

Considered to be a healing crystal, rose quartz is believed to emit vibrations of love which can support your emotional relationship.

Rose Quartz Durability

The Mohs hardness scale rates rose quartz a 7, so it's safe for daily wear.

Ruby

dark red ruby colored gemstone
Byjeng/Shutterstock

Even if most of these gemstone colors are new to you, you'll probably be able to identify a ruby. This deep, blood-red gemstone is a jewelry staple. And as a variety of the mineral corundum, it's a great diamond alternative—it makes up 2% of precious gem engagement rings, according to our data.

Ruby Colors

The word "ruby" is of the Latin word "ruber," which translates to red. It's for this reason that rubies are found in the red color spectrum, from dark pink to deep purple.

Ruby Birthstone

Ruby is the July birthstone, and it signifies the 15th and 40th anniversaries.

Ruby Meaning

Ruby red is the color of love, so this precious stone is understood to represent purity and passion.

Ruby Durability

Rubies are given a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, making them almost as hard as diamonds, and thus very suitable for engagement rings.

Sapphire

dark blue sapphire colored gemstone
STUDIO492/Shutterstock

As one of the most well-known precious gemstones, sapphire is a beloved choice for an alternative engagement ring—partially because of its history in pop culture. Royal wearers like Princess Diana and Kate Middleton made blue sapphires mainstream. In fact, our study indicates that it accounts for 17% of precious gem center stones, making it the second-most popular choice (behind moissanite at 28%). of But although it's most often associated as a blue gemstone, sapphires are much more diverse than that.

Sapphire Colors

Sapphires belong to the corundum family, and they come in just about every gemstone color, including pink, orange, yellow, purple and black. They even come in colorless or white gemstones, making them an alternative to a traditional diamond. Different varieties also have various finishes, like a star sapphire—this form includes intersecting needle-like inclusions in a star pattern on the face of the stone. Based on our data, 4% of precious gem center stones are white sapphire, while 2% are pink sapphire and an additional 2% are ice blue sapphire.

Sapphire Birthstone

The September birthstone is sapphire, and it represents the fifth and 45th wedding anniversaries.

Sapphire Meaning

Unsurprisingly, sapphire is associated with royalty. It's believed to attract abundance and gifts while repelling negative energy.

Sapphire Durability

Sapphire is relatively hard—it's a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it very comparable to the strength of a diamond. "For alternative engagement rings, we typically recommend sapphire because it's a great, sturdy alternative to diamond, ranking right below it on the Mohs hardness scale," Sassone says.

Spinel

light red spinel colored gemstone
Evgeny Laptev/Shutterstock

A crystal variety, spinel is a gemstone available in a number of colors.

Spinel Colors

Spinel is often confused for ruby because it's commonly available in a similar deep red hue. But red isn't the only option—spinel crystals can be found in pink, blue, purple, brown, black and green gems.

Spinel Birthstone

Although it's a relatively new addition, spinel is considered to be a secondary birthstone for August.

Spinel Meaning

Some say that spinel promotes feelings of hope and revitalization, as it's a stone that represents joy and having zest for life.

Spinel Durability

Spinel tends to fall between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it a durable gem for daily wear.

Tanzanite

light blue tanzanite colored gemstone
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Only found in Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro, tanzanite is a blue and purple variety of the mineral zoisite. It makes up 1% of alternative gem center stones, according to our study.

Tanzanite Colors

Not to be confused with sapphire, tanzanite also comes in a deep blue hue. Beyond this, the rare gemstone can also be found in shades of purple and red.

Tanzanite Birthstone

Tanzanite is known as a secondary December birthstone. Thanks to its vivid blue colors and high clarity, there's potential to opt for a tanzanite gem with a high carat weight.

Tanzanite Meaning

While its true meanings vary, tanzanite gems—which are rarer than diamonds—are believed to represent new beginnings and prosperity. The gem was formally brought to the jewelry market by Tiffany & Co. in the 1970s.

Tanzanite Durability

Tanzanite is rated 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Since it's a softer gem, look for tanzanite engagement rings with low, protective settings.

Topaz

light blue and green topaz colored gemstone
STUDIO492/Shutterstock

Known for its earthy, brownish tint, topaz is a silicate mineral. Blue topaz makes up 2% of precious gem center stones.

Topaz Colors

Although common topaz is colorless, it also comes in a natural pale yellow hue. Topaz can also be treated to come in shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink and purple. A special variation—known as imperial topaz—comes in a fiery, golden red color.

Topaz Birthstone

Like citrine, Topaz is the November birthstone. Blue topaz also represents the fourth wedding anniversary.

Topaz Meaning

Topaz has long been associated with fiery energy and is thought to represent love, passion and purpose.

Topaz Durability

Topaz has an 8 rating on the Mohs hardness scale, making it suitable for daily wear.

Tourmaline

light pink tourmaline colored gemstone
NickKnight/Shutterstock

If the phrase "watermelon sugar" was a gemstone, it would be tourmaline. This crystalline mineral is quickly rising as a popular wedding ring gemstone thanks to its playful, colorful hues associated with watermelon (think: greens and pinks).

Tourmaline Colors

The composition of each individual tourmaline gem impacts its appearance. Some tourmaline stones can have a greenish-blue look, while others skew more yellow. Alternatively, some tourmaline gems can be significantly pinker, with red and purple undertones. Paraiba Tourmaline is a special variety that comes in bold neon blue and green hues.

Tourmaline Birthstone

Today, tourmaline is a modern October birthstone.

Tourmaline Meaning

With strong grounding forces, tourmaline is thought to offer powerful healing and protection powers.

Tourmaline Durability

Generally, tourmaline gemstones tend to fall between 7 and 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

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