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So you have your heart set on an emerald engagement ring?

15 Jun 2020 | Bridal & engagement, Gemstones

Beautiful woman wearing an emerald engagement ring and wearing green gemstone earrings
A beautiful woman wearing an emerald engagement ring and green gemstone earrings

Natalie Barney, Jewellery Designer; Owner Director of Natalie Barney Jewellery Design; FGAA

Many are drawn to the sumptuous colour and prestige of an emerald engagement ring. But before you commit your heart and mind to an emerald, it would be prudent to explore some of its equally stunning, but lesser known green gemstone rivals — tsavorite, chrome tourmaline and green sapphire.

The allure of an emerald engagement ring

An emerald is considered the quintessential green gemstone, coveted for more than two thousand years. This enigmatic stone is synonymous with royalty, prestige and glamour. Its great mystique is also attributed to a long history and rich symbology across many cultures.

Emeralds have adorned some of the most famous and influential women in history. These include Cleopatra, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth. And many celebrities, including Victoria Beckham and Olivia Wilde wear an emerald engagement ring.

As a jewellery designer and lover of green gemstone jewellery, I know firsthand just how desirable an emerald can be. One of the most popular requests I receive is for an emerald engagement ring. However, whilst a couple may initially have their heart set on this, an emerald is not always the stone they ultimately choose.

The truth about emeralds

Most emeralds are actually quite fragile. Emeralds may rate highly on the Mohs Hardness Scale (making them difficult to scratch), but they can be quite vulnerable to cracking. This is because many emeralds are highly included. In fact, the ’emerald cut’ was developed to reduce the risk of breakage by minimising the number of cuts. Many emeralds are also treated to enhance their durability and reduce the appearance of inclusions. However, this can make repairs problematic if damage does occur.

Many emeralds are highly included, making them vulnerable to cracking, especially during the cutting and setting process.

So is an emerald a good choice for an engagement ring?

If your heart is simply set on an emerald (and you have a very good budget), you should consider a cut, quality and setting that will protect the stone. To maximise your emerald’s longevity, you should —

  • remove it when it could be knocked
  • avoid heat and chemicals
  • avoid ultrasonic cleaners
  • use mild, soapy, lukewarm water and a soft brush to clean it
  • prepare for repairs.

What are the alternatives to an emerald engagement ring?

If it is really a green gemstone that you desire and you are open to other ideas, I am delighted to introduce you to three very worthy alternatives —

  • tsavorite
  • chrome tourmaline and
  • green sapphire.
A vintage emerald engagement ring surrounded by diamonds
A vintage emerald engagement ring in the classic ’emerald cut’ surrounded by diamonds. As you can see, the inclusions are quite visible.

1. Tsavorite (or tsavolite) — the new and formidable green gemstone

A tsavorite is a very rare and spectacular green garnet discovered in the 1960s by a British geologist in Africa. Its colour can be similar to an emerald but its clarity, brilliance and durability is superior. This is why tsavorite is considered a better choice for an engagement ring.

Tsavorites suit a much wide range of cuts than emeralds. They are often seen in round brilliant, oval and cushion cuts, which really enhance their colour and sparkle.

Because a coloured gemstone’s value is driven (in part) by demand, you can expect to pay a lot less than an emerald for a high quality stone. Tsavorites are new and relatively unknown, but this is definitely changing. Tsavorites are growing in popularity and are considered a very worthwhile investment. Many jewellers adore them.

A tsavorite’s clarity, brilliance and durability is superior to an emerald, making it a better choice for an engagement ring.
Green tsavorite garnet engagement ring with diamonds in white gold
A Natalie Barney engagement ring featuring a round brilliant cut tsavorite surrounded by diamonds. This ring can be made to order.

2. Chrome tourmaline — the rarest and most coveted of tourmalines

Deep in Brazil in the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt from a spectacular green stone and declared it an emerald. 300 years later scientists recognised his error and identified the green gemstone as a new mineral — tourmaline.

Tourmalines are my favourite gemstones because they can be found in all the colours of the rainbow. But the chrome tourmaline is known for its rich green hue. Chrome tourmalines actually share some of the same minerals as emeralds, which results in a similar tone.

Tourmalines may be less ‘hard’ than emeralds, but they do have greater clarity, making them tougher and more brilliant. So tourmaline is a stunning option for an engagement ring, especially in square or rectangular radiant, oval and cushion cuts.

Chrome tourmalines are one of the rarest of their kind, making them very desirable. However, when compared to high quality emeralds, tourmalines are much less expensive.

Chrome tourmalines are strikingly similar in colour to emeralds because they share some of the same minerals.
Green chrome tourmaline engagement ring with diamonds in white gold
A signature Natalie Barney engagement ring featuring a cushion cut chrome tourmaline surrounded by diamonds. This ring can be made to order.

3. Green sapphire — the multi-dimensional green gemstone

Sapphires share the podium with emeralds as one of the most loved coloured gemstones in the world. Known largely for their majestic blue tones, sapphires can also be found in an amazing array of colours. And with incredible brilliance and a hardness second only to diamonds, sapphires are perfect for engagement rings.

Green sapphires can be just as captivating as their blue counterparts and are becoming increasingly popular. Some exhibit a multidimensional tone, which is mesmerising under different lights. This is actually due to a mix of blue and yellow sapphire in the stone.

Because they are less in demand, green sapphires are less expensive than blue sapphires. So for a similar investment, you can get a much larger and better quality stone for your engagement ring.

Some green sapphires exhibit an amazing multidimensional tone, which is mesmerising under different lights.
Tsavorite (green garnet) engagement ring in white gold with diamonds
A Natalie Barney engagement ring featuring an oval cut green sapphire surrounded by diamonds. This ring can be made to order.

So which green gemstone will it be?

The process of selecting a coloured gemstone is quite different to a diamond. So whether it is an emerald or a tsavorite that you desire, it is important to consult with a coloured gemstone expert. An expert can:

  • recommend the right gemstone to suit your taste, lifestyle and budget
  • ethically source the gemstone of your choice
  • design a setting that maximises the beauty of your stone.

At Natalie Barney Jewellery Design, coloured gemstones are our speciality and designing exquisite settings to really showcase them is our passion. And we love nothing more than collaborating with our customers to bring the ring of their dreams to life.

To discuss a bespoke design or to enquire about a piece you have seen on this website, please complete an enquiry form or send an email to info@nataliebarney.com and it will be our absolute pleasure to assist you.

Tsavorite (green garnet) engagement ring in white gold with diamonds
We love collaborating with our customers to bring their dream engagement ring to life.