Not every bride wants a traditional diamond engagement ring.
If your significant other has an eclectic style or just wants a ring no one else has, shopping for the perfect unique engagement ring can seem especially daunting. Luckily, there are a lot of places to find unique and non-traditional engagement rings on any budget.
Keep reading for a list of:
- Unique engagement ring ideas
- Non-traditional engagement ring ideas
- Best places to find unique engagement rings
Unique engagement rings: 9 ideas
Here are a few trends and ideas for unique engagement rings to consider as you shop:
1. Asymmetrical designs
Most traditional engagement rings consist of a single diamond on its own (solitaire setting) or a center diamond surrounded or flanked by smaller diamonds in a symmetrical design.
Consider an engagement ring in an asymmetric design, with various sizes, types, and cuts of gemstones.
This .42 carat pear-shaped diamond ring is available from Doozie Jewelry on Etsy:
As well as this garnet and alexandrite ring from Yvbard Jewelry on Etsy:
2. Minimalist rings
Multi-carat diamond rings aren’t for every bride. If your bride isn’t into flashy things, or a smaller ring is in the budget, a unique engagement ring in a minimalist design can make a personal, low-key statement, like one of these 0.2 carat diamond rings from Etsy:
3. Estate and antique rings
Suzanne Martinez, a jewelry historian, senior gemologist and co-owner of Lang Antiques based in San Francisco, says antique and vintage engagement rings are a great option for nontraditional brides since they may feature less-common diamond cuts, warmer colored diamonds, and unique design details attributed to a certain era.
“There is no comparison between the expertly hand fabricated, meticulously detailed, unparalleled artistry of jewels of the past with the mostly mass-produced, corporate, machine-made jewelry of today,” Martinez says.
She says even the insides of antique engagement rings often exhibit more time, effort, and attention to detail than the outsides of most modern pieces.
You can find antique or estate jewelry at an estate sale, an antique shop that deals in fine jewelry, or a local jewelry store that sells antique and vintage pieces. You can also find antique engagement rings online from sites like Etsy and ebay.
Ty Wilson, do-founder of CustomMade, an online custom jeweler, offers these tips for buying an antique engagement ring:
- Inspect the ring carefully for any signs of wear and tear. It should be in good condition, without major scratches or dents. Also, check for any loose or missing stones.
- Research the piece before you buy it. Check the ring’s markings, which can reveal who made it, where and when it was made, the type of metal used, and style number.
- Buy from a reputable dealer to ensure you get a quality piece.
“Your hard-earned money deserves to be spent on a piece of jewelry with a good chance of increasing in value over time,” Wilson says. “Go beyond the jewelry store's marketing and get to know the item before buying.”
You can also get a jewelry appraisal to determine your ring’s value and what metals and gemstones it contains.
These are some antique engagement rings from Lang Antiques:
4. Vintage-inspired rings
If you don’t want to buy an antique engagement ring but your bride is a fan of vintage style, consider buying a new engagement ring inspired by designs of the past — think art deco, Victorian, Gothic, mid-century, and art nouveau styles.
Loni Arnold, gemologist and manager of Arnold Jewelers in Largo, Fla., says many jewelers will use terms like “inspired” or “re-cast” for rings that are designed from a past era.
This 1-carat engagement ring from Etsy features black and white diamonds in an art deco-inspired setting:
5. Salt and pepper diamonds
“The salt and pepper diamond trend is one many of my clients have questions about,” says Sherrie Anne Taylor, owner and founder of S. Taylor Jewellery Appraisal and Consultation in Ontario, Canada.
While traditional diamonds are valued based on their lack of inclusions, salt and pepper diamonds use those inclusions to enhance the beauty of the ring.
“They feature an attractive pattern of light to dark speckled inclusions, creating a salt and pepper look,” Taylor says.
Because these diamonds are considered lower quality, Taylor says you can usually buy a diamond with a larger carat weight at a reasonable cost.
“I have seen clients get really creative with design when using these diamonds, mixing black and white accent diamonds for contrast, two-tone gold looks, and non-traditional engagement designs,” she says.
This salt and pepper engagement ring is available from Etsy:
Similarly, you can buy a unique engagement ring featuring raw diamonds, which haven’t been cut or processed and therefore appear rough and cloudy rather than smooth and sparkly, like this one from Etsy:
6. Cluster stones
Thalita Ferraz is a Las Vegas fashion blogger at Her Bones with nearly 700K followers on Instagram. She says one unique trend she’s recently seen is engagement rings with a variety of smaller, often different-colored stones, rather than one large diamond as a centerpiece.
“I think that this is perfect for nontraditional brides because it really defies the norm of having that classic ‘big diamond’ on your finger,” Ferraz says.
Some people see these smaller stones as a symbol of the partnership between two people, as well as the other elements that make up a family.
Check out this diamond cluster ring from Etsy:
7. Eternity bands
Some non-traditional brides prefer to forego a traditional engagement ring for an eternity band, which resembles a wedding band. Then, they stack another complementary band as the wedding band.
“The band-stacking look can be quite fashionable, and more can be added in celebration of occasions down the road,” Taylor says.
These are some eternity bands available from Gemma, a site where you can buy pre-owned and authenticated luxury and designer jewelry for an affordable price:
8. Unique settings
Find a ring setting that breaks from the traditional solitaire, halo, or three-stone setting.
“For example, we've worked with clients who wanted skulls or leaves incorporated into their ring design,” Wilson says.
Rustin Yasavolian works with clients to create custom engagement rings through his family’s jewelry store, Masina Diamonds in Atlanta. He says some unique engagement ring trends are geometric or block-style mountings or ballerina-style halo rings, which feature elongated stones around the center ring.
“These are a fun update to the more traditional halo settings,” Yasavolian says.
Here are some engagement rings with unique settings on Etsy:
9. Custom rings
Nothing is more unique than a custom engagement ring. You can get a custom design from a local jeweler or reach out to an independent jeweler on a site like Etsy. Just be sure to read reviews and look at a portfolio of the jeweler’s work to make sure they’re a good fit and that they use high-quality materials.
Wilson says when he’s working with clients, he draws inspiration from their life experiences, favorite things, or even a family heirloom.
“If you're lucky enough to have a family heirloom (or an old piece of jewelry) you love, why not use it as the starting point for your engagement ring?”
Non-traditional engagement rings: 5 ideas
1. Toi et moi rings
French for “you and me” rings, these non-traditional engagement rings typically feature two main stones, typically two diamonds or a diamond and a colored gemstone.
Celebrities like Megan Fox and Emily Ratajkowsi wear toi et moi engagement rings.
Here are some toi et moi rings available on TheRealReal:
2. Rings without diamonds
While diamonds remain the most popular engagement ring stone, colored gemstones are gaining in popularity as a non-traditional engagement ring choice.
Gemstones are less expensive than diamonds, which means they’re a great choice if you’re shopping for affordable engagement rings.
You can also get a bigger center stone for less money if you purchase a gemstone engagement ring or a ring featuring a lab-grown diamond or moissanite.
Arnold says she is seeing more and more brides come into her family’s jewelry store requesting gemstone engagement rings, particularly rings featuring sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.
“[These gemstones] stand up well against everyday wear, while remaining eye-catching at every turn,” Arnold says. “Alternative engagement rings like these are perfect for a jaw-dropping, unique ring ready for a proposal.”
The Gemological Institute of America has a Gemstone Encyclopedia to help you make an informed decision about which gemstone to choose. In general, the gemstone you choose for an engagement ring should be rated at least a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale to ensure it isn’t easily damaged.
These are some gemstone options listed on the GIA site:
Wilson suggests choosing a ring with your partner’s birthstone for a personal touch.
This David Yurman morganite ring is listed on Gemma:
This three-stone platinum Tiffany ring features a sapphire center stone and two diamonds:
You can also buy diamonds in an assortment of colors — most commonly in shades of yellow, blue, and pink.
3. Engagement rings with fancy gem shapes
According to Brides.com, the 12 most popular diamond cuts are:
If your partner wants a non-traditional engagement ring, choose one of the lesser-used gem cuts to set her ring apart.
“Some of the more unique trends we have seen lately include east-west set elongated diamonds, such as emerald cuts and elongated cushion cuts,” Yasavolian says.
Arnold adds that you can enhance the look of any stone shape with a unique wedding band.
“It is a popular trend to have a timeless or traditional engagement ring but to bring uniqueness to their set by adding textured, patterned, or colorful wedding bands,” she says.
This east-west engagement ring is available on Etsy:
4. Heritage rings
Buy a ring that pays homage to your and/or your wife’s heritage or culture. For example, if your bride is of Irish or Scottish descent, consider purchasing a ring in a Celtic-inspired setting or even a Claddagh ring, which features two hands holding a heart and a crown.
This 0.7-carat diamond ring on Etsy includes a Celtic love knot, which is meant to symbolize the love between two people:
5) Pearl engagement rings
Pearl engagement rings are increasingly popular, in part because they are so beautiful, and an eye-catching mix of blending a classic, traditional pearl in a unique, non-traditional use: engagement rings. Plus, pearls are typically a lot more affordable than diamonds of similar size. You can get a big bang for your engagement ring buck with a pearl engagement ring.
The downside to pearl jewelry of any kind is that unlike gemstones, it is a live organic material that can discolor, scratch and otherwise get damaged during wear.
This pretty rose gold, pearl and diamond ring set is $515 on Etsy:
This pearl and diamond, platinum and yellow gold engagement ring retails for $1,180 on Etsy:
Best places to find unique engagement rings
Ready to start shopping for a one-of-a-kind ring? Below is a list of places to find unique engagement rings:
Local jewelry stores
“Shopping at a local family jewelry store not only benefits a local business and helps put food on their family's table, but oftentimes, they offer items at fair market value so that your money goes further,” Arnold says.
She recommends shopping around to get the best prices and not making an impulsive unresearched buy.
“Oftentimes, a jewelry store like our shop can custom make any designer ring for a fraction of the price,” Arnold says.
Capucinne is an online jeweler that sells non-traditional and whimsical wedding and engagement rings. They have a large selection of ready-to-ship rings and also allow you to work with a designer to create a completely custom ring for your partner. These are some unique engagement rings available from Capucinne:
1stDibs is an online marketplace that sells fine jewelry, art, furniture, fashion, and more from vetted sellers all over the world. Shoppers can buy engagement rings at the price listed, make an offer on a ring they’d like to buy, or bid on an engagement ring in an online auction.
These are some unique engagement rings listed on 1stDibs:
This toi et moi ring is from Cartier:
Antique and estate store/dealers
If you're looking for an antique engagement ring, you can visit local estate sales, jewelry stores that sell antique items, or antique dealers that buy and sell fine jewelry. You can also find antique and estate jewelry from sites like ebay and Etsy.
Like with any major purchase, make sure you read seller reviews and ask questions throughout the process to ensure the ring you're purchasing is legitimate. If the ring doesn’t come with documentation, consider getting a jewelry or diamond appraisal.
Custom jewelry designers
Getting an engagement ring custom designed is one way to ensure your partner’s ring is truly one of a kind. Ask for recommendations from friends and family for local jewelers or jewelry stores that create custom pieces.
You can also custom order an engagement ring on Etsy. Read buyer reviews and look at past work before choosing a designer.
A popular reselling platform, ebay connects sellers with buyers all over the world. — which means it can be a gold mine for finding a unique engagement ring if you know where to look. Make sure the seller you choose has a high rating and good reviews.
If you’re shopping for a unique engagement ring, Etsy offers a plethora of designs to choose from. Many avant-garde jewelry makers have set up shop here to make unique engagement ring dreams a reality.
A site for pre-owned luxury goods, shoppers can find unique engagement rings at a discount.
Though not every pawn shop deals in fine jewelry, you might be able to find a unique engagement ring if you visit the right store at the right time.
Another reseller platform for luxury goods, this site often has a large selection of pre-owned engagement rings, including some in non-traditional designs.