The standard engagement ring with the platinum or gold band and gleaming diamond isn’t for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a ring that rivals all others and is unique in its own right, or simply hate the thought of wearing anything wrapped around your finger and are instead in search of another option, there are plenty of alternatives to engagement rings when proposing you can choose from. In fact, engagement ring alternatives are even becoming a trend. “We are seeing more and more couples, both same sex and heterosexual, who want to make something extremely personal, sentimental and out of the box,” says David Alan, owner of David Alan Jewelry in New York City. “Today, as we approach an era of ‘anything goes,’ it’s more acceptable for people to think outside the box when it comes to a symbol, a talisman, of their commitment.”
Luckily, there is no shortage of options in today’s day and age when it comes to alternatives to engagement rings when proposing. Here are some of the most popular alternatives jewelers recommend to their clients.
A ring on a necklace
This happens to be the most popular alternative to an engagement ring when proposing for those who are not allowed to, or prefer not to, wear a ring when they’re on the job. This still gives them the chance to rock a beautiful diamond—the only difference being that you’re wearing it around your neck as opposed to your finger. “Necklaces can be customized to include birth gemstones, be engraved or have multiple components like metal initials,” says Slisha Kankariya, founder of Four Mine, an online jewelry retailer specializing in engagement rings. “Another benefit is that necklaces are easy wear and maintain regardless of profession, making it easy for anyone to have it on all the time.”
“This tradition dates to the 1950s when girls coming of age would add charms to a bracelet to symbolize life milestones,” says Alan. “Today, a charm bracelet (and/or necklace) can be a wonderful way to commemorate a wedding, childbirth, family animals and even anniversaries.” Another perk of a charm bracelet is that, in addition to the charm that indicates your wedding, you can add on other marriage milestones, such as your first home, first child, first trip together, etc.
A tattoo of a ring
If you’re not into the idea of wearing jewelry around your ring finger, but would like something there to commemorate your commitment, you might choose to get a permanent tattoo, be it of your significant other’s name, initials, your wedding date, etc. This is something Josh Levkoff, of Josh Levkoff Jewelry, sees quite often and says is a very sweet and special way for couples to express themselves.
Similar to charm bracelets, lockets hold a cherished place in history. Many of our ancestors wore them to remember loved ones by and signify the beginning of a new romantic relationship. “Lockets are an old fashioned, yet classic alternative to an engagement ring,” says Alan. “The oldest lockets were said to contain perfume, pictures and even locks of hair!” Perhaps the sweetest part of this tradition is that you can put anything inside the locket itself.
Alternative-stone engagement ring
If you are still in the market for a ring, only one that is starkly different than the standard round-cut diamond, an alternative gemstone might be right for you. “Sapphire, emerald and ruby are the most precious in terms of price and rarity after diamond and all have rich and deep hues that make a bold statement that set the wearer apart from others,” says Kankariya. She does recommend exercising caution when when selecting a gemstone ring, however, as they require different care in terms of wear and cleaning than a diamond ring. “The genes are softer and are more prone to scratches and breakage, so be sure to work with a reputable jeweler who can offer you a repair policy,” she adds.
Many couples choose to commemorate their union with a set of matching bands. These, Kankariya explains, can be embellished with smaller accent diamonds, engravings, metal carvings and even birthstones of the couple. “The beauty of these metal bands is the versatility and the ability to customize, which makes them an easy and meaningful choice for couples who want to add a personal touch,” she says. “It’s also a great way for men to commemorate getting engaged and have a unique piece of jewelry.”
“Diamonds don’t have to be worn on an engagement ring to shine and sparkle,” says Kankariya. “When worn as an eternity band they come together in a pleasing design that sparkles all around.” Even though eternity bands tend to look more expensive, since there might be more diamonds in general, it’s spread around the ring in smaller pieces which tends to be less costly.
A new piece of art for your home
No one said your engagement memento had to be a ring—or jewelry at all! “Art is another expressive form for couples to show their love for each other and for themselves and to be very creative in what they want,” says Levkoff. “It’s also something they can invest in and something that can appreciate in value.”