For many decades, diamonds have been perceived as the standard gemstone for an engagement ring. In more recent years, this perception has begun to change. Sapphires, rubies and emeralds are fast gaining a significant portion of the diamond engagement ring market share. Making a choice for which is better for an engagement ring Is never a straightforward answer. As they say – it depends! We will examine the facts, and then you decide!
1. Hardness: Hardness is a term used to describe the resistance of a stone to scratch. The “harder” a gemstone is, the more resistant it is to be scratched. This property is important when considering the purchase of an engagement ring that you intend to wear for a lifetime. Diamonds are unarguably the “hardest” with a Moh’s harness scale of 10 (the scale used to measure hardness). Sapphire has a hardness of 9. Though sapphire is one point below a diamond, in reality a diamond is way harder. Based on hardness, diamond takes the cake, however sapphire is also very durable and can last a lifetime except of course you go scratching it with a diamond!
2. Rarity: Sapphire takes the crown on this one. According to the Gemological Institute of America a fine sapphire is about 10x rarer than a comparable quality diamond. You can order a diamond (with a list of the specifications you want), and get it in a day or two, this is totally different for sapphires. There are fewer sources for sapphires around the world, compared to diamonds where there is an abundant supply. If you are wearing a sapphire, chances are that there are few people in the world that have the exact gem. This is not the case for diamond. The exception to diamond rarity surpassing that of sapphires is if you are looking for something like a vivid pink or cobalt blue diamond. Some could also argue that a Kashmir blue sapphire may be as rare as some of the fancy colored diamonds.
3. Ethical Sourcing: This is mixed for diamonds and sapphires. There are few places in the world that you can confidently state that the diamonds are “clean”. Traditionally, Canada, Australia, Russia and Botswana are mostly perceived to be the less “tainted” regions for sapphire sourcing. Not to say that diamonds from other sources are tainted, it just takes more scrutiny—beyond having a Kimberly Protocol certificate backing—to ensure that you are not indirectly paying a militia that wants to control the diamond wealth in a particular region. Diamonds are usually mined on a large scale by big companies, and as such the communities where these stones are mined often do not always benefit from the wealth. There are also stories of diamond mining in certain regions of the world that is fueling wars and terrorism. On the contrary, most sapphire mines around the world are mined by artisanal miners on a comparatively smaller scale. This means the miners make money from what they dig and support their families with it. There are many sapphire communities whose economy is sustained by mining. As we all mining, there have been reports of environmental degradation and the risk fo some species extinction that is associated with diamond and sapphire mining. The key is always inquire about the source of your gem event though it is not always possible to know 100%.
4. Size: If you are a fan of a big stone (we are talking 3carats and above) a sapphire would be an easier reach for a wedding ring than a diamond. Diamonds are quite expensive once it crosses the 3carat (not like below 3 carats is cheap – it just goes overboard once it crosses 3) Sapphires too, but nothing compared to diamonds of comparable size. If you are on a budget then you can look toward purchasing rose cut diamonds, you still get a bigger diamond with some cost savings. Just be resigned to the fact that you won’t get the bling bling that a 3 carat high quality diamond will command. For sapphires there are many options to wear something of a statement and still spend reasonably.
5. Replacements: If your ring gets stolen or lost and you want to replace it with a very similar stone, then you would have more luck with a diamond because it is a relatively common stone. Sapphires are hard to replace, not impossible, but you would wait for a while for your jeweler to find you a comparable sapphire, especially if it is a stone of high quality.
Who said it was easy to choose between a diamond or sapphire for an engagement ring? Well, we hope you find this information helpful in making your choice! If it is a difficult choice to make, then do both (a sapphire surrounded by diamonds), like the one in the picture!