Monday, October 20, 2014

Non-Traditional Non-Diamond Engagement Ring Roundup

A year ago, I was going to friends' fall weddings, discussing upcoming nuptials of other recently affianced friends, and feeling anxious to move forward with our own engagement, and thus looking at rings. This fall wedding season is reminding me of that time, and so now, I'm finally getting around to sharing a round-up of my favorite non-traditional, non-diamond engagement rings.

I scoured the internet looking for non-diamond rings with small stones and a setting that wouldn't stick up much (aka bezel, rosecut, flush or inset), made by an independent designer, ideally with reclaimed and ethical metals and stones. It is remarkably hard to find non-diamond rings, so even though there are some diamonds below, they all accept custom orders and could presumably substitute another gem. I learned that sapphires and rubies are the hardest gems after diamonds and thus the best alternatives for an engagement ring that will get a lot of wear - although rubies seem to be much less common than sapphires. I also learned that sapphires and other stones like topaz actually come in a variety of colors. I had a really hard time deciding among all the pretty rings, and so did Evan, so in the end, we picked it out together, which helped us agree on something we both liked.

A note about shopping for rings: I'm lucky to live in Brooklyn where there are a lot of independent jewelers. Two great Brooklyn jewelry shops are Catbird in Williamsburg and the Clay Pot in Park Slope. We ended up getting my ring from the Clay Pot, because they will help you order a custom ring from a designer, which Catbird won't. But all of these designers can be contacted directly for custom work, and if you can't get to Brooklyn, they also sell online.

Claire Kinder is based in Brooklyn and Vermont and sells some of her work at Catbird. Her etruscan diamond ring comes in various sizes, and her samples of custom work and include a version of this with a sapphire.

Just last fall, Satomi Kawakita started making her famous hexagonal ring with a dark blue sapphire, in a variety of sizes to suit your desires.

Carla Caruso 's three stone and leaf ring comes with diamonds or white sapphires. I really like the leaf motif, but decided against a white sapphire because anyone looking at it would assume it was a diamond, and I didn't want to help perpetuate the assumption that engagement rings should be diamonds. She's based in Boston, but sells at the Clay Pot.

Mociun has a shop in Williamsburg. Her website has several pages of custom work filled with crazy beautiful asymmetrical combinations of mixed colored stones. If I was into prong settings and a bigger ring, this would be the ticket. I didn't even know that green sapphires existed until last year, but they have such lovely seafoam hues. I would have loved one in my own ring, but my designer (Marian Maurer) didn't have access to green sapphires small enough for my ring, so I went with all blue.

Ariko is another Brooklyn designer featured at the Clay Pot who accepts custom work. I like the slightly textured natural look of her bands. She sells this almost purplish sapphire ring, but my favorite of her designs is her silver diamond ring.

Digby & Iona is based in Greenpoint and sells some pieces at Catbird. I love the patterns they use on their bands - vintage-y waves, arrows and triangles. They have always offered a range of colored diamonds, but they are now offering unique watermelon tourmaline stones, and accept custom requests.

Sarah Perlis has a showroom in the Lower East Side and offers a whole ton of sapphire and semi-precious rosecut rings.

Philly-based Bario Neal creates awesomely unique rings with reclaimed or fair-mined metals, ethically sourced stones and environmentally friendly practices. Their textured rosecut ring comes in colored diamonds, and they accept custom work, though they have a longer lead time than some other designers.

If you do want a traditional setting, the website Brilliant Earth is a good resource for ethical sapphires and vintage rings, along with conflict free diamonds.

Etsy is another great place to find non-tradiational engagement rings online. One Garnet Girl is one of my favorite Etsy wedding jewelers, offering a variety of stones and colors. 

And of course, there's the Brooklyn designer who made my ring, Marian Maurer, who uses recycled gold, which isn't that common. My ring was essentially a smaller version of her Kima ring, made with three blue sapphires.

To see even more non-traditional engagement and wedding rings I found, check out my pinterest. Does anyone have a unique ring they want to show off or any favorites I missed? I'm happy to feature it here on my blog. And stay tuned for the next ring roundup, with highlights from my search for a wedding band...


  1. I think your ring is classy and beautiful. You have great taste. I'm always pleasantly surprised at how many amazing artists there are on Etsy that use recycled metals and such a wide range of stones. Honestly, the commercial mega rings just make me wanna gag. They are so materialistic and impersonal. A huge ring does not make a marriage stronger, but most women seem to think that it does.

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