Gemstone Versus The Diamond Engagement Ring

Where Jewelry Trends Begin

The traditional engagement ring set with a diamond or diamonds has undergone plenty of changes in style over many years. From a simple solitaire diamond ring set in a white and yellow gold band to emerald, sapphire, jade, and many other gemstones; engagement rings have come a long way.

When I entered the jewelry business as a youngster many years ago, there was no reason to debate the selection of gemstone versus the diamond ring because there were only diamonds on the market.

Tough Times

My dad Joe was a great judge of character.

My dad owned a small jewelry store in a little coal mining town. In 1935, two months before I was born, my parents moved from a city to this little town out of desperation due to the Great Depression. He had spent every penny to purchase some stock for the store. The second night he was there, thieves broke his front window and stole every item he had in stock leaving him with one man’s ring. He phoned the company in Toronto to discuss the problem and the company owner immediately sent a replacement order along with a dozen diamond engagement rings. The gentleman told him not to worry about paying for the stock until he made some sales. For the next 40 years my dad bought all of the goods he ever needed from that company.

A True Gentleman

The owner of the company was a man by the name of Harry Fogler and he was a wonderful gentleman. He had a traveling salesman who toured the Maritime Provinces for the company called Tru Blu Diamonds. When the company salesman was beginning his tour of the Nova Scotia stores that carried his line of diamonds, Harry would leave Toronto and fly into Sydney on Cape Breton Island so that he would meet his customers personally. In my mind I can still see my mother getting excited when my dad told her that Harry was due to arrive.

My mother, Margaret thought the world of Harry.

He was one of those gentlemen of long ago who truly believed ladies should be treated with respect. Harry’s visit always featured a fine dinner as only my mother could prepare. I can still remember his high-quality eyeglasses frame made of gold with wide temples. Harry was one of those rare individuals who would make you feel important and whom you would never forget.

He Took Time to be With Friends

He also owned a watch company under the name of The Fontaine Watch Company. That company also sold ladies and gents rings and a nice line of jewelry items. After a day visiting with the other local jewelers, Harry would return home and leave his salesman to carry on with the rest of his territory. If you looked under the description of a classy gentleman, you would find the name, Harry Fogler.

Emerald Becomes Popular

My dad sold hundreds of diamond and wedding rings over the years but it wasn’t until he retired from the business that the colored gemstone engagement ring became popular. The emerald gemstone versus the diamond engagement ring is probably the most popular stone to challenge the diamond. This beautiful, green stone is the third hardest gemstone next to the diamond and is sometimes called beryl. Another beryl stone is aquamarine that occurs as a beautiful pale color as well as a pale yellow.

Sapphire Has its Day


Princess Diana engagement ring

The beautiful, blue sapphire that became so popular when worn by Princess Diana is a crystal of corundum and when enhanced with a few diamonds can be a beauty that is hard to match. It is second only in hardness to diamond.

The gemstone versus the diamond preference will come and go over time. It was not that many years ago that all bridal gowns were only white. It is amazing how times and styles tend to change through the years.


Emerald engagement rings become popular from time to time. The emerald is a real beauty and it is one of those stones that seems to defy the tide in that a gemstone must be flawless. Most emeralds are not and may have many inclusions. In order for the gemologist to play down these inclusions (small cracks) the gem is treated with oil which makes the cracks less obvious. This treatment is normal and accepted in the trade; however, if the emerald is treated this way it must be accompanied with a certificate stating it has been oiled and the type of oil that was used.

Another gem that has found popularity over the years is the pearl. Many beautiful designs of pearl engagement rings have been used but there are some facts that a person should consider with the pearl in mind. It is soft and can be damaged by oils and soaps.

Here is the history of the engagement ring that I purchased for Irma in 1957. The ring was made of white and yellow gold and contained a .25 carat diamond solitaire and 2 small diamonds on the shoulder. We have had the claws, which hold and protect the diamonds, replaced every 8 to 10 years, which is probably the norm. The diamonds are still the same as when she first wore the ring. I occasionally check them and they are still perfect as viewed with my 10X loupe. The white gold claws wear down over time. This is proof that diamond is the hardest gemstone of all.

How Long Will Your Marriage Last?

In the gemstone versus diamond engagement ring debate a person must keep in mind that there is a possibility that a marriage could last for 60 years or more. Will the colored gemstone maintain its popularity or will it fade away?

The Opal is Similar to Pearl in Construction

Opal is a beautiful gemstone and is very popular. It is easy for a person to fall in love with these stones. The main problem with opal is that it is quite porous and will absorb oils and soaps easily. Water can find its way inside and what once was a beautiful, colorful stone with excellent flashes of radiance may now be a lifeless, dull stone with very little appeal to the eye.

Your Comments Are Welcome

So what do you think of this gemstone versus diamond discussion? Have you had any experience with these or other stones being used as engagement rings? Please feel free to comment.

Author: admin

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