As one of the highest-priced items in the wedding planning process, couples invest considerable time in choosing the perfect engagement rings and wedding bands. According to a 2011 Engagement & Jewelry Study released by the XO Group, the parent company of TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, 96 percent of brides have a hand in selecting the rings.
Yet, so much emphasis is placed upon the cut, clarity, cost and carat of the diamond ring that few couples even consider the dozens of stunning gemstones that are available at a fraction of the average $5,200 price tag.
A variety of precious and semiprecious gemstones have long been prized by royalty, warriors and shamen for their enchanting beauty, healing properties and protective powers. In fact, it is only during the past 140 years that diamonds have even been accessible to mainstream society.
Half of modern brides in Italy, as well as three-quarters of brides in France and Spain, opt for colored stones instead of the clear diamond preferred by American and British brides. These colored gemstones are chosen for a variety of reasons, ranging from honoring cultural traditions and paying tribute to family legacy to cutting costs and being socially responsible. Each gem is linked with mystical abilities to bless a marriage with happiness, harmony and compassion.
Among the top semiprecious stones are aquamarine, jade, Tiger’s Eye and garnet. If your heart is set on having a diamond, then consider adding a small cluster of the sparkly stones as an accent to a dazzling sapphire, ruby or emerald wedding ring.