For brides (or grooms on the ring hunt), looking for something a little different in an engagement ring, you could consider opting for a coloured stone instead of the traditional white diamond. But are you giving up quality? Are coloured stones just as good as diamonds? We spoke to Neville McDowell, the jewellery manager at Weir & Sons about what you need to know about colourful engagement rings.

Sapphire ring

“Our most popular coloured stone would be the sapphire, as blue tends to go with a lot of clothing and everything. After that, it would be the ruby,” says Neville. “Both of those are hard-wearing stones, whereas opals, pearls and emeralds are not as strong and would require a lot of extra care.” Stones are measured for their durability by the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. It ranges from one to ten, with ten being the hardest. “Diamonds would be ten and sapphires and rubies would be nine.”

Sapphire ring

When it comes to choosing the right ring and you’re opting for a coloured stone, Neville says the most important aspect is the colour itself. “When choosing a sapphire, you want a bright, vibrant blue colour instead of a dark, almost black stone. If you have to guess the colour, it’s not a good stone.” You might also consider what the stone means when choosing one. For example, the ruby is said to bestow good fortune on its owner, while a sapphire ring is a symbol of honesty, loyalty and trust.

Sapphire ring

When it comes to other stones, such as emeralds, Neville wouldn’t recommend them for engagement rings. “They are very beautiful stones, but they would be considered quite a soft stone, and they can also be quite porous.” Equally, opals and pearls are less than six on the Mohs scale, making them very fragile and therefore not suitable for everyday wear.


If you really want a diamond, but like the idea of a flash of colour, you could choose to go with a yellow diamond, which is every bit as durable as a white diamond. “Yellow diamonds are a good choice, provided they have a good colour and certificate,” says Neville. Diamonds can be heat treated and essentially dyed to give them a colour, but this is not a legitimate yellow diamond, and can often be a poor quality brown stone, so make sure the diamond is authentically certified.

Yellow diamond Yellow diamond

You should also keep your budget in mind when opting for a coloured diamond. "The yellow diamond rings we sell tend to be larger diamonds to mark a special occasion or a special anniversary and hence more expensive than our average diamond engagement rings."

- Jenny Darmody

Images: Courtesy of Weir & Sons