Unique Engagement Ring Ideas
I love unique engagement rings. They’re a beautiful, meaningful way to express your bond as a couple by creating something completely unique to the two of you. And when it comes to unique engagement rings, you also have almost endless design options— especially if you go custom! If you choose to create a custom unique engagement ring, your design is limited only by your imagination.
To celebrate the beauty (and beautiful meaning) of unique engagement rings, I’m sharing all my favorite unique engagement ring ideas. In this post, I’ll cover what makes a ring unique (and not-so-unique), the pros and cons of custom-made vs. pre-made unique rings, unique center gemstone options, unique engagement ring setting styles, and ideas for unique non-engagement-ring-style engagement rings.
What Makes an Engagement Ring Unique?
There are so many ways for an engagement ring to be unique. You can choose from many unique center gemstones and settings, or choose to wear an unexpected type of ring for your engagement ring (such as a cocktail ring, a wedding band, a meteorite ring etc.). There are tons of design options that can make an engagement ring look unique. Really, the only thing you need to do to ensure your ring looks unique is to avoid very common styles.
But to avoid these common styles, you should know them! So, what are the most common styles of engagement rings? There are two parts of an engagement ring: its center stone and its setting. (By the way, if you don’t already know, an engagement ring’s “setting” is its band, which includes everything but the center stone that’s mounted in the setting.) Common engagement ring styles will have common choices for both of these categories.
The most common type of center stone is, by far, a round brilliant cut white diamond, followed by a princess cut white diamond. For settings, solitaire settings, settings with simple pave diamond bands, and three stone settings are the most common. Though, halo settings have become so popular that I’d say they’re a “new classic,” and they’re very common today.
So, a not-so-unique engagement ring will pull these highly common design elements from each of these categories. For example, a round diamond in a standard three stone setting won’t look unique, nor will a princess diamond in a solitaire setting. However, these common elements can be combined with more unique elements to create a unique look. For example, a solitaire setting can still look unique if it’s combined with an uncommon center gemstone, like a marquise diamond or an emerald. Or a round diamond can look unique if it’s in a striking, abstract modern setting.
Now that you know what to avoid if you want a unique ring, let’s get into your unique engagement ring options!
Unique Engagement Rings: Pre-Made or Custom?
For your unique engagement ring, you have two options: buying a unique pre-made ring or having something custom-made. Which should you choose? Personally, I’m a big fan of custom-made rings. Creating a custom engagement ring for your partner (or designing one together as a couple) can give an engagement ring beautiful meaning. It’s a unique expression of your love for one another, one that no one else will have. Plus, going custom means your ring can be as unique as you dream! Also, while many people think that a custom-made ring will be crazy expensive, custom-made rings are usually around the same price as pre-made engagement rings. Most jewelers base the price of custom rings on the materials used and the craftsmanship involved— which is exactly how pre-made rings are priced.
If you’re thinking of going custom, I have a few great jewelers I can recommend: Taylor Custom Rings, Custom Made, and Anna Sheffield. And, of course, there’s always Etsy, where you can find hundreds of small jewelers who would be thrilled to make your dream ring.
If you do want to create a custom engagement ring, here’s a tip: make sure you get the sizing right before you order. Ring size is always important to know before buying an engagement ring but it’s especially important for custom rings, which often have unique detailing (like engravings or intricate gemstone placement) that make a ring challenging to resize. So before you order a custom engagement ring, make sure you’re 100% sure of your partner’s ring size (or your own ring size if you’re ordering your own ring). If you don’t already know this ring size, get professionally sized at a jeweler or order a metal ring sizer online.
Note: People often offer “hacks” for learning a ring size, like measuring by using string, a printed out piece of paper, or swiping one of your partner’s rings and tracing it. But don’t do any of these things because they usually give incredibly inaccurate sizing (seriously, don’t do them). String can stretch and paper sizers can print out in the wrong scale. And people usually have a different ring size for all ten of their fingers— so if they don’t wear that ring you swiped on their engagement ring finger (and they probably don’t), you won’t get the right size from borrowing a ring. If you don’t know that ring size, just play it safe and get professionally sized or order a non-flexible metal ring sizer.
Of course, while I love custom-made rings for unique engagement rings, some people might just prefer the convenience of buying a pre-made ring. Unique pre-made rings aren’t totally unique (jewelers will make more than one of each design, after all) but they’re still a great way to express yourself and wear something more distinctly “you” than a pre-made engagement ring in a classic/standard style. And if you want to go with a pre-made ring, know that unique engagement rings are on the rise, so now there are tons of unique options available across thousands of different jewelers.
Whether you want to go the extra mile and get a custom-made engagement ring or want to keep things easy-breezy with a pre-made ring, there are so many elements you can choose from that will make your ring unique. In these next sections, I’ll tell you my ideas and tips on choosing unique design elements that will make your ring stand out (and be perfectly you!).
Unique Center Stones for Your Engagement Ring
As I mentioned earlier in this post, white round brilliant diamonds and white princess diamonds are the most common choices for engagement rings. Around 53% of all engagement rings have round diamonds as their center stone while around 30% of all engagement rings feature princess diamonds as their center stone. So since about 83% percent of all engagement rings feature one of these two shapes of white diamonds, basically any other white diamond shape, any colored diamond, or anything that’s not a diamond is an incredibly unique choice.
Note: While round and princess diamonds are the most common choices for an engagement ring, they can still look unique if they’re in a unique setting. So if you love one of these white diamond shapes but want a unique ring, skip to the setting section below to learn about your unique setting options!
Unique Diamond Options
Unique diamond options include all fancy shaped white diamonds that are not princess. (“Fancy shaped” is an industry term for any diamond that isn’t round.) So that includes cushion cut, oval, pear, marquise, radiant, asscher cut, emerald, trillion cut, heart shaped, and more. Also, any colored diamond will look unique! So you can choose from beautiful diamond hues like pink, blue, yellow, and many more and get a very unique center stone.
Unique Gemstone Options
In addition to different kinds of diamonds, you have dozens of gemstones to choose from. Gemstones are a great option for a unique engagement ring. Not only do they come in a beautiful rainbow of colors, they also tend to be quite a bit cheaper than diamonds, which can help you maximize your budget.
Here are some great gemstone options for a unique engagement ring, sorted by color:
Pink:Morganite, Pink Sapphire, Pink Topaz, Rhodolite Garnet
Orange:Orange Sapphire, Citrine, Spessartite Garnet
Yellow:Citrine, Yellow Sapphire, Golden Beryl
Green:Emerald, Peridot, Tsavorite Garnet, Green Tourmaline
Blue:Blue Sapphire, Blue Topaz, Aquamarine, Tanzanite
Purple:Amethyst, Charoite, Violet Purple Sapphire
White:White Sapphire, Moissanite (This one is a diamond look-a-like that costs 90% less than a diamond!)
Tip: Consider the Hardness of Your Unique Gemstone
If you’re thinking of going with a gemstone for your unique engagement ring’s center stone, there’s something you should keep in mind: durability. Gemstones vary widely in their look but they also vary widely in what’s called “hardness."
Gemstones are ranked on a hardness scale called the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The way this scale works is that anything of a lower hardness can be scratched by something with a higher hardness. Diamonds are incredibly hard and durable— they’re at the top of the Mohs Scale with a 10. So, they’re very durable and great for everyday wear. Other gemstones are quite durable too— for example, sapphire ranks in at a 9 and topaz gets an 8. But for an engagement ring, you may not want to choose a gemstone gets a low score on this scale. For something you’ll be wearing everyday, jewelers usually recommend going with a gemstone that ranks at or above a 7.5. This is because dirt and dust can contain quartz that can scratch your stone (and quartz is a 7.0-7.5).
So, you may notice I didn’t put some common gemstones on the engagement ring gemstone options above. That’s because they’re just too soft to recommend for an engagement ring. For example, pearls and opals may be pretty but they’re very soft (coming in at 2.5 - 4.5 and 5.5 - 6.5, respectively). A pearl or an opal could get scratched by a spec of dirt or dust very easily, even just by washing your hands with your engagement ring on.
With all that said, if you’re in love with a softer gemstone, you can definitely still choose one for your unique engagement ring! But just be aware that you’ll need to be more careful when wearing your ring if you don’t want to scratch your gemstone.
Unique Setting Options for Your Engagement Ring
When it comes to settings, uniqueness is largely about shape. Most engagement rings are made from one of four precious metals: yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum. While rose gold is a bit more unique than these other precious metals, what really makes a ring setting unique isn’t its precious metal, but its design.
There are some dominant common engagement ring setting designs: a basic solitaire setting, a round or princess three stone setting, and settings with simple lines of pave diamonds. There’s also the standard type of halo setting, which features a single halo of pave diamonds that surrounds a round or princess diamond. And, basically, because these types of settings make up the design of most engagement rings, any setting that isn’t one of these is going to look incredibly unique.
So, what are some unique ring setting design options you can choose from? Really, the sky is the limit. Especially if you’re going custom! But to help you get inspired, I’ll list some: floating halo settings, abstractly placed clusters of diamonds or gemstones, swirling modern bands, floral patterns made of diamonds or gemstones, abstract band shapes, east west settings, multiple types of gemstones along the band, cut-out-style engravings, double claw prongs, multiple bands, and mixed metals.
Going With a Non-Engagement-Style Engagement Ring
I’ve talked a lot about unique engagement ring gemstone and setting options. Choosing one of these unique options will definitely give you a unique look but there’s another option too: choosing to wear a different kind of ring as an engagement ring!
Unique Engagement Ring Idea: Wedding Band as Engagement Ring
A trending engagement ring option (that’s still very unique) is to wear a wedding band as an engagement ring. Aside the obvious unique-look benefit, wedding bands are a great choice for your engagement ring for two reasons: comfort and cost.
Wedding bands usually have a lower profile than engagement rings. Even if they’re set with diamonds, these diamonds are usually not raised up like they would be on a traditional engagement ring, which makes them more comfortable to wear.
In terms of cost, wedding bands are usually just far less expensive than engagement rings (unless, maybe, they’re set with sizable diamonds or large and rare gemstones). So choosing to wear a wedding band as your engagement ring can help you save quite a bit of cash.
Unique Engagement Ring Idea: New or Antique Cocktail Ring
Another great non-engagement option for your unique engagement ring is to choose a beautiful cocktail ring. Cocktail rings are statement-making rings that usually feature large gemstones and/or bold, eye-catching arrangements of smaller gemstones.
Cocktail rings, by their nature, are designed to be a bit flashy and fun. They’re meant to be stylish and stand-out. So they’re usually much more unique than standard engagement rings. And if you’re shopping on a budget, you can often get amazing vintage or antique cocktail rings for a great deal at estate sales.
Unique Engagement Ring Idea: Unusual Materials
Another option for a unique engagement ring is to choose unique materials for your setting. Choosing a ring that’s made from unique materials (or having one custom made from unique materials) can give your ring a truly distinctive look.
Some great unique materials for an engagement ring (or wedding band you wear as an engagement ring) include meteorite, carbon, cobalt chrome, zircon (a black metal), damascus steel, and hardwood.