When you think of an engagement ring, what do you picture? Perhaps a sparkling solitaire stone, or a halo of smaller gems encircling a central jewel. No matter the style, you're likely imagining white diamonds, which have been the reigning symbols of marital commitment for over a century. But within the past decade, traditions surrounding engagement rings have loosened as colored gemstones and unique designs become prevalent across social media and on celebrities' fingers.
Now, many jewelry designers offer engagement rings featuring sapphires, rubies and pearls -- as well as "imperfect" diamonds, which can be raw, speckled with shades of gray or colored with hues like brown or pink -- for couples in search of an idiosyncratic or more affordable ring. "I think there is a larger shift in attitudes surrounding engagement rings," said Leigh Batnick Plessner, the chief creative officer of New York jeweler Catbird, in a phone interview. "It should be something that makes you happy, and it doesn't have to follow rules or traditions."