The Guy’s Guide to Engagement Ring Gemstones

Thinking of popping the questions but not sure which gemstone will make your beloved’s eyes pop? Read on to learn about diamonds and gemstones–which ones are birthstones, their colors, and their meanings! This quick guide should get you started on your quest for the perfect ring! Go get ’em, Tiger!

pink gemstone ring

Hey, John!


Engagement season is nearly here and I’m not ready! My girlfriend, Stacy, has been hinting that since the largest number of marriage proposals are made between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, she’d really like to join that club. I’d like to propose but I don’t know anything about gemstones or which to pick. Help!

Thanks in advance,

Nicholas in Newberg, Oregon

Hey, Nicholas!

I’m here to help! You’ve got this!

In addition to clear diamonds, there are colored diamonds in yellow, pink, and other colors.

  • Diamond (April’s birthstone/associated with love, strength, and health)

Options: a single diamond or multiple diamnds. 

vintage diamond ring
Queen Victoria and PRince Albert


For centuries, gemstone engagement rings have been a viable choice. Prince Albert designed an emerald engagement ring for his beloved, Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

A gemstone engagement ring gives you the opportunity to customize the ring to her favorite color or incorporate her birthstone.

Gemstones in Brighter, Bolder Colors:

The most popular gemstones are emeralds (often in green), sapphires (often in blue), and rubies (often in red) but this isn’t always the case. When Jack Brooksbank selected an engagement ring for Princess Eugenie, he picked a padparadscha sapphire—an exceedingly rare sapphire with a distinctive orange-pinkish glow to it.

  • Emerald (green/May’s birthstone/means “life affirming, eternal love”)
After Prince Albert was certaub that he and Queen Victoria were in love, he returned to Germany where he designed an emerald engagement ring for her. Using her favorite gemstone, he presented her with a ring symbolizing their eternal love.  They were  married for 21 years until his death from an illness.

When King Edward VIII of Great Britain proposed to Amrican Wallis Simpson, he selected a gorgeous deep green emerald surrounded by diamnds. The ring won her heart: They were married for 35 years until he passed. (Wallis Simspon and her ring are to the right.)


Wallis Simpson and her emerald engagement ring
sappphire and diamond engagement ring
  • Sapphire (blue or pink/September’s birthstone/means intelligence, the ability to make wise decisions, education)
When Lady Diana Spencer accepted the marriage proposal of Prince Charles of Great Britain in 1981, she was allowed to select her engagement ring from a set of rings presented by a famous London jeweler. She selected a stunning sapphire to match her blue eyes.
Surrounded by diamonds, the ring was immediately copied by other jewelry designers. 
  • Ruby (red/July’s birthstone/means “love, happiness, devotion, integrity, courage, vitality”)

Quenn Elizabeth II’s sister was Princess Margaret Rose. When her beloved decided to propose, he designed a ring with rubies at the center surrounded by diamonds to represent a rose. 

Princess Margaret's engagement ring ruby diamonds
garnet and diamond ring
  • Garnet (red, orange, yellow, green, purple/January’s birthstone/means “love, commitment, protection, friendship, trust”)

While the deep red crimson coloris most familiar, garnets come in red, orange, bright green (and look like emeralds), and rare shades of blue which look like sapphires. Pretty cool, huh?

  • Amethyst (light lavender to deep purple/February’s birthstone/means “faithful love, purity, spirituality, calmness, peace, sincerity, piety, humility, unification”)

Amethyst is actually a purple quartz. If your partber loves purple, this might be the gemstone you select! 

vintage amethyst engagement ring
blue topazs
  • Blue Topaz (December’s birthstone/is thought to allow one to channel their inner wisdom to find the perfect path to success)

Blue topaz engagement rings are gorgeous and come in a variety of blue colors from pastel to deep blue. They are popular and more affordable than sapphires. Yes, you may be able to get a larger stone in your budget!

  • Tanzanite (blue, violet, purple, gray, or bronze/it is thought to stimulate perception and intuition while facilitating a higher level of consciousness)

Found in only one place on Earth near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Tanzanite comes in deep blue, a vibrant violet, or deep purple. In 1967, when the stone was first discoveered, it was named for Tanzania, the nation in which it was found.

Aleexandrite ring on finger

Gemstones in Lighter Colors:

  • Alexandrite (lavender/June’s birthstone/is thought to bring prosperity, intellect, and luck)

This rare stone from Brazil, Russia, and Sri Lanka changes color. In daylight, it is as green as an emerald. At night, it looks like ruby.

It is the stone given to those celebrating 55 years of marriage. It’s a great goal!

  • Yellow Topaz (November’s birthstone/means “harmony, gratitude, hospitality”)

Yellow topaz and citrine are often confused but they aren’t even cousins: Topaz is a silicate while citrine is in the quartz family of stones.

The word topaz derives from a Greek word for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea where this yellow stone is found.

In the European Middle Ages, people carried yellow topaz to break spells cast upon them and to hold their own anger in check.

yellow topaz rng
  • Citrine (lemon yellow, deep yellow, champagne, orange/means “joy, success”)

as you can see from the raw state of citrine to the left, it is a member of the quartz family and is the yellow or orange-red variety of this crystal. With the increased interest in Earth tones, this semi-precious gem has become popular.

The name comes from an Old French word for “lemon, It is thought to be a gift from the sun.

  • Carnelian (pale orange to deep orange-red to almost a brown/was July’s birthstone traditionally)
  • In the Middle Ages, people believed that having this stone on them would prevent them from a rip roaring temper tantrum…a good thing to have if you were meeting a surly king with a penchant for shortening people by a head.)
  • Until the last century, it was the birthstone for July. It was replaced by ruby.
  •  It is the state gemstone of Maryland since it is found there. 
  • The first carnelian beads were found in bulgaria and date back to the Neolithic Period. 
  • During the Roman Empire, carnelian was used to make signet rings because hot wax won’t stick to carnelian!
  • Morganite (pink to orange-pink/is thought to bring healing, compassion, and commitment to the wearer thereof)
Morganite is beryl which means it is related to emerald and aquarmarine for the way in which Nature created it. 
Its delicate pale pink to blush pink depends on how much manganese was present when the gem formed.
  • Peridot (light green/August’s birthstone/means “compassion”)

Peridot is one of the few gemstones which occurs in only one color: green. 

It is a transparent type of olivine, another category of stone different from beryl or quartz. 

It is one of only two gems formed in lava or molten rock under the Earth’s crust. 

The first known mention of the stone is in England in 1245 when Bishop John bequeathed his peridots to St. Alban’s Abbey. Apparently, they were valuable gems!

  • Aquamarine (light blue to blue-green/March’s birthstone/means “hope, happiness, eternal youth”)

A beryl, the aquamarine is related to the emerald.

Since it comes in colors which remind you of the ocean, it’s name is based on two Latin words, “aqua” for “water” and “marine” meaning “sea or ocean.” As the birthstone for March, it reminds one of Pisces, the atrological sign for a fish. 

  • Tourmaline (green, green and red, blue, yellow, pink, red or clear/October’s birthstone/means “protection, grounding”)

Depending on which minerals were present when this gem formed, it can be a single color such as pink, or have two colors which fade into the other. See the red and green tourmaline ring to the right. 

Traces of iron or titanium create the blue or green colors while manganese creates the pinks, reds, and maybe the yellows. No one is sure.

The first recorded discovery of tourmaline was in 1554 when Francisco Spinoza discovered the gem in Brazil.

Watermelon Tourmaline
  • Quartz (rose and many other colors/it is thought to increase spirituality and wisdom)

The most readily available mineral on Earth, it is made from oxygen and silica. As the atoms link, they form crystals.

Depending on what other minerals are present when it forms, quartz can be light pink (rose quartz) to purple (amethyst).

  • Opal (multiple colors/means “divine purity, higher hope, simplification”)
  • The downside to opals is that they demand care. One woman wore her opal engagement ring, put on oven mitts, reached into a hot oven, and heard her ring crack. Y’all been warned!

This should get you started on your quest for the perfect engagement ring!

During the Middle Ages, the opal was thought to bring the holder of it great luck because the opal contained all the colors of the other gemstones.

Opal and tourmaline are the birthstones for October.

Opal engagement ring

(By the way, we have dates available for your proposal here at Ainsworth House & Gardens, the premier, sustainable wedding venue in Oregon. Whether you select the front lawn of the 1851 mansion or the secluded Grove, yours will be the perfect proposal!

We have locations where your family and friends can hide out of sight until the glorious moment when she says, “Yes!”

Then, they can jump out, share their joy, and take loads of great pictures!)

If you have any questions, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help you!

Your friend in the wedding business,

John Shyne


Image courtesy of,, for Princess Margaret’s ring, Aurelius Jewelry for Alexandrite ring, Diamonddiiz for yellow topaz ring, and Nicolas Alan Jewelers for watermelon tourmaline ring.

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A couple is surrounded by their friends on Ainsworth's front lawn.