Precious stones are an important part of ring shopping and so is vital to the happiness of your entire wedding experience. Ask any man who has been engagement or wedding ring shopping and they will tell you it’s something you simply have to get right!

There are four main or cardinal gemstones, diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald. They are by far the most popular stones used in wedding and engagement rings so we’ll concentrate on those. Of those, diamond is by far the most popular but the other three aren’t far behind.

With that in mind, we have put together this quick guide to precious stones.


Diamonds are not only the prettiest gemstone, they are also the purest. Made of pure carbon, they are the cleanest gemstones in the world. Used in both engagement and wedding rings, diamonds really are a girls’ best friend!

Formed under intense heat and pressure, these ancient stones take thousands of years to form and are the hardest natural substance we know of. In fact, the Greeks named them “adamas” which means invincible.

Diamonds are graded according to the 4cs, colour, clarity, cut and carat. Despite what you see in a jewellers window, diamonds come in all sorts of colours. However, the colourless diamonds are those most prized and most expensive.

The colour of a diamond is graded with the international GIA (Gemological Institute of America) scale. The score is given depending on how much yellow is present in the stone with Z having the most yellow and D having the least.

The clarity is how pure the stone is. Almost all diamonds have some kind of imperfection. But, the fewer imperfections, the more expensive the stone. Flawless is possible, but is also prohibitively expensive. Clarity is graded with letters and numbers. IF to VS is luxury-grade and contains few imperfections. SI1 and SI2 are the most popular as they look great and offer good value. SI3 is the lowest form of purity.

Cut refers to the quality of the shape of the diamond. A lot of work goes into making a diamond look good and the better the job, the better the cut grade. There are six grades of cut, Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.

Carat is a measurement of weight. A carat is the biggest influencer of price and therefore desirability by your bride-to-be.


Sapphires are less common in wedding rings, but are very common in engagement rings. Most famously, Princess Diana’s engagement ring. Despite popular belief, sapphires aren’t always blue. They actually come in a variety of colours, blue is just the most popular.

Sapphires are made from corundum. Red corundum are called rubies, while all other colours are regarded as sapphires. They use the same GIA grading system as diamonds. Unlike diamonds, the prime factor in choosing a diamond is colour, not cut, carat or clarity. The richer the blue, the higher the grade.


Rubies are another engagement ring favourite that do make it to wedding rings but less often that either diamonds or sapphires. Rubies are rarer than both stones, making them very popular for other forms of jewellery.

Like sapphires, rubies are judged more on colour than cut, clarity and carat. The richer the red, the more desirable the stone.

Heat treatments are sometimes used to enhance the appearance of a ruby. There is nothing wrong with that, but the jeweller has to inform you if a ruby has been heat treated. Untreated stones are regarded as more desirable, but both look great on an engagement or wedding ring!


Emeralds are deep green and look lovely. They are a more classical gemstone than the others and don’t seem as popular in contemporary jewellery. Nonetheless, emeralds can look fantastic as a gemstone in either an engagement or wedding ring.

A well-formed emerald can actually be more expensive than a diamond of the same quality, which is perhaps a true reflection of how valued emeralds can be. These gemstones are formed of beryl which is a hard mineral. The colour is influenced by how much chromium or vanadium the beryl contains.

Like all the other stones on here, the GIA scale is used to grade the colour, clarity, cut and carat with colour being most important.

Those are the four most popular gemstones for wedding and engagement rings. There is no “best” gemstone. The best is the one that brings the biggest smile to the face of your intended. All other concerns are secondary to that!