Diamonds are symbolic to weddings and love, but it wasn’t always so. The first recorded instance of diamonds used on engagement rings was in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed with a ring “set with flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an ‘M'”. After diamonds were discovered in South Africa, the market changed with the slogan ‘A diamond is forever’ due to the stone’s hardness, thus solidifying its status as a symbol of love. However, rather than just a commercial effort, engagement rings should be meaningful and there are five alternatives to forgo that diamond tradition.

  1. Heirlooms

Perhaps much more valuable than a diamond, heirlooms passed down through the ages are much more significant than something store bought. One famous example would be Kate Middleton’s heirloom sapphire engagement ring which once belonged to Princess Diana. Nothing quite says welcome to the family than something that’s been in the family for generations.

  1. Gemstones or Birthstones

The next best thing would be a precious gemstone, perhaps one that signifies the bride’s birth date or one that resonates with her. As engagement or wedding bands are supposed to last forever, do take into consideration its resilience. When choosing a gemstone, bear in mind its hardness and durability. Rubies, sapphires are considered the more hardy ones, followed by aquamarine and topazes. The softer gems include pearls, opals and emeralds. Even though emeralds rank quite high on the MOH scale, it is a brittle gem prone to cracking.

  1. Traditional Customs

The Claddagh ring dates back to seventeenth century Ireland and is a ring with a pair of hands holding up a heart topped with a crown, symbolizing friendship, love and loyalty. There are also the options of a Celtic Knot which symbolizes eternity, the Lover’s Knot popularized by sailors or the Infinity Ring which was brought to prominence in recent years as a fun spin on the mathematical symbol and the number eight’s significance in Chinese custom and Christianity, making it a popular choice.

  1. Customised Rings

Why let a designer decide what to put on your betroths finger when you are sure she will love something unconventional? There are guides on how to build a custom made ring which follows what has become seen as normal, and there are also countless creative ideas on the internet – one merely has to find one suited the one’s lady. There’s the ring that allows you to feel each other’s heartbeat from all around the world, how about one built from one’s own body part? Sci-fi fanatics can also rejoice with geeky rings such as one inspired by R2D2, Lord of the Rings or virtually any fandom.

  1. Tattoos

While tattoos used to be seen as criminal, it has been grudgingly acknowledged as art and self expression. Numerous couples have taken up the practice of tattooing wedding bands instead of getting jewellery as tattoos cannot be lost and are permanent. Celebrities have endorsed this and therefore is no surprise at how widely accepted it has become.