While there are countless traditions you can follow for your wedding, the reality is nothing is set in stone. Pun intended when it comes to the engagement ring. If you're the type of bride that isn't wowed by a traditional diamond engagement ring, know that it's not your only choice. More women (and their future husbands!) are selecting unique, nontraditional baubles that speak more to their personal style, ethics, and relationship. From vintage engagement rings to those with alternative center stones, let these real brides' jewelry stories inspire your own.
A 100-Year-Old Engagement Ring
When Mark Steines proposed to his girlfriend, Julie, he didn't have an engagement ring. After Julie accepted, the duo went shopping together, and the bride-to-be spotted a 100-year-old bauble at Neil Lane that reminded her so much of her late grandmother. As luck would have it, Julie's grandmother would have celebrated her 100th birthday on that very same day, which sealed the deal for the couple. "I love my engagement ring because of what it represents, the unequivocal love I have for my husband," she says. "Additionally, my ring is special because of the story behind it. I almost feel like my great-grandmother was there with me smiling down."
A Vintage Pink Sapphire Engagement Ring
Chip Brady selected Allison Weiss' engagement ring from a Tiffany & Co. outpost in Palm Beach. The original plan was to have a custom setting created at the flagship store in New York City, but when Chip saw a vintage pink sapphire ring from the 1960s, buying it for his future wife seemed like a no-brainer. "The ring has many layers to it, with a beautiful, strong pink sapphire color, delicate diamond butterflies, and yellow gold details," Allison says. "I love butterflies, and have other jewelry pieces in the shape of butterflies. I think I have a different eye and outlook on life, and wearing a non-traditional ring mirrors my overall outlook. I love beautiful things that work within society, but are a little different."
A Gray Diamond Engagement Ring
After dating for nine years, Kristin Lisi knew that she'd eventually marry Brett Buehler, but they never felt the rush. Still, she hinted at her engagement ring preferences but was adamant that she wanted to one day be surprised by a proposal. Brett took careful notes ultimately popped the question with a ring the bride-to-be would have chosen herself: a rose gold band with a gray diamond. "It is understated, chic, and, to me, simply perfect. The rose gold band goes well with my skin tone and the gray diamond has several darker specks throughout that make this totally unique," she explains. "I also love that not many people have ever seen a gray diamond before and that it changes color ever-so-slightly depending on the light. I am pretty non-traditional and our relationship has also been pretty non-traditional, so for me, it was the only way to go."
A Custom Engagement Ring
Bryan Traficante wanted to surprise Morgan Shepard with an engagement ring she never saw coming. But since she has particular taste, he knew he had to get creative. Armed with Morgan's Pinterest board for inspiration, Bryan went to a local jeweler to create a custom setting. The end product (which he admits he asked her best friend to help with) ended up being the perfect blend of everything she wanted. "He really wanted to give me the ring of my dreams and took a lot of pride in creating something that was as special as our relationship. He even had the inside of the ring engraved with the message 'Adventure with me forever.' All of my friends and family all comment on how my ring is so perfectly me. I wanted something that was different but not too trendy that it wouldn't stand the test of time, so I love how the ring my husband designed has a vintage feel to it," Morgan shares.
A Black Diamond Engagement Ring
When Michelle and Craig Grasty-Colont decided to take their relationship to the next level, the bride-to-be had two parameters: She wanted Craig to have complete agency over the engagement ring, and asked that he choose a non-traditional, conflict-free stone that didn't cost a fortune. His pick? A black diamond engagement ring. "I love that it's a black diamond—the color is much more 'me' than a traditional diamond," Michelle says. "I love the cut and the facets, and the fact that the band that is so unique. I've never seen anyone with a ring like mine, which I love, and it goes with everything I wear! I love that Craig saw it and thought, 'That's what my future wife is going to wear every day.' I love that he chose it on his own and chose something so me. It shows that he knows me so well."
A Stone-Free Engagement Ring
Not sold on the idea of love at first sight? It's definitely true for Ashley and Zack Austrew, who tied the knot in a courthouse wedding just four months after they started dating. Since Ashley never wanted anything big and glitzy, they searched online for the right ring, eventually finding a handmade titanium band on Etsy, sans stones. It was perfect. "I think it's reflective of my personal style. I like things that are clean, simple, and timeless," Ashley says. "I also feel like it's a good reflection of our commitment to each other. We chose rings that are built to withstand the wear and tear of a lot of years, and don't have any pretty adornments that distract from what they are: a symbol of two people coming together to build a life. We've been married for seven years now, and no matter where that life takes us or what we're able to build, it always comes back to that simple, solid commitment."