Looking for a unique engagement ring? Catawiki provides the complete guide to gemstones

When the time comes to purchase the most important ring in a woman’s life, their engagement ring, it must be absolutely perfect. We all know diamonds are a girl’s best friend but amongst the rubies, emeralds and sapphires there are other lesser-known gemstones on offer to provide you with that extra sparkle. Deborah Mazza, specialist gemstone auctioneer at online auction house Catawiki shares her tips on how to spot these gems, the meaning behind them, and what to look out for when you’re looking to invest.

Branch out from the traditional

When you’re looking for engagement and wedding rings, there’s a whole new generation of gemstones that will catch people's eyes - break away from the traditional without breaking the bank. Spinels, such as the Black Prince Ruby, are a much cheaper alternative to rubies that you can snap up at a fraction of the price. Another absolute steal is Tourmalines, in particular the ‘Canary Tourmaline’, which is known for its bright yellow colour. It comes with the prestige of being part of the ‘fancy’ gemstone family, but at a much lower price. It's always worth looking at gemstones beyond the traditional stones for something more unique, unusual and wallet friendly

Look for personal meaning

An engagement ring is arguably the most special piece of jewellery you’ll ever own, so it’s natural for you to want personal meaning behind it as well. Be it birthstones, a spiritual significance or emotional connection, find out what the favourite engagement ring stones mean...

Hoping to win the lottery to afford the wedding of your dreams? Sapphires were once called the ‘Stone of Destiny’ and it’s been said they can promote financial reward.

In need of some protection? The symbol of vitality and royalty, the ruby is considered to be the most powerful gem in the universe. Placed under a pillow, the ruby may ward off bad dreams. Ruby rings should be worn on the left hand so as to receive their life force and ultimate protection.

Doing Stoptober or Dry January? Wear amethyst - traditionally used to guard against drunkenness and to instil a sober mind! The word amethyst comes from the Greek ‘amethystos’ meaning ‘without drunkenness.’ Might be helpful for some detoxing before the big day!

Watch out for fakes

When buying an engagement ring, you want to be sure you’re getting the real deal. A word of warning: some sapphires and rubies are imitated by glass filling real stones, with dealers using low quality stones and heating them up with silica glass and colour. This creates a beautiful looking ruby or sapphire, but they aren’t genuine. Using websites such as Catawiki for your purchases will put your mind at rest, as all gemstones are assessed and valued by a specialist auctioneer. You can be sure that you’re getting rare, authentic items with a real sense of tradition and history.

Look for durability

With your engagement ring lasting you for many happy years, it’s important to think about the durability of your gemstone before diving in and splashing the cash. Pick stones for their longevity - on the scale of 1-10, rubies and sapphires have a durability of 9, with Spinels and Tourmalines just below at 8 and 7, so all are a good bet for a long lasting gemstone. On the other hand, pearls aren’t very durable, whilst Topaz cracks easily, so these are not the best investments for everyday wear. Your engagement ring will be for everyday wear so check it will go with all your outfits!

Understand carats

Many people choosing their engagement or wedding ring say they want one carat - but this is a diamond the size of your little finger nail, which is actually huge and very blingy! A 25 pointer is small, a 50 pointer is big, whilst a 30 pointer is the perfect size.  

Best way to clean your gemstones?  

It’s important to ensure your gems stay sparkling, particularly if it’s your engagement ring, so remember to give them a regular clean. Salt water and a toothbrush can work wonders, but make sure the brush is soft - otherwise you might do more harm than good to your stone. A bowl of warm water and a scrub with a few drops of ordinary washing up liquid can also be very effective at polishing your jewels!

It's one of the most important decisions surrounding a wedding and one piece of jewellery you'll never stop wearing. You can break away from the crowd with a variety of alternative stones and styles or stick to the traditional, but whether it's a ruby, spinel or diamond in the end Catawiki's tips have you covered from purchase to polish!