Birthstone engagement rings are growing in popularity as an alternative to the more common diamond varieties. Here are our top ten reasons for choosing them.

Sapphire for September

Sapphire for September

It sets the goalposts

Let's face it, there's so much choice out there it can be overwhelming. With a regular diamond ring alone you're looking at the size of the stone, solitaire or multiple stones, numerous shades, all kinds of different cuts, whether you complement the diamond(s) with the stones and…enough already! By choosing a birthstone engagement ring, you've narrowed down the range dramatically. And you can focus on getting it just right. (That said, the birthstone for April is diamond, but at least you can - and probably should for a birthstone-themed ring - opt for a solitaire stone.)

Diamonds aren't always a girls' best friend

Still thinking about a diamond ring for your engagement? It's true that diamonds and rings go together like a horse and carriage, but the problem with diamonds is that they are often simply too prevalent. Maybe your intended simply isn't that keen on diamonds; some people aren't. A birthstone ring, on the other hand, gives you other possibilities.

It says you've taken more trouble

Choosing a birthstone means you've taken the time to do a little research, and to opt for a gift that's a little bit more personal. It's pretty much impossible not to like a ring like that, and to love its donor that little bit more.

The colour may particularly suit them

You'll have noticed that your partner opts for certain styles and colours in what they wear and avoids others. (Ok, perhaps you haven't noticed, but trust us, your intended does.) A ring that matches their style is always going to go down well. So it's worth bearing in mind some of the alternatives listed above when choosing a ring. If they were born in July but aren't a bright red kind of person, then consider a moonstone, for instance.

It's a time-honoured custom

Birthstone rings have been a tradition since the Middle Ages, and earlier references go all the way back to the foundation stones of Christianity. The first century historian Josephus saw a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron's breastplate detailed in the Book of Exodus, the twelve signs of the year and the 12 signs of the Zodiac.

The colour will complement certain occasions perfectly

All birthstone rings will look great, but if it so happens that your partner was born in July so their birthstone is ruby and they're wearing a red-based outfit, or they're a September sapphire and have opted for blue, then so much the better. If your partner's birthstone happens to match the colour of their eyes then you're definitely on to a winner. That said, many birthstones come in a wide variety of colours, which gives you plenty of flexibility.

It's a great talking point

Rings are there to be noticed, and, particularly with some of the less common stones, may well stand out to someone else and prompt a positive comment. Particularly if they share the same birthstone, or are aware of the association of certain stones with months of the year, signs of the Zodiac and days of the week.

Looking beyond the traditional twelve

The most common birthstones in Western culture are as follows: January, garnet; February, amethyst; March, aquamarine; April, Diamond; May, emerald; June, pearl; July, ruby; August, peridot; September, sapphire; October, opal; November, topaz; December, turquoise.

But there are variations and exceptions. Bloodstone is a common alternative for March, as is moonstone for July and sardonyx for August and citrine for November. Other cultures, particularly Hindu, also have birthstones, and their lists vary widely. This gives you a much wider range to choose from.

Days rather than months

Not so keen on the birthstone associated with a particular month? You could always opt for the day of the week of their birthday instead. Traditionally, Sunday is topaz or diamond, Monday pearl or crystal, Tuesday ruby or emerald, Wednesday, amethyst or lodestone, Thursday sapphire or carnelian, Friday emerald or cat's eye, and Saturday turquoise or diamond. There's also no reason why you can't choose a ring associated with a day of the week that has special significance for you both, such as the day you met.

It has meanings beyond "I love you"

One of the beauties of opting for a certain stone is that it has associations that go far beyond the month of the year or the day of the week. Amethyst alone, for example, is associated with intelligence, protection from evil, calmness, bravery, contemplation and several other positive attributes. Once again, a little research will pay off - and your intended will love you that much more if a particular attribute matches their character or has meaning for them.

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