When shopping for yourself, it’s sometimes hard to rationalize the cost—particularly if you’re eyeing a piece of jewelry—and the quip, “Treat yo’self” can only partially justify a lavish spend.
But if you really want a piece of fine jewelry, there are some ways to cut the financial corners to get the same look as a precious ruby, blue sapphire or emerald without spending big bucks. We review three semi-precious options that are great lookalikes for colorful expensive gemstones and are a fraction of the cost!
Ruby versus Red Spinel
A high quality, flawless-looking red ruby can easily set you back several thousand dollars—sometimes upwards of tens of thousands of dollars—depending on the size of the gemstone. But, if it’s that intense scarlet color and vibrancy that appeals to you, a red spinel looks incredibly similar to a ruby and is a fraction of the cost. (For more on the elemental and cost differences of rubies, read our post on the subject here.)
Red gemstones look equally beautiful when set in either yellow or white metals. So whether you’re looking to set the gem in a pendant or a ring, you can go with whichever metal matches your current jewelry wardrobe and be happy with your selection.
Blue Sapphire versus Kyanite
Blue sapphires are an extremely popular gemstone and, following Kate Middleton’s engagement to Prince William with a stunning 12-carat sapphire and diamond ring, the precious stone’s popularity has only sky-rocketed.
But a high-quality sapphire with great clarity and an intense blue color will run several thousand dollars for a single carat and prices soar with larger sized stones. So, if that is not in your budget, fear not. There is hope!
Mined from Cambodia, kyanite comes in a range of colors with the most desirable being in the “sapphire blue” range. Kyanite is fairly inexpensive, even in higher clarity grades, so it’s the perfect substitution, and would look perfect set in a white gold mounting surrounded by a halo of pavé diamonds.
Emerald versus Tsavorite
Shopping for a natural emerald that is bright, clean (meaning with a high clarity), and affordable can prove difficult. Most emeralds on the market are included (sometimes heavily so which happens when a material gets trapped inside the gemstone while its forming), making them look cloudy and at risk for chipping or breaking. The rarity of a bright emerald and the subsequent high price tag deters many people from buying an emerald.
Now, unlike rubies and sapphires, there really isn’t an affordable green gemstone that is a dead ringer for an emerald, but there is one that gets pretty close: tsavorite. If you find just the right shade of a deeply hued tsvaorite, the stone could be mistaken for an emerald, particularly to someone not quite as familiar with either gemstones’ characteristics. It’s a much less expensive gem and one that naturally looks great set in rich, yellow gold.
Hero image courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar.