Unconventional Rough Diamond Rings for Every Type of Union

20 rings that celebrate the stone’s natural imperfections.

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Prounis, Photo Joshua Pestka

Classic sparkly solitaire isn’t your style but you still want the symbolism and sentimentality of a diamond engagement ring? A rough diamond stone is the perfect choice. Diamonds in their natural state—either straight from the earth or slightly shaped and faceted—possess a mystical inner glow that reveals their lesser known side. Formed in the earth by Mother Nature over billions of years, the rustic rocks have an understated, earthy vibe—both physically and spiritually.

Sylva & Cie, Photo Joshua Pestka

Rough Diamonds Represent Connection

“I’m a purist and I love stones that maintain as much of their natural integrity as possible,” explains designer Kimberly McDonald, who vouches that both men and women are drawn to raw diamonds for their understated, cool style and cosmic energy. “Everyone is looking for something with meaning right now. With these raw materials, there is a connection to the earth that is very strong, as is the energetic interaction between the stone and the wearer.”

Kimberly McDonald (middle) and Todd Pownell 2x (top & bottom), Photo Adam Savitch
Sylva & Cie, Photo Joshua Pestka

Rough Diamonds Express Individuality

Beyond cosmic energy, these unique stones—rough, cloudy, opaque and heavily included diamonds—express a sense of individuality because no two are alike. And since today’s brides don’t want cookie-cutter rings, a raw diamond is a great alternative. “It’s no longer about the size of your rock, it’s about what its uniqueness says about you,” says Rachel Garrahan, British Vogue’s Jewelry and Watch director. “The raw, organic beauty of a rough diamond is perfect for the low-key bride who favors subtle shimmer and a stone with unique character.”

“Today’s brides are interested in the character of stones,” explains Todd Reed, the Boulder, Colorado jeweler whose collection focuses on rough diamonds in every imaginable size, color and shape. Rather than concentrate on the diamond’s 4 C’s—carat, cut, clarity and color—Reed says that when it comes to rough diamonds, the fifth “C” (character) is most important. “People want their jewelry be a unique and a personal talisman.”

Brooke Gregson, Photo Joshua Pestka
Todd Reed, Photo Adam Savitch

Since these stones are inherently individual in shape and color, designers like Reed create each ring around the rock, hand-making gold settings that showcase the natural geometric shapes of raw diamonds, which include cubes, macles and octahedrons. Reed says that these graphic, bold shapes, are also appealing to men, who prefer the masculine style of a brown or black raw diamond that can appear like a tumbled rock or mysterious amulet.

Rough Diamonds Are More Affordable

Raw diamonds are also more affordable than perfectly faceted stones, allowing brides or grooms to get a larger rock for less money than a traditional sparkler.

“There is something sensual about a raw stone”

Kimberly McDonald
Sethi Couture, Photo Adam Savitch
Cathy Waterman, Photo Joshua Pestka

Rough Diamonds Fit with Casual Lifestyles

As a more casual lifestyle and dress code prevails, the interest in more organic- looking jewelry is also growing. Several designers, such as Prounis in New York and Loren Nicole in Hermosa Beach, California, have been using softly rounded rough diamonds in 24 karat gold settings that illuminate the imperfections of both the stone and the artfully hand-forged rings.

“There is something sensual about a raw stone,” explains McDonald, who frames large rough diamond rings with smaller faceted diamonds that enhance the light around the center stone. It’s a trend that’s here to stay because men and women still want to wear diamonds—but they want their diamonds to reflect their unique style and love story, she tells us.

Prounis, Photo Joshua Pestka
Nina Runsdorf, Photo Adam Savitch