For Queer Couples, Engagement Rings With Subversive Stones

“It has a great granite-like reflection on it, which is bright, but also rugged and rough,” said Mx. Valle, who paid $2,250 for the ring from Kris Averi, a jewelry line in New York.

Haley Biemiller, a co-founder of the jewelry line Venvs, which specializes in “atypical” stones including salt-and-pepper diamonds, says another style favored by the brand’s queer clients is moissanite. Grown in labs, moissanite looks more like a clear diamond and is almost as durable, she explained, but “sparkles a little bit more like a rainbow.” A half-carat moissanite sells for around $400 at Venvs, while a 2.25-carat stone can cost $1,500, according to the line’s co-founder Sam Indelicato.

Ms. Biemiller and Mr. Indelicato started Venvs in Rochester, N.Y., in 2020, after Ms. Biemiller’s experience shopping for an engagement ring for her same-sex partner. At the luxury chain jeweler she visited, Ms. Biemiller said she felt overlooked by the sales staff, a number of whom made a point to approach a male customer who walked in after she did.

“They assume that a woman is just window shopping,” Ms. Biemiller said. “So they don’t give you the time of day.”

Though salt-and-pepper diamonds and moissanite have become popular, jewelers including Kris Harvey, the designer of Kris Averi, say that most of their L.G.B.T.Q. customers seeking engagement rings with stones prefer varieties that are neither related to diamonds, nor bear resemblance to them. Those clients tend to choose sapphires, and often, Montana sapphires.

While sapphires are known for their blue color, Montana sapphires can be yellow, pink, gray or teal. Like traditional sapphires, the Montana variety can be bicolor, meaning an individual stone has two hues, and some can change colors depending on the light, said Emily Chelsea, who designs a namesake line of jewelry in Philadelphia.