Looking for engagement ring for girlfriend. Help!

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I have a big proposal in mind on my next visit to Russia. I first visited the country on a romance tour where I met my girlfriend now. All the preparation is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I already talked to her family over Skype and they are all okay with me proposing. My parents are happy for me and so are hers. The only problem now is that I still don’t have a ring to give her. I don’t want something too tacky since she’s not into jewels but I also like something that’s fancy. I want something elegant and unique but not very flashy so diamonds are really out of the picture. Can anyone give me some suggestions on what gemstone is good to have? What other gems are passable for a good engagement ring? Also, what type of metal should the ring be? Is white gold okay or should I go for silver? I need help in choosing the perfect ring for my girl.
That really depends on her. If she has a favorite color, you can always look for a semi-precious stone that she may like. Purple? Go for amethyst. Light green? Peridot. Light blue, honey, or red? Topaz, citrine, or red jasper respectively. Is she a colors-of-the-rainbow type? Try opal (you have to care for it regularly, just like a relationship!). Of course, if you like, you can always go for something that has a traditional, symbolic meaning. Maybe you want to commemorate your long-distance foundations and get a stone that's associated with travel - tiger's or cat's eye would do nicely for that. Then again, if she's a classic kind of girl who's not too flashy and wants something more on the traditional side, you can get a nicely cut white sapphire for a fraction of the cost of a diamond, and no one can tell the difference. Bonus points here, since sapphires are associated with strength, kindness, and wisdom; all important cornerstones (pun intended) of a great relationship. As for metal, you really can't beat a good sterling silver for classic chic and longevity. Just remember - the ring is just a symbol of the love and commitment you want to share. That's the important part. Congratulations and good luck!
Casmira -- thanks so much for the incredibly detailed response! I'll take more time to think about what kind of stone would really represent her. I love the idea you had about using something to symbolize our long-distance relationship. Again, thanks so much for your response!