I designed and built this stunning diamond engagement ring from scratch for less than $3,000.
Nothing says “I love you!” or ‘You are special to me!” more than an engagement ring you had designed yourself. In this write up, I’m going to reveal everything about creating your own engagement ring and where you can get high quality craftsmanship at affordable prices.
Contrary to what most people think, it is really easy to design your own ring.
In fact, I’m going to show you exactly how I build my own diamond ring for less than $3,000. I’ve also made a video review the craftsmanship and quality of the ring I received.
If we break it down into parts, an engagement ring only has 2 elements to it: the setting and center stone. With a budget in mind, there are only 2 steps you need to do when building your ring.
The first step is to make your decision on the choice of setting. Think about her likes and dislikes. Is there any specific design that she prefers? (e.g. a pave, halo or solitaire design).
You may also want to consider other aspects like her lifestyle, occupation or even the size of her hands when making a selection. For example, if she is an active person or enjoys activities like gardening or trekking, simple solitaire settings would be suitable for the recipient.
On the contrary, if she works in an office or her daily activities doesn’t require heavy usage of her hands, then it would be OK to select a setting with more elaborate features and sidestones.
Once you’ve narrowed down your setting, the second step is to select a diamond to complete the ring. After accounting for the setting’s cost, you will now have a very clear budget to work with for the diamond.
Having a fixed budget for the diamond will save you time and prevent you from running around in circles with unrealistic expectations. Based on your own preferences, you can make a selection based on the 4Cs (carat, color, clarity & cut) and diamond shape.
For a more detailed read on choosing a diamond, I encourage you to check out this section of Beyond4cs.
Shopping for a diamond ring with a budget of three thousand dollars…
I recently designed and customized this pave diamond ring at James Allen and was pleased with the purchase. Compared to other vendors (both physical and Internet), James Allen offers a transparent shopping process that can’t be matched.
They do this by offering 360° videos of their products in HD and providing tangible data for you to make educated decisions. Using the exact steps outlined above, the choice of setting was the first thing I browsed for.
Since I had a $3,000 budget, I’m left with $2,200 for the center diamond. Now, my philosophy when buying diamonds is that cut quality is KING as it determines brilliance and sparkle. I’m also a very practical person and would not pay for features that my eyes can’t see.
To balance out the 4Cs, I decided on a 0.57ct H color SI1 diamond that is eyeclean and faces up white. This combination will enable me to get the most value for money. Cut wise, this is as good as a round brilliant diamond can be cut to.
Check out the listing below and interact with the diamond upclose…
And that’s all there is to it. Customizing your own ring is pretty straightforward and an enjoyable process. Here, I also want to debunk the common misconception that designing your own ring will lead to higher costs and prices.
The truth is far from that.
Get this, there are NO additional costs when you build your own ring. Regardless of buying an off the rack item or a DIY ring, the prices for a ring are always calculated based on the setting plus the center stone. It’s just a matter of seeing the costs on a granular basis when you DIY.
Unlike preset rings that are available off the rack, creating your ring from scratch gives you control over prices and quality. Compare this to walking into a store where they might only have a G color VVS1 diamond ring available in stock.
In a typical scenario, there are few options to choose from and you are often FORCED to make a selection on whatever mediocre stuff they have at the moment. Essentially, if you take the preset route, you are surrendering control to the jeweler.
So, expect to suck up price premiums and end up with something you may not want in the first place.
With that said, here’s a video I made when I received the ring. You can see for yourself the quality of the craftsmanship and performance of the diamond below…
I’m pretty nobody wants to pay more for a service or product than they have to when they go shopping. So, how do you save money when buying an engagement ring without compromising quality and performance?
Here are 3 proven methods you can use…
When it comes to creating your own ring, you need to go online in order to get better selections and prices.
You see, the diamond industry is a capital intensive and no physical store can afford to keep a sizable inventory of diamonds in store. This is because the insurance premiums, security and storage fees will rack up really quickly.
Online stores like operate with a lean business model that eliminates unnecessary overheads like store rental and sales staff. As a result, the savings are often passed onto you.
And if we compare a like-for-like diamond ring between a typical store vs the online retailers, the difference in markup are usually in the range of 30-50%. In absolute figures, this can easily translate to thousands of dollars!
Both diamonds look identical to the naked eyes but one costs $13,570 (left) while the other costs $8,420 (right)
For most diamond engagement ring purchases, the bulk of the costs actually comes from the center stone and prices are largely determined by the 4Cs. Due to rarity and market demand, a 1 carat D color, internally flawless diamond can cost significantly more than a 1 carat G color VS2 diamond.
Yet, in a side by side comparison, both diamonds can look exactly the same to the naked eyes. The thing is, you don’t need a high color or clarity stone in order for it to look amazing (cut is the factor that matters).
My personal recommendation is to look for eyeclean VS2/SI1 and G/H color so that the diamond faces up white. And simply by being practical and shopping smart, it can make a huge difference in costs.
When it comes to the choice of metals for settings, 14k gold is the most affordable material while platinum is the most expensive. For a typical design, the price differences can be up to 2 times more.
So, unless there’s a specific reason for you to use platinum (i.e. hypoallergenic to nickel or if you like the denser weight), I recommend using 14k gold for practical reasons.
The best places to build your own ring are James Allen and White Flash. Notice that both are online retailers instead of your traditional brick and mortar stores? Well, that’s because you get TRANSPARENCY and risk-free shopping at these places.
Besides better prices, selections and craftsmanship, you also get to shop in peace and away from annoying salespeople. More importantly, you get the depth of inventory and designs to find something that fits you perfectly.
James Allen makes it really easy for consumers to see and visualize how the final jewelry looks like in real life with their video listings.
Even if you are completely clueless about choosing a ring design, you can simply browse through their “Previously Purchased” section and review actual rings other customers have bought.
A wide range of breathtaking engagement ring designs for you to choose from.
White Flash has a plethora of beautiful designs that you can readily select to make an unique engagement ring. They also have one of the best in-house workshop that can bring any design you can dream of into reality.
In today’s market, the process of designing your own engagement ring is very easy and streamlined. Compared to shopping for a preset diamond ring, it doesn’t require a lot more time or effort to create your own ring.
Unlike buying one off the shelf, you get full control of your engagement ring’s appearance. You also get to dictate the final price by picking your setting/diamond based on your budget.
I hope you found this article useful and helped you out. If you have any questions or need help with a selection, feel free to get in touch via the comments or email.
Superb article that addresses a number of questions I had. Very eye opening for sure. I wonder what the downsides are when building your own ring especially if one can’t see the completed ring before purchase.
The problems with preset or ready-made rings off the shelf have far more cons than buying one designed to your specifications. In terms of prices, building your own ring doesn’t cost you more as prices are always based on the cost of the setting plus the cost of the center stone.
That said, there are some downsides to making your own engagement rings. Unlike off the mill rings where you have to trust your jeweler to do the right thing (instead of taking advantage of your naivety), you have to know a little more about jewelry if you DIY.
This means basic stuff like cut quality, color, clarity are things you need to spend time to read up on. Some people may view this as a deal breaker but for guys like me, it isn’t too much of a problem.
That’s because if you are shelling out a few thousand dollars for a purchase, you will be better off knowing your stuff anyway. Even if you are a preset kind of person or just lazy by nature, blindly believing what the jeweler says will probably get you ripped off and deserving so.
The other disadvantage of creating your own ring is that it may take a week or two longer as they need time to be made. Unlike cash and carry with store purchases, building your own ring is not meant for people who need the engagement ring super urgently and immediately.
Here, I want to point out that people who don’t plan ahead often fail to make the best decisions. And that goes for people who shop for rings with a tight time frame. It leaves you little options to choose from and this usually leads to bad purchases.
Have you heard of bar or gypsy settings? I am thinking of buying my wedding ring online. What happens if I get the diamond ring size wrong? I am hoping to design my own engagement ring but the local store I am in contact with is charging a 40% extra premium on the ring which makes it really costly. What are your thoughts as I am not sure whether it is worth the trouble to do so?
Bar Setting – Like the channel setting, the bar setting can also be placed on part of the ring or on all of it. However, instead of having the stones being deposited in channels, thin vertical metal bars are placed between the stones to hold them firmly in place. This setting is a classic design that leaves the stone exposed on its top and bottom.
Gypsy – This type of setting is typically used for men’s rings. The stone is set to flush fit into a hole such that there is no protrusion from the ring and the metal is then hammered around the ring’s edge to hold it securely in place.
Since there is considerable force being applied during the setting process, such designs are not suitable for fragile gems.
You can send it back to the vendor for a free resize. Most reliable retailers do this for free and this applies to both offline and online. My advice is to get it right the first time round.
Now, when it comes to designing your own ring, it can be an experience like no other. However, many people have the misconception that you’ll need to bring home a 6-figure salary in order to buy a customized diamond ring.
The truth is, buying one online will cost you 40-50% less than a ring that’s being sold at a local brick and mortar store. That said, you don’t need to be intimidated by the process of buying one either. The process can be fun, easy and intuitive. In fact, when you go online, there are lots of amazing tools that can help you select the best stone and setting.
By taking the time to design your own wedding rings and finding the perfect diamond, I’m sure it will make your engagement ring more sentimental and special. In years to come, when you look back at the memories of choosing a ring to mark the special occasion, it will definitely bring smiles to your face. And who knows, it might even be a great story to share with your children.
If you are looking for a truly customized diamond ring creation and want to view your ring on computer stimulated designs before making a purchase, Brian Gavin offers the best solution for you. You will get detailed CAD (Computer Aided Diagrams) tailored according to your specifications and also a wax ring model you can try physically. This allows you to preview and visualize your design concepts before turning it into a real piece of jewelry.
Absolutely breathtaking ring and great info here. You are really generous with your knowledge and I had learnt alot from your website. I know you made the purchase in less than an hour but for beginners like me, I’m having a hard time deciding on a diamond with the different options available. Is IGI, GIA or AGS certified better?
Granted, I’ve bought numerous diamond rings for my wife prior to buying this ring. The shopping process is comes like second nature to me now as I know what are the things to look out for. In fact, I only took 15 minutes of my time to complete the selection.
When you gain proficiency in a skill, the time taken in performing a specialized task will be drastically reduced. If you were to ask me to perform a haircut, I can’t even do a proper one in 2 hours but in the hands of a skilled barber, it probably takes less than 10 minutes.
The most important thing to remember when you design your engagement ring is that the diamond that you choose should have a GIA or AGS certification. Having a proper grading certificate ensures you get exactly what the report says the stone is. IGI is not a reliable lab and often inflate color and clarity ratings.
If you are still unsure about the shortlisted diamonds, drop me another note and I will help you out.
It’s not really custom designed when you have a wide selection of band templates to choose from and your are only selecting a centre stone which again have a wide selection for type and sizes. To me custom design is just it…you design and create from scratch and no one else will have it. The design is unique to you. It’s months of designing and creating the perfect ring. In my now husband’s case took 6 months from a drawing concept, to CAD back and forth changes to selecting all the stones in the ring and making it before it got to my finger. That’s what you call custom design not James Allen select from a template. Just saying….
FYI, James Allen provides the same exact service that you described if you require it. And contrary to what you think, it doesn’t take someone an obscene amount of time of 6 months just to get something done nor does something need to be created completely from in order for it to be labelled as a custom design.
Oxford defines custom as “Modify (something) to suit a particular individual or task”. With James Allen, you get to dictate the size, choice of metal, or ring design that is tailored to your specifications regardless of choosing from a “preexisting template” or your own drawings. With the right jeweler, creating the perfect ring usually don’t require half a year or much additional costs.
Paul, your website has given me the confidence and knowledge of an empowered diamond consumer. I am so very grateful to have come across your page and avoided the hustle of brick-and-mortar retailers, “friend/family recommended diamond guys”, and the manhattan diamond district. After some careful reading, and a with a stone budget of ~12K, which of the three below do you think have the best value? I understand that it might be that all three selections have equal value, and can thus only be differentiated by personal preference. Currently, I am leaning between options 1 and 2.
Also, what are your thoughts on a 6 prong solitaire ring for these stones? I like the minimalism of 4 prongs, but if the aesthetics of the stone are not materially affected, then the security of a 6 prong seems difficult to pass up.
Very curious to know what you think.
Once more, thank you for all of your tremendous insight and great help!!
You did extremely well to pick out all 3 diamonds. They are extremely well cut for performance and are eyeclean. Out of the three, this diamond provides the best value for money: https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-4060819.htm
In the face up view, all 3 will look identical with the exception of different sizes. And the F VS2 is the one I would personally buy as I take on a practical approach towards purchases. There’s no need to overpay for a VVS clarity when a VS2 is suffice because eyeclean is eyeclean. Paying more money for a VVS1 clarity would not add any value to its physical appearance.
As for the setting, it is really up to individual preferences. I would recommend a 6 prong setting for such a large size diamond. Generally, I would use 4 prongs for diamonds smaller than 1 ct and 6 prongs for diamonds larger than 1 carat. As stones get larger, the added security gives me a peace of mind.
My brother invited me over last Friday night for dinner where he told me of his plans to propose to his girlfriend of 6 years. He is now looking into places that allow him to design his own custom engagement ring. I wanted to help him out with some research and luckily for him, I found your amazing article here. I really liked where you mentioned that online stores like operate with a lean business model that eliminates unnecessary overheads like store rental and sales staff. You raised a great point here which I’m sure those interested in in this like my brother will be glad to have learnt of. Thanks! I’ll be sure to share this with him in a bit!