You have finally found that perfect person to spend your life with – congratulations! And you are now ready to commit to that individual and propose with an engagement ring. This is a huge step forward and it does take some advance planning.
In this write up, I’m going to reveal 10 useful tips to help you save money and show you how to buy a high quality diamond engagement ring on a budget. Let’s get started!
Here is a list of topics we will be covering:
Setting a budget before you go shopping is critical as it prevents you from overspending. Trust me. Once you start browsing around or walk into a jewelry store, it’s easy to throw your budget out of the window.
A well known “rule” in the industry is to spend the equivalent of 3 months of your salary on your diamond engagement ring. That’s actually something conveniently created by the diamond industry to make you spend more.
In my opinion, you should spend what you can comfortably afford without getting into debt for a diamond ring. And once you set your budget, stick with it!
The 4Cs (cut, carat, color and clarity) are attributes that are used to define the quality of a diamond. Depending on the combination of the 4Cs, the price of a diamond can vary significantly.
Below is a quick summary of what each C represents. I recommend that you click on the corresponding links to find out about each of them in more detail.
Cut refers to how well crafted and proportioned the facets of a diamond are. It determines the sparkle and performance of the diamond.
Carat refers to the metric weight of the diamond and 1 carat equals to 200 milligrams. Most beginners misunderstand carat weight to be a physical representation of the diamond’s face up size.
Color is evaluated on the absence of color in the diamond. GIA’s D-Z color grading scale is the most widely used in the industry where D represents a completely colorless diamond and Z represents a lightly colored diamond.
Clarity is an assessment of the imperfections and inclusions found in a diamond. A scale from Internally Flawless (IF) to Included (I3) is typically used to grade diamonds.
The GIA grading report is highly reliable and accurate.
When buying a diamond engagement ring on a budget, one common mistake that uneducated shoppers make is to buy an uncertified diamond or one that comes from a lab with a dubious reputation.
If you buy a diamond that isn’t graded by GIA or AGS, you can almost be sure that the diamond has inflated grades (a H color is in reality, a K color or a VS2 clarity is in fact, an SI2 grade).
This is a very common scam run by unethical vendors to give consumers an illusion of getting a great deal when they are actually buying a lower quality diamond at inflated prices.
If you are looking for a budget engagement ring, you obviously can’t expect to pay low prices while expecting the best of the best in a diamond’s material qualities.
One money saving tip I have for readers is to look for diamonds in the near colorless range (G-J) as they can face up white and look indistinguishable besides a high color grade diamond.
For example, a D color diamond can cost 20-30% more than an H color diamond because of rarity factors. However, the visual differences between these diamonds are very subtle and almost undetectable to the untrained eye.
Check out this video below where I compared D vs H vs K color diamonds in different lighting environments. Are you able to tell the color differences apart easily or do you find it extremely difficult to do so?
Similar to color gradings, the clarity of a diamond is often misunderstood by first time shoppers. Most people have a misconception that a diamond with higher clarity will have better sparkle and brilliance. That is a function of cut quality and not clarity.
The fact is, an eyeclean VS2 diamond will look identical to a VVS1 or IF diamond in a side by side comparison. However, the difference between a VS2 and flawless diamond is huge.
Diamond prices are largely determined by the 4Cs and carat weight is the factor that has the biggest impact. Prices jump exponentially at the psychological marks of 0.5ct, 1.0ct, 1.5ct and 2.0ct.
1 carat sized diamonds are very popular choices because of their nice rounded number and prices are higher because of their demand. If you are shopping for a diamond ring on a budget, you may want to buy just shy of the 1ct mark (i.e. near 0.9ct).
This can result in savings of up to 20% even though the visual size differences between the 2 diamonds will be hardly noticeable.
I bought this breathtaking princess cut ring for only $2,000!
Buying in a brick and mortar store severely limits the selection and quality of diamonds you have available to choose from. On top of that, the high overheads of running a physical store are passed down to you which results in higher prices.
Shopping at reliable diamond dealers like James Allen or Blue Nile can allow you to cherry pick the perfect diamond from their massive inventory and enjoy 20-50% lower prices. Not only that, you also get better transparency on your diamond purchase and enjoy 100% risk-free sales policies.
Lab grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to natural diamonds and had been gaining traction amongst consumers. In recent years, the technology to create lab grown diamonds has improved tremendously leading to better yield and cost efficiencies.
This had led to significantly lower prices compared to naturally mined diamonds. If your recipient doesn’t mind one that is grown in the lab instead of being dug from the ground, lab grown diamonds are ideal choices for budget engagement rings.
Here’s a price comparison between 2 E/VS2 0.9ct diamonds for you to get an idea of their price differences.
Feel free to do your own price comparisons at James Allen.
As mentioned earlier, the biggest factor that affects the price of a diamond is carat weight. In my opinion, some of the best engagement ring ideas on a budget are halo or pave settings.
A cushion shaped halo encircles the center stone of this ring design.
Halo settings are basically ring designs that have melee diamonds outlining the shape of the center stone. This creates an illusion of a large looking diamond when seen from a distance and adds another dimension of sparkle to the ring.
Similarly, pave settings utilize tiny diamonds lined along the shank to help draw the attention of the eye towards the center stone. This can help boost the appearance of a smaller center stone and create a more flashy look to the ring.
The choice of precious metal you use for your engagement ring setting can lead to significant price differences. While platinum is the most popular metal used in engagement rings, it is also more expensive because of its rarity and denser weight.
White gold is a better alternative when it comes to costs and the same ring design can cost a lot less compared to the platinum version of the ring. For example, this 14k white gold solitaire ring costs $480 while the platinum version costs $900.
As you can see in the video above, it’s almost impossible to tell a white gold ring apart from a platinum ring. Unless you are allergic to nickel, you can save some money by choosing a white gold ring.
With that, we have come to the end of the article and I hope you found it useful! As a bonus for reading all the way through, there is one more tip I want to share with you: Plan a killer proposal. Yes, that’s right.
Pick a spot that is special to both of you and ensure that you have plenty of time to plan for the proposal. You also want to set aside at least 1 month’s time to shop for the ring and not rush through things at the last minute.
Above all, do remember that it is the commitment to stay together that matters more than anything else. If you can keep these 10 tips in mind, you are well on your way to buying that perfect ring for the marriage of your dreams.