The Diamond Pro

7 Ways to Save Money on Engagement Rings and Jewelry

By Michael Fried
Scared of getting ripped off? Don't want to waste your money? Confused by all the choices? Contact us.
James Allen has begun their Black Friday sale early this year offering a whopping 25% OFF your setting!

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There are many factors to consider when buying a diamond ring. Some qualities are more crucial than others—and it’s important to know the difference.

Learn what to look for when it comes to Cut, Color and Clarity. Rather than guessing at which grade to choose for each quality, review our expert tips in this guide. You’ll save money on your engagement ring by ensuring you don’t overpay for a feature that will go unnoticed.  

Most importantly, we recommend buying your diamond from a highly reputable vendor. To get the best value and beauty for your budget, choose Blue Nile, James Allen or Brian Gavin Diamonds. For gemstone jewelry, opt for Leibish & Co. 

Here are the top 7 ways to save money on an engagement ring:

  1. Shop with a reputable vendor
  2. Aim for eye-clean clarity (and not more than that)
  3. Choose a diamond that’s white in relation to its setting (and not more than that)
  4. Opt for 14K or 18K gold instead of platinum
  5. Be mindful of carat weight
  6. Choose a diamond with a GIA or AGS certificate only
  7. Consider a colored gemstone alternative

When buying an engagement ring, it can be hard to know when you’re getting a good deal and when you’re getting ripped off. Luckily, with a few expert tips, you’ll have the keys to saving money on diamond rings without sacrificing on quality. Your money will be put toward the aspects that most greatly impact beauty—giving you the maximum value for your budget.

1. Shop with a Reputable Vendor

Many diamond vendors and jewelry stores exist online and in brick and mortar locations. But they’re far from being equal. In fact, the price you can pay for similar jewelry differs significantly. And so does the quality and beauty you receive.

That’s why we emphasize being selective in the vendor you choose for your engagement ring or any other fine jewelry. If you’re already considering a particular vendor, be sure to read our review of the company first.

Infinity Milgrain halo engagement ring set in 14k white gold

Throughout our 30+ years of combined experience, we’ve vetted several vendors. We’ve learned which diamond dealers you can trust and which ones you should avoid. To get the best value for diamonds and settings without overpaying, opt for one of the vendors below. You can also design your own engagement ring with them which allows you to pay only as much as you want to. Different shapes can be more affordable than others. The same applies to settings.

Nervous about shopping for jewelry online? Companies like Blue Nile and James Allen offer hassle-free returns.

James Allen

  • Offers a wide selection of settings and styles
  • Provides incredible imagery for all diamonds
  • Emphasizes customer service

Blue Nile

  • Offers a superb selection of diamonds and high-quality settings
  • Maintains the largest online diamond inventory
  • Focuses on excellent prices

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Leibish & Co. (Gemstones and Colored Diamonds)

2. Aim for Eye-Clean Clarity

When it comes to terms like “Clarity,” it can be hard to know what to look for. Should you go for a flawless diamond? Or one that’s a few grades down on the Clarity scale?

The truth is you should look for a diamond that’s eye clean. It matters less which specific grade you choose, and more how the diamond appears to the naked eye. When you look at the stone yourself, whether online or in-person, look watch for blemishes and inclusions. Choose a diamond that appears clean, meaning you aren’t able to notice any blemishes or inclusions, like in this VS1 0.8 Carat Round Diamond.

In general, VS1 and VS2 diamonds will be eye clean. You’ll have a beautiful diamond that appears the same as a flawless or VVS graded diamond, but you’ll pay far less.

3. Choose a Diamond that’s White in Relation to its Setting

Similar to Clarity, you can overpay on Color without gaining any noticeable beauty. In general, diamonds in the G to I color range appear just as white as those in the D to F range. For instance, this I-colored diamond appears white, and so does this G-colored diamond. The cost difference is 18%. While a jeweler might try to convince you that a D-colored diamond is the best way to go, you’re basically spending your money on something that won’t be noticed.

modern tulip diamond ring set in 14k yellow gold

To ensure your diamond looks white, place it next to your setting color.

If choosing a platinum or white gold setting, you’ll likely want to stick with a G to I colored diamond. If you choose a yellow gold setting, however, like this Round Cut engagement ring, you can probably select an I, J or even a K colored diamond, as it will still look white next to the setting. Again, the goal is to not overpay for a feature that will go unnoticed.

4. Opt for 14K or 18K Gold Instead of Platinum

The primary difference between platinum and white gold is the price. Platinum is much more expensive, without looking any different than white gold. Although similar in price per gram, more platinum is required to make a ring because it’s denser.

For example, this beautiful halo setting costs $1,290 in white gold. The platinum version of the ring costs $500 more. And this white gold setting with a 0.9 Carat Round Cut Diamond costs 44% less than the setting on this 0.9 Carat Round Cut in a platinum ring. So, rather than spend your money on a specific type of metal, opt for gold, as it’s less expensive but still looks stunning.

solitaire 1.05 carat engagement ring white gold band

Wondering what the difference is between 18K and 14K gold? 18 Karat and 14 Karat gold are both made primarily of gold along with a mix of durable metals like nickel, zinc, copper and a rhodium plating (gold by itself is relatively soft).

18 Karat is 75% gold, while 14 Karat is 58.3% gold. Both gold materials are durable and beautiful, but the price difference can be significant. For example, this elegant 14kt white gold setting from Blue Nile costs $230 (for the setting only), while the same setting in 18k gold is $400.

To save the most money on your ring setting, select 14K gold, or choose 18K gold over platinum.

5. Be Mindful of Carat Weight

falling edge pave diamond engagement ring halo

It’s easy to get hooked on the idea of a 1 carat diamond, 2 carat diamond ring or 3 Carat diamond ring. And while Carat weight can impact how large a diamond appears, it’s not the best indicator of beauty or even value. For example, this Very Good cut 2 Carat diamond stone (costing $17,260) will look dull compared to a stunning, Excellent cut 1.2 Carat diamond (which costs $7,700).

So rather than sticking to a specific carat weight, be flexible in what you’re looking for. Achieving a certain Carat weight can make your ring more expensive, but not necessarily more beautiful or eye-catching.

That’s why we recommend spending more on the quality of your Cut than any other aspect, including Carat weight. Your cut—which should be only Excellent or Ideal—will impact your diamond’s beauty and value far more than any of the other 4 C’s.

6. Choose Diamonds with GIA or AGS Certificates

Contoured 14 k white gold with twist tension set engagement diamond

A diamond certification is a document from an independent lab that describes a diamond and all of its characteristics, like Cut and Clarity. The most common labs are GIA, AGS, IGI, EGL, GSI and HRD.

Each lab entity grades slightly differently, and some labs are significantly more reliable than others. The reliability of a lab primarily comes down to their consistency. Some labs, like GIA and AGS, are highly regulated and consistent. They produce similar results time and time again.

You may notice that the price of a diamond can differ based on a lab’s grading. For instance, an EGL H color diamond might be cheaper than a GIA H Color diamond. The price difference exists because the EGL diamond would rank lower (likely an I or J) on the GIA scale. So instead of snagging a great deal, you actually end up overpaying.

Therefore, we highly recommend only choosing diamonds that come with an AGS or GIA certificate. This will ensure you’re getting what you pay for. Even when going with a GIA or AGS certificate, you’ll want to review the diamond closely with your own eyes. As discussed above, be sure to choose eye-clean when it comes to Clarity, and a diamond that appears white in relation to its setting.

If you’re unsure if a diamond is priced too high, be sure to have a diamond expert review it before purchasing.

7. Consider a Colored Gemstone Alternative

If you prefer a unique, vibrant style, consider a gemstone ring instead of a diamond one. By choosing a gemstone, like a sapphire or ruby, you can save significant money. This emerald ring, for example, for a total of 1.57 carat costs $6,335. This 4.04 carat weight purple tanzanite ring costs $3,950. While it’s hard to make a direct comparison between diamonds and other gemstones, you can find stunning rings for an excellent price. This advice goes for other types of rings like promise rings and anniversary rings as well.

When going the gemstone route, we highly recommend shopping with Leibish & Co. They’re known for their exceptionally beautiful stones, high-quality settings and competitive prices. You’ll end up with a stunning ring that’s personalized for the one you love.

Have more questions about getting the best ring for your budget? Email our experts.

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About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is at the point where it's almost the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Their customer experience is best in class, and they have recently upgraded their non-engagement jewelry inventory as well. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. For a limited time, take advantage of their huge 25% OFF holiday sale!!
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging

Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. (Pick Up a Blue Nile Coupon Here for $50 off)
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment

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