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Cheap Engagement Rings: How to Find a Beautiful Diamond Ring for Less

By Mike Fried,

An engagement ring is one of life’s most special purchases. But that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. There are many affordable options for engagement rings—and ways to reduce the cost without sacrificing beauty.

How to Find a Beautiful Diamond Ring For Less

  1. Set your budget: Determine how much you want to spend on an engagement ring. You may have heard that you should spend two months salary on a ring. But that ploy was created by diamond marketers. Instead, spend an amount that works best for your financial situation. Consider how much you make, along with other expenses like rent and car insurance. Figure out an amount that you can reasonably afford that will meet some (or all) of your partner’s expectations. Remember that thoughtful doesn’t mean expensive. You can find a beautiful ring with almost any budget. Above all, try to avoid going into debt for a ring, especially with other upcoming expenses like a wedding or buying a house.
  2. Focus on cut: The quality that most greatly impacts brilliance and perall beauty is diamond cut. The cut determines aspects like how well the facets are formed and how deep the table is. If a diamond is cut well, it will dazzle and sparkle. If it’s not cut well, it will appear dull and lifeless. We recommend only considering Excellent and Ideal cut diamonds. From there, consider a depth percentage below 62.5% and a table percentage below 60% for round cut stones. If you’re buying a different shape, consult our diamond shapes guide for recommendations.
  3. Limit your carat weight: While it may be natural to search for a 1 or 2 carat diamond ring, we suggest not focusing on carat weight when you look for a stone, prioritize the cut quality of your diamond above any other feature.
  4. Aim for eye clean: A diamond’s clarity indicates how many blemishes and inclusions it has. Clarity is ranked on a scale from Internally Flawless (IF) to Included 2 (I2). Rather than paying more for a better clarity grade, save your budget for an aspect that will impact the diamond’s beauty more (like cut). You can usually find an eye-clean diamond—meaning no imperfections are visible to the naked eye—in the VS1 or VS2 clarity grades. You might even be able to find an eye-clean diamond in the SI1 range. Simply put, there’s no need to spend the money on an FL or VVS1 diamond.
  5. Don’t pay more than you need to for Color: The diamond color indicates how white or colorless it is and is graded on a scale from D to Z—with Z being a diamond with noticeable yellow or brown tint. Typically, you can find a diamond that looks white in the G to I range. Rather than paying more money for a D or E colored diamond, save your budget. You may even be able to find a J or K colored diamond that looks colorless. This is especially true if you’re buying a yellow gold or rose gold setting. The diamond should look white in relation to the setting, so a darker setting makes the diamond appear lighter.
  6. Shop online: Buying a diamond online gives you a significant cost advantage. There’s a wider selection online, which gives you more choices for less expensive rings. In addition, overhead costs for online vendors are much lower. The rings are typically 30-40% less than what you can find in stores. You can sometimes also find promotions online with vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile that give you a discount on the setting itself. Diamonds almost never go on sale, and if they do, you probably don’t want to buy it. Just be sure to shop with a reputable online vendor, so you feel confident in the ring.
  7. Choose 14K gold: Platinum is the most expensive precious metal for jewelry, and it often isn’t necessary. White gold, rose gold and yellow gold are all beautiful options that will hold up with everyday wear. 14K and 18K golds are similar, but 14K gold is less expensive because it has less gold in its mixture. Choosing a 14K gold setting is a great way to save on cost without sacrificing quality.
  8. Consider an alternative gemstone: While diamonds are timeless and stunning, there are other options that can be less expensive. Colored gemstones, like emeralds and rubies, are beautiful and eye-catching. Typically, they are also less expensive than most diamonds. 
To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.
Princess Cut Solitaire Engagement Ring

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a stunning engagement ring. In fact, many people spend less than you’d think. According to data published in jewelry industry magazine Rapaport, around a third of couples spend $1,000 to $4,000, with 8% of couples spending less than $1,000 in total. Rapaport.com

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How Can I Get a Cheap Diamond?

Graduated Milgrain Engagement Ring

You can find a stunning diamond without paying more than you should by knowing what to look for and what to avoid. There are ways to get your dream engagement ring without breaking the bank. In general, we recommend searching for a beautiful, well-cut diamond, even if that means reducing your carat weight.

Reducing your carat weight improves affordability in several ways. First, a smaller diamond is naturally cheaper. However, second, as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) explains, smaller diamonds also cost less per carat, meaning the price-to-weight ratio is more in your favor with a diamond that has a modest carat weight. This frees up more of your budget for the engagement ring setting.

We’ve also found that buying an engagement ring online is a more affordable route than purchasing one in a store. Online vendors don’t have as much overhead cost, don’t need to store an inventory or hire as many workers. That’s why online diamond prices are typically 30-40% less than what you can find at a brick and mortars jewelry store. 

If you’re looking for very cheap engagement rings, you may wish to seek an alternative to a diamond ring. Some gemstone rings, like sapphire and emerald, can offer lower price points while still offering timeless beauty.

How Can I Get a Cheap Engagement Ring?

Classic Solitaire Engagement Ring

The price of an engagement ring depends on the style, type of metal used and how customized it is. For example, you can find a cheap engagement ring like this solitaire ring from Blue Nile (with a 0.30ct diamond for $550) or this 1.01 carat solitaire ring from James Allen for $2,990. The first ring is made with 14k gold, which is cheaper than the platinum in the second ring. The first ring is also a significantly lower carat weight than the second stone.

Most importantly, you want to look for a ring that matches your style, has a well-cut diamond and is made by a jeweler you can trust. We suggest shopping with reputable online vendors, like Blue Nile and James Allen, to find high-quality rings at a fraction of the cost. 

How Much Do You Spend on An Engagement Ring?

Determine how much to spend on an engagement ring by looking at your financial situation—not certain “rules” that suggest you should spend a certain amount of your salary. Factor in your regular expenses and upcoming expenditures like a wedding. You’ll also want to consider the desired style of your fiancé-to-be.

0.90ct Vintage Engagement Ring

Remember that an expensive ring doesn’t mean that you’re more thoughtful or more in love. You can find a stunning engagement ring—whether it’s a 0.90 carat round diamond in a vintage setting or a 2 carat round diamond in a halo setting.

Find out how to get an affordable diamond engagement ring for under $2,5k or even a $1k engagement ring (and under) that still looks gorgeous without breaking the bank.

No matter how large your budget is, the thoughtfulness you put into the ring is what matters most. Take time and effort to find an engagement ring your partner will love

Where Can I Get the Best Deal on an Engagement Ring? 

The best place to buy an engagement ring is through a reputable online vendor like Blue Nile, James Allen or Leibish & Co (for colored gemstones). With lower overhead costs and no need to store inventory, their prices are typically 30-40% less than what you can find in a jewelry store. They also offer free shipping and free returns—making your shopping experience easy and secure.

What To Do If You Can’t Afford an Engagement Ring

If you’re ready to propose but don’t have the funds for an engagement ring, here are a few solutions. 

  1. Find an heirloom ring: Does your mom or grandma have a ring they’d love to pass down to you? Is there a family diamond sitting in a jewelry box collecting dust? Transform it into a sentimental engagement ring for your beloved. You can get a ring resized or order a custom setting for a diamond or gemstone. Your costs will be significantly less—maybe even zero—while the special meaning behind the ring will be at its highest.
  2. Adjust your budget and/or expectations: The size of your ring doesn’t equal the size of your love. Consider reducing your budget to a cost that’s more manageable. Your partner might also have to adjust their expectations in order to make a proposal a feasible option for both of you. 
  3. Wait until you can afford one: While you may be excited to propose now, it could be best to wait. A wedding and marriage often come with additional costs—making it best to save up for a ring and other expenses. Start looking for a ring now so that when you do have the funds available, you’re able to pull the trigger as soon as possible.

If you want help finding the cheapest engagement ring for your budget, reach out to our experts. We’ll do a complimentary search to find a stunning ring that falls within your price range. 

Here are more specific budget topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
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
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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. 
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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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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