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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.
No matter what you plan to spend on a ring, learn how to make the most of your budget.
How to Find a Beautiful Diamond Ring For Less
An engagement ring symbolizes your relationship and the special bond you share. That’s why it’s important to find one with lasting beauty. Follow these steps to find the most exquisite ring for the best price.
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.
Focus on Cut: The quality that most greatly impacts a diamond’s beauty is 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.
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.
Don’t pay more than you need to for Color: The Color of a diamond 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. For example, this J-colored diamond looks white in its yellow gold setting. Rather than paying for an E-colored diamond, which might cost $2,000 more, you’re purchasing a J-colored diamond that still appears stunningly white.
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.
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.
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. This 1.30 ruby ring, for example, is $2,070. And this aquamarine ring is $950.
How Can I Get a Cheap Diamond?
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.
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 ring 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?
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 0.31 carat solitaire ring for $545, or this 1.01 carat solitaire ring 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. And for a limited time, take advantage of their 25% Off pre-Black Friday Sale!
No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
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Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
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One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have the industry-leading largest available exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing.
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