When you’re on the hunt for an engagement ring, the one thing you need in your arsenal is money. Feeling strapped for cash? Building an engagement ring budget is a good place to start, but since it’s hard to spend what you don’t have (while also avoiding racking up credit card and loan debt), finding ways to slash prices any way you can is your next best strategy.
Jewelers’ Secrets to Saving on the Engagement Ring
There are plenty of people you could ask for advice when it comes to buying the ring–her besties, your mom, any engaged/married friends who’ve been there, done that. But for real insight on how to cut costs without cheapening the ring finger bling, you have to go straight to the source–the jewelers, that is. For tips and tricks you’ll want to arm yourself with before shopping, we checked in with two experts in the wedding biz: Oded Edelman, President of JamesAllen.com and Shabbir Kapadia, Shop Manager of Coast Diamond. Here are their recommended ways to save.
1. Cut back on two of the four Cs: “If you’re looking to save money, I recommend you compromise on color and clarity, and not sacrifice on cut,” says Edelman. “Slightly lower colors (G-J) and lower clarities (SI1-SI2) represent the best value in diamond shopping. They can cost half as much of high color/high clarity options, without any visible sacrifice in beauty.”
2. Ring in the New Year: Similar to how Black Friday is always a great day to buy holiday presents for less, the time of year you buy a ring can positively affect the price tag. Kapadia’s suggestion: January. “Stores have just come off their busiest time of the year and are looking for ways to bring in business.”
3. Size sort of matters. She may think that when it comes to diamonds, the bigger the better. However, Edelman recommends a slightly different approach. “Look for an undersize diamond—one that’s slightly below one of the standard weights (1.0 carats, 1.5 carats, etc.),” he says. “These diamonds cost significantly less than their standard-weight counterparts and are nearly identical to the naked eye.”
4. Build a brick and mortar budget: Not sure if you can score a better engagement ring cost online? It comes down to what you know. “If the consumer is educated and knowledgeable about grading and Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Reports, [as well as] the significance and effect of each, online shopping is best since operational costs are much less than brick and mortar stores,” says Kapadia. “However, it [can be] much better for the consumer to have the added service of periodic checkups on their engagement ring (for cleanings, repolishing, stone tightening, rhodium finish) when purchasing from a traditional retailer. Make every attempt to allow the retailer to compete for the sale. Even if you pay 10 percent more, overall the experience [may] be a better on down the road. Having a personal jeweler/advocate in your corner can put your mind at ease.”
5. Save on shape: The shape of the stone can make all the difference on whether or not she loves it. However, if she doesn’t have her heart set on one cut or another, you could be able to cut some costs. “Round diamonds are the most common shape, but they’re also the most expensive,” explains Edelman. “They’re the most difficult to cut from the rough stone and they result in the most wastage. By looking at other, less popular shapes, you can increase the size of your stone for the same budget. Check out an oval shape and see how it compares to a round; you’ll be able to get much more stone for your money.”
And if diamonds are proving to be too wealthy for your wallet, pick a colored gem instead. “Gemstones as an alternative to diamonds are a less expensive option, but this very much comes down to the style preference of the recipient,” adds Edelman.
6. Set it up for savings: If you really want to up the sparkle factor without going broke, Kapadia and Edelman both propose the halo setting. This setting surrounds a center stone with a frame of gemstones or diamonds. “Halo settings are the perfect option,” says Kapadia. “One can purchase a much smaller center stone with surrounding smaller diamonds in a variety of overall styles.”
Edelman agrees, saying: “The price of diamonds doesn’t increase linearly, so a halo setting is a great way to make the ring appear larger without the need to invest in a larger, more expensive center stone.”
7. Skip brand names: Just as it goes for fashion, when it comes to rings, brand names cost more than their lesser known competitors. The good news is brand names don’t matter as much on her finger as maybe the bag that is in her hand.
“Our research has shown that above all, it comes down to the ring,” says Edelman. “This is something recipients will wear for the rest of their lives and they want to be sure they love it. More often than not, women are finding specific rings or styles that they love and sharing them with their significant other, friends, mom, etc. for when that moment comes. Pinterest is a top resource for that reason.”