With engagement season upon us, it’s important to know how to stretch your ring budget to get the most bang for your buck. The majority of all engagements will take place from now until the end of the year, with 16% taking place in December. Today’s Millennials and Gen Z are no longer buying into the notion that they need to spend 2 months' salary on an impressive bauble. They are now choosing to spend their money to pay off school loans, travel the world or make a down payment on a house, which means they are sticking to tight budgets for their engagement ring purchases. It’s important to know that you can still get a gorgeous ring on a limited budget. These helpful hints show you how to get more for less!
1. Look for lab-grown
Lab-grown diamonds are identical in every way to earth-mined diamonds but cost up to 40% less and come free of any environmental and humanitarian abuses. Lab-grown colored gemstones, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, for example, are up to 90% less than mined gems. This is a great way to get a larger stone and stay within (or even under) budget.
2. Go a little smaller
Look for stones just under the 1.0 carat or 0.50 carat mark. Diamonds are priced by the carat so a diamond weighing 0.98ct can be significantly less expensive than a diamond weighing 1.0ct with the same grading and no visual size difference.
3. It's all about the diamond!
Use most of your budget on the diamond and set it in a simple traditional prong setting. This is especially useful if you are not picking out the ring together with your partner. After you propose you can both choose a different setting or you have the flexibility to upgrade later on. Check with your jeweler because many will even buy back the solitaire setting if you choose to upgrade.
4. Choose a halo
A halo style can make a smaller center stone look larger. By surrounding the main diamond with tiny pave’ diamonds, it gives the illusion of a larger center stone. You can also make a less expensive round shape diamond appear to be a fancy shape (like a princess, or cushion cut) by changing the shape of the halo.
5. Focus on the cut
The cut of a diamond refers to the faceting and polish of the diamond, not the shape. A better cut, such as “Ideal” or “Very Good”, will make the diamond appear brighter and more brilliant, which will hide inclusions, lower clarity, and color in the diamond.
6. Choose Yellow or Rose Gold to mask color in a diamond
If your diamond is graded lower in color (below “J” in color), set it in a yellow or rose gold setting because the color of the gold will help hide the color in the diamond.
7. Stay away from designer brands
There is a huge mark up if the ring has a designer name. Many times the quality and craftsmanship of designer rings are the same as any other ring on the market, so basically you’re just paying for a name.
8. Buy online
E-commerce is becoming the norm in today’s society, and shopping for jewelry is no different. Look for a company that offers a home try-on program. This way you can see how the ring you like looks on you. This is an important step in the process because sometimes a ring can look larger (or smaller) in a picture. Just because you love the style in a photo, doesn’t mean you’ll like the style on your own finger. Also, make sure you have communication with the company you choose. You need to make sure you thoroughly understand their policy on things like returns, resizing and repairs.
Getting a beautiful engagement ring on a budget is easier than ever. It’s important to find a jeweler you can partner with, who will be your advocate to get you the best quality ring at the best price. Working together and following these tips will help alleviate some of the pressure and will allow you to focus on the joy and fun of the actual proposal.