You're thinking about getting engaged - congratulations! You might not be surprised to hear that "How do I save money on an engagement ring?" is a question we get all the time. It's true - an engagement ring is a huge investment not only for your relationship, but for your finances as well. We understand! Our best advice is to plan a budget and STICK TO IT. Let us help you get a little more bang for your buck with these FIVE tips below!
1. Compromise on the 4 C's
First of all, you need to know what the 4 C's are. If you don't, click to our "About Diamonds" page to read up first, and then come back! We can't stress how important understanding the 4C's is when you are buying an engagement ring. Knowing what you're looking at can save you thousands of dollars!
CLARITY: The most important thing here is to pay close attention to the amount of inclusions. Diamonds that are more "internally flawless" (meaning they have LESS inclusions) are MORE expensive. If you're shopping on a budget, don't pay for something you can't see unless you have a microscope handy! To lower the price: shop for VS1, VS2, SI1, or SI2 clarity (any lower on the scale and you can definitely start to see that the diamond is flawed) and skip the VVS1 & VVS2 clarity gradings. Certainly don't shop for a diamond that's perfectly flawless!
CUT: This is an interesting topic. Antique cut diamonds (including Rose Cut, Old European Cut, and Old Mine Cut) are typically cheaper than modern diamonds like the Modern Round Brilliant Cut or Princess Cut; usually by about 30%. The reason for this is mostly due to labor costs, which makes you very lucky indeed if you're like us and love vintage diamonds! The diamonds in vintage rings do not have labor costs associated with them because they have been around for decades, or even over a century. New diamonds are cut in factories with laser precisions tools, and these diamonds come with labor costs. To lower the price: buy an antique cut diamond!
COLOR: To save a little money without sacrificing much in the looks department, skip the D, E, & F color grades. You end up paying more for the "whiteness" of these diamonds, but you can't actually tell there is any yellow in a diamond's color (to the naked eye) until you reach H. To lower the price: shop for colors G, H, & I for diamonds that appear pretty darn colorless, and will cost less than their D, E & F cousins!
CARAT: This one is pretty easy! Smaller diamonds almost always = cheaper diamonds. Now, there is some room for exception here if we're comparing a small diamond that is perfectly colorless and flawless to a big diamond that is internally flawed and somewhat yellow in color. But, other things equal, smaller diamonds cost less. To lower the price: Instead of a 1.00ct diamond, buy a diamond around .90ct. This will save you a surprising amount in some cases. We'll revisit carat weight in #3 below for more ways to lower the price.
2. Consider Colored Gemstones
If your girlfriend is more of the adventurous type, take a risk. Often times, colored gemstones (both precious and semi-precious) will cost less than a diamond of the same size. Colored gemstones often allow you to upgrade the size of the stone without breaking the bank! We have plenty of colored gemstone engagement rings in our collection, including sapphires, emeralds, rubies, garnet, tourmaline and opals that are above 1.75 carats for well under $10K. In comparison, a high quality 1.00ct diamond has a benchmark price of $12,700, according to the Rapaport Diamond Index. Why buy a perfect, smallish diamond when you can get way MORE, for LESS? To lower the price: opt for a colored gemstone engagement ring instead of losing out on size if you buy a diamond on the same budget. *Be careful, though: there are some precious gemstones (like emeralds especially) that depending on their color, clarity, and vibrancy can actually cost more than a diamond of the same size. Just make sure you know exactly what you're looking at!
3. Go For Lots of Small Stones
If you've ever wondered why the "halo" style engagement ring is so popular, this is it. One of the easiest ways to get a big look on the hand without having to empty out your wallet is to take a bunch of small diamonds and put them together into one awe-inspiring design. The halo style plays tricks on the eyes - all they see is something BIG and SPARKLY, and suddenly it doesn't matter if it's one stone, or ten! The diamonds themselves, since they are small, cost much, much LESS than one large diamond ever would. To lower the price: look for halo style rings, or rings that have a more intricate design with one diamond in the center (usually 1.00ct or less) and a bunch of smaller stones around it. You won't regret this incredibly simple money saving trick!
4. Choose a Ring With Fancy Metalwork
In modern engagement rings, we see a lot less beautiful metalwork than we do in vintage and antique rings. Guess what? Platinum and gold cost less than diamonds do. Whoever said that an engagement ring has to have a diamond or colored gemstone as its focal point? Certainly not us! One of our most popular engagement rings, Peachtree, is a vintage-inspired ring that we recreated after discovering how popular the original Edwardian piece was even after it had sold. The focal point of this ring? The incredible floral design made from platinum that surrounds a small diamond that sits delicately in the center. We are completely serious when we say that this ring has a total of approximately 0.40 - 0.45 carats of diamonds and it's one of the most popular rings we've ever had with both our customers and the press. This stunning ring sells for just below $4K, which clocks in at just under the average price for an engagement ring in 2012. To lower the price: look for a ring that has an incredible overall design - the stones becoming secondary to the metal may help you keep several thousand dollars in that wallet!
5. Shop Vintage, of Course!
We hit a little bit on this point already (see #1, CUT) - but it doesn't quite stop there. Yes, an excellent reason to buy a vintage engagement ring is because the diamonds have already been mined decades ago, thus reducing labor costs. Additionally, with vintage engagement rings you skip the traditional markup that retail stores typically add on for new engagement rings. And if you're shopping at a luxury brand like Tiffany & Co. or Cartier? Expect a 40-50% markup just because you're buying a brand name. If that's for you, great! But, if you don't have extra cash to shell out for that signature blue, consider buying a vintage ring. No brand names, no labor costs, and no extreme markups (especially if you buy online!) To lower the cost: skip the luxury brands you've heard of and buy a vintage engagement ring instead. Vintage rings are all hand made, so the craftsmanship and uniqueness is often far superior to newly made engagement rings that are typically made in factories in mass quantities. Your relationship is unique - shouldn't your engagement ring be too?
Happy shopping, and GOOD LUCK finding the perfect engagement ring! As always, e-mail, call, or live chat with us if you have any questions about shopping at T&H!
References from: The NY Times