Expert Tips: How to Save on an Engagement Ring
While we don't recommend that you look for a 'deal' on an engagement ring -- that might land you in a world of trouble (think poorly made rings that are high maintenance or really unattractive diamonds) -- but we understand that everyone has a budget, and everyone wants their dollars to go as far as possible.
Whether you would love to be able to go for a larger look on a smaller budget, or whether you are simply looking to get the most quality for your money, we've got all of the need-to-know tips here to help guide you to making the most of your engagement ring budget. Keep reading and commit these to memory!
- THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX - CONSIDER UNIQUE SHAPES
By far the most popular shape, round diamond cost around 25% more than all other shapes. Demand for them coupled with the way round diamonds are cut both contribute to this factor, but the bottom line is this: other shapes, particularly fancy shapes, can cost a bit less. To take this a step further -- there are sometimes deals to be found when considering shapes that may be out of style currently. Like all things, shapes come and go in terms of popularity. If she's attracted to unusual shapes, you might be able to get more for your hard earned cash if you go for something that's less popular at the time. Rest assured your less popular pick will again have it's moment, as all fashion trends are cyclical. What's popular can change at any moment, so work with a knowledgeable jeweler to help guide you. We'd love to help you find the perfect diamond -- so reach out when you're ready!
- SKIMP A LITTLE ON THE WEIGHT
This one is probably the most well known tip, but it's worth repeating. Every time you get close to one of the major markers of carat weight (ex. one carat, one and a half carats, two carats, etc.), the stone price reflects the popularity and demand for that particular marker of weight. It's a popular choice to go for a stone that meets certain size criteria, but there are lots of diamonds out there that are just above or below these markers! Usually you can find a stone that's just below a marker for a bit less, and sometimes you can go right in the middle of two markers and find a nice combination or price and size. For example, a stone in the .8-.9 range will not be priced as competitively as a 1 carat or just over a carat stone, but it may look the same visually (or -- it might even look larger sometimes depending on how it's cut). Similarly, a 1.35 or 1.4 carat stone is an 'off size' that doesn't cost quite what a 1.5 does, but can sometimes look quite a bit larger than the 1 carat stones you might be comparing it with.
- ACCENT A SMALLER STONE
This one has been put to good use in recent years, particularly with the popularity of 'halo' and 'double' or 'triple' halo styles. This isn't the only way to accent a center stone with diamonds, although it's the most well known and commercially available.
If the halo is too trendy for you, know that there are lots of tasteful and unique ways to accent a smaller center stone by increasing it's visual presence. One of our favorite customers said it best -- the center stone is the main event, but even the best acts sometimes need to have some 'backup dancers'. Stones that make good 'backup dancers' often cost far less than the main stone -- so explore the options! Fun, funky shapes can add variety and individuality, as can clusters of rounds and asymmetrical designs.
It's worth mentioning here that we're also seeing a trend of ring stacks and cluster rings that feature mostly smaller diamonds and forego the idea of the larger center stone entirely. You do you -- there's beauty to be found in these options, too.
Need help visualizing these options? Send us an email and we'll show you some of our favorite custom stacks and cluster styles!
GO FOR A G (in color, that is!)
The ideal D colorless diamond is always what clients want -- the epitome of perfection. What most clients don't realize, though, is that most people can't visually see the difference between a D and F diamond, and some can't even tell the difference between the D-F range and a G diamond. Technically, the D-F range of diamonds are 'colorless', with G beginning the lower end of the range that begins to show color (pale yellow hues). Maximizing on this fact, particularly if you can't see the difference yourself, can help you make the most of your budget. If you choose a G, which is right below the colorless range but well above true tones of yellow, can save you around 8%.
FORE-GO THE DIAMONDS-ALL-OVER LOOK
While we're all about some well thought out accent diamonds if and when they enhance a design or center stone -- we don't recommend the all-over-encrustation look of micropavé, especially when it's on top of and next to even more micropavé. It's not a good choice if you're not into high maintenance things or are trying to stick to a smaller budget. Designs that appear to be entirely covered in tiny diamonds can become expensive, as there's quite a bit of labor involved in these designs in addition to the diamond costs. What's more to consider is that these designs are often high maintenance because they are often delicate and have many more stones that might fall out over time. If you're all about the bling -- don't let us stop you -- but know that these rings can be difficult to fit into a tight budget, and sometimes the price only goes up over the ring's lifetime, once you start factoring in frequency of prong maintenance and diamond replacement.
- EMBRACE A LITTLE FLOURESCENCE
Is she into raves?!? We're kidding... but we're sort of not kidding, too. Some diamonds fluoresce, and will actually glow under a black light to some degree! The more fluorescence a stone has, the brighter it will glow. In some cases (REPEAT:SOME) a diamond's beauty will not be harmed by a little fluorescence. In many cases, flourescence can make a stone appear cloudy or 'off' in some way, and can be seen immediately with the naked eye. In other cases, a stone can be absolutely stunning and it can be a complete surprise to discover a bit of color when under a black light. All to say -- don't go throwing out a beautiful stone simply because it has 'faint flourescence', because it might be a perfect choice despite this, particularly if your jeweler is showing it to you. It's entirely possible to find good examples of how a bit of fluorescence doesn't detract from a stone's beauty but might help a bit on the price tag. Having said that... we also don't want you to fall for the newest marketing scheme trying to sell you the hip new glow-in-the-dark stone, either. You should have a healthy middle-of-the-road view on fluorescence and an expert to help you differentiate.
- AVOID A THREE STONE RING
If she's not that into a three-stone ring, don't opt for one. Typically the side diamonds on a three stone are somewhat significant in size, and some shapes can be difficult to find and/or pricy (half moons, some baguettes, etc). Adding the side stones can increase your budget quite a bit -- usually more-so than smaller accent diamonds.
- PRIORITIZE THE CUT
This rule really only applies to round cut diamonds. If her heart is set on a round, you can maximize what you see visually by prioritizing a cut grade. A well proportioned and cut diamond -- known as an 'Excellent Cut' -- will be more brilliant, sparkle better, and appear about 2 color grades whiter than lower cut grades. An excellent cut typically also hides inclusions well. This is a lesser known tip when it comes to purchasing a round diamond, and it can go a long way! You can easily combine this rule with the G color rule and find a stone that faces up nicely. You may be able to step down in clarity as well, but we never recommend going it on your own (READ: we mean purchasing based on grading documents alone) -- you'll need the trained eye of an expert to help you if you'd like to go down in clarity and find a stone that doesn't show off it's inclusions. This rule allows you to get a slightly better looking stone while making some small sacrifices in color and clarity.
- SEEK A 'SHOWY' STONE
Carat weight isn't everything when it comes to size. Your jeweler can sometimes find what is known in the industry as a 'showy' diamond. This basically capitalizes on the fact that carat weight doesn't always mean a larger looking stone. A showy stone will be cut more shallowly, meaning it's actual measurements may be larger than an equal weight or weightier diamond. This means to you, it will look larger for it's relative carat weight. Keep in mind that a showy diamond probably will negate the 'prioritize the cut' rule when you're looking at a round cut stone -- it's a bit of an either/or situation. You're sacrificing on the cut a bit here in preference of visual size. Showy stones come in all shapes and sizes. They can't always be found on request, but if your jeweler runs across one they will likely offer it if size is one of your major concerns.
- LOOK FOR A LAB GROWN
This one's a bit controversial, and lots of jewelers are a bit stuck in the past, having yet to embrace the lab grown diamond. It's our professional opinion that lab grown diamonds are not going anywhere. They've been rapidly growing in popularity in recent years with no end in sight. Much can be read about them, but the bottom line about them is this: they're chemically identical to natural, earth-mined diamonds, but they've been reverse engineered and are grown in a lab.
To take it even one step further, there are so many other options these days -- any of which could be a perfect engagement ring stone for you-- that both ARE and ARE NOT diamonds. We've got the low-down on lab grown diamonds, unique diamonds, and non-diamond options for you in our other blog posts about those:
Lab Grown Diamonds
Fancy Colored Diamonds
Icy and Milky Diamonds
Salt and Pepper Diamonds
Best Non-Diamond Engagement Stone Choices