A very common, but very loaded question -- it depends. Custom rings vary wildly in style, materials, and labor required. The absolute biggest misconception about custom engagement rings, however, is that it is expensive.
This is only as true as you make it -- as you're the one controlling all of the costs.
To keep things simple, let's break it down by budget:
With few exceptions, the center stone (if you're wanting a traditional Diamond) is without a doubt going to be the most significant chunk of the project budget. Because this part won't really change whether you're buying a ready-made ring or choosing to have a custom ring designed, the largest factor of your spending won't really change whether you go custom or not. Therefore, this part of the project isn't really something to consider as a pro or con when deciding whether to go custom or not.
EXCEPTION: If you're into a non-diamond alternative stone, often a custom ring may actually be less expensive than the average Diamond engagement ring.
The biggest factors you'll want to consider when structuring your budget (or saving) in regards to stone choice will be: Lab Grown vs. Earth-Mined Diamonds, Why Diamonds are the #1 best stones for engagement rings, Moissanite as a Diamond alternative, Non-Traditional Diamonds, other alternative engagement ring stones, and how much you should you spend on an engagement ring.
This is another category that isn't exactly apples-to-apples, but also isn't typically an area where you'll se a huge cost difference either. Sound a little confusing?
Let us explain: Designers will use more metal in their designs as they're not designing for mass production (a.k.a. keeping material costs down and margins up) -- so it is likely that your custom ring will utilize a slightly larger chunk of gold or platinum when compared to something you'd find in a traditional store offering pre-made or assembled rings. More metal is a good thing because it is a sign that there were no short cuts in material used for prongs (keeping your precious diamonds in place!) or on shanks (where the bulk of the wear happens over years of wear). The more metal, the longer your ring will last and less repairs it will require over the years. Think of the slight increase in cost here as a long term investment -- a little more cash up front for less headaches down the road.
FUN FACT: You can actually also re-purpose existing gold and/or heirloom stones if you'd like, which can actually make the entire process less expensive than a traditional ring!
We always recommend choosing the metal based on her personal preference, as you typically won't see a significant or 'deal breaking' different between metal costs in the grand scheme of things. If you are interested in getting the most for your money when it comes to metal though, we'd suggest going with gold over platinum. The most expensive metal is platinum because of it's specific gravity (or, density) -- it simply takes more metal by weight to create the same design than it would gold. For this reason, it's still more expensive even when the gold price and platinum spot price is equal.
This is the area where you'll see the largest difference between a custom ring and a ready-made ring. Typically, ready-made or mass produced pieces will automatically have large retail margins built into their price as they're not assessed a separate fee for making on demand. Custom pieces, in contrast, will have a custom fee associated as they're being made from scratch as a one-off design and take quite a bit of labor to produce. The margins are lower, but the time it takes and labor required to make the ring are significantly higher. This process can vary greatly -- but you'll also see that difference reflected in the design fee. Simpler designs often cost much less than extremely intricate designs, and designs with one stone will likely cost quite a bit less than a thing that is encrusted with diamond.
The custom fee can span from around $800 for the simplest designs to upwards of $4000 for elaborate or extremely labor-intensive pieces. Most engagement ring projects, however, land somewhere in the middle. As a general rule, in most of the engagement ring projects we make here at MAKE MADE Jewelry, the custom fee equates to around 1/3 of the cost of a standard 1 carat center Diamond, or 1/4 of the price of the entire project.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Custom can be more affordable than you think! It can be more expensive than a ready-made ring, it could be about the same, or could actually cost less. The very best news is that these variables are all factors you have control over when you're planning a custom engagement ring.
An engagement ring can be as simple and understated or extravagant as you'd like, and designers are prepared to work with you at all different levels depending on your vision, desired stone, and ideal budget.
READY TO START YOUR CUSTOM ENGAGEMENT RING JOURNEY?