We have all seen the commercials, sappy and blurry, that declare two months of salary is the appropriate amount to spend on engagement rings. Are they nuts?! A much better investment of that money is called a down payment if you ask me. Fortunately, there are ways to get a beautiful engagement ring for much less and frankly. So if your fiancee is demanding you spend that much on a ring, you may want to think things through a bit more.
Save Money with an Heirlooms Engagement Ring
The best way to save money is to not spend it. If you have a family heirloom sitting around you may want to consider giving it to your bride instead of purchasing something new. If your fiancee is the sentimental type, getting an heirloom will be much more special to her than getting a new ring. On the other hand, with half of all marriages ending in divorce, you need to realize you may not get the ring back if things go sour.
Doing your research before you buy a ring
Before you even step out the door to look at rings you need to do a bit of research. The four C’s of diamond buying are Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat. Cut refers to the shape of the stone, color its shade; clarity describes any inclusions and carat the size. Stones of the same size are not necessarily worth the same if their color or clarity varies.
While a D color is considered the highest quality, a J is nearly as colorless and a lot less expensive. Since the stone will rest in a setting and is not an investment piece, pick a “darker” color and save yourself a bundle. The same is true for clarity; small inclusions may drop the value of a stone, but in a setting are rarely noticeable.
Editor’s Note: I disagree with the author here. Diamonds are like everything else. The more you know about them, the higher your sensitivity and awareness for its differences. If you look, the higher quality diamonds are shinier and look whiter/brighter. The key is to figure out what you are comfortable spending while being mindful of your future wife’s expectations.
Search for prices of loose stones online. Loose stones are easier to assess than mounted stones and you can customize the ring from every aspect. This also gives you a chance to price rings without pressure, but you are still better off going to the source when you buy.
How to choose the diamond and setting
If you are taking your sweetheart with you, remember that you will look decisive instead of cheap if you know your limits. If you plan to shop alone, you avoid the problem all together. Determine just how much you are willing to spend before you walk in a store or you might find yourself spending more than you want, and avoid mall stores and chains like the plague.
Ask to see unmounted stones so you can evaluate them clearly. Bring along a magnifying glass of at least 10x, that is the industry standard by the way. Ask for the cut you wish to see and evaluate each stone for clarity and color. Once you find your stone and price it, you know how much you can spend on your setting.
Editor’s Note: You should only buy diamonds that have a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) report, which grades each stone and gives a detailed report, as well as provide a international standard for pricing purposes. There is also a pricing guide based on the four Cs, but take that price like the “manufacturer’s suggested retail price”, or the list price, which no one really pays for.
Settings can run the gamut from a traditional, simple one stone ring to modern diamond encrusted bands. Consider your beloved’s taste when purchasing and stick to your budget.
Save money by paying cash
Since many small stores need to pay commission on credit card purchases, ask if you can get a discount for paying in cash or check. You may be able to save a percent or two, not an insignificant amount on such a large purchase. Never go into debt to purchase this ring, it is expensive enough without interest. In the end, this ring is a symbol of your love, not an opportunity to show off.