Jewelry Guide

8 Tips on Buying a Cheap Engagement Ring (without Compromising on Quality)

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An engagement ring is one of the most important pieces of jewelry that most people will ever own. While the average person in the US spends about $5000 on an engagement ring, there really is no rule as to how much you should spend on one.

For some, an expensive engagement ring is a statement of success and wealth. But at its root, an engagement ring is simply a symbol of commitment and love between two people. Put that way, the cost of the ring should not be the main deciding factor. Whether you spend thirty dollars or three hundred thousand dollars, the meaning of the ring remains the same.

So, with that in mind, we outline our top tips on how to buy an affordable engagement ring without compromising on quality. Find a great engagement ring for under $1000 with our tips below.

  1. Choose a Diamond… Wisely

If you must have a diamond for one reason or another, then use your knowledge of the 4Cs to help you find the ideal ring at a good price.

The most expensive diamonds:

  • Have high clarity grades, VVS2 and above
  • Have high color grades, in the colorless range D-E-F
  • Come in standard carat weights such as carat size 1, 1.5, 2 or 3

By playing with these combinations and going lower down on the grades, you can find a great diamond at a cool price. Compare these two diamonds below. The diamond on the left is a .90 carat, VVS2, K color, excellent cut diamond while the one on the right is a 1 carat, Flawless, F color excellent cut diamond . The visual difference between these two diamonds is very slight. In fact, you may not even be able to tell the difference between the two. However, the difference in price is over $4500!

comparing two round diamond

See more loose diamond from James Allen

If you prefer a minimalist style, you can find a small diamond between .30 to .50 carats. To make the most of a small diamond, check out our article on how to make a small diamond appear larger.

  1. Choose a Cluster Setting

The larger the diamond, the more expensive the stone. And vice-versa, the smaller your diamond, the lower the price. Using this information to our advantage, we can opt for a cluster setting which utilizes a number of tiny diamonds rather than one large center stone.

cluster set engagement ring rose gold

A brilliant cluster set diamond engagement ring. See it here.

This is a sure fire way of reducing your cost drastically while still having a diamond engagement ring that looks stunning and large.

  1. Opt for a Diamond Look-Alike and Save

Part of the reason that diamonds are so much in demand for engagement rings, apart from the fact that they are prestigious, is that they are extremely durable. A diamond is not forever, but it is harder than all other gemstones. Unfortunately, demand makes diamonds one of the most expensive gemstones.

To keep costs down, why not consider a diamond alternative?

If you want a gemstone that looks like a diamond, is durable and yet affordable, there are several options available to you. Moissanite is an excellent alternative as it is extremely tough, brilliant, beautiful and much more affordable than diamonds. And to the naked eye, it is almost indistinguishable from a diamond.

A moissanite engagement ring.

 An equivalent diamond would easily pass the $10,000 mark. Another great option is to go for a white sapphire which looks very similar to a white diamond. Sapphires are also excellent for daily wear and therefore a great alternative to a diamond.

  1. Choose a Lab-Created (Synthetic) Engagement Ring

Whenever our readers ask us, we always say that we only really recommend four gemstones for engagement rings: diamond, moissanite, sapphire and ruby.  This is because these four varieties are all extremely hard and tough, with Mohs rankings 9 and over. As a result, they have the durability necessary for daily wear.

However, apart from moissanite, the other three can be pretty expensive and aren’t ideal if you are on a budget.

This is where synthetic versions of diamonds, sapphires and rubies come in.

Synthetic gemstones are not fake. Rather, they are the lab-created, scientific counterpart to the natural mined gemstone. These stones are identical in almost every way to the mined version with the main difference being that they were created in labs.

lab created sapphire engagement ring an affordable option

A gorgeous lab-created sapphire ring. See it here

In fact, some people actually prefer synthetic versions to mined gemstones for a number of reasons.

They are ethical and sustainable, causing no negative impacts on the environment. They are conflict free and clean gemstones, with no ties to wars or dubious labor practices. They are a wonder of human achievement and science. And last but certainly not least, synthetic gemstones often cost a fraction of the price of mined gemstones while retaining all the properties of their mined counterparts.

  1. Pick a Gemstone Engagement Ring

Colored gemstones are all the rage now as more people opt for non-traditional engagement rings. Although colored gemstones need extra maintenance and protection if they are on the softer side, they can last a lifetime if taken reasonable care of.

Blue diamond and sapphire engagement ring

A beautifully designed and competitively priced sapphire and diamond ring in white gold. See it here

Morganite engagement ring

Morganite has become a favorite for engagement rings. See this ring here

peridot engagement ring

Peridot engagement ring. See this here

And if it seems worth it, then go for it. Gemstones also provide a way to add meaning to your engagement ring, as they each symbolize something and many are birthstones as well. Prior to purchase, read about the gemstone carefully and make sure you understand what is required to maintain the stone.

  1. Pick a Meaningful Claddagh Ring

claddagh engagement ring, meaningful and affordable

Why not opt for something different that has no ties to the mainstream? You can pick a symbolic, meaningful engagement ring that speaks to you.

For example, a Claddagh engagement ring is packed with meaning ideal for an engagement. And yet, the ring itself would be affordable as it is (often) only metal.

claddagh engagement ring yellow gold with diamond

This diamond Claddagh ring in 14k gold is affordable, unique and stunning. See it here

This traditional Irish ring representing love, loyalty and friendship has been in use since the 17th century, adding history and lore to the symbolism. Who says you need to have a gemstone in the center?

  1. Opt for Prior-Loved Engagement Rings

If it doesn’t bother you that your engagement ring is prior-owned, why not look for a second hand ring online? There are many sites that list prior-loved engagement rings at reasonable prices. You’ll be sure to find a stunning ring under $1000. Just ensure that you do your due diligence as most of the sellers are private and you would need to verify the authenticity of the ring (metals, gemstones) you’re purchasing.

  1. Purchase with a Look to Upgrading

Young couples often have a lot of commitments and shelling out thousands of dollars on a ring at the start of a relationship may not be the best financial decision to make. This is why many couples purchase a cheap cubic zirconia ring (or equivalent) to start with, with the aim of upgrading this to a diamond engagement ring down the track when their finances have been sorted.

Cubic zirconia engagement ring a cheap alternative for diamond rings

A beautifully made cubic zirconia ring. See it here

This is a great idea because it is symbolic of your growth together to achieve your dreams. It also makes good financial sense and shows the ability to prioritize, be patient and work towards a common goal.

Amazon has a range of affordable cubic zirconia rings that look very similar to diamond rings. These are often durable enough and will last you a long time until you’re ready to upgrade.

A Word of Warning … Don’t Compromise on Quality

An engagement ring is a piece of jewelry that you will wear every day for the rest of your life. As such, it needs to be durable enough to go through life’s ups and downs with you. This is why it’s important not to compromise on quality.

When looking for quality, consider durability.

  • Is the ring setting made of a premium metal like gold or platinum?
  • How well has the ring been crafted?
  • Is the center stone durable enough?

Asking questions like these will help you to zero in on the quality of the ring.

Another important point is to ensure that you receive a certificate of authenticity from your retailer, verifying the diamond or gemstone (if applicable). Always shop at a reputable retailer.

For diamonds and engagement rings, we recommend Blue Nile and James Allen. They have a range of rings to suit varying budgets and with some research, you may be able to find a stunning ring at the price you are after.

For the best in moissanite engagement rings, check out Charles and Colvards whose collection feature pieces under $1000.

And one final point.

Before you go off and purchase an affordable ring, think about what your significant other wants. If she has always wanted a big diamond ring, no cheaper alternative is going to make her happy. The last thing you want is a disappointed reaction to your ring, so factor this in and maybe even talk it over to ensure that you both are on the same page.

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