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Buying an Engagement Ring – Without Spending an Arm and a Leg

Buying an engagement ring can be a scary thought, especially because most guys don’t know a thing about diamonds or jewelry in general – and we know you would probably prefer it stay that way. So to help you out, we’ve put together some tips so you can buy the best engagement ring for your fiancé – and your budget.

  • Do your research! Though you might not think it’s nearly as fun, buying an engagement ring is much like buying a car. You wouldn’t randomly show up to the dealership one day, pick the one that looks the coolest and drive off without weighing your options. Do your research and educate yourself before you start looking around. Start with some information from an organization such as the American Gem Society about the 4 C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat.

  • Start shopping. Disclaimer: this does not mean immediately go buy a ring at the store! It’s best to take a few trips to different brick and mortar locations and look at what they have, what you think your future fiancé may like and what rings cost. You’ll get a better feel for what your fiancé’s dream ring will cost and if you can really afford it, or if you need to do a little more saving.

    And, though it may not be as romantic as going to the store and buying the ring like all of the commercials tell you to, consider buying the ring online. According to The Wedding Report, more than $1 billion of the $9.64 billion spent on engagement rings in 2010 were from online purchases. Online retailers have more competition and less overhead, so their prices are generally cheaper.

    Another option is to do both and shop in the brick and mortar stores and pick out what you like, and then go and buy the same ring online.

  • Sacrifice a fraction of a carat. Many couples use the 1-carat weight as the benchmark for the size of their ring, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between that and a 0.9 carat stone. A great secret though is that there is a big price difference between the two – almost 30% more in some cases! Diamonds are always more expensive at the half-carat mark: 1 carat, 1.5, 2, etc. So if you can’t tell the difference between the two anyways, save yourself a good bit of money and knock down the size just a bit.
  • Be practical on color and clarity, but never cut. For most people, there is no reason to buy the clearest and most blemish-free diamond out there. Only those in the industry can really tell the difference between each increment. The color of each stone is compared against a perfect “master” diamond but really when the diamond is sitting on its own in the pretty setting you pick out, it will likely look colorless.

    In the same way, the imperfections that they look for when measuring the clarity are under a 10x magnification. So if you can’t see the imperfection with your naked eye, what’s the point of paying the premium?

    While you can shave some dollars off of the price of your ring by selecting a lower color or clarity grade, you can’t do the same on the cut of the diamond. The cut of the diamond is what makes it sparkle and shine, and what makes it look like a diamond in the first place. Even though it might look pretty when you first buy it, eventually it will get dirty (and trust us, it will get dirty) and the dirt will trap light inside the diamond. Basically, that means it won’t shine. And that will probably mean an unhappy fiancé, which no one wants. So buy the best cut you can afford.

  • Go the non-traditional route. Brilliant cut diamonds are the most popular – and most expensive. So if your fiancé has expressed interest or openness to a non-traditional ring, don’t be afraid to look into it. Heck, after Prince William gave Kate Middleton the Princess Diana sapphire ring, non-diamond engagement rings are even more popular. [Too much girly-talk for you? Look here.] Sapphires and rubies are great options for engagement rings, as they are right under diamonds on the hardness scale (and you need a hard stone for a ring your fiancé will wear daily).

    Settings such as the “halo setting” (like this) with smaller stones framing a bigger stone add more and can boost the visual impact of the ring. And we wouldn’t suggest bragging about this to your fiancé, but you can buy a smaller center stone in this setting and it won’t look so small.

Buying an engagement ring is a big deal and can be a big purchase, so it’s important to save in advance and do your research. Ask a friend that bought a ring or your parents about any tips they may have. And as always, the doors at Delta Community are always open if you need to talk savings or financing options. Good luck!