I’ve received a number of emails from male readers who are planning to propose to their girlfriends soon (maybe even on Valentine’s Day) and are looking for some tips/advice to snag an affordable engagement ring. Since I am by no means an expert on ring shopping, I asked Amy from Belles on a Budget to write up a post focused on tips for engagement ring shopping on a budget. Thanks to Amy, here are 8 tips to help you snag a “Hip” ring without breaking the bank….
* Get informed
Make sure to know the Four Cs (cut, carat, clarity, and color) of diamond shopping… and what is most important to your fiance-to-be, whether it is something that sparkles, a specific cut, or certain type of stone. This will help you know which aspect to prioritize when you are selecting a ring within your budget. Look online for hundreds of articles that explain the Four Cs and the rating scale associated with each aspect.
* Shop around
Although shopping for a ring is an exciting, emotional decision, make sure not to jump into anything! Shop and compare prices and rings at brick and mortar stores and online to make sure you are getting the best value for your money. Don’t be afraid to take notes! As with any big purchase, this is not an impulse buy. Write down the cut/color/clarity/carat combinations you see, and their prices, which will make it easier to compare later after you’ve visited multiple stores. And if you receive pressure at jewelry stores- stand your ground and don’t purchase anything until you’ve done your research. You can always go back to that first ring you saw if you still think it is “the one” after you’ve done some price comparisons.
* Be Trendy
Non-traditional wedding rings are huge right now! Many brides are opting for sapphires, rubies, emeralds, or other gemstones rather than a diamond ring. These options can sparkle and make a statement just as much as a diamond, and most importantly- symbolize your love and commitment in the same way a traditional engagement ring does. And these gemstones can be a huge money saver!
* Use the family jewels
Think about using a family heirloom or vintage jewelry of your grandmother’s/mother’s/aunt’s that has been sitting around the house as an engagement ring. You can modernize a diamond or gemstone necklace or ring by having it placed in a setting your fiance-to-be will love. It will be much cheaper than buying a new ring and it will have that special added sentimental value of family history.
* Shop online
There are several very legitimate online stores that sell jewelry like Blue Nile or Overstock.com. The key to buying at one of these retailers is to know the cut, clarity, color and carats you are looking for and compare them across the stores. And my husband’s tip: even if you plan to buy the ring online, go into brick and mortar stores to be able to actually see similar rings in person. That way you will know what a certain cut looks like or how specific clarity and color combinations sparkle in person, before you buy online.
* Check out sample sales
I have been surprised to see fine jewelry featured on many reputable sample sites like Rue La La, Modnique, and Swirl. These sites offer huge discounts on rings and would be an excellent way to score a good price on an engagement ring, especially a gemstone ring. As with any purchase, though, make sure to consider the Four Cs of the ring (which should be included for any diamond purchase) and your previous research before you buy.
* Communicate with the jewelers
Many shops, especially small businesses, can work with your budget or will help you design the perfect (and completely unique) ring. Don’t hesitate to discuss your budget and your expectations at jewelry stores and see what they can do for you.
* And after you find that perfect ring for your loved one…get insurance!
Although it doesn’t sound particularly romantic, it’s important to get insurance very soon after you make this big purchase. For a few dollars a month, you and your fiance can have the peace of mind of knowing that this big purchase is protected.
If you have recently purchased a ring, please share any advice/tips/tricks that you learned along the way. Happy Ever After to all the couples who are getting married/engaged this year! :)
(Thanks so much to Amy over at Belles on a Budget!)