If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, the very first question any jeweler will ask you is, “What is your budget?”
While this may strike you as a very forward question, it’s posed to help the jeweler focus your engagement ring search. While jewelers will begin with budget and then pin down the style, most couples shopping for rings know the design they want but haven’t considered exactly how much they want to spend.
How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?
There is an incredibly antiquated calculation that you should spend three months’ salary on your engagement ring. By today’s standards, that means Americans earning the median household income of $56,616 would spend over $14,000 on an engagement ring! That said, in 2017, Americans spent, on average, $6,351 on an engagement ring—so clearly few couples are abiding by that dated adage.
So how much should you really spend?
You should only spend what you can comfortably afford on an engagement ring. Truth be told, your wedding day is going to be a major expense—a worthwhile one, of course—but likely to take out a big chunk from your savings. Start your life together on the right foot and budget responsibly when it comes to your engagement ring.
3 Ways to Save on an Engagement Ring—Without Compromising on Style or Diamond Size
If you still want an impressively-sized ring that won’t immediately deplete your wedding budget, here are three ways to save on an engagement ring.
1. Consider a “very slightly included” diamond.
Lots of couples think that they need the highest quality diamond in order to have a beautiful engagement ring. Flawless (FL) or Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds, as their rating names suggest, do not have any inclusions visible under 10x magnification, let alone to the naked eye. FL- or IF-graded diamonds are very rare and therefore very expensive.
In reality, all diamonds are slightly imperfect. So you can make your budget go further if you look at diamonds graded as Very Slightly Included (VS) or Slightly Included (SI). Considered the diamonds with the best value, VS or SI diamonds have inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification but not the naked eye. Therefore, on the hand, SI or VS diamonds will look stunning and flawless!
2. Add a halo around your center stone.
A halo is the row of pavé or micro diamonds that frames your center stone. This detail was particularly popular during the Art Deco era and gives a ring a cool, vintage-inspired flair.
Adding a halo is also a clever way to make your center stone appear bigger without taking a bite out of your budget. Because a halo is made up of lots of small diamonds, they’re a fraction of the cost of a single diamond of the same total carat weight. But, visually, this detail will add more sparkle and pump up the size of your overall ring design to give it more oomph!
3. Shop pre-owned engagement rings.
First off, let’s table the idea that pre-owned engagement rings are haunted by the doomed relationships of its past. The truth is, most diamonds in even new engagement rings are recycled from other engagement rings, retired designs, or estate jewelry.
That said, you stand to save a lot of money if you opt for an engagement ring that is pre-owned. The retail price on engagement rings is significantly marked up—and depreciates the moment you step out of the store, just like a new car driven off the parking lot. You can not only bypass but also benefit from that drop-off if you shop pre-owned jewelry. The quality is exactly the same; the only difference is the price!
For more on why you should shop pre-owned engagement rings, check out our post here.