11 Ways to Buy a Cheap Engagement Ring.
Are you in the market to buy a cheap engagement ring? Here are my top 11 money-saving tips for when you are ready to shop for an affordable engagement ring. Before you shop for an inexpensive engagement ring, consider all my budget-saving tips below. From buying discount engagement rings for sale online to finding diamond alternatives that are cheaper and just as good as natural diamonds, we’ll get you diamond savvy. We’ll show you how to choose an inexpensive engagement ring so you can spend less on the ring… so you can save your money for your wedding or honeymoon!
No matter how much you want to spend on an engagement ring, you can find a selection of affordable engagement rings for you and your budget with online diamond retailers and, lab-grown diamonds, and our diamond engagement ring buying options.
- Shop Online
- Buy Diamonds with Slight Inclusions
- Choose a Near Colorless Diamonds
- Don’t Buy Whole Carats
- Opt for White Gold or Palladium Rings
- Purchase Loose Diamonds
- Shop for Cluster Diamonds
- Choose a Size Enhancing Style
- Buy a Diamond Alternative or Lab-Grown Diamond
- Shop for Used Engagement Rings
- Search for Discounts
1. Shop Online
It’s no surprise that there are jewelry stores abound. If you’ve been to a mall in the last thirty years, you know that they’re basically on every corner. They display their gems for all the world to see. From Zale’s, Jared, Tiffany & Co., and Cartier, brick and mortar jewelry stores are certainly not hard to find (though a little harder to avoid!).
These retailers do a fine job, but spend a significant amount on TV, digital, and print advertising. To make up for it, their diamond and engagement ring prices are hiked up to as much as twice their actual cost, if not more.
You can start your engagement ring search at one of these physical locations to get a sense of style. But, if you want to make the most of your budget, you probably won’t want to actually shop there.
You can get much more bang for your buck by shopping for a diamond engagement ring online. It might seem scary at first, but it’s actually safe and more affordable than shopping at a big box diamond store.
You might wonder how online diamond retailers are able to sell their gems for lower prices. There are several reasons that online jewelry stores sell engagement rings at lower prices.
Buying Diamonds Online is Much Less Expensive
For one, due to the manner in which diamonds are sourced and circulated, online retailers are able to purchase them at a cost below that of big chains. They can purchase specific diamonds or larger quantities whenever necessary.
Additionally, online retailers often have the ability to pull different diamonds from a wide range of distributors and other sources. This, in turn, gives them the ability to keep a much lower inventory level and thus save money on warehousing and distribution, all without also having to pay rent on physical locations around the country. They can then pass all these savings on to you, a budgeting, mindful, and conscientious consumer.
Another reason that shoppers tend to spend more when they buy at a brick-and-mortar jewelry store location is not exactly nice to hear, but it’s the truth nonetheless. The salespeople at these retailers often have to work on commission. What’s more, they usually deal with individuals who don’t know a whole lot about diamonds, rings, or the jewelry business in general.
Due to all these reasons, diamond salesmen and saleswomen can use slick language and a bunch of industry jargon during their interactions. They do this to trick people into believing that they should fork over more money for their shiny jewelry, when in fact nothing much substantial is being communicated.
Of course, not all salespeople in every chain jewelry store will do this, but it does happen often enough that you should be more than a little wary whenever one of them strikes up a conversation with you over at the fancy glass counter.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier, big box stores spend an inordinate amount of money on television, online, and magazine advertising. Naturally, this forces them to make up that expenditure somewhere else.
Unfortunately for engagement ring shoppers, this primarily comes in the form of diamonds and other gems at a significant markup to customers.
How Much Cheaper Are Online Diamond Engagement Rings?
With all this in mind, you can easily see how the savings add up — and quickly! — by shopping away from traditional diamond retailers. Even so, you probably also want to know exactly how much actual money you might save by shopping at an online jewelry store instead.
Estimates vary from one retailer to the next, and prices will always run the full spectrum of personal budgets and preferences. That being said, most online diamond stores can offer prices at up to a full 50% OFF of the “normal” retail price when it comes to mined diamonds and gems.
Again, these numbers will differ depending on the website in question, but you can legitimately save up to half of what you were originally planning to spend, simply by shopping online instead of in a physical store. And it’s more convenient too! Talk about a win-win!
Learn more about Buying Diamond Rings Online:
2. Buy Diamonds with Slight Inclusions
Most diamonds have imperfections called inclusions. Diamonds with slight inclusions cost much less than flawless diamonds.
Inclusions can come in many forms, such as spots on the diamond and miniature cracks. The amount of inclusions a diamond has is reflected in its clarity grade. A clarity grade is part of the 4C’s of diamond grading. This grade ranges from FL for flawless to I3 for visibly flawed.
Diamonds with no or very few inclusions are rare and expensive. However, most inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. These types of diamonds are called eye-clean. This means that you can get a diamond that looks flawless without the high price.
Depending on your budget, we recommend getting a diamond with a VS1, VS2, SI1, or SI2 clarity grade. These grades are in the middle of the clarity range with hard to see imperfections. Slightly included diamonds will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Learn more about Clarity and Diamond Grades:
- What is Considered a Good Clarity for a Diamond?
- What Are Diamond Blemishes?
- What are Diamond Inclusions?
- What is the Difference Between FL and IF Diamonds?
- What is the Difference between VVS and VS Diamond Rings?
- What are VVS Diamonds? Is there a Difference Between VVS1 and VVS2?
- What are SI Diamonds? Is there a Difference Between SI1 and SI2 Diamonds?
3. Choose a Near Colorless Diamonds
Color is an important factor when shopping for diamonds. As part of the 4C’s, color denotes how white a diamond is. Color is graded from D for colorless to Z for a faint yellow. Just like with clarity grade, you do NOT need to get the highest color grade.
We recommend buying a near colorless diamond. These diamonds include G, H, and J color grades which look white. You can still enjoy a colorless looking diamond while saving thousands.
4. Don’t Buy Whole Carats
When shopping for diamonds, many people pick a rounded number. A 1-carat diamond ring is a popular choice. However, prices significantly go UP every whole carat.
Let’s compare two round, Excellent cut, G color, and SI1 diamonds from James Allen.
A difference of 0.10 carats is not noticeable but comes to a savings of $1,280! Save money by slightly lowering your ideal carat weight.
5. Opt for White Gold or Palladium Rings
Engagement ring savings go beyond its diamond. The ring’s metal type can drive up prices. White gold and palladium rings are cheaper than metals like platinum.
For greater savings, buy a white gold ring with lower purity. A 14k white gold ring will cost less than an 18k white gold ring. The lower gold purity will also result in a whiter looking band.
6. Purchase Loose Diamonds
A loose diamond will cost less than a diamond set in a ring. Preset engagement rings usually cost thousands. A simple ring from your local jeweler can cost a few hundred dollars.
Don’t forget to select a ring with a lower and more affordable karat weight, such as 14K gold.
7. Shop for Cluster Diamonds
An engagement ring can have more than one center stone. A cluster diamond ring is comprised of several small diamonds closely set together. This cluster creates the appearance of one large center diamond.
Instead of a single 1-carat diamond, a cluster ring can have five 0.20 carat diamonds. Several small diamonds cost far less than one large diamond.
Learn more: What are Composite Diamond Rings?
8. Choose a Size Enhancing Style
Instead of buying a large and expensive diamond, select a setting that makes the diamond look larger.
Consider these styles to make a diamond look bigger:
- Bezel settings encircle the diamond with metal and create a large presence.
- Diamond halos are a ring of diamonds around the center stone. They collectively make the center diamond look larger and more brilliant.
- Elongated diamond shapes like ovals and marquise look larger than their actual carat weight. Due to their style, a 1-carat oval will look larger than a 1 carat round diamond.
Learn more about Diamond Shapes and Diamond Cuts:
- What Diamond Cut Looks the Biggest?
- Which Diamonds Look the Biggest?
- The Most Expensive Diamond Cuts
- What are the Different Diamond Shapes?
- Best Cut for Diamond Earrings
- Best Diamond Cut for an Engagement Ring
- The Difference between Diamond Shape and Cut
9. Buy a Diamond Alternative or Lab-Grown Diamond
You can also save an enormous amount of money by opting for an alternative gemstone. This might immediately conjure up images of cubic zirconia ( CZ for short). These days, a ton of options exist outside of “traditional” earth-grown diamonds:
- Lab-grown diamonds (also referred to as “lab-created” or “man-made”)
If you and your fiancé-to-be decided on a diamond look for the engagement ring, then moissanite and lab-grown diamonds can be perfect. Let’s look at each one to see how they’re like mined diamonds and how they compare in quality and cost.
Moissanite is a diamond simulant. It looks and feels like a diamond mined from the ground. Moissanite is a completely different gem, so it costs a lot less than “the real thing.” Its chemical structure is different, but it shines and sparkles like the diamonds we’re all used to.
The discovery of moissanite was in 1893 by a French scientist named Moissan. He found the substance in the crater of a meteorite in Arizona and thought it was a diamond at first!
Back in the lab, he determined that it was distinct from diamonds. Later, he would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. If it can fool him, it can fool anybody.
Nearly all moissanite today is made in a lab. Which brings us to the next option…
Lab-Grown Diamonds (our favorite pick)
The real winner in modern-day diamond shopping comes by way of a laboratory. Instead of being mined from the ground, these diamonds are created in a lab.
Read also: What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?
Most people may start envisioning CZ ring, but lab-grown diamonds are different.
Even if the general look is roughly akin, cubic zirconia stones have a completely distinct chemical makeup from that of real diamonds. The only legitimate crossovers are in the fact that they are both made in a lab and both are intended to look generally the same. Truthfully, the similarity ends right there.
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds in every way.
Diamonds have a specific chemical structure. The ones that come from the ground and those “grown” in a lab are in every physical way the exact same. Not even a trained jeweler can tell any difference under a microscope. The only distinction that can be made between lab-grown and mined diamonds is this: they do not come from the ground. That’s it.
In other words, nothing distinguishes lab-grown diamonds from the more “traditional” variety other than their origin, where they come from. They are just as beautiful and clean and every bit as sparkly as mined diamonds, but, since they don’t technically come out of the earth, lab-grown diamonds also come with a significant advantage: they are much less expensive.
How Much Do Lab-Grown Diamonds Cost?
Again, the actual prices will vary across retailers and online shopping environments. That said, you can expect to pay as much as 60% LESS than you would for a mined diamond with equivalent specifications.
What does this mean for you? Well, for starters, you can afford to purchase a diamond with the exact same carat (and/or clarity, color, cut) of a diamond from the ground while spending up to 60% less than you would have otherwise. Whichever of the 4C’s is important to you, you can have it.
Here are a few examples:
From the above chart, you can easily see the difference in dollar amounts and overall percentages. The least amount saved for a lab-grown diamond — given these numbers — still runs at almost a full 33% off the retail price of an earth-grown diamond.
Consider the quality here as well. With one exception, we’re only dealing with Excellent quality diamonds in this chart. This speaks volumes about what you can expect to get (as well as save) if you decide to opt for a lab-grown diamond over its earth-grown counterpart.
The most expensive diamond on this chart (third row from the bottom) has the following qualities: Excellent, G color, VS1 clarity. The mined version of this diamond costs nearly $6,000. The lab-grown version of this exact same diamond costs only $2,898. That’s a savings of half the original price, and this is just one example among many. Even more, you can often even get a 30% bigger diamond for the same price.
Keep in mind, we aren’t comparing a “real diamond” with a “fake diamond.” The cost comparison here is simply between a real diamond that comes from the ground and a real diamond that comes from a lab. That’s the only difference, but the cost-savings are huge.
Shop for Used Engagement Rings
Did you know that used engagement rings are just as beautiful as new ones? Since diamonds are the toughest natural substance, they can withstand the test of time and still look stunning. In fact, many jewelers sell used diamonds. Used diamonds often get circulated into back the market to be repurposed in new jewelry. This means that you could end up buying a used diamond ring that is labeled as new and pay premium prices without ever knowing it.
Instead of potentially buying a used diamond and paying full price, shop for pre-owned engagement rings. The moment someone buys an engagement ring, it dramatically drops in value. Even if the ring was only worn once, it is worth about 25% of what it originally cost. By shopping for used diamonds, you can enjoy a serious second-hand discount. With a used engagement ring, you will save 40% to 70% of what you would have spent on a comparable new engagement ring.
Before a used ring is sold, jewelers will clean the diamond to make it look brand new. Typically, branded engagement rings, such as those from Tiffany & Co., are sold in their original setting. Otherwise, a used diamond may be set into a new band. Best of all, no one will be able to tell that your ring used. With your savings from shopping for used engagement rings, you can splurge for an extravagant looking engagement ring without having to pay a hefty price tag.
Search for Discounts
Select jewelers have special discounts for students and service members. Below are our top ten discounts from popular jewelers where you can get discount engagement rings, clearance engagement rings, or even Used Engagement Rings.
- Tiffany & Co.: 10% off engagement rings and wedding bands for US military members and veterans. Partners of military members are eligible for the discount if the military member is stationed overseas.
- Helzberg Diamonds: 10% off for military members, first responders, and students.
- Blue Nile: 15% of select items for US military members and veterans.
- Kay Outlet: Lots of options under $1000 and up to 70% off!
- Zales Outlet: Hundreds of discounted engagement rings and up to 60% off clearance.
- Ritani: 25% off engagement ring settings and wedding bands for students.
- James Allen: 10% off settings for military members.
- Arthur’s Jewelers: 10% off sitewide for military members and veterans.
Summary of Shopping Tips for Affordable Diamond Ring
With all this information, it’s easy to see the widespread appeal of shopping online instead of in a store, the incredible benefits of buying lab-grown diamonds, and the power of savvy shopping tips.
Online retailers can provide exactly what you’re looking for without headaches and at a much lower cost.
Lab-grown diamonds give you everything that you want and more. Remember that they are identical in chemical composition (which really means identical in every way), and because of this they naturally look the same and feel the same as any earth-grown diamond. On top of this, they’re also environmentally and ethically conscious, meaning you can buy them without any undue pain to your budget or stress to your conscience.
With our exclusive diamond and setting shopping tips, you never need to compromise on style.
And the ultimate prize? Well, they cost a whole lot less.