We've all heard the rule of thumb when engagement ring shopping that you should spend up to three months salary on the sparkler. But these days couples are contributing more financially to a wedding, buying a house, saving up for a honeymoon, not to mention paying off student loans and handling other financial burdens in the process. But before you give up on having that perfect ring you've been not so subtly hinting at, check out these easy ways to save on your bridal bling (perhaps you might even want to flag this for your fiancé-to-be...)
1. Add a halo.
Saving money doesn't mean reducing sparkle; in-fact, one way to save is by adding more diamonds. A ring of pavé diamonds creates the illusion of a larger stone, allowing you to go down in carat weight.
2. Choose colored gems.
More and more brides are opting toward non-traditional stones. Kate Middleton is even sporting a sapphire engagement ring and let's be honest — if the Duchess of Cambridge rocks a trend it's bound to be a good look. If you're still not sold on a ring with solely colored gems, try swapping diamond side stones for emeralds or sapphires to cut costs.
*Bonus: They'll pop against your center diamond. *
3. Change the shape.
The most popular shape for a diamond ring is a round cut. While this cut is timeless and classic it's also likely to be more expensive. By exploring other diamond shapes that are less trendy you can save big. Oval, pear, and marquise diamonds — the same shape Evan Ross gave Ashlee Simpson— cost less to make and are less in demand than rounds, possibly saving you up to 25 percent.
Worth the Splurge:
A great way to save money in the long run is by splurging in the beginning. Diamonds are a crucial part of the ring but so is making sure you have a band and setting that'll last. If you can, go for a platinum setting. It's the most durable metal and resists scratching like nothing else. Or try palladium; it's the same color as platinum and almost as durable but costs about the same as white gold.
Want to design your own?
Have your heart set on a custom ring? You can still have one without breaking the bank. Going custom will cost about the same or more as a same-quality premade style, but it's a great way to incorporate elements of your relationship. Consider working important names, dates, or sayings into your ring through the number of stones, the setting, or engravings on the band. For the best quality, make sure your ring is completely hand fabricated, says custom jeweler Zameer Kassam.
Avoid jewelers with too-good-to-be-true prices: Their rings might be cobbled together from existing parts, which means they're more likely to fall apart.
Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES December 2015/January 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!