It all adds up
Choose a ring with several smaller stones rather than one big one. Diamonds are priced by the weight of an individual stone, so if you opt for a three-stone setting with a smaller main diamond or choose a cluster setting using less expensive pavé diamonds, you'll maximize sparkle for less.
Avoid big-name jewelers. Designer brands often cost more than styles from lesser known, privately owned jewelers. Also, you can often negotiate prices with independently owned jewelers; that's just not going to happen at a name-brand store.
Purchase a diamond that misses the full carat mark by a few points. Prices rise for individual stones at popular carat sizes. A 1.9-carat diamond will be significantly cheaper than a 2-carat ring.
Substitute white gold for palladium or platinum—it will cost much less for the same look. Keep in mind that yearly replating is recommended for white gold. Sapphires, rubies and emeralds—even pearls-make beautiful alternatives to costly diamonds. And cultured (or lab-grown) diamonds can sparkle as much as their mined counterparts for much less money.
All in the family
Wear a parent's, grandparent's or relative's heirloom as your engagement ring and have it reset for a special touch that's all your own. Or scout out antique rings at resale shops and estate sales for a bargain buy.
Buying a loose diamond lets you inspect the whole diamond while capping the cost on the most expensive part of the ring (the stone). And this way you get to choose the precise setting you want. A great way to start the process is by using our Build a Ring tool, which will help you design the ring of your dreams.
Shop Web site retailers. Because online stores don't require display cases or a ton of staff, not to mention that they don't have to pay rent, they have significantly lower overhead costs than brick-and-mortar shops, resulting in a likely savings for you. But don't click blindly; use an e-vendor with an established good reputation, not some shady DiamondsAreUs.com out to scam customers.
You can often find more "affordable" diamonds overseas, especially loose ones. The Netherlands, where the diamond industry was minted in the 16th century, can be a boon to a savvy diamond shopper. And Israeli diamond merchants have a long history of sourcing, cutting and selling fine jewels at a better price than ones in the States.