Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but they can also be your bank account's worst enemy. If you're shopping for an affordable engagement ring, you may have to think a bit more outside the box. Bigger carat sizes, flawless clarity, and unique settings all hike up an engagement ring's price, making your dream ring a very serious investment.
Meet the Expert
- Kim Kanary is the senior vice president of marketing and brand management at JTV, where she leads the gemstones advancement team and social media group.
Spending the big bucks may not be a reality for you, and that's okay. Instead, try swapping out a natural diamond for a lab-created one (yes, they are legitimate) or a similar-looking diamond alternative like white sapphire, moissanite, or morganite. All are equally eye-catching and cost a lot less than mined diamonds. Also consider a colorful gemstone (a popular choice when affordability is a concern), a ring with enamel (super trendy right now), a cluster-style ring of smaller stones set together to create the illusion of a bigger center stone, and a unique setting with detailed metalwork (antique rings are a great option). Or, pick from a variety of metal settings instead of platinum, like yellow gold, rose gold, or sterling silver. Sticking to minimalist bands and bezel settings will also be cheaper—we know, we know, you may have had your heart set on a pavé band or halo, but truthfully, simpler styles are more of the moment anyway. So think of it as the cooler, more modern alternative.
"A general rule of thumb for matching diamonds is that they be within a color grade apart. For example, if your diamond center stone is an F color, your side stones could be E or G, and they would look cohesive to the naked eye," explains Kanary. In fact, since you don't necessarily need your stones to perfectly match, opting for diamonds that slightly vary in color is a great way to cut costs.
Thanks to the online world, it's never been easier to find a ring that offers the most bang for your buck. Sites such as Etsy, Brilliant Earth, and Blue Nile not only allow you to browse all of your options at the touch of your device, but they also take advantage of lab-created stones and customization options that provide more pricing flexibility.
Whether you’re dead set on a diamond or open to gemstones, cluster rings, or antique styles, we've found an array of 30 inexpensive engagement rings that are as affordable as they are unique.
VRAI The Floating Split Band Engagement Ring
How can you not say yes to this stunner? Available in rose gold, white gold, and yellow gold options for under $1,500 (sans the diamond band), this stunning ring is a top pick from the VRAI x Brides Collection. The modern silhouette offers a lifted center diamond and a hidden halo to create a unique floating effect.
Angara Step-Edged Three Stone Diamond Tapered Ring
The best things come in threes, right? This beauty is sparkling proof. Available in platinum, rose, white, or yellow gold, customize this classic engagement ring to your own personal style
Barbela Design Diamond Nico Ring in Rose Gold
The chain-inspired band of the Nico Ring is a great alternative to diamonds. Adding stunning visual interest, this bezel-set diamond solitaire is simply the prettiest piece to flaunt on your finger.
Rachel Boston Ilud Ring
We have a special place in our hearts for trillion-cut diamond rings. Both edgy and eye-catching, this unique center stone will have all eyes on you.
WWAKE Nestled Moonstone and Diamond Ring
This is one of those pieces where just one picture doesn't do it justice. Scroll through this ring's photos to admire its many gorgeous features as well as the different bands that can be styled with this stunner. From the enchanting moonstone to the dainty diamonds, there's nothing that we don't love.
Brilliant Earth Grace Engagement Ring
This is simplicity at its best. Available in an array of metal types and stone shapes, make this timeless twist shank diamond ring the most authentic representation of you.
Blue Nile Petite Micropavé Diamond Engagement Ring
Delicate yet striking, this marquise-cut stone shines brightly in the center of a platinum band half-embellished by petite micropavé diamonds. Plus, this solitaire's shape is bound to elongate your finger making for an ultra-flattering look.
Brilliant Earth Nadia Diamond Engagement Ring
This piece maximizes its sparkle and creates the allure of a shimmering diamond band at a more affordable price. Customize this piece with your selection of a stone shape, carat size, and metal type.
Kataoka Aronia Ring
It doesn't get any more romantic and ethereal than this. Effortlessly beautiful, a cluster of diamonds scatter throughout this gently twisted 18k beige gold or rose gold band.
Blue Nile Princess-Cut Petite Solitaire Engagement Ring
A simple platinum band allows the center of attention to be on all of that irresistible shimmer! This petite princess-cut solitaire is just oh so perfect.
Jennie Kwon Green Tourmaline Deco Point Ring
Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you should have to sacrifice making a statement. For the bride who is seeking something bold, we've got you! A captivating green tourmaline stone sits in the center of this stunning 14k yellow gold ring.
Pandora Clear Sparkling Crown Solitaire Ring
This price tag has us doing a double-take, and we're definitely not complaining. Featuring 14k gold-plated metal and clear cubic zirconia stones, this piece gives you the gorgeous look of a classic diamond for a price you simply can't beat.
Charles & Colvard Signature East-West Radiant Engagement Ring
Striking and sophisticated—just the way we like it! This dazzling three-stone ring features a unique east-west radiant cut on a white gold band.
Bario Neal Half-Moon Dyad White Sapphire Ring
Inspired by the moon, we love how this one appears as if two half-moons are connected to one another. Contemporary and undoubtedly show-stopping, this bezel-set 14k yellow gold ring features two beautiful white sapphire stones.
My Story 14k The Julia April Birthstone Ring
This is such a sweet and dainty spin on a classic solitaire with a pavé-set diamond band. Set in 14k yellow gold, we love the look of the elongated center stone.
Doyle & Doyle Art Deco Diamond Engagement Ring
This ring just screams vintage charm. For the bride with an old soul, we found the most exquisite piece that is bound to inspire you. Featuring a round brilliant-cut diamond and hexagonal-shaped mount, this art deco–inspired masterpiece speaks for itself.
Après Jewelry The Triple Rose Cut Ring
Three stunning rose-cut stones are nestled together on this thin and minimalistic band. Available in 10k and 14k yellow, white, or rose gold, pick the piece perfect for you.
Allurez Diamond & Blue Sapphire Single Row Engagement Ring
Whether you choose all white diamonds or alternating colored stones, this stunner is sure to sparkle. Set in your choice of 14k or 18k white, rose, or yellow gold, the options are endless.
Jade Trau for Signature Forevermark Diamond Ring 18K
Style it in a stack or slip it on solo, there's no wrong way to wear this handcrafted 18k yellow gold ring. This piece features a uniquely shaped band and solitaire diamond.
Ritani Vintage Diamond Accent Engagement Ring
Adorned with an intricate diamond band, this vintage-inspired engagement ring flaunts the look of a marquise-shaped center stone. You may or may not ever stop staring at your hand.
Sofia Zakia Diamond Cosmic Witch Ring
We have one word: wow. Incredibly romantic and magical, this rose gold band is encrusted with delicate diamonds and lunar-inspired detail.
Keyzar Oval Dainty Moissanite Engagement Ring
A moissanite stone is perfect for the bride on a budget who doesn't want to miss out on blindingly brilliant sparkle. This stunner does just that. Featuring a striking oval center stone, this piece is set on a delicate customizable band.
Vrai Mixed Cuff Ring
Effortlessly wrapping around the finger, the Mixed Cuff Ring features two diamonds of different shapes. With your choice of a 14k yellow gold or white gold band, you can't go wrong with any of the choices.
Loop Morning Light Ring
Get creative with this one! From white, champagne, or black diamonds to an array of different metals, you can truly make this piece your own. No matter which one you choose, a stunning halo of shimmer encompasses a round center stone on a pavé band.
WWAKE Demi-Paired Diamond Ring
Six pretty little diamonds glimmer on a simple customizable band. Wear it alone or pair it with other pieces, the versatility of this stunner ensures its enduring beauty.
Brilliant Earth Six-Prong Petite Comfort Fit Engagement Ring
It's safe to say that this piece is bound to stand the test of time. This timeless diamond solitaire is available in an array of stone shapes and types of metals.
MollyJewelryUS Oval Moissanite Engagement Ring
Another oval-shaped moissanite stone demands all of the attention in this nature-inspired piece. With an array of metals to choose from, customize this ring not only to your style but also your budget.
Vrai The Signature Ring
Customize this gem to your style—and your budget! Starting at just $890, Vrai's Signature Ring allows you to select from a wide array of cuts and metal options. We're obsessed with this pear-cut solitaire set on an unadorned 14k rose gold band.
Capucinne Simple Morganite Ring
An elongated morganite center stone sits pretty on a pavé-set customizable band. While it may be dainty, this piece makes a statement!
Vrai Bezel Ring
This is what minimalist dreams are made of. A stunning bevel-set diamond is encompassed by a 14k yellow or white gold band. Need we say more?
What to Look for When Choosing an Affordable Engagement Ring
Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you should have to sacrifice any sparkle. With or without a diamond, it's possible to flaunt an affordable engagement ring that still turns heads. "For decades, the diamond has been the premier option for engagement rings, primarily due to its suitability for everyday wear," explains Kanary. "However, there are other stones that can be more affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and durable enough for an engagement ring," she assures.
"Morganite is an excellent alternative stone that can be more budget-friendly. Gems like spinel, sapphire, and ruby are also among the more durable gemstones, and while some varieties can command high prices, you can find a variety of colors and styles that fit a more modest budget," says Kanary.
Thankfully, when it comes to your setting, there are clever alternatives that cut costs while still achieving an almost identical look. "The most important aspects to a setting are that it is strong enough to hold your stone and that it is aesthetically pleasing to you," Kanary states. "Some of our favorite options for affordable settings are rhodium-plated silver and 18k yellow gold over silver, both of which provide a luxe look while being cost-effective."
"If you're looking for more affordable jewelry that will last, we recommend gold-plated items. You can have a durable metal core with a fine gold exterior—all of which provide an expensive look but are cost effective and simple to maintain over time," suggests Kanary.
Opting for a minimalistic band grants you more freedom to indulge in a bigger or more eye-catching stone. Or, if you're looking to make the band more of the focal point, consider textured bands, split shanks, or less-expensive gemstones for extra embellishment.
"Typically, most people enjoy coordinating their bands to the engagement ring setting, so this would often mean matching metal types and colors. One way to reduce costs is to find an all-metal band without gemstones, or you could choose a mined diamond alternative, such as synthetic moissanite and lab-grown diamonds," Kanary says.
- How much should an engagement ring cost? "The traditional convention that many people hold to is to spend the equivalent of three months salary. However, conventions are constantly changing, so prioritize a budget that is within your comfort level," assures Kanary.
- How can I make a diamond engagement ring more affordable? "If your heart is set on a diamond, but you want to maximize your budget, you may want to consider lab-grown diamonds over mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, optically, and physically the same as mined diamonds," Kanary states.
- How can I ensure an affordable engagement ring is high-quality? Purchase from a reputable jeweler, and ask yourself: Have I done my research. Do I trust this retailer? Does the retailer provide educational resources and disclosures? Am I able to return the ring if it's not exactly what I want? "Ultimately, the most important question to consider is whether you will love and cherish your potential ring," Kanary says. "And if that's a yes, then go for it!"
- What are the best inexpensive stones that emulate a diamond? "Synthetic moissanite is an excellent alternative to a diamond because of its physical properties. Moissanite offers a more affordable price point, but it still requires a modest budget to invest in a high-quality piece. Additionally, white zircon is a natural gemstone that imitates a diamond visually in its colorless nature and high dispersion," explains Kanary.
- Can I add stones to my engagement ring later? "With a good jeweler, you can do almost anything!" assures Kanary. "You may need to sacrifice some style designs depending on how much you want to add or change, but if you are looking for a simple stone swap, that can be done very easily as long as the stone has similar dimensions. Adding side stones is also a fairly simple task for a jeweler."