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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 super-popular choice when affordability is a concern), a ring with enamel (which is 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 for this style). 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.
You don't necessarily need a flawless diamond or ones that perfectly match to achieve a stunning look. In fact, opting for the less than perfect one is a great way to cut costs. "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 Kim Kanary.
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.
Wanting a beautiful engagement ring (and, hey, you deserve one) doesn't mean you have to break the bank. There are many ways to signify a lifelong commitment without going in the red zone of your checking account or racking up a serious credit card balance.
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.
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.
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.
Keyzar 2.5 CT Oval Engagement Ring, 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.
Kay Jewelers Diamond Engagement Ring
Hello, sparkle! We're loving this pavé-set diamond band featuring an emerald-cut center stone. The best part: that incredible double halo.
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 turn heads. "For decades, diamond has been the premiere 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 is 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 I spend on my engagement ring? "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 ensure that my affordable engagement ring is still high quality? "It's vital to ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable jeweler. Ask yourself, have I done my research, and 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?" Kanary says. "Ultimately, the most important question to consider is whether you will love and cherish your potential ring; and if that's a yes, then go for it!"
- What are the best inexpensive stones that emulate a diamond? "There are several alternatives to diamonds available to fit any budget and preference. 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.
- 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.
- 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."