So you've meticulously cultivated the perfect Pinterest board of custom-tailored ring inspo. You've feverishly stalked every celeb sparkler out there and made your own judgement calls on if they were or were not worthy of placement on your ring finger. And now the time has come to get out there and seal the deal. And whether your spouse-to-be is venturing out solo or you are joining them on the search, engagement ring shopping can be an overwhelming process. Especially when all that frenzied pinning has resulted in creating big ring expectations that come with celeb-sized price tags that are far outside of your budget. While this realization can be a heartbreaking discovery, there is no reason to let it dampen the excitement of this romantic time in your life. Especially, since we've got your back on this one. We did our research and have a few pointers for how to get more bling for your buck. In other words, with a little bit of wiggle room, you can still get that showstopper you've been dreaming of—just get ready for all the paparazzi attention that comes with it.
Check out our five fool-proof ways to maximize the value of your engagement ring (and maybe save something left for the wedding).
Know Your Shapes
Round diamonds cost about 25 percent more than other shapes, says Nicole Wegman, founder of Ring Concierge. Ovals also tend to be pricier because they’re in demand right now (when the inventory is lower, the price rises). You can save up to 10 percent by going with another shape.
Get the Right Cut
When your heart is set on a bigger rock—specifically a round shape—you can go for lower color and clarity if you get an excellent cut, Wegman says. It will sparkle more than lower-cut grades, appear whiter, and can hide flaws.
(Slightly) Downgrade Your Dreams
A 0.9 carat looks so much like a 1 carat, and a 1.9 looks so much like a 2 carat (and trust us, even your pettiest friend won’t notice). Wegman says you can save as much as 25 percent on the stone when you stay just under full-carat marks. In the same vein, get a G-quality stone, which is right under the colorless range (D–F). When it’s placed next to an F, that snobby friend still won’t see the difference, but it costs about 8 percent less.
Avoid Three-Stone Styles
Skip the Pavé Band
A thin band in platinum or gold will showcase your diamond—and can cost $600 less than the same setting with micropavé.