It’s no secret that engagement rings can be pricey. And if you’re about to embark on a quest to find the perfect forever adornment for your special someone, you can probably attest to the sticker shock that can come with engagement ring shopping.If you want to get engaged but cant afford a ring, have no fear, even a hefty purchase such as a diamond ring can lose its edge with proper planning and budgeting.
If you’re beginning to wonder if your dream ring is out of reach, don’t fret, our experts are here to help. In this blog, we’ll give you some tips on budgeting, diamond size, and pricing, and even where to shop for affordable engagement rings to help make your engagement ring buying experience as painless as possible.
Budgeting For an Engagement Ring
Engagements and weddings are all about starting a new chapter. No couple wants to begin their new life with a cloud of debt looming over them. You might’ve tried searching how to afford or budget for an engagement ring or pulled out an engagement ring calculator to see if you can afford that beautiful diamond ring.
So, what’s the secret to popping the question or saying, “I do,” without the financial headache? Budgeting and ample planning, of course.
The 3 Months Salary Rule
By now, you might be familiar with the three months salary rule. If not, the gist of it is that if you’re looking to propose to your S.O., you should be stashing away the equivalent of three months salary to cover the costs of the ring. However, recent studies are indicating that more and more couples are beginning to stray from this traditional guideline.
So what should you do? The truth is that the three months salary ‘rule’ doesn’t make sense for everyone. We put it this way in our article How Many Months Salary Should You Put Toward An Engagement Ring, “If you make a gross salary of $100,000 per year, you would be spending somewhere around $25,000 on a wedding ring. That’s bonkers! On the flip side, spending thousands of dollars on an expensive ring is simply out of the question for some shoppers making the average engagement ring cost expensive and unattainable.”
Not to mention, this isn’t even taking into account the changes in engagement ring pricing across the board. Lab grown diamonds and diamond alternatives are on the rise and they’re selling for just a fraction of the cost of the traditionally mined diamond. And with prices as wild as up to 80% less than a comparable natural diamond, it’s no surprise that these gemstones are extremely popular amongst budget-minded shoppers.
How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?
Determining your engagement ring budget will come down to striking the balance between two things, your partner’s expectations
, and your financial situation.
Start by considering your fiance-to-be’s preferences. Have they always dreamt about rocking a particular stone shape or engagement ring setting? Do they like flashy and glamorous styles or do they prefer minimalistic and streamlined designs? Your spouse is the person who will have to wear the ring every day so it’s important that you try to meet their expectations. If you don’t know where to start, broach the subject with one of their close friends or family members for a little help. Or, if all else fails, try stalking their Pinterest profile for some inspiration.
After you determine whether it’s a dazzling accented halo or a sleek and simplistic solitaire that strikes their fancy, you can move on to phase two, assessing your personal finances.
Begin by tallying up all sources of income, such as your regular take-home pay, interest or dividends, and any other earnings that you can think of. This should give you a decent idea of how much money you’re making on a regular basis. But it doesn’t stop there, you’ll also want to consider your expenses. That means adding up all of your fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, monthly utility bills, groceries, car payments, student loan payments, and all other statements that you pay on a regular basis. Finally, you’ll also want to include other random costs like gas, tolls, money spent dining out, etc.
Diamond Nexus says the following on budgeting for a ring, “anything and everything outgoing needs to be totaled for the most accurate picture of how much you can put towards a gemstone. It’s important that you don’t underestimate these variable expenses because it can really hurt you later down the road. You can’t accurately budget for an engagement ring without a true picture of your financial health. It’s much better to estimate your expenses on the higher side and be pleasantly surprised at how much you have leftover to spend than to estimate on the lower side and find yourself struggling to make ends meet.”
Once you determine all of your expenses, you can divide the number by 12 for a rough estimate of your average spending each month. This will give you a better picture of what you can reasonably save for an engagement ring.
Choosing An Affordable Center Stone
Everyone knows that diamonds are a big investment, but have you ever wondered why the coveted symbol of eternal love is so costly? At the end of the day, the eye-popping prices of diamond jewelry across the industry can be credited to two things – a brilliant global marketing campaign launched by De Beers and the resulting supply and demand.
But did you know that despite what the average consumer has been led to believe, diamonds aren’t rare and they don’t actually hold much value over time? In fact, diamonds are one of the most commonly owned gemstones in the world. The International Gem Society(IGS) puts it this way, “Diamonds are the hardest material found on earth. They resist scratching better than anything else. Other than that, they hold no unique distinctions. All gem-quality materials are rare. They compose just a fraction of the earth. However, diamonds actually number among the most common gems. Ask yourself this: “How many people do you know who own at least one diamond?” Now, ask this question about other gems, like rubies, sapphires, or emeralds.”
All this considered, more modern shoppers are turning to affordable choices like a lab grown diamond and a diamond alternative.
The 4Cs and Pricing
No matter your center stone of choice, the price of your gemstone will be determined according to the 4Cs of diamond quality – cut, color, carat weight, and clarity. Depending upon your stone shape and size, different aspects of the 4Cs will be more detrimental to the overall beauty of your gem than others. But this is good news because it means that you don’t have to focus on getting perfect ratings across the board in all four areas to obtain a gorgeous engagement ring. This also means that you can tweak the 4Cs to your advantage to save a little extra cash.
Mined vs Lab Grown Diamonds
If your perfect engagement ring includes diamonds but you want to save money, consider choosing lab grown diamonds over mined diamonds. Lab diamonds are real diamonds as they are made of pure carbon and share the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as their mined counterparts.
Not only are lab diamonds the real thing, but they’re also way more affordable costing up to 80% less than a comparable mined diamond. What’s more, lab diamonds don’t contribute to the unethical practices associated with diamond mining making them the clear choice for your future diamond engagement ring.
If a lab grown diamonds is out of your price range but you still love the colorless look of a diamond, do some research on diamond alternatives. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulant that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look and wear of a diamond. And if you’re worried about durability, don’t
,. the Nexus Diamond™ alternative is so strong that it can even cut glass.
Another diamond alternative to consider is moissanite. Moissanite is a diamond simulant that shares the same colorless hue as a diamond. However, one of the main optical differences between the two is the way that they refract light. Diamonds are known for their fire and brilliance, while moissanite is beloved for its unbeatable sparkle. Known as “the disco ball effect”, moissanite emits bright flashes of colors when exposed to the light making it instantly recognizable as an imposter when observed by diamond pros. That being said, the average Joe is unlikely to be able to spot the difference between moissanite and a real diamond if this is something that concerns you.
For something off the beaten path, opt for a colored center stone instead of the classic colorless variety. Rubies, sapphires, and emeralds all make for a fabulous option. Alternatively, choose to decorate your ring with colorful accent gemstones instead of the classic small diamonds that are often used in accented engagement ring designs.
Choosing An Affordable Setting
The setting you choose will greatly impact the cost of an engagement ring. Fancy halos and accented bands mean more diamonds which can add up quickly. For a beautiful ring that won’t break the bank, opt for a less flashy setting instead.
The solitaire engagement ring setting is sleek, simple, and super popular. Timeless in design, this style features a single diamond fixed to a metal band in the color of your choice – rose gold, yellow gold, or white gold. The lack of accent stones used in a solitaire setting makes it more affordable than other styles allowing you to amp up the carat weight on your center stone if you so please.
If you’re looking for a little more sparkle but don’t want to overspend, try a romantic three stone engagement ring setting. In this style, a captivating center stone is mirrored by a pair of side stones. What’s more, this design is perfect for the romantic in your life as it’s said to represent a couple’s past, present, and future together.
Payment and Where to Shop
Making your ring purchase through online retailers can cost you less than shopping with a local jeweler or big box store. The Diamond Pro had the following to say on the matter, “In most cases, engagement rings are 30-40% cheaper online than they are in physical stores. Because of the way diamonds are sold and distributed, diamonds are less expensive for online vendors.”
Payment Plans and Financing Options
According to an article from The Knot, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2020 was $5,500. That’s no small fee. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do if you can’t quite swing the entire cost.
One option is to finance the ring using a 0% introductory credit card. These types of cards allow you to make payments for 15 to 18 months without paying interest. Some cards even give you points that you can use towards travel for the perfect honeymoon.
If you’re shopping through a jewelry store, why not see if they offer an engagement ring financing plan. In some cases, retailers offer monthly payment plans where customers with excellent credit score can pay off their engagement ring purchase with low to no interest for a specified period of time.
If all else fails, consider taking out a personal loan for your forever adornment. Nerd Wallet said the following regarding personal loans for engagement rings, “Well-qualified borrowers may get a low interest rate on a personal loan that can be used to purchase an engagement ring. These loans provide a lump sum of money that you repay in monthly installments.”
Propose Now, Keep Saving
If you’re ready to propose but your finances aren’t quite in order, consider proposing with a placeholder ring or explore our fine clearance jewelry collection for other affordable pieces she’ll love. This option allows you to keep stashing away extra cash until you have enough saved up to re-pop the question with the real deal.
So if you’re looking for a beautiful engagement ring to pop the question but can’t afford the so-not beautiful diamond ring prices, consider a financing option, a diamond alternative, or different styles and carat weight for a real diamond.
Visit us at Nexus Diamond for more affordable engagement rings and options.