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Engagement Rings: How to Spend Your $3,000-$5,000 Budget Wisely

by Willyou.net * Aug 17, 2021
Round solitaire Engagement Ring - How to Spend Your 3,000-5,000 Budget Wisely

While it doesn’t exactly take a diamond expert to know that a budget between $3,000 and $5,000 sits relatively low on the scale, there’s a pretty major silver living to that statement: it also doesn’t take a diamond expert to find a beautiful ring worthy of making any bride-to-be’s dreams come true with no more than a single sparkle.

It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking that the only way to make a worthwhile investment into diamonds and gold is to spend many months’ worth of your salary on it. It is, of course, absolutely true that the more you spend, the more you get – what’s not true is the assumption that getting ‘less’ means winding up with something that looks, well, less.

Diamonds have earned the reputation they have because of their innate beauty – a combination of what’s visible to the naked eye, and what isn’t. Learn how to maximize on those visible features, and you can stick to your budget and still rest assured that you will still sweep your bride-to-be off her feet with a $,5000 engagement ring.

  • The Rundown
  • The Diamond
    • How Big of a Diamond Can You Buy for $5,000?
    • What is the Most Important C for a Diamond?
    • Should I Buy a Cheaper Diamond Online?
  • The Ring
    • How Much Should You Spend on the Setting?
    • What time of year do engagement rings go on sale?
    • How Much Does a Custom Ring Setting Cost?
  • Our Summary

The Rundown: Is $5,000 Good for an Engagement Ring?

Absolutely – you can easily find a beautiful ring for a budget of $3,000 – $5,000. Nowadays, there’s a lot of unhelpful dialogue going around, trying to dictate how much we ‘should’ be spending on engagement rings, but this is a great budget for anyone who knows where – and how – to spend it.

It was way back in the 1930s when (surprise, surprise) a prolific diamond seller ran a campaign stating that a man should spend no less than one months’ salary on an engagement ring. Within half a century, the standard had jumped to a staggering two months’ salary on the ring alone. 

This was all based on the assumption that the men buying these rings didn’t know a whole lot about buying diamonds, and would need plenty of guidance toward a quality piece.

That much is true but, these days, we can all enter into the process with a watertight understanding of what makes a good investment, what aspects we’re happy to pass up on for the sake of our budgets, and, ultimately, how to recognise a truly good deal when we see it.

What’s more, the national average currently sits at $5,500 – putting you right where you want to be if some part of you is still eager to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. If not, it’s still a great reassurance that you’re not pitching yourself too low at the jeweler’s shop.

With that knowledge, and a trusted and reputable local jeweler to guide you the rest of the way, a $5,000 engagement ring will have you right where you want to be. A budget of around $3,000 will give you a similar amount of scope, although you may have to make a couple more compromises on the diamond and setting.

The Diamond

Without a doubt, this is the real ‘big ticket item’. While you need to set aside a good portion of your budget for the setting – and, possibly, re-sizing – the diamond obviously takes center stage. It’s a pretty significant learning curve for anyone who’s never bought something like this before, but that baseline knowledge will totally change the way you browse what’s available.

How Big of a Diamond Can You buy for $5,000?

That depends on whether you want to invest more into size, or quality. You could get anything from a 0.5 carat diamond to a 1.5 carat (or even 2 carat) diamond with your budget, but there will be a major difference in terms of cut, clarity, and color.

One of the first things on most buyers’ minds is getting straight on diamond carat weight. It’s helpful to know that most engagement rings tend to feature a diamond of between 0.75 – 1.5 carats, which means that you don’t need to invest every cent into size and forget about the finer details.

Ideally, you will be setting aside 70-80% of your $5,000 engagement ring budget for the diamond itself – but you don’t want to take a single step toward that card reader or checkbook until you’ve talked things through with your jeweler. If you have some pretty extravagant ideas for the setting and accent stones, you’ll want to adjust your budget and leave ample space for those features.

One thing to remember: if two diamonds are a similar price, but drastically different sizes, then the larger one will be falling short in other areas. It may have a low clarity grade, with noticeable inclusions and blemishes that aren’t worth the extra bulk. It may be noticeable discolored, with a yellow tint.

If you ask us, the carat weight can only carry a diamond so far. If it’s big and affordable, it’s going to be graded low in other areas. We would urge you to focus less on size, and more on quality – and, of course, that the diamond is conflict free, and mined according to the Kimberley Process.  

round diamond ring with halo - How to Spend Your 3,000-5,000 Budget Wisely

What is the Most Important C for Diamonds?

Cut. This will be the defining feature of the diamond – more so than any minor inclusions or a marginally smaller size. It is the first thing anyone will notice, and plays a key role in determining quite how much a diamond sparkles.

A good cut is worth every dime you invest into it. You are paying for expert craftsmanship – the ability to create symmetry, and to transform a rough and lackluster stone into something breathtaking.

When you are on a budget, a lower clarity grade is a great option – provided the diamond is ‘eye clean’, or close enough that any inclusions don’t disrupt eye performance.

Similarly, you don’t need to search for a diamond with a top grade for color. The difference between a grade D and a grade G, for instance, is not significant enough that it will impact the ring’s overall beauty.

Should I Buy a Cheaper Diamond Online?

No – this is something we will continually urge our readers against. A diamond that looks good on screen might look disappointing in person, while a diamond that has a lower clarity grade than you’re hoping for might look breathtaking in person, in a way that a GIA report can’t do justice.

Online ring stores pride themselves on their ability to translate low overhead costs into savings for their customers, but here’s the thing: a good diamond won’t go on sale.

The best way to save money on a diamond is to compromise on certain features, and the only way you can feel confident about making those compromises is if you can see and hold that diamond in person.

This is too big of an investment to make on blind faith alone. Do your research, find your place in the world of diamonds, then book a consultation with your jeweler to have that invaluable experience.

The Ring

Remember that budgeting for a $5,000 engagement ring means budgeting for more than just the diamond. There is a whole world of ring styles out there, and all of them will place a different demand on your budget. While the diamond is the headliner, scrimping on the ring itself will do it no favors, and may cost you more in repair work down the line.

How Much Should You Spend on a Setting?

Settings can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands, but many will top out at around $1,500. What you spend will depend on whether you want the diamond to do all the work, or whether you would prefer to opt for a setting that features accent stones and mixed metals.

One thing we wouldn’t recommend is spending all your cash on the diamond, then going for the cheapest option possible on the setting just because you have no other option.

If your bride-to-be prefers to keep things simple, then skinny band engagement rings offer a chic and elegant option. Still, you’ll want to invest in a strong, durable, and beautiful metal: gold, or maybe even platinum, will ensure it lasts decades.

Regardless of the style you choose, you can’t delay talking your options through with your jeweler. Before you buy the diamond, you need to know you’ll be able to afford to get it set within an equally stunning ring.

halo pave engagement ring - How to Spend Your 3,000-5,000 Budget Wisely

What Time Of Year do Engagement Rings Go on Sale?

Some jewelers will run offers over major holidays but, in our opinion, it’s better to avoid the rush and focus on negotiating a good deal one-on-one with a reputable jeweler.

Sales can be pretty helpful when you know exactly what you want, and exactly what you’re willing to pay for it, but the thing about engagement ring shopping is there are so many variables involved – variables that can only be properly addressed during a consultation with your jeweler, rather than a quick look at the day’s top deals.

Our opinion? Stop watching the calendar and, instead, invest that time into researching and actually talking to your jeweler.

How Much Does a Custom Ring Setting Cost?

Again, anywhere from $500 to $1,500+ but, in all likelihood, slightly more than an equivalent ring already on the shelf. The extra time and skill used to create your unique vision certainly comes at a premium – and you’ll want to do plenty of research first – but it’s more than worth the slightly higher cost.

This is a great way to take advantage of your decision to visit a real-life jeweler. You can combine your knowledge of your bride-to-be with the jeweler’s years’ worth of expertise and dedication to their craft, in order to design a ring around your chosen diamond.

Yes, you’ll need to leave a little extra space in your budget but, as we’ve mentioned, it’s perfectly feasible to find an excellent diamond that doesn’t cost the earth. 

Our Summary: How Do You Get the Most Out of $5,000 Engagement Ring?

By researching, gathering ideas, finding your feet in the world of diamonds and diamond pricing, and then using that information to form a truly beneficial working relationship with your local jeweler. It may sound the more time-consuming option, but this is one area where you can’t afford to cut corners.

Other than that, our advice is this: the ‘best deal’ isn’t necessarily the one with the big red sticker on it. No two diamonds are the same and, while diamond sellers speak in a language of color grades and cut styles, those looking to invest in something that will be worn for a lifetime also need to rely on something much more personal: instinct.

So, get to know how diamonds are appraised, but don’t get hung up on grading and scoring. The best way to find a great deal is to get offline, head out and find one for yourself.