There’s no use in sidestepping the fact that, when it comes to engagement rings, a budget of $2,500 is on the low side. It’s a sizeable sum of money, but it’s not going to unlock the widest array of choices in the jewelry store.
Fortunately, you don’t need to widest array of choices – you just need to find the one – and that’s still a distinct possibility, provided you’re honest with yourself about the sort of thing $2,500 can get you – what it can’t – and what you definitively don’t want to fall for in the process.
Here’s what you need to know.
The number one key to finding an excellent ring within your price range is an experienced and reputable jeweler. You don’t want to wander into any old store – or, worse, ‘DIY it’ online – and find yourself being talked into upping your budget to heights you’re not comfortable with, and a good jeweler won’t do this.
The key is to be frank. Tell them your budget – tell them your absolute limit – and let them scan through their industry knowledge to work out a solution. While $2500 is low for an engagement ring, it won’t be the first time they’ve heard the number uttered in their store, so don’t try to skirt the subject of money – it’ll only make things harder.
But what’s wrong with going online? Sure, you might feel a little more ‘in control’ sitting at your computer (and their prices often undercut bricks-and-mortar stores), but you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Whether you’re spending $2500, $25,000 or $250,000 on an engagement ring, there’s a lot to think about, and you can’t cover all your bases without the right jeweler.
The better option? Using our Jewelry Store Locator to find a store we personally recommend in your local area.
Ideally representing 80% of your budget, the importance of picking the right diamond cannot be overstated. You’ll want to understand the basics of diamond value – how quality changes price, and how you can get away with buying a ‘lower quality’ diamond without it looking, well, cheap.
For this, understanding the Four Cs is paramount. Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat are all capable of creating a substantial difference between two diamonds that, if placed in front of you, probably don’t look all that different.
Whatever budget you’re shopping at, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of certification. The GIA is preferable but, failing that, the only other lab we would recommend is the AGS.
Also, spare a thought for shape. You might have already settled on the shape you want, but it’s worth remembering that some are more expensive than others. The Round Brilliant, as a result of its popularity and sparkle, is the most expensive, while cuts like the Princess, Marquise and Emerald are generally more affordable. Changing your vision could be a great way to save a little money.
If you’re still worried about feeling ‘on the spot’ at the jewelry store, browse diamonds online first – but don’t be tempted by the online jewelers.
What’s a diamond without a ring when you’re preparing to get down on one knee?
We mentioned above that you’ll want to leave about 20% of your budget for the setting – which leaves you a rough ‘ring budget’ of $500. Again, this is pretty low, but it’s not totally out of the question.
You’ll probably need to reign in any ideas you have for accent diamonds, and you’ll want to aim for a cheaper metal – 10K gold instead of 14k or 18k, and white gold (again, 10K) instead of platinum – but ‘budget’ doesn’t have to mean poor quality, particularly if you choose the right jeweler.
A cathedral setting is a great option for giving your ring more intrigue and height, without relying on intricate details like pavé. If there’s room in your budget, you can achieve the illusion of a bigger center stone with a small halo setting, or, alternatively, go for the foolproof classic of the solitaire.
Again, it’s about practicing openness and honesty with your jeweler, and realizing that a low budget does not mean you have to go for the bottom of the barrel.