How much should you spend on an engagement ring? Your father and grandfather would tell you that back in their day, there was a rule of thumb: you should fork over two months’ salary. But they also didn’t live in the era of six-digit student loans and sky-high mortgages. Let us assure you right away that there are gorgeous rings that won’t break you when you open the credit card bill. Here’s exactly how to buy an engagement ring on a budget.

Buying an engagement ring is a social custom for which there are no hard-and-fast rules anymore, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with shopping for an engagement ring on a budget. Here’s how to make the process less intimidating — dare we say, easy. At With Clarity, we have beautiful options to fit any financial situation.

Determine your budget

Before making any major investment, it’s important to determine how much you can afford to spend. That seems basic, but it’s worth reminding yourself in your love-blinded state that you’ll be opening each other’s credit card bills soon. It might seem romantic to just start browsing and let inspiration lead you to a ring, price be damned, but remember — you’ve got a wedding to pay for, too.

Decide which of the 4Cs is most important to you

That’s the four C’s of diamonds — carat, cut, color and clarity. You can save money by compromising on the factors that are less important to you. For example: The average engagement ring is 0.9 carats. (See our guide to carats and measurements here.) If your heart is set on a 1-carat ring, you can start by searching rings of that weight. But if you know she’d love a round-cut diamond, you could save money by choosing a brilliant cut at a slightly lower carat.

Research rings to discover where you can compromise

Choose a ring that looks clean and clear to the naked eye. But the difference in price between rings of higher clarity grades might not be worth the dent they’ll put in your wallet. Most people can’t tell the difference between a diamond at the highest point of the clarity scale (VVS1) and the lower tier (VS1, which might contain small inclusions). A clarity step-down could offer you significant savings. If you choose to go with a smaller carat size in a shape or color she’ll absolutely love, you can always go with a halo setting, which tends to make smaller stones appear larger. (Our experts can help you every step of the way — see #6.)

how to buy an engagement ring on a budget by getting a bigger looking stone with a halo

Take your search online

It’s just a fact: shopping online will save you more money than going brick-and-mortar. The average jewelry store marks up a ring between 20 and 50 percent, to pay for the store’s overhead and inventory costs. With Clarity can keep our prices low because of our close relationships with diamond mines, our low overhead and the fact that our rings aren’t outsourced. All of our rings are expertly handcrafted in-house — that way, we can ensure they’re of the highest quality, and pass the money we save on outsourcing along to you.

Consider splitting the cost

A growing trend is to buy rings together as a couple. You’re a partnership now, making important decisions together — it could make total sense to start with the engagement ring. Aside from the financial relief that comes from combining two budgets, shopping together ensures that your partner will get a ring they’ll truly love. “Picking out and buying a ring together made me feel like a partner in a practice that has historically been a little sexist and one-sided,” wrote one Cosmopolitan editor recently. “Being there every step of the way helped me understand the magnitude of what really goes into a proposal.”

Talk to an expert gemologist

At With Clarity, we have expert gemologists on staff who are highly experienced in working within budgets to find the right diamond for each couple, based on their priorities. They can walk you through a diamond’s GIA or IGI certificate — which lists a diamond’s carat size, measurements, and ratings on various qualities — so you’ll know how to best concentrate your budget. Chat with us now, email, or call 1.844.234.6463 to get started!

ID.Me Discounts

Are you part of the US Military, a US Military Vet, a First Responder, a Doctor, or a Nurse? We are proud to offer a discount on all our jewelry and ring settings (excluding loose diamonds.) Thank you for all you do to keep use safe and healthy. Learn more about our Military, First Responder, Doctor, and Nurse discounts.

Pay with a wire transfer

Talk to your jeweler about whether certain methods of payment can snag you a discount. At With Clarity, you can save money (1.5% to be exact) when you pay for your diamond with a wire transfer.

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