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How to Buy an Engagement Ring: Engagement Ring Price Guide

So, you’re finally ready to buy an engagement ring. You’ve found the perfect girl and crafted the proposal of your dreams — but you haven’t yet found the right ring for the job. It can feel like a confusing situation to be in, but you’re not alone. If you’re anything like other guys worried about how to pick an engagement ring that will sweep her off her feet, you’re probably scrambling for all the tips you can find — but that can get really overwhelming really fast. Luckily, this engagement ring buying price guide will help answer all your questions and cover all your bases when finding that perfect ring — and keep you from breaking the bank while doing it.

How Much Should I Spend?

First things first, you’ve got to establish a rock-solid budget to stick to throughout the search for your engagement ring. This symbol of your commitment is a big purchase, and one you certainly don’t want to skimp on, but how do you decide how much is just enough to spend? The two month rule Most of us have heard the old advice that you should spend two months’ salary when springing for the engagement ring, but it turns out that’s a pretty baseless claim. The two months’ rule is actually one of the most successful marketing relics from the DeBeers company, dating all the way back to the 1930s. Initially, the company suggested socking away a single month’s salary to make the engagement ring purchase, but in the 1980s, they bumped it up to two months’ pay. While the two-month rule is certainly arbitrary, the notion of saving up for your engagement ring by putting away a certain amount each month is a useful one. These are two popular ways to save for your engagement ring on a monthly scale:
  • Save by Percentages: If you’re the type that likes all your ducks in a row all the time, you may want to consider setting a hard savings schedule that sees a portion of your income saved for the engagement ring every month. Tally up your monthly expenses and figure out how much spare income you have after all the necessities are taken care of. Then set aside a percentage of that extra money every month for the purchase of your engagement ring.
  • Cut Excess: It may be more intuitive for you to examine your lifestyle and see where you can cut excess expenses as they come up. Cut out expensive coffee, or dine out a bit less. You might see a way to save money by downgrading your cable service or switching to home exercise rather than the gym. There are many ways to make small sacrifices that can add up to a lot of savings in the long run!
Obviously, the most effective savings method is a combination of both, but focusing on one or the other can be effective as well, depending on your personality.

Should I Finance the Engagement Ring?

In some cases, even the most vigilant of savings habits aren’t quite adequate to kick up enough funds for a proposal in the preferred timeframe. For whatever reason, many guys choose to finance their engagement ring purchase — but should you?
  • Using a credit card: If your credit is reasonably good and you don’t have a significant burden of debt already, it’s likely you’ll be able to utilize one of the many credit cards that offer 0% APR introductory periods that range anywhere from six to 18 months.
  • Jeweler's financing: Another option would be to check out your jeweler’s financing options. Nearly all top-tier jewelers offer options to help you pay for your engagement ring, including financing with approved credit or layaway.
Financing can be an excellent option if you qualify. You should also make sure you see eye-to-eye with your sweetheart on finances and debt. If you or your future fiancée are one of the 4.7 million Americans carrying student loan debt, for example, she may not approve of you financing a significant portion of your engagement ring purchase.

Style vs. Substance

Now that you’ve got a handle on how you’re going to pay for it, it’s on to the monumental question of how to buy an engagement ring she’ll treasure forever. While you might be tempted to rush straight out and get the biggest diamond you can afford, it’s worth considering all your options before you do.
  • Heirloom & Vintage: Engagement rings are a symbol of commitment not just between individuals, but often between the families of the involved parties. For that reason, choosing a ring that’s been in your family for a while can be an incredibly touching gesture. On the other hand, not everyone has engagement heirlooms to spare — and let’s face it, even if you do have a family ring, it might not be your future fiancée’s first choice!Another option is to find a “vintage” ring somewhere else. Whether you’re browsing estate sales or prowling online, it’s very possible to find a unique engagement ring she’ll love — at a price you can afford.
  • Nontraditional Stones: While diamonds are traditionally a girl’s best friend, they aren’t right for everyone! There’s nothing wrong with sticking by the old standard, but colored diamonds and other gemstones can make for a dazzling departure from the norm if your sweetheart loves the fresh and unique.If opting for a gemstone other than diamond, you also get an advantage in price. The money you save choosing a different gemstone means you can either go for a larger stone or a more expensive material, or you could pocket the savings for the future.
  • Custom Rings: When nothing but the best will do, it’s time to think about getting an engagement ring custom-designed. The love of your life is utterly unique, and what better way to show that than to work with an expert jeweler to get exactly the ring of her dreams? Working with an expert custom jeweler is definitely one of the best ways to show your attention to detail, but it can get a bit cost prohibitive if you’re not careful.If you do choose to go for a customized engagement ring, make sure you have an idea of what stone size and material you want before you book your consultation!
Customized engagement ring While all of these are great alternatives to the traditional ring-buying process, they certainly aren’t for everyone. After all, not everyone wants to hoof it to the local estate sales, which can also be an odd new hobby to explain, or do the work of designing an engagement ring themselves. For those who prefer the tried and true diamond engagement ring without the extra hassle, it’s all about the materials.

Materials Guide

For the most part, the choice of metal for engagement rings comes down to price. These are the three most popular and readily available materials in the ring-buying arena:
  • Platinum: It’s likely you already know that platinum is the premiere metal for engagement and wedding rings, but do you know why? For one thing, it’s significantly heavier than gold, since jewelry must be 90-95% platinum to be labeled anything other than an alloy. This lends it a solid feel that many people appreciate in jewelry for day-to-day wear. Platinum is also much stronger than gold for the same reason, and therefore, it has a much longer life than gold jewelry — perfect for creating an heirloom of your own!In terms of looks, platinum is naturally whitish in color and won’t fade to yellow the way gold does. It does develop a dull patina over time, but many people like this since it gives the diamond more room to sparkle.
  • Gold: Gold engagement rings are pretty standard fare, due to looks as well as price point. Gold is significantly cheaper than platinum, but it’s still a gorgeous option. In jewelry, gold can only be used in alloys — like silver, nickel or manganese — which means you can’t have a ring made of “pure” gold. However, pure gold is relatively soft anyway, so adding other metals to it makes it much sturdier.Gold generally comes in three colors: white, yellow and rose. It’s also classified by its actual gold content, so you’ll most commonly see rings that come in 10K, 14K and 18K. The K stands for karats, which is a measure of purity — not to be confused with diamond carats, which we’ll discuss in a moment. The gold content corresponding to each tier is as follows:
    • 10K: 41.7% gold
    • 14K: 58.5% gold
    • 18K: 75% gold
    One of the most attractive aspects of gold is it’s abundant enough that there are engagement ring options for nearly anyone’s budget, and it comes in nearly every style and setting imaginable.
Gold comes in three colors.
  • Palladium: This precious metal is another member of the Platinum Group or “noble” metals, and one of the rarest ones at that. Its appearance is quite similar to that of platinum, but it’s a much less dense material and happens to have a lower melting point. It’s a hypoallergenic metal, and its 95% purity makes it ideal for those with allergies to certain alloys.Palladium is beloved for its lightweight wear and extreme resistance to tarnish and dulling. In fact, all it takes to keep a palladium ring sparkling for years to come is to use a soap and warm water solution in combination with a soft brush.The cost of palladium is often prohibitive, but its outstanding quality and longevity make it an excellent choice for commemorating eternity.

Diamond Cuts & Quality

While it’s pretty easy to find your footing when it comes to ring materials and styles, diamonds are a whole other animal. A lot of guys don’t put too much thought into the diamond they choose — after all, they’re all white and sparkly, aren’t they? Wrong! Compare rings on all four qualities. Knowing your stuff when it comes to diamond quality as well as cuts can help you spot a great deal and avoid over-paying for your engagement ring. The things to look out for are handily known as the four Cs:
  • Cut: Diamonds are made to sparkle, and the quality of their cut determines how brilliantly they do so. The best diamond cuts allow light to reflect more freely. Cuts are graded on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the ideal. This measure allows you to evaluate the craftsmanship of the diamond.
  • Color: Though most diamonds are colorless to the naked eye, things can get a little murkier up close if you haven’t checked on the quality of your diamond’s color. Color — or preferably, lack thereof — is graded on a scale with D being the ideal and Z being a clearly yellow or brown-colored diamond.
  • Clarity: This measure of quality focuses on the merits and imperfections in the stone itself. An ideal diamond will have no flaws whatsoever, to the naked eye and magnifier alike — but it will also be impossibly expensive and hard to find. Luckily, diamond clarity grading is done with a 10x magnifier, meaning most of the diamonds you find will have inclusions or blemishes you won’t be able to see at all. The standard clarity grading scale consists of these verdicts, beginning with the most flawless:
    • Flawless
    • Internally Flawless
    • Very Very Slightly Included 1 & 2
    • Very Slightly Included 1 & 2
    • Slightly Included 1 & 2
    • Included 1-3
    Clarity can also be affected by the size and facet style of the diamond. For example, a larger diamond with a flatter cut — like emerald — will carry inclusions that are more visible than a smaller, more faceted diamond.
  • Carat: This is the aspect of diamond quality that most of us are familiar with — and although it’s not necessarily the most important thing to consider, there’s something to be said for “the bigger the better!” Carats are the only completely objective measure of diamond quality, since it’s a measure of weight. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram.While larger diamonds are rarer and generally more expensive, it’s vital to remember that an increase in size does not translate proportionally to the increase in value. For example, a larger diamond might still have a poor cut, meaning the extra material is dragging down the ring’s overall brilliance and therefore its value.
No single aspect of diamond quality will make or break your choice of engagement ring. When looking to buy, it’s a good idea to compare rings on all four qualities before making your decision. The biggest engagement ring available might not be the best in terms of clarity, or it might have too much color. Crafting a comparison chart for the Four Cs might be a bit time consuming, but it can really help you get an understanding of how the value of different diamond engagement rings can vary according to these differences.

Get More for Your Money With Mountz

Walking into a jewelry store backed up by the knowledge of an engagement ring buying guide will make things significantly smoother for you, but you can’t have the perfect ring-buying experience without the perfect jeweler. Mountz Jewelers is your top-tier source for the best engagement rings out there. Whether you want expert advice on choosing a ring or want to work with committed professionals to create one of your own, Mountz Jewelers is here to help you get the brilliant engagement ring you need to make your special moment magical — browse our selection of fine bridal jewelry and contact us today. Trust Your Special Moments to Mountz!

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