Buying an beautiful engagement ring doesn’t have to drive you into deep, and lasting, debt. You can get the ring you love, at the price you need, if you look in the right places. Here are 7 ways that you can can find the perfect ring to commemorate your love, and commitment, without going into debt, or spending money that you need for other things.
1. Consider an Heirloom Stone
Why would the fact that ‘Diamonds are Forever’ matter to buyers that know they won’t live forever? It’s the hope of many people that they can leave a legacy of love and a rich treasury of memories that could lead future generations to want a sense of connection that can be carried on through a timeless, and beautiful, ring.
Heirloom stones would include various gems, like diamonds, that relatives bought and personally used in the past. The gems may have been part of their wedding ring, or just a nice piece of jewelry that they kept and treasured.
Maybe you haven’t had a relatives leave rings that you’re aware of, but sometimes in asking around, you’ll find that an aunt or uncle may have gotten something that they’d be happy to let you use and keep in the family. You may also find that your mother or grandmother, may have had multiple rings over time, and giving you the diamond from one of their past rings could bring they a lot of joy and an added sense of connection and significance as you prepare for your wedding.
Heirloom stones can save you a lot of money on the component of an engagement ring, or wedding ring, that’s typically most expensive, but it’s value goes well beyond the dollars saved! The greatest value you’ll see from an heirloom diamond, or other similar gems, is a sense of history, legacy, and connection as you wear your special ring and begin to build a new family and extend that legacy. Maybe one day, you’ll give the same stone to your child or grandchild too.
Don’t you hope that your ring could be something that future generations could cherish? It’s a connect that we can have with our loved ones
2. With Diamond, Like Cars, You Save Big Buying Used
If people try to resell a diamond ring they just bought, they’re going to lose their shirts. Typically, they’re only going to be able to recover 30-50% of what they paid their jeweler for the ring. If they work really hard, and get extremely lucky, they might walk away with 65% of what they paid for the ring (but that’s a long-shot).
The fact that brand new rings experience such a drastic loss of value creates an opportunity for a careful and patient bargain shopper. Before we get into this too deeply, let me just say, that I feel for people that have to resell a diamond ring. There’s a painful story behind almost every one. You’re helping them move on with their lives, and recover financially, as much as possible, when you buy their ring.
Why do people sell rings?
- She/he said ‘No’
- They decided not to propose
- They broke off the engagement
- They just got divorced
- They don’t like the style any more
- They’re in a financial pinch, but need something more than pawn shops will pay
- The ring didn’t fit and the size couldn’t be adjusted enough
- They have an allergy to the type of metal used
Why can’t sellers get more for beautiful rings that they just purchased? Let’s quickly look at each of their selling options to help you understand what they’re dealing with.
Pawn shops are probably the worst place to sell a diamond ring. They typically pay very little. They may or may not have ability to verify that the diamond is what you claim that it is (a real diamond). If they don’t have a way to verify, they’ll pay you as if it’s not a real diamond. You’ll get next to nothing much of the time.
If you have a certification for your ring through an organization like GIA, it would be a great idea to have that ready to show to anyone your attempt to sell your ring to. It may allow them to get more comfortable with the stone you’re attempting to sell, so they’ll open their wallet and pay a little more.
The general public isn’t very well versed on diamonds. That means that they may not really appreciate the true value of a beautiful diamond ring with specific quality and characteristics. Most people will probably be very suspicious, because there are lots of scammers out there that would love to hand off a fancy looking piece of glass for several thousand dollars.
Most people would rather go into a reputable jeweler to buy diamonds than deal with a stranger that could be trying to pull a fast one. Because of this, diamonds usually have to sell at a pretty steep discount—that’s just the way it is.
Gia certificates may help (they certainly can’t hurt), but in many cases, the people you show the certificate to won’t be familiar with GIA—so it won’t mean much to them. Those that are familiar, may have know that forging sometimes happens, so they may still be suspicious.
Jewelers seem like the natural fit. They have a ring full of merchandise and can almost certainly resell the ring quickly, right? In reality, they don’t want your ring, because it would take them to pull a lot of cash out of their register. Why would they want to buy your ring, if they can get rings for less from their suppliers? They won’t. Why would they pay your cash for your ring, when they can buy from their supplier with attractive terms that allow them to secure inventory now, but pay at some future point.
In light of all these factors, you would need to sell at a really big discount in order for Jewelers to be interested in purchasing your ring. Because of that, this isn’t the ideal place to sell.
Ebay is a massive international market place. People go to Ebay instead of their local jeweler because they want a serious deal though. The significant discount that the buyer is expecting isn’t your only cost of selling. Ebay charges for selling the item and Paypal charges for collecting the funds and making them available. In total, you’ll pay at least 13% to sell (in addition to any shipping costs that you absorb.
The buyer discount, platform fees, and possible shipping costs combined, make sites like Ebay difficult places to do well with reselling nice jewelry.
This is Where You Come In
As you can see, most selling options aren’t great. Many sellers that just ended a relationship are hoping to quickly recover as much as possible and move on, rather than holding out for a few more dollars. You may me able to get a beautiful ring, help them get on with their life, and save a lot of money all at the same time! In the process, you’ll spend less, but might also end up with an even bigger/better ring that you otherwise would have been able to afford.
This is important: YOU NEED TO VERIFY WHAT YOU’RE BUYING
Please be careful. Someone could sell you something worth far less than you think without even realizing it. What if any of the following happened:
- A woman was give a ring that’s a diamond simulant (a non-diamond look-a-like) without even realizing it wasn’t diamond.
- You aren’t given accurate information regarding color, cut, clarity, or carat weight, so the ring isn’t worth as much as you think it is.
- The diamond is man-made; which isn’t a bad thing unless you base you buying price on the belief that it’s an earth mined gem.
Those are all possible scenarios that could happen without someone even trying to take advantage. There are lots of sellers that would intentionally try to deceive you too, so you need to protect yourself. It’s a good idea to have your ring tested by a gemologist or grading company. At the very least, a jeweler should inspect and test the diamond to verify that it is what you think it is. Far more ideal would be certification through a grading laboratory like GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or IGI (International Gemological Institute).
You can negotiate who pays for the testing. The seller may be willing to, if that’s the only way that you’d be willing to make the purchase. Even if you split the cost—or you covered them fully, absorbing those costs will be far better than risking a really big loss if the ring turns out not to be what you thought it was.
3. Buy a Lab Created Diamond Instead
Lab Grown Diamonds have made BIG advances in recent years. They’re now visually indistinguishable from earth grown diamonds. In Fact, even the most trained Gemologists and jewelers can’t visibly differentiate between a Cultured Diamond and a Mined Diamond—even under magnification!
That means, that all the people that interact with you in your daily life will certainly believe your diamond is an earth mined diamond. Appearance isn’t the only thing that the two diamonds have in common though. Man made diamonds are at least as hard as the earth grown variety (and sometimes even harder).
Hardness means durability. The harder your gem is, the more likely it is to be a ‘forever’ stone, and an eventual heirloom that can be passed to future generations. No gem is or more durable, or longer-lasting, than diamond. Again, when it comes to scratch resistance and longevity, man-made diamonds are equally Impressive.
In terms of options for cut, color, and clarity, man-made diamonds are on par with earth grown diamonds. Size is really the only area where Lab-cultured diamonds can’t quite keep up—yet. A few months ago, a diamond was found that weighed in at over 900 carats! That’s a diamond that’s too large to wear (It’s more of a display piece), but man made diamonds aren’t grown to that kind of size at this point. They’re primarily used in industrial applications and for jeweler. Neither of those markets really have need of a diamonds that weighs hundreds of carats.
4. Pick Your Battles, So You Can Get the Most for Your Money
Your perfect diamond ring isn’t going to actually be ‘perfect.’ The 4 C’s of diamond value give consideration to the gem’s cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. If you found a diamond that weighed one carat (or more), and was a colorless ‘D,’ with perfect clarity (no inclusions), and a masterful cut—you probably couldn’t afford it.
Perfection is incredibly rare for diamonds (demand is much higher than supply). Because of that, perfect (or very near perfect) diamonds are quite expensive. Unless you’re independently wealthy, ring shopping will involve a series of strategic trade-offs, so you can end up with the very best ring that your budget will allow.
When we talk about diamond imperfections, some impact the look feel of a given diamond more than others. Some flaws are easily (and immediately) observable, while others aren’t. The term ‘Eye Clean,’ for example, means that even though a diamond has inclusions, they aren’t noticeable without magnification.
Inclusions are marks, or scars, that are caused by things like irregular grown patterns or impurities in the stone. Because these natural marks are considered flaws, they bring the financial value of a diamond down. With an eye-clean diamond, you get the advantage of a lower-price for your gem, without having diamond imperfections that others can even see or know about. Because you accept a diamond with some inclusions, you may not have to sacrifice on size to or color to meet your budgetary needs.
Of course, you also have the option of getting a ring that’s incredibly clear with very minor inclusions (or no inclusions at all) if you’d rather sacrifice on size, color, or cut. You can make minor concessions in multiple areas, or more major concessions in one area in order to maximize the overall quality of your ring—given your budget.
5. Metal Matters
While the diamond, or other gem, chosen for your e-ring has a major impact on your overall cost, another big driver is the metal that your ring is made out of. The go-to metals for most engagement and wedding rings include yellow gold, white gold, and platinum. While those metals are traditional and beautiful, they won’t help you to bring your ring costs down.
Silver is a much lower cost alternative that you could also investigate. Remember that we’re picking our battles here. You might decide, that in order to maximize the quality of the stone on your ring, you’re going to go with a less traditional metal choice. On the other hand, if you really want platinum, you can probably have it, but it means you’ll have to make some concessions on the cut, color, clarity, or carat weight of your gem.
Silver is naturally susceptible to tarnishing. Tarnish is a topical discoloration that happens over time as the metal is exposed to air and water. It’s something that can be easily treated, but it means there’s typically an occasional maintenance requirement that comes with this type of metal.
A popular variation, is to buy silver that’s been coated in Rhodium. Rhodium is a white metal that looks very similar to platinum. In fact, it’s from the Platinum family. A thin layer of Rhodium is commonly applied to white gold rings to make them more scratch resistant, because Rhodium is harder than gold.
A Rhodium plating, over silver, leaves you with a very low cost engagement band that has a high-end look, that pairs well with diamonds or other elegant looking jewels. The thickness of the Rhodium coating is important. It’s possible to wear through the coating. Heavy daily use will make that happen faster, but it will still likely take years.
If you see evidence that you’ve worn through the palting, your local jeweler can replate it for you pretty inexpensively (generally $50 to $150). It’s worth paying something toward the higher end of that scale for a thicker coating if you can afford it. That extra material will make it last longer before it needs to be treated again.
Metals like Titanium or Tungsten Carbide can also be very durable, but relatively inexpensive, options.
6. Go with a band that has multiple smaller diamonds
Instead of getting one large diamond, consider getting a ring that has a number of small diamonds set in it. Rings with small diamonds can be really brilliant and engaging, but they can also be money savers.
There are many really elegant looking bands, for example, that have small diamonds fully encircling the ring. They sparkle like crazy and look stunning, but it’s just less expensive to purchase a number of very small diamonds, than it is to purchase one large diamond in many cases.
7. Shop Diamond Simulants
Simulated diamonds aren’t diamonds at all. They’re kind of like doppelgangers. They have different DNA (they’re made of different things) but look very similar. Some of these look-a-likes resemble diamond more closely than others. Some are natural gems, others are strictly lab created. While none are as hard as diamond, so are considered very hard and durable ‘forever’ type stones, while others are much softer and need a lot more babying.
A diamond simulant is typically going to be a tiny fraction of the cost of a mined diamond. It will probably even be a small percentage of what a lab created diamond would cost. Here are some of the simulated diamond alternatives that people most frequently turn to.
Simulanted Diamond Options
|Stone Type||Mohs Scale of Hardness||Brilliance (Refraction Index)||Fire (Dispersion)|
|Diamond (both mined and man-made)||10||2.42||.044|
|White Sapphire (and all fancy colors)||9||1.77||.018|
Make it a Joint-Decision
Sometimes a question about the ethics of disclosure comes up. Would be grooms wonder if they need to tell the person they want to propose to that their ring doesn’t include an earth-mined diamond. We feel strongly that you should have discussion in advance of buying the ring, but above all, we advocate full disclosure.
Frugal rings don’t have to involve a feeling of sacrifice. You can have a ring that you absolutely love, and price you can afford. As you look at, and talk about, the alternatives available—and the reasons behind taking a balanced (but frugal) approach, hopefully you’ll be able to find common ground. Good marriages are built on good communication and mutual respect. This will give you a great place to start practicing those healthy communication patterns. Once you both understand the options, along with the pros and cons, you’ll be able to make the decision that works best for your today and tomorrow.