November 10, 2017

Cheap Engagement Rings

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Every bride deserves a beautiful ring on her finger. But what if you only have a tiny budget? Read on for the best affordable engagement ring options.

Every couple in love deserves to be celebrated. But we also know that not every couple has the budget for a pricey engagement ring.

This doesn't mean she needs to give up the bling on her finger. Luckily, you still have plenty of options for affordable engagement rings. You can still find the ring of her dreams.

Here are some alternatives for a beautiful engagement ring on a (very) small budget.

Best Place to Buy Cheap Engagement Rings

ForDiamond Retailer
Under $500Walmart
Under $200Amazon
Under $100Overstock

Related: Best Cheap (But Real) Diamond Engagement Rings

Mimic a Diamond with White Gemstones

If you want a gemstone that looks like a diamond, there are a few budget-friendly options. Here are the general prices you're looking at:

  • Moissanite: $600/carat. Moissanite is the closest gemstone to a diamond. Moissanite is a natural gemstone originally found in a meteor crater. It's become the most popular diamond alternative due to its incredible brilliance and fire. A casual observer most likely won't be able to tell the difference. It's also almost as hard as a diamond, so it'll stand up to everyday wear.

  • White sapphire: $800/carat. Sapphires are very durable, and a well-cut stone can be plenty sparkly. But it still won't have the amount of fire a diamond has. And often, there's a slight cloudiness that makes it easy to tell it apart. But some people may still like this option because sapphire is a precious gemstone.

  • White topaz: $15/carat. Consider white topaz if the above are out of your budget, but you still want a real gemstone. Topaz is extremely affordable. It's not nearly as hard a diamond, so it'll scratch more easily. It may sparkle beautifully at first, but with more and more scratches, it'll start to look cloudy.

Add Color with Semi-Precious Gemstones

If you're up for some color, gemstones make a beautiful alternative to the traditional white rock. You can go for a gemstone in her favorite color, or you can express a sentiment through the symbolism of the gemstone. A gemstone ring can be very meaningful.

Here are some cheaper engagement ring gemstones and their approximate starting costs.

  • Sapphire: $600/carat. Sapphire is the stone of royalty (and no, not just because of Duchess Kate). It's believed to bring good fortune and wisdom. Sapphire comes in virtually every color of the rainbow, but blue is the most popular.

  • Garnet: $500/carat. Garnet is known as the "stone of commitment." If she likes red, but ruby is out of your budget, a garnet is a good alternative. However, they're not as durable as rubies and are usually a darker red.

  • Morganite: $300/carat. Morganite has gotten popular in recent years. It's a beautiful, peachy-pink gemstone that symbolizes divine love. It's gorgeous in rose gold settings for a feminine, romantic look.

  • Aquamarine: $150/carat. Aquamarine, with the color of the sea, represents tranquility and communication. Set in an engagement ring, it symbolizes a peaceful marriage.

  • Tanzanite: $250/carat. Tanzanite is a stunning, vivid blue gemstone. It's a good affordable alternative to blue sapphire. Tanzanite is actually extremely rare - way more so than diamonds. It's only found in Tanzania, and will be gone once all of it has been mined. Tanzanite represents the coming together of heart and mind, and together with the rarity, it makes for a very special engagement ring.

  • Emerald: $1,500/carat. Emerald is thought of as the "stone of successful love." It symbolizes love and compassion. In an engagement ring, it's sophisticated and elegant. But it's not as affordable as other gemstones.

  • Ruby: $2,500/carat. The gorgeous, blood-red ruby symbolizes passion and courage. It's second to diamonds in terms of hardness. However, it's the most expensive gemstone.

Tip: If you're considering a gemstone ring, usually it's the color intensity (rather than carat) that determines price. The more vivid the color, the more valuable the stone.

Go Artsy with a Raw Diamond

If she's the artsy type, she may be drawn to the raw appeal of an uncut (or rough) diamond. Rough diamonds cost a lot less than the traditional sparker. You can get one for just around $200 for a 1-carat stone.

A rough diamond can look beautiful in an artisanal, organic setting. Another huge plus is that rough diamonds are guaranteed to be conflict-free. However, they don't have any sparkle like a cut and polished diamond. They can either be smooth or lumpy and jagged. It's a certainly unique look that will appeal to the artsy or boho girls.

Sparkle with Artificial Diamonds

An artificial diamond is a good option if you have an even smaller budget, but want something that sparkles like a real diamond.

  • Cubic zirconia: $15/carat. CZ is the most popular diamond alternative. Most people cannot tell the difference between a CZ and a diamond, so you can even keep it a secret from others. The only visible difference is that CZs tend to give off more rainbow sparkles, versus a diamond's white sparkles. CZs are always colorless and perfectly flawless.

  • Swarovski crystal: $15+ for a ring. Swarovski crystals are a man-made "gem" made from lead glass. They're cut in a way to give them more brilliance. They're not nearly as hard as diamonds or CZs, and will scratch more easily. Another downside is that Swarovski crystal rings are hard to find, especially in the classic engagement ring styles. But it could suit a girl who has flashier tastes.

Swarovski also produces Swarovski Zirconia. Using a precise machine cut, Swarovski has created a superbly cut zirconia for maximum brilliance. Many retailers carry affordable Swarovski Zirconia engagement rings.

Cheap Settings and Wedding Bands

All real gold settings can be quite expensive. Even a simple plain gold band costs around $200. If that's stretching the budget, here are some other options for an affordable setting.

  • Sterling silver. Silver costs just a tiny fraction of gold. To the untrained eye, sterling silver and white gold look very much the same. But if you don't take good care of the ring, the silver will tarnish. Some people like this vintage look though.

    If you're worried about silver tarnishing, look for a band with a thin layer of rhodium plating. It'll prevent it from tarnishing, but you will need to get it re-plated once in a while. Rhodium plating will make the band a little more expensive.

  • Stainless steel. Stainless steel is cheap, very durable, and has a shiny, elegant look. It's a good option for a ring band. You can even get it plated in yellow or rose gold if you want the color.

  • 10k gold. A 10k gold ring costs significantly less than 18k gold because the gold content is a lot less. You can find a 10k gold band for as low as $50.

Where to Find Cheap Rings

Here are some places to look for cheap engagement rings.

Walmart: Walmart has a large selection of engagement rings under $500. The designs stick close to classic engagement ring styles. On the cheapest end of the scale, you can find cubic zirconia rings in sterling silver for less than $20. For a slightly larger budget, you can find white sapphire or real diamond rings in gold.

But you can't be too picky about the quality of the diamond. The clarity is usually very poor. It'll most likely be I2 - I3 clarity grade. These will be diamonds with severe inclusions that affect the clearness and structural integrity of the stone.

If you're not happy with the ring, it can be returned to a Walmart store with a receipt within 90 days.

Amazon: Amazon has a huge selection of engagement rings. For a few hundred bucks, you'll find all sorts of gemstone, moissanite, and diamond rings. But typically, you can only expect a color grade of J-K and clarity of I2 and below. Another downside is that you won't get much information besides a carat weight and approximate color and clarity.

The return policy depends on that of the individual seller's. Make sure you understand the shipping time and return policy before you buy.

Overstock: Overstock is another huge online marketplace. It actually does very well in jewelry sells. For a lower budget, you'll mostly find cubic zirconia, gemstone, or diamond cluster rings. There are some options for rings with a single diamond center, but again, you get what you pay for.

Overstock's jewelry return policy is 30 days in new and unworn condition.

Macy's: If you have a mental block with Walmart or online marketplaces, check out Macy's. It has a selection of affordable Swarovski Zirconia engagement rings and wedding bands. The designs are elegant and classy. The price is not as cheap as cubic zirconia rings from somewhere else, but you will be getting the Macy's name.

Rings can be returned to Macy's within 30 days of purchase, in saleable condition with the price tag attached.

Etsy: Etsy has a ton of small independent jewelers with unique ring designs that you won't find in traditional jewelry stores. You can find just about anything there at all price points, from raw diamond rings to gemstone rings. Etsy is especially good if you're looking for a more artsy ring with a custom-designed look. A lot of the creations are just gorgeous. But you may not get as much detail about the quality of your stone.

The return policy depends on that of the seller's.

Bottom Line

Just because you have a small budget doesn't mean that you can't buy a beautiful ring. Hopefully, we've given you an idea of how much different options cost.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a cheap ring, as long as the two of you are on the same page. We completely understand that some people don't have the budget or would rather use the money for something else. Look at a small budget as a chance to be creative.

But remember: you get what you pay for. You can't expect to get a large, high quality diamond set in platinum on a small budget. Luckily, there are options no matter what her preference is.

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