Cutting Engagement Ring Costs

Cutting Engagement Ring Costs: Well, saving money on an engagement ring is dangerous in the minds of many men. For one thing, modern brides tend to expect more "bling" on average than ever before, with the standard diamond expectation these days now up to one carat; 10 years ago it was ½ carat. And, polling has revealed that 28% of women would reject the offer of marriage if the engagement ring wasn't up to snuff.

(There's one way to save on an engagement ring for some of you guys: if you figure out she's part of that 28%, get rid of her. Remember, that when you marry it's going to be "for richer or for poorer". If you don't make the biggest bucks, she should know that by now and if that doesn't please her she should move on. But, I also understand that this is a matter of wanting to give her quality, too. And, I digress.)

So, how can you give her what she wants and still not have to sell you car, ride the bus, and take out a second mortgage?

*Know your four Cs: Color, cut, clarity, and carat. You can visit online resources to help you here like the Diamond Buying Guide (http://www.thediamondbuyingguide.com/diamondcolor.html). If you know what you're really looking at when that merchant pulls out that tray, you won't be fooled. Diamond rings have enormous mark-ups in the retail industry, especially in shopping malls, and some merchants sell a name and a brand more than they do the diamonds. You don't have to go to Jared, and you don't have to believe that Hearts on Fire has "perfect" diamonds, and so what if every kiss beings with "Kay"? Look to independent merchants to give you better deals--start with local merchants that don't have big brand names but do have reputations for great quality. Also, look online--you can find the same cut diamond in the same setting for 40% less than you can in the store, in many instances. One caveat: you can't see it in person, so keep that in mind.

*More on knowing your Cut: the round, brilliant-cut diamonds are the most popular cuts for engagement rings. I bet you couldn't guess that they are the most expensive, too. Yet, these aren't necessary if you can't afford them. How about the shimmering oval diamond engagement rings? There are also the marquis and the pear cuts, two that became extremely popular in the 1920s when drama and brilliance were deliberately being coupled with middle-class affordability.

*Why not get a loose diamond and have it set? Even after you pay for the cost of the setting, you'll still save money and can better afford that full carat she may well be expecting.

*Speaking of the setting...why does that, of all things, have to be pricey? People are going to look at the diamond, not that much at the setting. As long as the setting is a style and color that you know she'll love, go as cheap as you can with that. Splurge on the center diamond.

*Be prepared to haggle. 300% to 800% mark-ups at diamond retail stores are normal. This gives the merchants a lot of sales room--such as closing the sale by seeming to cut you a great deal by, say, giving you a lower price if you agree to come back to buy your wedding bands there, or running half-off sales. But you can use your knowledge to make those margins your advantage, not the dealer's. If you are smart about diamonds, they'll know it, and they won't try to ramrod you because they really want your business.

*Finally, unless your gal has said so, there is no law that the engagement ring even has to be a diamond. "Colored gems are less expensive [than diamonds], which means you can get a larger, better-quality stone for your budget," says says Elena Mauer, a senior associate editor at "Bridal Guide" magazine. If you're both Irish, why not get an emerald ring instead of diamond? If she was born in September, why not get her sapphires? Diamonds in engagement rings are a royal precedent set centuries ago--but you're (probably) not royalty, so who cares? Make it beautiful and meaningful to her--that's what really matters.

For affordable diamonds, check out Blue Nile: Certified Diamonds & Fine Jewelry where my husband bought my beautiful engagement ring


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