With Valentine’s Day coming up, you may be thinking of a marriage proposal. But how much should you budget for the ring?
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A recent report from Wisevoter indicated that people spend an average of more than $8,000 for an engagement ring in 10 U.S. states. While you can find less expensive engagement rings in these states, the survey shows that people are splurging on $8,000-plus pieces in these states across the U.S.
Who spends the most on engagement rings? Washington, with the average ring purchase costing $10,100.
Here are the other most expensive states in which to propose:
- California: $9,500.
- Illinois: $9,200.
- Kansas: $9,000.
- New Jersey: $8,850.
- Florida: $8,800.
- New York: $8,780.
- Michigan: $8,500.
- Massachusetts: $8,200.
- Texas: $8,000.
On the other hand, average ring purchases were $5,000 and under in these 10 states.
- South Dakota: $3,000.
- Maine: $3,200.
- Utah: $3,700.
- Delaware: $4,000.
- Mississippi: $4,100.
- Indiana: $4,200.
- Connecticut: $4,300.
- Vermont: $4,900.
- Iowa: $4,900.
- West Virginia: $5,000.
What are some ways you can save on rings? GOBankingRates spoke with top jewelers for their best tips.
Shop Online For Engagement Rings
As with many other items, you may find less expensive engagement rings online — largely thanks to the lower overhead costs of an e-commerce website as compared to a brick-and-mortar store.
“Many online retailers offer a wide range of diamond options at various price points, so customers can find a diamond that fits both their budget and their preferences,” said Shalom Khotoveli, co-founder of Keyzar Jewelry.
Consider a Custom Ring
Buying a custom-designed ring online can also save you money, Khotoveli said. First, you can choose a setting and stone your partner will love that fits your budget.
“Custom rings can often be made at a lower cost than purchasing a pre-made ring, as there is no middleman, and no need to pay for the overhead costs of a retail store. This can save you a lot of money and you can get a ring that is truly special and unique,” Khotoveli told GOBankingRates in an exclusive email interview.
Look Into Lab Created Diamonds
Jewelers GOBankingRates spoke with also recommended lab-created or lab-grown diamonds as an affordable — and eco-friendly — alternative to mined diamonds.
“Lab grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically equivalent to mined diamonds. The only difference is their origin (and their price)! If having a diamond ring is important to a customer, then a lab grown diamond is the best value they can buy. It also has the added — and incredible — benefit of being environmentally conscientious,” said Don O’Connell, president and CEO of Charles & Colvard.
Choose Other Gemstones Besides Diamonds
Diamonds, even lab-created diamonds, may not necessarily be everyone’s best friend. Whether for style reasons, cost, or social consciousness and sustainability, some people simply don’t want to sport a diamond on their left hand.
In that case, consider other gemstones.
Jewelers recommended lab-created Moissanite as an alternative to diamond engagement rings. Nearly as hard as diamonds, the gem has a sparkling appearance that Khotoveli described as looking “like a disco ball on your finger!”
“In terms of cost,” O’Connell said, “moissanite is a fraction of the cost of a mined diamond.”
Understand the Four Cs
If you opt to purchase a diamond engagement ring, you’ll want to understand the four Cs to ensure you are getting the most value for your money.
The Cs are:
- Carat, or the weight and size of the diamond.
- Cut, or the way it is shaped, such as round, pear, or marquis.
- Color, which can be colorless, yellow, brown, or even blue or pink.
- Clarity, or the lack of imperfections.
Each of these traits affects the look and price of a diamond. “Consider the overall look your partner will love, and then focus on those elements that are most important to them,” said Marissa Rubinetti, Kleinfeld EVP and COO on behalf of Kleinfeld for Zales.
Often, you’ll find you can compromise in one or two areas to get a diamond your partner will love at a price that fits your budget. “When it comes to the four Cs, it’s not always necessary to have the highest quality in all areas,” said Khotoveli. “Going for an eye clean clarity diamond (which usually means around VS) instead of anything higher on the clarity scale would usually be the first recommendation we’d give a customer. That’s a compromise which is not seen to the naked eye, and these savings could be invested in what usually matters most to most of our customers — the size.”
Know How the Cut Affects the Appearance
If your partner wants a larger looking diamond but that’s not in your budget — and you don’t want to opt for a lab-created diamond or another gemstone — you can choose a different cut besides round to meet your needs, jewelers advised.
“Some diamond shapes look larger carat for carat,” Khotoveli said. “If you compare a one carat round brilliant diamond with a one carat oval diamond, the oval diamond will often appear larger. The additional bonus is that fancy shaped diamonds such oval, elongated cushion, or radiant are usually more affordable than round brilliant diamonds with the same characteristics.”
Likewise, Rubinetti suggested a halo or double-halo setting to optically increase the look of the center stone. Encircling the diamond with two diamond halos, she said, “gives the appearance of a larger center stone, but with a more attractive price tag.”
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Focus on What’s Important to Your Partner
Not every person getting engaged wants the biggest, brightest diamond their partner can afford. What really matters is not the price or the size — or even the type of stone — but that you chose a ring to symbolize your love.
“Our consumer insight team is seeing that people are looking to spend money wisely by making big purchases that are meaningful to them,” Rubinetti said.
She advised that shoppers think about their partner’s overall style and what’s important to them. What type of metal do they want for the setting? What type of stone? Is most of their jewelry large “statement” pieces or do they prefer simple, minimalist designs?
“When choosing an engagement ring, remember that it’s not about the cost, but what the ring symbolizes,” O’Connell said. “It marks your commitment and love to each other, so the selection of the ring should be tailored to the recipient. Make sure to pay attention to the styles, colors, and fashion that your partner likes to ensure you pick a ring they’re sure to love forever.”
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