5 Ways to Save on an Engagement Ring

  • Save money on an engagement ring What prospective groom hasn't secretly shuddered at the old saying an engagement ring should cost at least two months' salary? Let's be honest: Even in robust financial times, this is an extravagant idea. But when the economy is fragile -- and the price of gold and diamonds astronomical -- spending up to 16 percent of your income on a ring can give new meaning to the words "crazy in love."

    You don't have to break the bank to find a good engagement ring, says Robert Bates, senior editor of Jewelry Circular Keystone, a leading trade magazine in the jewelry industry. "People get hung up on the numbers," he says, "but it's really about finding (a ring) you like and making your fiance happy."

    Start your marriage on the right financial footing by buying an engagement ring with love -- and wisdom. Here are five ways to save money on the perfect ring.

  • Buy online It may not be as romantic as entering a brick-and-mortar store to buy an engagement ring, but buying online can save you enough cash for many romantic nights. Thousands of couples seem to agree. According to The Wedding Report, more than $1 billion of the $9.64 billion spent on engagement and wedding rings in 2010 came from online purchases.

    "The customer gets far more value for the money buying online," says jeweler L.G. Landau of DiamondIdeals.com. Because an online retailer has more competition than a traditional store and less overhead, prices are naturally lower, he says.

    Consumers should be especially discerning when selecting an online jeweler. Landau recommends seeking retailers whose jewelry has been evaluated by gemologists, who can provide digital images of the stones and who have multiple channels of communication, from email to online chat capabilities.

  • Subtract a fraction of a carat Although buying a 1-carat diamond is a benchmark for many couples, the truth is very few people can distinguish between a 1-carat stone and a 0.9- or 0.8-carat stone. That's good news for engaged couples since this minuscule difference in weight makes a major difference in price.

    There's about a 30 percent price difference between a 0.9-carat and a 1-carat stone, says jewelry designer Sylvie Levine, co-owner of The Sylvie Collection, an engagement ring line. The same difference is found between 1.4 and 1.5 carats, and 1.9 and 2 carats. Couples on a budget should stay just under the half-carat mark, she says.

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