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Jewelry on a Budget: How to Find Cute and Cheap Rings

Written by Anna Currell
January 8, 2024

The right rings can tie together your look or make a meaningful gift, but the highest quality rings can sometimes be prohibitively expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to find cheap rings without sacrificing quality, style, or personal meaning. In this article, we’ll share some advice about how to find cute and cheap rings that fit into your budget and match your aesthetic. Let’s take a look!

Find Alternative Materials

The most popular factor that makes some rings pricier than others is the use of rare materials. While many high-quality jewelry materials are expensive, you can find plenty of alternatives that are much more affordable. Here are some options:

Alternative Metals

Most high-quality rings are often made of gold, platinum, or silver, which are considered precious metals. Precious metals are expensive because of their rarity and durability. However, there are ways to get the look and feel of these metals at a fraction of the price. Recycled metals that were previously used in other pieces of jewelry can be refined and turned into different pieces, for example. Not only is this a less expensive option, but it’s also great for the environment; recycling metals reduces the impact of mining and sourcing new materials.

Another option is to get a plated ring. Plated rings can be made of any less expensive base metal, because they’re covered in a thin layer of gold, rhodium, or other precious metals on the surface. This creates the same appearance as a solid gold, platinum, or silver ring, without the price tag. However, the thin layer can wear away more easily, so it’s important to take good care of plated rings and get them recoated occasionally to keep them in great condition. 

Alternative Gemstones

Naturally occurring gemstones are rare, which makes them expensive. But shopping for a lab-grown gemstone can save you a significant amount of money without compromising on quality. In fact, a lab-grown diamond can cost 40% as much as an identical naturally occurring diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are made in controlled settings, but have the exact same chemical properties and characteristics as “real” diamonds, making the difference nearly indistinguishable to the naked eye. Plus, lab-grown diamonds are a sustainable option that can limit unnecessarily harmful diamond mining practices. 

Shop From Local and Independent Artists

Shopping for jewelry from major chain retailers can be costly. Big retailers work with many different partners in their supply chain, which leads to extra markups and fees that drive up the final price you pay. By contrast, buying directly from local independent artists can be a more budget-friendly option for finding unique jewelry. Local artists typically handle everything themselves, from designing and crafting each piece to shipping it out. By selling directly to customers without any retail markup, local artists can offer handmade jewelry at lower prices than major chains that build in extra fees to cover their complex supply chain operations. So shopping locally allows you to get artisan-crafted jewelry for less.

Look into Pre-Loved Pieces

When it comes to finding affordable rings, don’t overlook rings that have been previously owned. Thrifting can yield some true treasures if you know where to look. Check out consignment shops for interesting and unique rings, or look online at vintage resale shops. You can also search estate sales, where you can find lots of great antique or interesting jewelry pieces. Even if pre-loved, older pieces are a little worse for the wear, some TLC can get them looking brand new again. Easy repair services like cleaning, polishing, and gold plating can completely transform a piece of jewelry. 


Take Advantage of Sales

Timing is everything! Sometimes, you don’t need to shop for an alternative; you can find the high-quality rings you have in mind at a much lower price tag than you thought was possible. With enough patience and research, you can take advantage of sale periods and anticipate when jewelry will be heavily discounted. Shop near the holidays, browse stores on Black Friday, and sign up for jewelry brand newsletters to stay updated about when they offer occasional promotions.

Once you’ve found the ring you’re looking for at the right price, be sure to take good care of it. Another way to save money on jewelry is to avoid damaging it — replacement can be more expensive than proactive maintenance. Be sure to take off your jewelry before hopping in the shower or the pool, and store it somewhere soft and safe anytime you’re not wearing it. Gently wipe down your ring at the end of the day to prevent residue buildup, and take it to get professionally cleaned twice a year so it stays shining and sparkling. With the right care, your ring will last for years to come.

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