Save or Splurge? The Pros and Cons of Cheap Engagement Rings
Written by Anna Currell
December 7, 2022
It’s no secret that engagement rings can be expensive. You might have heard all kinds of rules about how much you “should” spend on an engagement ring, like the myth that you should spend 2-3 months’ salary; in fact, the average cost of a ring in the U.S. is actually more like 2-3 weeks’ salary today. And the reality is you can spend even less than that for a beautiful engagement ring. Choosing cheap engagement rings means you don’t have to break the bank to have a beautiful, well-made symbol of your union.
If spending a lot of money isn’t particularly important or realistic for you, that should be a consideration in your search for a ring. There are plenty of ways that you can find a beautiful, meaningful, and personal ring without going into debt or spending a fortune. Let’s explore the pros and cons of affordable engagement rings, alternatives to spending money on diamonds, and different approaches you can take when looking for the perfect ring for you.
Pros of Affordable Engagement Rings
There are many affordable engagement rings available, and “affordable” can mean something different to everyone. Not only does everyone have a different salary and way of spending, but everyone also has a different perspective and philosophy about money. No matter your budget or your point of view, here are some of the benefits of spending less on an engagement ring:
Save money for what matters to you
Saving money on an engagement ring opens up possibilities for your future with your partner. With the money you save, you could invest in your future home, pay off your student loans, or even go on a honeymoon. A big perk of spending less on a ring is that you can use your money in a way that aligns with your values.
Balance quality and price
Just because you’re spending less money on a ring doesn’t mean that it has to be low quality. Here are two more engagement myths: that diamonds are the only suitable option and that diamonds are incredibly expensive. There are many affordable high quality options out there for both diamonds and other beautiful gemstones; keep reading for tips on how to find them!
Stay married longer
There’s a relationship between the price of an engagement and a marriage’s longevity — and it might not be what you think. Shockingly, spending lots of money on an engagement ring or wedding actually increases the likelihood of divorce. The argument is that celebrating the trappings of a marriage instead of investing in the marriage itself can create issues in a relationship. Additionally, spending too much on a ring or a wedding can cause debt, which is a huge stressor in any relationship, and can begin a marriage with strain. Let your ring be a symbol, and focus your energy (and resources) on building a strong foundation between you and your partner instead.
Cons of Affordable Engagement Rings
There are pros and cons to most things in life. Here are some of the disadvantages to affordable engagement rings you should consider in order to make the most informed decision possible:
It may not come with an appraisal
An appraisal is a great way to learn more about your jewelry and is an important document when it comes to getting your ring insured. If you purchase your engagement ring from a person or a store that doesn’t provide appraisals, you might have to get one on your own, which is an additional expense on top of the ring price itself.
Possible future maintenance
Every ring is different, but some cheap rings might require more maintenance. Many affordable materials aren’t as durable as their more expensive counterparts, which can mean a cheap ring is more prone to tarnish or damage. If you plan to wear your engagement ring every day, it might start to show signs of wear and tear more quickly than more expensive and durable pieces. For instance, if you purchase a ring with cubic zirconia, which is one of the cheapest synthetic diamonds available, you can plan on investing in maintenance as it's prone to cracking, loosening, and scratching.
However, you can also find rings made with affordable materials that are built to last. For example, lab-grown diamonds are significantly less expensive than their naturally-occurring counterparts, but their chemical properties are exactly the same. A lab-grown diamond and a naturally-occurring diamond are both a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means they are as durable as a gemstone can get. With metals, the material’s durability can vary depending on what you spend. A pure gold wedding band (24K) will be more expensive and will hold up to a lot more wear and tear than a gold-plated band; this will also make a difference in how often you’ll need to tend to it.
Types of Affordable Engagement Rings
Here are some of the ways that you can save some money by selecting an affordable engagement ring:
You don’t need to shell out for a diamond ring if it’s not in your budget or doesn’t fit your style. Here are some beautiful diamond alternatives to consider:
- Family heirloom rings: Does your family have a beautiful gemstone that’s been passed down through generations? This could be a beautiful way to honor the relationships that paved the way for yours, and you can find a custom setting and band to turn it into something that suits your unique relationship.
- Moissanite: Moissanite is a gemstone that looks really similar to a diamond, but it has even more brilliance. This is a great choice if you want the look of a diamond but not the price tag.
- Lab-grown diamonds: Lab-grown diamonds are both ethically sound and less expensive diamond alternatives. Since they’re made in a controlled laboratory, they avoid the mining procedures that are both costly and damaging to the environment.
- Other gorgeous gemstones: There are plenty of gemstones that are less conventional than diamonds and also more unique, like sapphires, emeralds, opals, and pearls.
Upgrades for inexpensive engagement rings
You can also opt for a less expensive ring today and plan to give it an upgrade in time, as your preferences and your financial circumstances change. Here are just a few ways to keep your engagement ring growing with your relationship:
- Gemstone replacement: It's easy to replace a less expensive gemstone with something more flashy and luxurious when you're ready. If you're working with a professional jeweler, they'll be able to use any gemstone you've selected or help source something shiny and new for you.
- Gold or rhodium plating: If your ring’s band is made of a less expensive or less durable metal, having it plated in gold or rhodium down the line can help it stand up to the daily dings and scratches it will encounter as you wear it. Precious metal plating can also give your ring a bit more shine too!
Your budget doesn’t have to hold you back from choosing a beautiful engagement ring that fits your style, your values, and your relationship. If you can’t find anything that works for your budget and your vision, you can always custom create something from your own imagination. Our expert jewelers at Quick Jewelry Repairs would be excited to help you design your engagement ring from scratch (or from pieces you already have) to match all your needs. Whatever you choose, we wish you a happy engagement and marriage!