When you're getting ready to propose, you want to make sure the moment is heartfelt and special. The engagement ring itself plays a huge role. Shopping for a real diamond engagement ring can feel stressful, but once you understand what goes into the cost, you can make an informed decision about the best ring for you and your loved one.
Image via Flickr by sherril8
How much you can (and should) spend on a diamond engagement ring is a very personal decision. Your budget will play a large role in making that determination. You'll find engagement rings out there for as little as $500 and as much as $50,000 and more. Though the options can feel overwhelming, that's actually good news for prospective engagement ring buyers. It means you're sure to find something that's both beautiful and personal, regardless of your budget.
If you're like many people shopping for a diamond ring, you might've done a double-take at the price tag initially. So just why do diamonds cost what they do?
It can cost more than $1 billion to develop a diamond mine. Then, it can take as long as a decade after that mine is discovered before it's fully productive. And the costs before your diamond even gets to you don't stop there.
Operating a mine can come with a hefty price, needing $100 million each year, before salaries are paid. After that, miners still need to process the rocks and ore that hold diamond crystals. The proportions give insight into just what goes into bringing you that perfect ring: approximately 100 tons of rock get you only one carat of gem-quality diamond.
Only then do loose diamonds get shipped to cutting centers, and diamond cutters shape and polish the gemstones before the diamonds move on to the jewelry store. The costs build up at every step, which leads to the price you see when you look at that diamond on display.
It's important to have some expectations in mind when you get started shopping for a diamond engagement ring. The average cost of an engagement ring comes in at just under $6,000.
The cost of a diamond ring includes both the price of the diamond itself and the setting. The cost of the setting can also vary widely, with factors such as ring design, metal type, and additional side stones adding a few hundred or even thousand dollars to the total price.
The biggest factor that determines an engagement ring's price is the type of the diamond and its quality characteristics. As an example, if you're going for a solitaire engagement ring, that center stone will represent about 80% of the total value of the ring.
One word you've likely heard time and time again when thinking about diamonds is "carat." Carat is actually the weight of the diamond — not its size! One carat equals 0.2 grams of diamond. And carat weight plays a big role in the cost of the ring. As carat weight goes up, so too does the cost of the diamond ring. A 0.50ct ring can cost just under $2,000, while a 1.00ct ring goes for closer to $6,000.
Carat weight isn't the only factor that plays into the cost of an engagement ring. The material of the band (gold or platinum, for instance), the cut of the diamond, the color of the diamond, the clarity of the diamond, and the diamond's shape all alter the cost.
One surefire way to start narrowing down your choices to find the best diamond for you is to focus on the quality of the diamond. If you have a larger budget, you can look for larger diamonds that are good-color, well-cut, and good-clarity.
But what if you're sticking to a budget? You still want to find a beautiful ring! By prioritizing certain characteristics, you can save while bringing home a gorgeous engagement ring. For example, go for a diamond just below a landmark size. Instead of 1 carat, look for 0.95 carat. The difference in the diamond will be minor, but this simple measure can save you up to 20%.
You can also look at different settings to impact the overall cost. White gold in 10K or 14K looks just as beautiful as platinum, but it costs less.
One way to demonstrate your love through the ring you choose while working within your own price range is to go for a custom ring. By choosing a ring that expresses your unique story as a couple, you'll have a meaningful engagement ring, no matter your budget.
Younger couples, like millennials, are designing and purchasing custom-designed engagement rings more and more. No matter your age, this is a great choice for any couple. You can take inspiration from anywhere. Create a ring that connects you as a couple instead of focusing on monetary value and you're sure to come away with a ring to cherish.
Many people buying engagement rings today place greater value on a ring that reflects the wearer's personality and unique style, as well as that personal connection. And that gives you more flexibility than ever before to find the ideal ring in your price range.
Keep in mind that different shapes come with different price tags. A diamond of the same carat weight but a different shape will have a different cost. Round diamonds come with a premium, so consider shapes such as princess, oval, or cushion. These shapes cost less than round diamonds as round diamonds produce more waste during cutting.
A "fancy" shape tends to get you better value. Elongated shapes (think oval, marquise, or emerald cuts) can even appear bigger, in spite of having the same carat weight.
Choosing a diamond engagement ring to commemorate your love doesn't have to be a stressful experience. Knowing how different factors affect the overall cost of the ring will let you make an informed decision about choosing the best ring with the one you love. Use the information you've just learned here to find the right diamond engagement ring.