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According to The Knot’s 2015 Real Weddings Study, the average American spends about $5,871 on an engagement ring.
With diamonds, in particular, pricing is determined by the “four C’s” — cut, carat, color, and clarity. On the whole, the more clear a diamond is, the more expensive it will be, according to online diamond retailer Ritani. When it comes to colored gemstones, like rubies, prices can skyrocket due to the vibrancy of the gem.
When there are so many variables contributing to the price of something many people only buy once, it’s easy to feel like you could be paying more than you have to. We asked Business Insider employees who have been there to weigh in, and consulted the Quora thread “How do you save money buying an engagement ring?” to find the best tips on how to buy an engagement ring without feeling like you could be getting ripped off.
Check out the best tips to save money below:
1. Buy from a wholesaler
“I think you’re better off buying directly from a wholesaler than going to a name-brand retailer, because you wind up paying a lot more for the name (and no one will ever know what store your ring is from). If you don’t have someone who can recommend you to a wholesaler and you have the stomach for it, you can get a much better deal in the stores on 47th street in the Diamond District [in New York City]. Even if you aren’t able to negotiate, you’ll still get a better price than in a name brand store. Make sure the diamond comes with a GIA certificate (the governing body that grades diamonds).” – Julie, Editor
2. Consider your metal choice
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3. Avoid whole carats
“Instead of buying a 1-carat diamond, try going for something with less weight, from .90 to.99. Prices seem to skyrocket at every whole carat so less brings more savings!” – Mark Bronner
4. Buy a diamond with minor imperfections
“Diamonds with slight inclusions can save you thousands, as opposed to buying a flawless diamond. These flaws are almost always invisible to the naked eye, and only visible with magnification.” – Mark Bronner
“You want the ring to match her. Do you think she would be really pissed if you spent this much money? Do you think she’d be happy with this ring color or size or whatever? Is she the kind that would care a lot about the authenticity of the ring? Would she need the certificates? Because you can go cheaper if you get some elements that aren’t certified. You can go for more unique styles or go for a slightly more expensive diamond, which is what I did.” – Dave Smith, Business Insider Deputy Editor
5. Think about the taxes
“A good ring costs thousands, so the sales tax will be in the hundreds or thousands. Ask the store if they can ship your ring to an address where you can receive it in the lowest tax jurisdiction possible (i.e. If you live in New York have them FedEx it to a friend in New Jersey where state tax is lower). You can save hundreds this way.” – Jim Edwards, Editor-in-Chief, BI UK
6. Spend only what you feel comfortable spending
“I’d asked Amanda, the jeweler who helped me throughout this process: ‘What’s normal here? I’d heard something like a few months’ salary? A few paychecks? Do you have any advice with that?’ I just didn’t know, and I didn’t want to seem cheap, but I also wanted to give her something that she deserved because I really do love her. Amanda said that whole few months’ salary thing is total bull. It’s whatever you feel comfortable with. That’s the bottom line.” – Dave Smith, Business Insider Deputy Editor
7. Use a family heirloom
“Keep it in the family and use a stone that’s been passed down. My husband used a diamond that was in his grandmother’s engagement ring. My brother used a diamond that belonged to our great-grandmother when proposing to his wife. This keeps things cheap and I think it’s more meaningful to know you are being given a family heirloom.” – Emily Cohn, Senior Business Editor
“Have your grandmother BUY you a ring! My grannie did, and my mother kept it for … well, a loooonnnggg time. That’s how I avoided getting ripped off!” – Matt DeBord, Senior Correspondent