How to Buy an Engagement Ring on a Budget




A proposal marks the beginning of your journey to a major milestone. As you begin preparations for the big question, it is important to recognize that an engagement ring—like any wedding detail—requires planning. Let’s discuss how to obtain a beautiful, budget-friendly ring that commemorates your happy union.

An engagement ring is a symbol of love and commitment—and for most people, one of the biggest purchases they’ll make in their lifetime. No matter your financial situation, it is important to have a basic understanding of fine jewelry so you can enter the process prepared and confident.

Here are a few insights to consider before you say your first “I do”: 




Set a Budget

The first step to selecting an engagement ring is setting an expectation. Instead of getting swept up into the glamorous (and notoriously expensive) world of precious gems and metals, we recommend setting a clear budget that establishes how much money you want to put toward this meaningful investment. 

So, where do I start? The age-old rule suggests that an engagement ring should equate to at least two months of the buyer’s salary. However, there are other statistics to consider before you start crunching the numbers. For example, the Knot reported in a recent survey that the average ring cost in 2022 was around $6,000. Keep in mind that this includes a variety of age groups, and that median is skewed by couples spending $20,000 - $50,000, or more. Other studies have reported that millennials (the most common marriage age demographic) spend an average of $3,000. 

With a variety of factors to consider, the “right” amount of money is subjective. It is important that a buyer (and their partner) consider their circumstance and come to a mutual agreement.

Know Your Materials

An engagement ring has two tangible components: the metal, and the gemstone. And since these can vary in cost, it’s important to know if (and how) they can be adjusted to complement your budget.

Gold: In its natural state, gold is quite soft; it’s mixed with other metals to make it suitable for everyday wear. This is the basis for creating the different gold colors (yellow, rose, and white) and gold karats (a measurement of the purity of gold). If you’re trying to adjust the cost of your ring, consider 10K or 14K gold. These mixtures won’t evoke as much vibrance as 18K, but still capture the same pretty hue.

Diamond: A diamond’s value is graded by using the 4Cs. In short, each “C” represents a unique method of measurement that ultimately determines a stone’s value: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

Flawless diamonds are rare and very expensive. In fact, most diamonds you see likely have a unique set of flaws. Adjusting the cost of your ring can be as simple as selecting a diamond with slight imperfections. 

For example, you could select a stone with a color grade in the G - K range (hints of hidden color) or a stone with a clarity grade in the Sl1 - Sl2 range (slight inclusions). Stones in this range will cost less and their flaws are relatively unnoticeable to the naked eye.

Every diamond is unique. When selecting a stone, it is important to know what qualities are most important to you and which yield more flexibility. If clarity is your top priority, consider a diamond with a lower color grade. Or if clarity and color are non-negotiables, consider a smaller carat size. These are minor adjustments and will still lay the foundation for a beautiful ring.

Be Creative With the Design

Flexibility over small details can work to your advantage. Depending on your preferred ring style, aesthetic adjustments can reduce the overall cost without sacrificing your design preferences. Or, introducing certain details could make your diamond look even bigger. 

Let’s start with stone size. If you’re set on a specific diamond carat, consider reducing the carat measurement to just under that size. For example: instead of a 1.00 carat diamond, reduce it to .90. This slight adjustment could potentially save you up to 20% in overall cost. 

If your primary goal is to make the diamond look bigger, there are several styles/settings that can help achieve this look without dramatically increasing the price. For example, a bezel setting (small rim of metal encasing the main stone) can make your diamond appear larger. Or a halo setting, which optically extends the surface area of your diamond with a rim of smaller diamonds.

Consider a Diamond Alternative

It goes without saying that diamonds will always have a high price tag. That being said, not everyone is a diamond purist—in fact, there are many diamond alternatives that are quite popular in the engagement ring industry.

If you want to capture a diamond’s classic look while keeping your budget intact, consider moissanite (a popular diamond alternative). Or, if you really want to break from tradition, go with a colored gemstone. There is a wide variety of precious gems that are elegant, meaningful, and will last the test of time with the proper care and maintenance. Discuss with your jeweler which one is the best fit for you or explore our gemstone or diamond alternative guide for more information. 





At the end of the day, there is an engagement ring for everyone. And as you can see, the overall cost can depend on a buyer’s personal preferences and overall flexibility. It may still rank high on your list of lifetime purchases, but with a little guidance, these little adjustments can make your dream ring attainable.


With a dedication to fine jewelry crafted from quality materials, June creates modern heirlooms made to last. Shop our collection or create a custom ring with our design team.