How to get the perfect engagement ring for any budget

Deciding to propose to your partner is a big decision. And along with that decision usually comes a big financial commitment to buy a suitable engagement ring. 

Here's 6 tips to help you get a ring that's perfect for you and your budget.
How to get the perfect engagement ring for any budget

At Nightingale we don't think an engagement ring needs to have an absurd price tag attached, and we certainly don't believe in the ridiculous 3 months pay rule.

But we do think that you should get the absolute best ring possible for your budget, however much you decide to spend. 

1. Don't compromise on craftsmanship

Often the best way to save money is knowing where to spend money. And one area where you should definitely spend is on the overall build quality of your ring.

A poorly crafted ring can be cheaper initially, but all too often we see examples of rings getting damaged far too easily which means costly and unexpected repair bills.

And worst of all, you may end up losing the diamond from a bad setting!

For this reason we typically recommend against shopping with discount online sellers. Their business models are about selling as many rings as possible as quickly as they can, quality inevitably suffers.

2. Ditch the diamonds

Diamonds are often the gemstone of choice when buying a wedding ring, but more and more couples are choosing other stones such as sapphires or rubies. You'll be able to buy a significantly larger carat size in these alternatives than you would a diamond.

The actual tradition of using diamonds in engagement rings is relatively new, becoming popular in the late 1930s thanks to a push by diamond company De Beers. Prior to this, alternative gemstones were the norm.

At Nightingale we're not one to get hung up on traditions, so we say find the gemstone that suits you!

For those of you who do prefer the classic white gemstone aesthetic, diamond alternatives include white sapphire (yes, they're a thing!) or moissanite.

Each of these alternatives have slightly different qualities to consider, but can help towards the overall cost of your ring.

3. Use lab-grown gemstones

Lab-grown diamonds and other gemstones are booming in popularity due to their ethical credentials but also their superb value.

Visually and chemically identical to mined varieties, lab-grown gemstones are the real deal. You can expect to save around 30 - 40% on a lab-grown diamond compared to mined. With similar savings available on other gemstones.

As an added bonus, you can also be happy knowing that there's zero risk of your diamond being involved in the blood diamond trade. 

You can read more about lab grown diamonds in our full guide here.

4. Choose a suitable ring design

How much you get out of this tip will depend heavily on your personal taste, but making good design choices on your ring can enhance its visual impact without having to spend more.

As an example, solitaire style rings with high settings can help make gemstones appear bigger because they're raised off the surface of the ring with minimal intrusion. Also, more light can reflect off the stone, so there's much more sparkle to be enjoyed. 

On the flip side, a bevel design where the gemstone sits flush with the metal of the ring will appear smaller.

Just to reiterate, the design of a ring should ultimately be about reflecting a person's personal style, not about making a ring look as expensive as possible, but smart design choices can help you achieve your desired aesthetic within budget.

5. Get familiar with the 4Cs 

If you opt for a diamond engagement ring, you should get familiar with the 4Cs. Representing cut, colour, clarity and carat weight each of these characteristics gives you an overall idea on the quality of the diamond you're buying.

From a buyer's perspective, the 4Cs aren't equal in terms of visual impact. Many salespeople will advise you to compromise on clarity as most blemishes can't be seen to the naked eye. However in reality, clarity can elevate the colour of a diamond, making it more scintillating.

There's a delicate balancing act which occurs in selecting the best diamond for your budget and it's something a knowledgeable jeweller will be able to guide you through. 

Naturally, we'd love for you to get in touch with our team to help you. But for now, if you look at any of our engagement rings you'll see that on each product there's a handy tool which gives you a price estimator for different diamonds.

6. Buy more than one gemstone

It sounds counterintuitive, but bear with us on this one! The bigger the carat size, the more expensive the gemstone obviously.

But the costs of bigger stones doesn't scale linearly. A 1ct diamond will be around 4 - 5 times more expensive than a 0.5ct diamond for example, despite only being twice the size.

This is why some ring designs, such as illusion rings, use many smaller diamonds to make the center stone appear much bigger. 

7 . Don't get ripped off

When you're working to a budget it's very easy to fall for a great deal, only to discover you've been royally ripped off. This is very common when it comes to a high ticket item like an engagement ring.

Look out for the following...

  • Diamonds without a certificate - Every diamond should have a certificate from a reputable grading institution. If they don't, stay away because you won't know what you are buying.

    Lab diamonds have certificates in the same manner as mined, so always make sure to ask for one. We've got a full guide here.

  • Lower grade gold being sold as 18ct - We tend to recommend 18ct gold in our rings because it requires less maintenance over the long term and looks better than lower grades.

    However, lower carat gold is much cheaper. With unverified sellers you'll often see 9ct and 14ct gold being touted as 18ct gold.

    Again, we've got all you need to know about gold and other metals in this handy guide!

  • Diamond alternatives being sold as real diamonds - Moissanite, cubic zirconias and even cut glass can all give a vaguely similar appearance to a diamond to the untrained eye.

    There's nothing wrong with using these alternatives in place of a diamond, but they are much cheaper so some sellers will try to pass them off as a higher priced diamond. 

    The boldest sellers will even sell you symbionts as diamonds, which are cubic zirconias covered in a layer of diamond! Your diamond certificate protects you from this!

What's next?

We hope those tips have made it a little less daunting to pick out a great engagement ring for your budget. If you'd like even more help our designers would be happy to assist.

Just let us know what budget you'd like us to work to, what styles you like and we can work together to make you the perfect ring. Get in touch now!


Further reading


5 styling tips for Montana sapphire engagement rings

The stunning teal coloured sapphires from Montana are fast becoming one of the most popular engagement ring style choices of 2022. 

At Nightingale we love their distinctive aesthetic and their ethical origins and they frequently appear in our ethical engagement rings.

If you'd like to learn more about these beautiful gemstones then read our full guide now! 

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Ethical rubies - Everything you need to know

Rubies are famed for their signature deep red colour and have been treasured by all cultures throughout history.

Often referred to as the ‘King of precious stones’ they make a perfect gemstone for engagement rings due to their beauty, hardness and symbology, often conjuring feelings of passion, love and loyalty.

If you’re looking for an ethical engagement ring with these beautiful gems you’re in the perfect place to learn more. Read on for the full story.

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Emerald engagement rings - A full buying guide

The beautiful green emerald sits alongside diamonds, sapphires and rubies in the ‘Big 4’ of gemstones. 

A favourite of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, emeralds have been mined since at least 300BC, leaving their mark on history whilst still being one of the most sought after gems of modern times.

Today we’re going to help you get familiar with these luscious gemstones as well as giving you some practical tips if you’re looking to use them in your engagement ring.

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How to buy ethical diamonds

At Nightingale we’re all about ethical diamonds. And as far as we’re concerned, they should be the minimum standard when making jewellery. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It took a lot of time and effort for us to find sustainable diamond suppliers for our ethical engagement rings and we'd rather you didn’t have to go through the same trouble.

So we’re going to lay out all the knowledge we have to help you find a truly ethical diamond.

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The Valentine's Day engagement ring guide

One of our favourite times of year is nearly upon us. Valentine’s Day!

Being the most popular engagement date of the year, we naturally get a lot of questions from customers. So we thought why not put everything we know into a handy engagement ring guide for Valentine’s Day 2022!

Here’s what we’ll cover...

  • Popular engagement ring styles for 2022
  • Tips for finding the perfect ring
  • Advice on making the most of your budget

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The complete Toi et Moi engagement ring guide

A firm contender for the most romantic style of engagement ring, the symbolism of the Toi et Moi ring (or Moi et Toi as they're also known) is plain for all to see. Two gemstones. One representing you. One representing your soulmate.

This beautiful design style is enjoying a revival which looks to continue well into 2022 and beyond. If you're interested in a toi et moi engagement ring you'll find all the information you need to know right here in our easy guide.

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White gold v Platinum - Which is best for engagement rings?

White gold and platinum can give a similar aesthetic to your engagement ring, but there are some important differences between the two metals which can be important when choosing between them.

Both are very popular choices for engagement rings, so we thought it best to give you a simple guide to help you decide.

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Choosing the right metal for your bespoke ring

Choosing the right metal for your bespoke engagement ring is one of the most important choices you can make when creating a ring. The right material sets the overall style of your ring and if done correctly, complements your choice of gemstone and mount.

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The Ethical Diamond Ring Buying Guide - 2022 Edition

It seems like so many industries are making great sustainability strides, but the jewellery trade continues to drag it's heels. Confusing and ineffective 'green' schemes. A lack of transparency in the origins of diamonds and other materials.

It all combines to make buying ethically a minefield, but at Nightingale, we're doing our best to make it as simple and transparent as possible.

So whether you want to buy ethical diamond jewellery from us, or somebody else, this guide will give you the information you need, all the key questions you need to ask and the best possible chance of buying beautiful jewellery from somewhere that is making a positive difference in the world.

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Moissanite v diamonds: Everything you need to know

Curious about moissanite? Having trouble deciding which gemstone to use for your ring? Read on to find out more about the key difference between moissanite and diamonds (both mined and lab grown!)

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Pearl buying guide

Prized and admired for millennia. As the first true gems ever to be used as adornments, the history of pearls in jewellery is nearly as old as the history of civilisation itself.

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Diamond grading certificates explained

A diamond certificate is the evaluation by a third party accredited gemological laboratory of your diamond. In addition to the diamonds carat weight and measurements, a certificate includes grades for the diamonds cut colour and clarity.

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Ring sizing guide

The last thing we at Nightingale want is to supply a ring and at the crucial ‘down on one knee’ moment it turns out to be too large or too small. Nightingale offer one adjustment free in the first three months.

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It is mandatory in Great Britain for precious metals that meet the weight criteria to be assayed and hallmarked (stamped) to indicate the type and fineness of the metal.

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Diamond buying guide

There are many beautiful gemstones that have been created by nature and mined from the earth but the most regal of them all is the diamond. The mysterious diamond is the most popular gemstone of them all and the one that has the most myths and legends associated with it.

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Lab grown diamonds: Everything you need to know

Wondering what exactly a lab grown diamond is and why they're a perfect ethical alternative to mined diamonds? Find out here...

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Coloured diamonds

Nightingale can supply an outstanding collection of coloured diamonds loose or set within a bespoke or finished piece of Nightingale jewellery.

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