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


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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Buying ethical diamond jewellery in 2021

Looking to make your next jewellery purchase more ethical? That's great to hear! But being completely honest, buying ethically is not as easy as it should be in 2021.

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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 betwee...

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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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