The best way to save money on jewelry is to do what I’m doing and marry a jeweler. Since he gets an employee discount on materials and labor (his own) is free, he’s able to do pretty well. But, obviously, not everyone can do that, so we have some other ways to save money. I will mostly be talking about engagement rings, but this can apply to all jewelry.
Don’t listen to the wedding industry
They don’t care about you, they just want your money. Here are some myths they have invented that you should absolutely ignore:
1. The engagement ring should cost 3 months salary
Umm…no. Excuse my language, but this is the most bullshit thing anyone has ever said. And yet it’s taken as fact! No one can afford that. My ring cost very little and it is perfectly beautiful. Even if Will wasn’t a jeweler, he would have still spent the amount he did, at most. Do not take out a loan. In fact, don’t spend anything on your ring that you don’t have in your bank account. You can always upgrade later if you feel you need to. But, to be honest, if you truly love each other, the cost of the ring shouldn’t matter AT ALL. I really can’t handle how angry this mentality makes me at times.
2. A diamond is forever
When I was a freshman, my general chemistry professor told us that if our house starts on fire, we should hope that our diamond jewelry doesn’t survive. This is because a diamond is actually a less stable version of carbon. Its stable state is graphite. While you won’t wake up one morning with graphite in the place of your diamond, a fire is hot enough to bring the carbon back to its most stable state. So, chemically speaking, no, a diamond is not forever.
From a metaphorically standpoint, this still isn’t true. A diamond is not a symbol of everlasting love, it’s the circular band that is. Your marriage will not be better for having a diamond as opposed to a different stone (or no stone, like most men’s bands). I know 3 couples who don’t even have engagement/wedding rings and have been happily married for over 10 years, so don’t discount that as an option.
3. Size matters
Actually, cut, color, and clarity are all much more important. Color is just the color of the diamond. Cut and clarity are what make a diamond sparkle. I like sparkly things. There’s nothing wrong with diamonds, because they are sparkly and pretty. But the size of the diamond is NOT a representation of how much your SO loves you or his worth as a man. I personally hate large diamonds because I have small fingers, so they look even bigger and tall rings make me nervous that I’m going to break something. Plus, if I’m going to have that much money on my finger, I don’t want it to be that obvious. I mean, just a .5 carat (not that big) diamond is about $1000 minimum. And in fact, large diamonds can have “dead spots” where they lose their sparkle. No sparkle? Oh no! (seriously, though, there’s less than .5 carats of total diamonds in that ring in my last post, but because there are 12 of them, there are sparkles everywhere and I love it)
So now what?
I’ve told you what’s not true, mostly about diamonds, so what are your options? Well, what is most important to get the ring you want. If you want a Tiffany setting with a large stone, and you can afford that, go for it. But is that really your style, or what you think an engagement ring should look like? I personally don’t like Tiffany settings. I can just see myself snapping the diamond off on the first day. But regardless of what I think, this ring is going to be on your finger for the rest of your life. Get what you like, not what the world thinks you should.
What color metal do you want? Yellow and white are the main colors, but there is also many other colors available. You should pick a color you like, as well as one that looks good with your stone. For example, rubies look better with yellow metals, while sapphires look better with white metals. If you like white, instead of getting a white gold ring, look into other white metals. Silver is quite cheap, but it doesn’t work for all rings. It is less durable and it tarnishes. It would not be a good choice for a Tiffany setting, but there are many ring designs where it can actually be an asset. It can be a good option, you just need to be aware of its properties and choose a design that works for it. This is something with which your local jeweler can help you. For more expensive metals, Palladium is about the cost of gold and platinum is about twice as much. However, these are better choices than white gold if that’s the price range you’re looking at. For one, they are naturally white, so they are more pure, while white gold frequently contains nickle. They also don’t wear out like gold does. Platinum is the most durable and is sometimes plated with rhodium to make it whiter.
The verdict? Silver is a great choice for short rings that are a bit heavier. It is the cheapest traditional metal by far. Something to keep in mind, though, is that some jewelers will not repair silver jewelry, so make sure you buy it from someone who will repair it in house. Palladium is more durable, but you will want to keep it light. Gold is really the only option for yellow metals. 14 karat is the standard and you shouldn’t go below 10 karat. Higher than 14 karat will be more yellow, but less durable and more money. But you don’t have to be limited by these traditional metals! Stainless, tungsten, and titanium, often used in men’s rings, are cheaper, but really only good for bands. Costs will vary from region to region, so you will definitely want to talk to a local jeweler about what options will fit your budget and style. If there are metal allergies to worry about, make sure you ask what metals are used in any alloys.
How about stones? There are so many gorgeous stones out there that are much cheaper than diamonds. My favorite is sapphire. A .75 carat (note that a .75 carat sapphire or ruby is slightly smaller than a .75 carat diamond) sapphire that Will recently bought was only a little over $100, retail. There can be a lot of variance in price among natural sapphires (there are also synthetics, which is a decent option), but overall they are much cheaper than diamonds. Another option is a fairly new one on the market: Moissanite. This is a synthetic stone with a hardness of 9.5. It has the sparkle and durability of a diamond, and does not wear like a CZ. It is slightly more expensive, but still much cheaper than a diamond. It also is more widely available than natural white sapphires. It is not as clear white, but it is in the range common for diamonds.
If you love diamonds but can’t afford one, there is no shame in buying a white sapphire, cubic zirconium, or other white stone. You can always upgrade the stone when you can afford to. Just don’t get a 3 carat CZ and try to pass it off as a diamond. There are so many things wrong with that, I’m not even going to go there. And, of course, you can always go a completely different route and get colored stones. This opens up your options, in any price range, so much more than if you stick to one color or to just the well-known gems.
I hope you’ve learned something and the wheels in your head are turning regarding jewelry options. Just remember, you should always talk to your local jeweler about the range of your options in your area. Also, try to make sure the jeweler you go to makes and repairs their jewelry in-house. This way, you’ll be more likely to talk to an actual jeweler (every employee at Will’s work) rather than just a sales person (the people in the mall).