We want you to save money on your engagement ring, but don't be fooled by the initial discount you get from lab-grown diamonds. Find out all you need to know about one of the most important purchases of your life.

So you’re ready to propose—congratulations! It’s a truly exciting time, and your engagement may even be up there as one of best days of your life, second to the wedding, of course. Pat yourself on the back, because the hardest part is over—you found “the one.” But before you get down on one knee, let’s discuss the ring.

Importance of choosing the right diamond

Oh the ring—the sparkler, rock, ice, or bling. The classic way to show your undying love for your partner, because just like your love, “diamonds are forever”. Since this is probably one of your biggest purchases to date, it’d be wise to be aware of all of your options.

On the one hand, quite literally, you’ll want your partner to wear a ring they’ll be in awe of forever. On the other, you want to make a financially smart decision and find the right diamond within your budget.

Lab-grown vs. natural diamonds

Traditionally, natural, earth-produced diamonds have been seen as the way to go for engagement rings. Natural diamonds are beautiful, from the earth, and timeless. There are a number of major retailers where you can get quality diamonds for good prices. A company like James Allen offers lifetime warranties, free shipping, and 30-day refunds. It also has a selection of over 25,000 photographed diamonds to choose from.

Not to mention, diamonds purchased in store are often sold at an up to 50% markup compared to online, so it makes sense to take advantage of their friendly online shopping experience.

In terms of pricing, the cost of a natural diamond can vary considerably. They’re priced according to the four C’s—cut, clarity, color, and carat. Even with the discounts for shopping online, diamonds can be very expensive. The average American pays around $5,500 for an engagement ring. This leads many prospective husbands and wives to consider alternatives, including lab-grown diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds are a fairly new phenomenon, which are man-made in one of two ways: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). Their quality is pretty good, and is increasing with time. But don’t be fooled. To the untrained eye, they’re indistinguishable, but to experts, a lab-grown diamond can be spotted almost immediately.

Like natural diamonds, they’re priced according to the four C’s. But they’re also considerably cheaper—up to 30% lower than their natural counterparts.

Unlike natural diamonds though, the quantity being produced is increasing, meaning the market isn’t capped in any way which undermines long-term price stability.

Buy natural or seek other options

So let’s get down to it. When stuck between choosing a natural or a lab-grown diamond, we suggest wowing your partner with a natural diamond.

The main reason behind our suggestion of a natural diamond is due to resale value. Many times couples trade in their diamond for an upgrade at milestone anniversaries, for example. And of course no one wants to imagine it, but with today’s high divorce rates, it’s important to bear in mind that you might want to sell your diamond at some point.

Diamonds depreciate by about half, the minute you walk out of the jewelers. If a natural stone’s resale value is between 30-50% of its purchase price, a lab-grown diamond’s resale value is next to nothing. As a general rule, jewelers do not purchase synthetic, and you’ll get pennies trying to sell your stone online.

Saying “yes”

For years DeBeers has inundated us a society to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. Don’t buy into it. You really, really don’t need to spend that much.

If you still can’t afford to buy the diamond you want, going synthetic might seem like a good idea because of the initial savings. But lab-grown diamonds are simply not a good investment. At Money Under 30, we’re big proponents of not spending beyond your means. If you can’t afford the diamond you want, consider holding off on the proposal while you save, or finding creative ways to get the ring you want. You should also explore meaningful and original alternatives to diamond engagement rings.

Summary

Lab-grown diamonds are gaining in popularity, but they may not be the best investment. But be sure you never buy a diamond that you can’t afford—and find ones that are conflict free.

Most importantly, enjoy this blissful period with your partner. Take the time to make the right decision because, with a little luck and a lot of love, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

Shop now: Visit James Allen, our recommended online jeweler »

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