A savvy buyer can save money on engagement rings and other diamond jewelry - up to 50% - by avoiding big box jewelry stores. Here's how.

Getting married? The engagement ring and wedding rings you select for your fiancée and yourself will be symbols of your love and commitment for the rest of your life. Of course, the diamond industry knows this and does a brilliant job enticing consumers to spend a small fortune on engagement rings.

Although quality engagement rings and wedding bands (like all fine jewelry) come at a cost, there is no reason you should pay what the mainstream jewelry industry asks you to pay for these rings. It is very possible to save money on engagement rings — in fact, you may be able to save up to 50% off the retail price of a diamond engagement ring. Here’s how.

Do NOT buy from a chain jeweler

If you want to save money on an engagement ring or wedding rings, skip the chain jeweler.

Sadly, most people go straight for the mall jeweler without considering the alternatives. Before I knew better, I did, too.

It’s easy to understand why: Major jewelers like Kay, Zales, Jared, Tiffany’s, etc. spend millions on advertising, are easily accessible nationwide, and give most diamond-buyers peace of mind that they’re dealing with a reputable company. (I would venture to guess than when buying diamonds, many people would rather overpay than risk spending hundreds or thousands on a gem that is not the indicated quality or isn’t even genuine.)

There’s nothing wrong with shopping at these chain jewelers to get a sense for what kind of rings you want, but the simple fact is that these stores mark up diamonds to double their cost…or more. If you do have your heart set on an engagement ring from one of these stores, always try negotiating. Early in my ring-buying experience I had a chain jeweler manager slashing the price of one ring by hundreds of dollars before I even asked. On the flip side, some of the higher-end jewelers with brands to protect will absolutely not negotiate their prices. But you never know until you ask.

Where is the best place to save money on engagement rings?

You will get the best deal on an engagement ring at an independent jeweler, a diamond wholesaler (if you’re fortunate enough to live in New York or another major diamond market), or an online diamond retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile.

You might be surprised to learn you can save by buying from an independent jeweler over a chain jeweler. It’s true—you just might have to negotiate. Of course, a local jeweler is your best bet if you want something truly customized, too.

If your goal is to get the absolute best deal on your ring, and you don’t live near a diamond district, you should probably buy your engagement ring online from a reputable Internet jeweler.

Online diamond jewelers

During my ring-buying experience, I was blown away by online diamond stores like James Allen and Blue Nile.

The sites let you search through over 25,000 diamonds to find those in your price, size, and quality specifications and match your chosen gem with dozens of setting options. Prices seem to be nearly half of comparable rings in retail stores, and the site has an impeccable online reputation. They also offer free shipping and free returns.

How much can you save?

Quite a bit. We found a simple 4mm platinum comfort fit men’s wedding band for $780 on James Allen compared to $1,450 at a local Jared the Galleria of Jewelry store—nearly half the price! The savings on diamond engagement rings can be even greater.

eBay is also rife with some incredible diamond deals, although buying through an online auction is a bit riskier than through a reputable online dealer. If you decide to buy an engagement ring on eBay, make sure you’re well-versed in diamond values and eBay transactions. Only purchase a ring if the seller agrees to use an escrow account for payment and allows you to take the ring to a jeweler for appraisal once you receive it.

Independent/Local Jewelers

If buying a diamond online isn’t for you, check out your local jewelers. Although rings at these stores will be significantly more than rings online, you’ll get more bang for your buck than at chain jewelers, as well as better craftsmanship and, most likely, a ring that is more unique.

Although I purchased my fiancée’s engagement ring at a chain jeweler after being unable to find the style ring I wanted online, we’re having a local jeweler design a new ring for the diamond after my fiancée discovered the ring’s setting was too high and she was banging it around. We’ve gotten top-notch service from this jeweler, and his custom-designed setting will end up costing less than many of the generic settings available in the chain stores.

Diamond wholesalers

For the brave, the absolute cheapest way to buy a diamond engagement ring is to buy a loose stone from a diamond wholesaler. To do this, you’ll have to live in or travel to a major city like New York and visit the diamond district in person. You’ll need to know what you’re doing, because these dealers are used to dealing with professional jewelers, and may try to take advantage of a naïve buyer.

That said, if you negotiate correctly you can get your rock at wholesale prices and then have a jeweler design a setting. One final caution: Most of these dealers only accept cold hard cash. I had a colleague at SmartMoney magazine buy his fiancée’s diamond this way and I recall him recounting how strange it was to walk through Midtown Manhattan with thousands of dollars in his pocket.

Finally: It doesn’t have to be a diamond!

Although this post is mostly about saving money on a diamond engagement ring, there is no rule saying that an engagement ring has to be a diamond.

It’s just a tradition that has been successfully propagated by a powerful diamond lobby keen on profit. You can find beautiful engagement rings with alternative stones for a tenth of the cost of a diamond.

Remember – the most important thing is to make sure you’re not bringing financial stress into your new marriage. Don’t spend more than you can afford.

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

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About the author

Total Articles: 353
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

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Ron Yates says:

Another way to save a lot of cash on an engagement ring, wedding ring or diamond is to shop for a vintage or estate diamond ring. There can be very good values to be had.

One benefit is you may find a style that is unique, no longer made and has a romantic vibe to it. A diamond engagement ring from 50 – 100 years ago is no longer made today so it won’t be a cookie cutter design.

Another benefit is that these rings are typically come directly from an estate, or a private seller, and sold to a jeweler. So several middlemen are left out (and their profits!). So the jeweler will typically have a lower cost on an estate/vintage ring as compared to buying or making a new one. And this savings can be passed on to the client.

My store has been dealing in estate and vintage jewelry for 28 years and the prices our clients pay for these types of rings are generally much less than new prices. And they enjoy shopping for these one of a kind treasures too!

Steph says:

My soon-to-be-fiancé and I just purchased a white sapphire bridal set for $250.00, because we don’t have much money right now. It was affordable and is very beautiful! I’m in love with it and the price tag only makes me love it that much more!

Finally a helpful article! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

Oneidas says:

I ended up with a local wholesaler. Once a year they run 5 years 0% interest or 20% off.

With the special they came in under the Blue Nile ring I was eyeing and I was able to get the designer band I wanted, which aren’t typically offered by online retailers.

They also made some sort of mistake with my partial payment, so I end up getting the 20% off AND the 5 years 0% finance.

So, if your lucky enough to have a wholesaler in your area, pay attention to the specials. However, if you need a ring right away, the online retailer are hard to beat most of the time.

Anonymous says:

Great tips on saving money; however it is essential that anyone looking for a diamond ensures that their diamond is NOT a blood diamond. Children and adults across the globe are whipped, tortured, and killed while digging up the daimonds for big greedy jewelry companies. Nothing is exquisite or elegant about a diamond bought cheap from an unreputable online diamond dealer whose ethical standards might be nill. Please buy with caution and always request conflict free diamonds!!!

Westicles says:

I have a few fraternity brothers that are jewelers and asked them for help. Living in a large city (Philly), we have a ton of options as well as a section of the city known as “Jeweler’s Row.” What the lay-person does not know is these jewelry stores are essentially brokers of rings, diamonds, and other jewelry. There are artists in the floors above the stores that design and make thing rings, and sell them to the stores. I was introduced to one of these designers and he ended up making our wedding bands. They were totally custom and sold to us at wholesale. Though you don’t get the “experience” of the stores, we got a great price and were there for the entire process.

Annie Tran says:

We purchased my engagement ring at Ben Bridge and his ring at a local independent jeweler. We shopped around quite a bit and with Ben Bridge we negotiated with the saleswoman and was able to get about 15% off their asking price. In addition, they made an error in the diamond they gave us, it wasn’t what they had promised (per GIA/AGS paperwork) and so they were obligated to give us a better diamond for the same price. They even waived the fees for GIA/AGS certification.

As a side note, when we were shopping at BB, we saw a great Rolex which I wanted to get for my fiancé as an engagement present. BB offered 10% off since we’d just purchased the ring. However we went to an independent family jeweler, Finell’s, who then offered 18% discount knowing we were getting 10% from BB. Unfortunately, Finell’s then went out of business 6 months later. So now if we need to do any repairs on the watch, we won’t have the help of the jeweler and will have to deal directly with Rolex. So the small guys do run the risk of going out of business.

T says:

Used my grandmother’s ring. Although the jeweler who altered it to fit my hand seemed amused that I didn’t want it “updated” to a more modern setting, I *love* wearing a constant reminder of my grandmother’s elegance, serving as a reminder that my marriage is in a sense a part of some larger tradition that I want to live up to.

Forest says:

I used Blue Nile for the engagement ring but we did shop around at several chain stores first. I believe I got an amazing deal at Blue Nile. I’m thinking about purchasing her band from there, but honestly, I might consider eBay for the band becuase it is not as large of a purchase but is still pretty pricey even on Blue Nile.

Walt says:

>>> I will caution any suitors out there currently ring shopping
>>> that you should have a sense of whether the ring’s origin will
>>> be a deal-breaker for your honey…and act accordingly.

By “act accordingly” I’m going to assume you mean “dump her” I mean COME ON ladies.