Engagement ring

On a Budget? You Can Still Maximize Your Engagement Ring Size

couple admiring engagement ring size

In a perfect world, you’d have an unlimited engagement ring budget to match your unlimited love for your bride-to-be. However, other goals — like, saving for the wedding, the honeymoon or a house down payment — are also on your to-do list, meaning you don’t have as much free cash to spend on a ring.

It might seem like you have two choices: Start a second (or third) job to afford a big ring, or sacrifice diamond size to fit your budget. The good news? You don’t have to do either. Instead, we’re going to let you in on our secrets for maximizing your engagement ring size on a budget.

Add a halo to your center stone

You remember those optical illusion posters that were so popular when you were a kid? Adding a halo to a diamond engagement ring is the adult version of that. Seriously: A halo — AKA a row of accent diamonds that encircle the center stone — can make a diamond appear bigger without actually making it bigger.

get bigger engagement ring size with halo

Even better: A halo can add up to a 1/2 carat to the total weight of a diamond engagement ring for a small fraction of the cost.

Opt for a micropave band

Another way to use optical illusions to your advantage is to choose a thinner band to hold the diamond. A thinner band — especially one with accent diamonds — will make the center stone look larger by default and add to the overall carat weight of the ring.

Go for a diamond shape other than round

Diamonds don’t come out of the ground sparkling and ready to wear. Instead, diamonds have to be cut to add facets (AKA faces) that reflect light and give it that shine we all know and love.

The diamond-cutting process does require some sacrifice to the overall size of the diamond — some shapes more than others. Round diamonds waste the most precious rough material to make the shape, so it will cost the most.

Opting for a different shape diamond that doesn’t require as much cutting — like a pear, oval or marquise cut — can save you as much as 25 percent (money you can then use to get a bigger size). Emerald and Asscher diamonds can possibly save you even more because the cutting process doesn’t require quite as much precision (they have larger, open facets), meaning it’s less labor intensive.

Consider a diamond shape that has larger measurements

Just because a diamond looks longer than another diamond doesn’t mean it automatically weighs more.

engagement ring size diamond comparison

Certain shapes — like Marquise and pear diamonds — often look larger than a round cut diamond of the same carat size because they have an elongated shape and shallower depth.

You can use this little measurement trick to your advantage by opting for a smaller carat ring in a fancy shape that looks the same size as a larger round stone.

Go down in the color scale on your diamond

All diamonds have color — even those that look clear are actually considered to be white diamonds. The whiter the diamond, the more rare (and expensive) it is.

The Gemological Institute of America classified diamond color on a scale of D to Z, with D being the whitest of white diamonds and Z being yellow. Naturally, the further you go down the scale the yellower — and less expensive — a diamond will be. However, there is a certain sweet spot in the middle (G, H, I and J grades) where diamonds can appear white to the naked eye, but are less expensive (as much as 25 percent less than diamonds in the D, E and F grade diamonds). G and H color diamonds are especially beloved for this balance of aesthetics and price.

Consider getting a diamond with fluorescence

The fluorescence of a diamond is simply how it reacts when under black (UV) light – typically, the more blue it gives off, the more fluorescence a stone has.

A stone gets its fluorescence from trace elements that are naturally contained during the diamond creation process. There’s a bad rumor going around that any fluorescence makes a diamond milky or hazy, and that just isn’t true. Though it’s graded by the GIA, fluorescence only affects brilliance in about one percent of diamonds. In all other diamonds, fluorescence can make a diamond cheaper but doesn't interfere with brilliance.

engagement ring size fluorescence comparison

Even better, fluorescence can actually help make a lower color grade diamond look whiter (a diamond with a J grade can look like an H, for example).

Find a diamond with strategic inclusions

Diamond flaws — commonly called inclusions — are tiny imperfections within the diamond that can affect the overall look of the stone (depending on how many there are). The trick to saving money and saving the look of your diamond is to hunt for one that has inclusions near the girdle or culet (bottom) that you can hide with a prong.

Opt for an off size diamond

Would you be able to tell the difference between a 2 carat diamond and a 1.90 or even a 1.75 carat diamond? Probably not (and it’s unlikely anyone else can, either), but it’s a good way to get a larger-looking stone for less.

Diamonds that clock in at round numbers – like a 2 carat — are coveted, so they cost more — you know, that whole supply and demand thing. Getting something just under this mark can look exactly the same, but save you money.

Bring in the experts

Still a little confused? We get it. That’s why we have expert gemologists on staff to help you maximize your ring size on a budget. Simply answer a few questions about your priorities and they’ll come up with personalized suggestions — and send them right to your inbox.

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