Buying an engagement ring doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. With the recent cost of goods and services hitting record high numbers, diamond engagement rings are now more expensive than ever.
As a result, having an engagement ring budget is also a lot more common since many couples are opting to spend more of their hard-earned money on a honeymoon or on a down payment towards a new house.
However you choose to spend your money, budgeting for your engagement ring is a financially responsible move. Which is why we’ve compiled this budget-friendly list of the best engagement rings under $2,500.
Be sure to check out part 2 where we cover the best engagement rings under $5000.
Table of Contents
Before You Buy
Let’s begin by getting some unrealistic expectations out of the way. You’re not going to get a huge diamond with a decorated setting for less than $2,500. But $1,000 to $2,500 is still more than enough to get a beautiful ring.
For the best value in your budget, we recommend choosing a diamond no more than 1.00 carat. But you can certainly get a larger diamond if you opt for a different diamond shape other than round, since round-cut diamonds tend to be the most expensive per carat.
When it comes to the ring setting, go for solitaire rings as they offer the best value for price. For the metals, 14K gold is a better choice than 18K gold, palladium, or platinum for its durability and appearance.
Read also: 14K vs 18K Gold: Which One Is Better?
Lastly, it’s crucial you purchase your diamond engagement ring from a verified and trusted online retailer. We recommend James Allen and Clean Origin for their great customer support, budget-friendly prices, impressive quality, and their large selection of diamonds.
How To Find An Affordable Engagement Ring
When it comes to buying affordable engagement rings, we always recommend you purchase them online. As we’ve mentioned BEFORE, brick and mortar stores will always have a higher markup since they need to factor in the cost of rent, electricity, utilities, payroll, etc.
We’ve been to many diamond retailers all over the world where markup was as high as 100% and yet online shops have always carried inexpensive engagement rings for the same exact diamond.
Your best bet is to start looking at sites like James Allen and Clean Origin. They carry a large selection of diamonds that you can customize to suit your specific needs at a very affordable price point.
Only Go For Ideal or Excellent Cuts
The cut of a diamond refers to the quality of cut and quality of polishing. When the cut quality is better, the diamond will look shinier and will sparkle more in the light (referred to as brilliance).
You might think that you can cut corners (haha get it?) and save money by choosing a diamond with an average or below-average cut. Sure you’ll pay less, but having a diamond of below-average cut means your diamond won’t sparkle in the light which is a very important factor to having gorgeous engagement rings.
Our recommendation? Stick to ideal or excellent cut diamonds. Anything less and your diamond won’t look good anymore.
Don’t worry, we’re not referring your third grade math test. Perfection on a diamond engagement ring refers to the grade of clarity and color of the diamond.
These grades are great at telling us how colorless and free of flaws the diamond is when viewed by a gemologist under magnification.
Our eyes aren’t nearly as powerful as a magnification tool. So don’t worry about having a perfect diamond since the regular human eye wouldn’t be able to pick up on those differentiating features.
Instead, we recommend you go with a diamond that is near perfect. This means finding a diamond with the lowest grade of clarity and color while still appearing perfect with your naked eye.
This way, you avoid having to pay a large amount for diamonds with features that no regular eye could see anyways. Now you can use that extra money you saved and afford a larger diamond with a better quality cut.
Stick To 14K Gold For The Setting
On most rings that you find from online vendors like James Allen and Clean Origin, you’ll see they offer ring settings where you can select from 14k and 18k yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and sometimes metals like platinum, and palladium.
If you plan on keeping your budget tight ($2,500 or less), then we strongly suggest you stick to 14k gold. 18k gold isn’t ideal in this scenario and sticking to 14k gold for the setting leaves you with more budget to spend towards a unique center stone.
Look For AGS and GIA Certified Diamonds
We advise purchasing from GIA (Gemologist Institute of America) and AGS (American Gem Society) certified vendors. These two grading organizations are the most trustworthy in the jewelry industry.
Their certificates are reliable sources of information regarding a diamond’s cut, clarity, color, quality, and various other attributes.
Avoid other certifications you find from other diamond vendors and physical stores. From our experience, they tend to over-exaggerate their “superior” grading in comparison to what GIA and AGS would assign them.
Sales Are Your Friend
Our cost effective method to buying diamonds on a budget is to always keep an eye out for sales.
At the time of writing this article, James Allen is offering 25% off site wide sale on all items for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. You can visit their site here.
Are you sure you need both an engagement ring and a wedding ring? What’s even the difference? Glad you asked. We answered that in this helpful guide.
Where To Buy Engagement Rings On A Budget
So now that you understand what factors to consider when purchasing affordable engagement rings, let’s dive into some recommended online diamond vendors.
If you’re looking for affordable engagement rings, look no further than James Allen. They currently stand as one of the best online diamond engagement ring retailers in the market right now.
They carry a large selection of unique engagement rings with natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds. In our experience, the quality, cut, clarity, and color of diamond rings in their inventory is second to none.
On top of that, they’re currently running a site wide 25% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday that you can check out here.
- Affordable prices
- Large selection of diamonds
- High range of customizability
- Diamond Display Technology
- 40x magnification on images
- 24/7 customer support
- Free shipping worldwide
- 1 year free resizing
- Lifetime upgrade
- Delayed shipping
- No free international return shipping
- No reservations
Still not sure if James Allen is right for you? Take a look at our in-depth review of James Allen.
There’s a good chance your perfect engagement ring is on Clean Origin. With a large selection of diamond engagement rings and lab grown diamonds, Clean Origin is another great alternative we strongly recommend you check out if you’re looking for affordable engagement rings.
Check out this stunning engagement ring on their website for less than $2,500.
If you’re looking for a beautiful engagement ring on a really tight budget, look no further than Zales.
At this price point, it’s unlikely you’ll get to be picky with your selection and you’ll miss out on a lot of customizability factors.
But again, we only recommend Zales as a great option if you’re really on a tight budget.
Here’s an example of an eye catching ring we found on their website for a total budget of less than $1,000.
Contrary to popular belief, you’ll definitely get some engagement rings with smaller diamonds on Zales but might also get very unique settings that you wouldn’t necessarily find from other vendors.
Buying An Engagement Ring For $2500
Affordable engagement rings don’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. In this section, we’ll show you how we can apply what we’ve learned previously in this article to purchase an engagement ring for $2,500.
In this example, we’ll show you what you can get from James Allen within our $2,500 budget.
We’re going to build our own diamond ring in this scenario and see what we can get for $2,500. First things first, we’re going to filter for our a budget of $2,500. This will show us settings, diamonds, and rings that fit that final budget as we go through the customization process.
The ring setting is really up to your personal preference. We recommend not spending too much of your budget here and instead using more towards the diamond.
For the ring setting, we’ll go with a 14K white gold 1.5mm Comfort Fit which runs us about $427.
The next stage is to select a diamond. You can choose to go earth-created diamonds or get lab grown diamonds. Shape also doesn’t matter too much but round diamonds tend to be more on the pricier side.
Going based off our earlier recommendations, we found this princess cut diamond for 1.02 Carat, SI2 clarity, H color grade, and Ideal Cut for $1,800.
Putting It All Together
Here’s an example of a diamond engagement ring you can expect to receive with a budget of $2,500. By no means is this ring representative of what you can find on James Allen for $2,500 but it serves as good starting point.
The total price comes out to $2,227. That leaves us $273 left over from our original budget. Now go ahead and treat yourself to a fancy dinner with that left over budget, you deserve it!
Buying An Engagement Ring For $1000
We figured we’d throw this section in here purely for entertainment purposes. In fact, we don’t suggest you try to find an engagement ring with a $1,000 budget.
But if you’re curious like we are, let’s see what we can get from James Allen.
Here, we’re starting with a 14K White Gold 2mm Knife Edge Solitaire setting which is costing us $180.
We found ourselves a GIA-certified 0.50 Carat Round Diamond for $630. This diamond has a K color grade, VS2 clarity, and an excellent cut.
Putting It All Together
The subtotal comes out to $810 and in our opinion, we’re pleasantly surprised with what we were able to put together with just a $1,000 budget.
Keep in mind that these prices are heavily reduced at the moment for James Allen’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday 25% off site wide sale which is enabling us to find great deals on their engagement rings.
Feel like spending more than necessary? Before you go ahead and decide to splurge on an expensive ring, check out our guide for the Best Places To Buy Engagement Rings Online.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s really no upper limit as to how much you can spend on an engagement ring. The more you spend, the more you’ll get (in most cases). However there is a lower limit. We don’t recommend spending any less than $2,000 for an engagement ring. Once you go lower than that, you begin losing out on valuable features like clarity and color of the diamond engagement ring.
The term cheap is very subjective. We do recommend that most couples have a budget for buying an affordable engagement ring. But just as we’ve shown throughout this article, if you shop correctly, you can find some amazing diamond rings for a fraction of the price online as opposed to going to a physical brick and mortar store.
For $2,000 you can definitely find some hidden gems (pun intended). Make sure your filters are set up right when shopping online and really focus more on the diamond as opposed to the ring setting.
For $5,000 you can absolutely find beautiful engagement rings. At that price point, a lot of doors open up in terms of value you can add onto your ring. For instance, you can get better clarity and brilliance on your diamonds so they’ll appear more colorless and will sparkle more in the light as opposed to a much cheaper diamond. Of course $5,000 is ideal but if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re on a budget of $2,500 or less which we’ve hopefully have shown you is still a very feasible alternative.
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