3/7 How to Score a Cheap Wedding Ring: A True Story

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Real bride Cris from Kiss My Tulle wrote in to tell me her amazing engagement ring shopping story, and I just had to share it with you! She and her future hubby worked their broke-ass brilliance like mofos and harnessed the power of “just ask”, to score big time on the ring of her dreams. You readers are so freaking inspiring! Check out Cris’ story…

I recently got engaged and got to help pick out my engagement ring (which may not be optimal for everyone, but I was thrilled!). Of course, I had to get the best damn ring I could for the smallest price possible (is there really any other way?). It took us an entire day but our ring excursion ended with a .45 karat, G/SI1 rated, round solitaire white gold engagement ring + a 2mm white gold wedding band for a whopping $159.83.

That’s right, y’all – I got my engagement ring and wedding band for under $160.00! Plus, a complimentary cleaning every six months, full value appraisal, and free resizing as long as I own the ring. That’s one kick ass engagement ring + wedding band + full value appraisal + free resizing + free cleanings, all for a measly $159.83.

engagement ring tips
Looking for a way to score the same killer deal? Here’s some tips and advice that I was able to glean during our ring buying experience:

Upgrade Programs: Upgrade programs allow buyers to bring back a purchased ring and upgrade it to a nicer model or better quality stone. Generally, an upgrade involves using the “equity” built into the ring (the original price) + a minimum upgrade charge (usually about 50% of the original price) – then you only pay the upgrade charge because you already paid the original value. For example, say your original ring cost $1,500.00 – using a traditional upgrade program; you would be able to start looking at rings in the $2,250.00 range but only pay $750.00. This is a great idea for those looking to save money with a starter ring (like a starter house but smaller and more sparkly).

Referrals: We visited one of the best jewelers in our town and were pleased to find out that they happily referred budget-minded people to smaller (and more affordable) jewelers. Be sure to mention to the smaller jeweler that you were referred by the larger business. This will often make the smaller company more likely to help you with deals because they want to maintain a great relationship with the larger jeweler.

save money on ring
Think Local:
Local jewelers tend to be small and family-owned – and more willing to work a slammin’ discount. Often, they have inventory that is sitting around and will cut a deal just to get rid of it. This is especially true in January when stores need to reduce inventory for tax purposes.

Reuse Old Jewelry: You can always remove the diamond from old jewelry and have it made into a new ring. I refuse to wear another woman’s rock (I’m cheap and flexible you guys, but no woman should have to wear a hand-me-down diamond from his previous relationship) but this would be a killer option for those looking to use an heirloom or broken piece.

Consignment: Many small jewelers do consignment (or pre-owned) sales. Consign your own unwanted piece, and once that sells you can use the credit to buy a new ring from the same jeweler (or take the cash and run). Another option is to straight-up BUY a consignment piece. Many consignments are for a good 50% less than the original owner had paid for it, and come with the original appraisal papers.

budget wedding ring shopping tips
Sell Old Gold:
Look, we’ve all seen those cheesy-ass commercials on TV but hear me out. Gold is valuable – in many cases, more valuable than a diamond! Many small jewelers will buy your old gold pieces and give you cash or let you have credit towards the purchase of an item in the store. This is what we did – and ended up with $1,142.00 in store credit!

Go for Loose Stones: In the jeweler business, loose stones are harder to move than pieces of jewelry because many buyers cannot visualize a finished piece. The owner of the jewelry store we ended up at was willing to cut us a fantastic deal on a selection of loose stones they had, and offered us a free setting. With that deal and our store credit from the gold, I was able to pick out a GORGEOUS .45 stone with a great quality rating (G/SI1) for a whopping $1,000.00 – and we used the last of our store credit (about $142.00) toward buying my wedding band.

Negotiate Perks: If you can’t cut a deal on the price – score some freebies. Ask for a discount on your wedding bands, complimentary sizing, free cleanings for life, and/or FULL VALUE appraisal for our home owner’s policy. Always, always get a full value (not the price you paid) jeweler’s appraisal for your insurance!

budget wedding ring
Opt for Less:
Lots of us want that amazing, top-of-the-line ring, but those are expensive. One way to reduce your cost is to look for a slightly lesser quality stone or metal. For example, going down one clarity or color level will often save you hundreds (or even a thousands) of dollars, but the imperfections cannot be seen by the average person. Another option: go for a lesser quality metal for your setting. I ended up with a white gold band because a platinum version would have added $500.00 to the bottom line. I figured I can upgrade to a platinum band at a later anniversary – and save money now.

That’s my ring story! Will you be able to get such a great deal from your local jewelry stores? Maybe not, but keep in mind, we took the time to visit multiple jewelers, ask questions, and worked hard to negotiate great deals. And so can you! Ask about consignment sales, ask about selling gold, ask about discounts, and ask about perks or complimentary services. From my experience, (and Dana’s, too) you never know – so ASK!


The Broke-Ass Bride
Dana is the head woman in charge here, the original Broke-Ass Bride. Learn more about her here. And, follow her on Twitter (@brokeassbride), Pinterest (@brokeassbride), Facebook (/thebrokeassbride) and Instagram (@brokeassbride). Affiliate links, which might be included in the post above, help make her a few dollars here and there to keep her off the streets and in the business of blogging for your ass. So thanks for coming! :)
  • Mara

    I absolutely second the idea of purchasing a loose stone.

    We bought mine online – amazon has a loose diamond search option. We bought the diamond when we could, for 40% of what the jewelry store told us the an identical rock would cost. Then we brought the diamond to the store to have it set in the setting that we picked out. We still got all the same bonuses – free setting, free cleaning and repairs, insurance, and so on. But we saved $1500 on the diamond.

  • I've neve bought jewelry before so I was really impressed with all the cost-saving options available to couples – if they just look for them. Thanks for adding your experiences/ideas!

  • Super practical advice…very nice.

  • Thanks for the advice, I will definitely keep these tips in mind when shopping for my ring!

  • Kelly

    I don't even have a diamond- I didn't want one. My fiancé got me a pretty white gold ring with a Blue Topaz (my birthstone), and while most people don't recognize it as an engagement ring (unless I tell them), it's unique and very "me". Also, if you know people in the jewelry business (I worked for the jeweler who made my ring for 3 years in college), don't be afraid to ask for the hookup!

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  • Wendy

    Great tips.

  • Laura

    Thank you for your great advice! My boyfriend is a jeweler, and I never realized what the jewelry business is like until I started dating him. I would *never* go to a chain now (bad quality, sales people don't know what they are doing, overpriced, and crappy repairs which are usually just outsourced). It's much better to go to a small business jeweler. You can get better deals on quality pieces that way and you can actually talk to the jeweler who is doing the work on your ring.

  • I love this story! And at greenKarat.com we offer a recycled gold registry program where couples can invite family and friends to donate old, unwanted jewelry and transform it into new, sentimental rings. Talk about an infusion of love! And by using post consumer gold you are helping to protect the planet from destructive mining. Shop online or use your gold credit to design your own custom rings. Enjoy!

  • Cincybride

    My fiance surprised me with a vintage 1930s art deco diamond and platinum ring. We are both concerned about the ethical issues surrounding diamond mining. He was against getting a diamond, but it was a tradition that I wasn't willing to let go, so opting to "reuse" an antique piece was a perfect option for us.

    We got an absolutely stunning and unique piece (I love art deco jewelry) for a deal. A lot of people don't want to wear someone else's engagement ring, so they tend to be cheaper. Ours cost a third of what it would be to remake the same ring now. Personally, I love the idea that my ring survived a 70 year marriage. It gives me hope that mine will last that long. :).

  • lizcharm

    Both of my rings are vintage, too, and I love them. A you said, they were a fraction of the cost. The store also directed to me a jeweler who could make my husband gold band, so that was great. Always use the resources you have to get what you want, I say.

  • if you are going for the cheapest possible just to get a ring so that you can get married, and plan to upgrade later, you can just buy the setting, have a different gemstone placed in it, and save for the diamond. (that's if you want a diamond, you could just keep the gemstone you first put in it). There are plenty of sparkly white precious gemstones, topaz and sapphire come to mind, and you can get lab created sapphire for very cheap. That way you mostly just pay for a gold ring, which is anywhere from $100 to $500 depending on size, seller, and design.

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