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Engagement season is a real thing.  Reports show that 40% of people get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.  No matter when you plan to pop the question, you want to get your partner a ring they’ll be able to show off proudly.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to go broke in the process.  Here are some ways to save money on an engagement ring.

Set a spending limit

The popular rule of thumb is to spend at least 2 months’ salary on the ring.  But between student loans and the high cost of living, that’s not realistic for most people.  Take a good look at your finances and see how much you can comfortably afford to spend.  Set a maximum limit and don’t go over that amount no matter what.  Remember, you still have that future wedding to save for and it won’t be cheap.  According to The Knot, the average wedding costs $33,931.

Learn 4Cs of diamonds

Before buying a diamond, make sure you learn about the 4C’s.  They are cut, color, clarity and carat.  A well-cut diamond will sparkle more and, in some cases, can look bigger than it is.  Therefore, this is considered the most important characteristic.  Next is color.  The GIA color scale ranges from D to Z.  The less color the diamond has, the higher the grade and the price tag. Colorless diamonds – the cream of the crop – are in the D-F range.  You can save money by going for a near colorless diamond in the G-J range instead.  The least important factor is clarity.  This refers to the diamond’s imperfections, but you usually can’t see it with a naked eye.  Finally, carat is the diamond weight.

Compare prices at different retailers

Chances are you don’t have money to burn so you need to shop wisely.  Instead of buying the first ring that catches your eye, shop around.  Decide what features you’re looking for and compare prices at various retailers.  Typically, engagement rings are more affordable online than in physical stores.  The key is to choose a reputable jeweler.  Blue Nile and James Allen are two online merchants that have great reviews.  Before making your purchase, research the return policy so you know how long you have to get your money back if things don’t go according to plan.

Buy slightly below the magic carat number

The average diamond engagement ring is 1 full carat and costs $6,000.  Buying slightly under the magic number can lead to major savings.  Plus, you’ll still get the look you want.  So, go ahead and purchase that 0.9 carat ring, no one will notice the difference.

Choose a less expensive diamond shape

Believe it or not, the diamond shape affects the price.  Round diamonds are the most popular and come with a higher price tag.  You can save more than 25% by choosing a fancy shaped diamond instead.  Emerald, oval, pear and cushion cut diamonds are all more affordable options.

Consider other gemstones

Break away from tradition and consider other gemstones.  Getting a ring with your partner’s birthstone can be more meaningful and easier on your wallet.  Here’s a list of birthstones associated with each month.

  • January – Garnet
  • February – Amethyst
  • March – Aquamarine or Bloodstone
  • April – Diamond
  • May – Emerald
  • June – Pearl, Alexandrite or Moonstone
  • July – Ruby
  • August – Peridot, Sardonyx or Spinel
  • September – Sapphire
  • October – Opal or Tourmaline
  • November – Topaz or Citrine
  • December – Tanzanite, Turquoise or Zircon