Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« What are Your Three Money Do-Overs? | Main | It's Not Too Late for College Students to Get Some/More Financial Aid »

June 03, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I'd say your best bet is to buy a diamond thru bluenile then go to a regular store for the setting. Ask for their store brands which will stay in the few hundred dollar range. They will look exactly the same if not better than "designers"

If you go to a place like Jared's and buy their setting they have a protection plan based on the cost of the setting (not the diamond). I think my setting was $300 and the protection plan came out to $40. Gives free inspections, clamp tightenings, ring sizings, and shiny cleanings for LIFE.

Hopefully you will never have to sell it and need the authentications, but I wouldn't risk buying something like that on ebay if you want and can tell the difference between the real thing. If I was going to do that I would just buy a fake in the first place!

My coworker's husband got her engagement ring through an eBay store and her band at an outlet mall. They got a really good prices because they were flawed. She had a good experience with both.

I would recommend if you are going to go through eBay, use an eBay store. I think they are more likely to be good and legit then if you getting one from John or Jane Doe.

But like Angie said a regular store offers warranty plans, most are lifetime warranties on the metal and diamond. So that makes it really nice if something would happen to the ring or need resizing.

Honestly, I'm leery of anything that's easily stolen on eBay. You might get a great deal, but you need to make sure you do your homework to make sure that your "great deal" wasn't somebody else's heartbreak*.

I would have to agree with Angie, buy from a reputable diamond store online.

OR you can do what I did, find a good quote from online and find an identical diamond in the store, then show them the printout from online. I used that as a negotiating tool and got about 30-40% off of the retail price (still a bit more than online, but not much more). Definitely get the setting from a real store though, you want to make sure it fits well and that the store is willing to adjust it later.

*Then again, as long as we're talking diamonds, the likelihood of somebody getting treated poorly somewhere in the chain from ground to setting is pretty high unless you go for a Canadian diamond.

Go to Blue Nile. I loved the experience with them. My fiancee had an *idea* of what she wanted it to look like and armed with that and a little bit of research into what to look for in a diamond, (Cut, clarity, color, carat) I went to the website. They let you pick the specifications you want for the diamond and they'll put it on the ring that you want. (That'd be my only problem with Blue Nile--their selection of ring types is somewhat limited but they have plenty of diamonds to go on them!) The ring is delivered via FedEx and it arrives in a pretty little polished wood box.

My suggestion would be to buy something between 1/3 karat and a 1/2 carat but make it as close to the best diamond you can find in that size range (Ideal cut, no inclusions, clear color). My wife's hand *still* sparkles with all of the reflection coming off that small diamond and everyone that looks at it says that it looks like a 1/2 to 3/4 karat diamond. I was a grad student when I proposed and my budget was roughly what yours is and I got her a ring that she still comments on.

One extra bit of advice--talk with your insurance company about getting the ring insured (my company calls it a personal articles policy). It's about 20 bucks/year (and they added it onto my car payment so I barely even notice it) and, at least through my company, it covers loss, theft, or even just loss of the diamond if it falls out of the arms that hold the diamond snap off.

Hope this helps and good luck!

I got mine from plus other jewelry items from there. They have brick and mortar stores near me but I prefer online. They offer free lifetime cleaning, free shipping, 60 day return policy, and you can trade in your items and get 100% of their value towards the purchase of another item. If you don't have one locally to you I don't know how the cleanings work. They give you a certificate of authenticity that has the declared value on it that you keep to prove all the legal stuff.

Warning though, they did file a Chapter 11 after the Christmas season so you may not get the benefits of free cleaning and trade in's but you may get a good deal on something that isn't stolen as is a good quality. Read up on the 4 c's.

This is decidedly low-tech and depends on geography, but if you live w/in a decent drive of the sort of large city that has a "diamond district" where a multitude of independent jewelers, importers, and wholesalers are clustered together, give it a whirl. I did this in Boston, where there are literally several high-rises filled with jewelers happy to take the time to craft something you want.

Competition and avoiding retail helps keep costs low (sometimes surprisingly), and it affords you the opportunity to give input about every detail and talk to the person who'll design and craft's almost a farmer's market mentality.

Taking the time to get out and pound the pavement for a purchase this large (monetarily and symbolically) makes more sense to me. And it makes a much better story when your 25th anniversary rolls around than "I bought your ring on the internet."

I would agree with Matt -- buy quality rather than size. In particular, I would emphasize something of ideal cut. A good cut leads to the light bouncing like it's supposed to, and thus, lots of sparkling. You can sacrifice clarity and color, especially with smaller stones. I bought my wife's engagement ring at, largely because that's where I found the particular setting she preferred.,, and the larger online stores have larger stone selections, and are slightly more expensive. Brick-and-mortar stores are usually a lot more -- their much higher mark-up is only partly compensated by sales.

E.g., for $900-1000 for just a round stone, has ideal-cut stones around .45 carats, E-F color, and VS2 clarity.

I went the brick-and-mortar route when I purchased a ring about a year ago. Avoid the big names (Jared, Zales, etc.) and go to small jewelers where you can. I met with 7-8 jewelers, and always got the 'diamond education.' This was terrific for me because it supplemented the research I did online, AND because after sitting through a couple of them you got to see what each jeweler valued and didn't. Some valued the cut over the clarity, others were the opposite. Hearing different opinions on what's important in a diamond is valuable. Plus, with a B&M store, these guys aren't looking to make a killing w/ an engagement ring. They want to find a customer who'll continue to come back to them over the years.

You can do the online route, but having gone the way I did I'm much happier. Based on my research there's a 0% chance I would've purchased an SI2 diamond, seeing as there's a chance it can be seen by the naked eye. However, having the opportunity to look at one in person, there was no visible defect (unless viewed w/ jewelers equipment). So I got a ring that my fiancee continually gets compliments about, and got more bang for my buck in the process.

At the end of the day, I'd suggest going to meet with a few jewelers and learn from them. Do internet research too, but you can't discount the value of looking at a stone in person while having a knowledgeable person teach you what to look for. Then, if you think you can get a better deal online, do it.

Just an alternative thought. Have you looked at man-made stones? I bought a man-made blue diamond from and had a great experience. They were very willing to work with me and you can guarantee that no human rights violations were involved in getting the diamond onto your fiancee's finger. Of course, going this route means that you will most likely have to go with a colored diamond, but beyond that, you get incredible quality for quite a bit less money. I am sure there are other places where you can buy man-made diamonds, but I would give my vote to Green Karat since they were good to me. Good luck whichever route you go, don't forget to have fun with the buying, you only get to do it once :-)

I highly suggest that you look at They are really good forums and have a lot of quality jewelers there. I bought mine through a jeweler in New York that is well known on the forums.

My parents got thiers a pawn shop back in the 70's when they were just starting out. My local pawn shop, about 1/2 mile from the chicago board of trade building (read: broken dreams & margin calls) has a fair amount of diamonds in various prices, not to mention plenty of rolex watches. This one gives you cert docs from a local jeweler and allows returns if your selected jewler doesn't agree. I have found the items I bought appraise for double at another jewler who doesn't know where I got it, when I needed an additional insurance apprasial.

I don't have any experience with bluenile or ebay, but I did recently purchase and engagement ring (wanted to pick it out myself) I love my ring!! but to this day wish I would have looked at sam's club first. I didn't even think of them when I went to look, but I've found a couple of rings there that were really cheap that I like since purchasing mine. I assume costco or other similar chains would carry them as well.

I personally would be leary of buying a diamond off of ebay, just because you don't really know who your dealing with or what your getting.

Costco, BlueNile, ShaneCo

Try as well.

I hadn't thought of eBay for an engagement ring. They seem to have some good deals there, BUT make sure to read all the details. I saw one ring with the title : "1.16CT F VS2 BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING" for $1450. But the description its a 0.7 carat center diamond, center diamond color I and VS2-SI1 clarity. So while the title says "1.16CT F VS2" its really "0.7CT I SI1". Thats the difference between a $1200 rock and a $3500 one.

On first glance it looks like there are great deals on eBay but when I dig a little details nad make sure I'm comparing apples to apples the prices on eBay weren't all that much better than bluenile. I looked at a nice 0.5 cwt ring on Ebay for $1200 and a comparable ring would be about $1600 on Bluenile. 25% cheaper on eBay is good, but is that much savings worth risk of buying something that could be a ripoff? I would frankly be too concerned about getting ripped off on eBay.

Read up on the 4 C's first. Carat, Color, Clarity and the other one. Then you'll know what you're shopping for.

I'd also recommend finding out what kind of ring your fiance wants. Do they like white or yellow gold? Do they want a round diamond, princess or other shape? Do they care about the quality of color and inclusions more or does size of the carat matter most?
If you spend $1500 you could get a 3/4 carat round with slight inclusions and some color but the same amount would only buy you a 1/2 carat with E color and VS1. Maybe she wants the 3/4 carat or maybe the 1/2 carat of higher quality.


With plenty of business going out of business look for a jeweler that is going out of business. that is how i bought my wife's engagement ring. shopped around and a similar ring cost about $800-$1400, instead of the $500 i spent. We took it to Fred Meyer to get it sized for $25.

I hope your finance is okay with your spending "only" $1,500. If you're going to marry a "typical" girl, she'll likely want something that costs more than $1,500, even if she doesn't realize it; she will be able to tell the difference between a $1,500 ring and a $3,500 ring. Yes, women are crazy.

Objectively, a relationship isn't defined by how much the ring costs. But most women would probably disagree with that. So, look for a good deal, but don't obsess over it unless that's all you can afford. If it is, that brings up another question--should you be getting married in the first place?

Let me make the counter-remark to Marc's. Make sure your fiancee actually *wants* an expensive diamond as an engagement ring. Not every woman does. Some have ethical concerns about diamonds; some just don't like the look (with my coloring, diamonds don't do much for me); some would just rather have that money put towards something that they view as more significant, like a house down payment or a more extravagant honeymoon trip.

(Free hint to all: if you feel comfortable declaring that "women are crazy" and that most women are incapable of recognizing your love if you don't spend a lot of money on a ring, the answer to "should you be getting married in the first place?" is "no." You may not realize it, but you actually don't like women. Even if you're sleeping with one.)

Look for GIA certification. This is the most widely, jewler accepted diamond certificaiton. It will cost a little more, but supposedly it is much more reputable and you know what you are getting.

You can narrow your search results on ebay to include only GIA cert diamonds. This will narrow your selection to about 5% of what was available.

I don't know if you are open to alternative approaches to an engagement ring, but here's how my husband and I got an amazing ring for a low budget: each of our mothers allowed us to cut a diamond out of a family ring and had them reset with a modest new diamond in a three stone setting.
The ring was not only frugal, but it remains a symbol of how marriage combines elements of two existing families to form a new creation.

This may be flame bait for the jewelery salespeople out there but I think I need to add onto my previous statement and warn against going to the Zales, Jareds, and other "Brick and Mortar" jewelery stores out there. I was not certain about doing the ring order online so I went to some of the chain jewelers near my apartment. I had the price for the ring I wanted at Blue Nile and one or two other online sellers and I wanted to compare. You *will not* find better prices in the stores and you *will* be coerced into spending more if you're not careful. The salesmen I talked with gave me all the lines and guilt they could heap onto me. When they showed me comparable rings to the one I was looking for online, they were 1000 bucks extra. When they showed me rings in the price range of the ring I found online, they had to go to a back corner of the store and show me the rattiest looking jewelery this side of a Crackerjack box. (One had a diamond so discolored I thought it was a pearl at first.)

I think my previous post may have sounded too much like an ad for Blue Nile. There are other places online to get your ring but I would highly recommend doing something online rather than in a store. At home, you take the emotional blackmail that the salesmen use in the store and you can focus on the more important goal of finding the perfect ring for your perfect bride.

I’ve been looking at local jewelry stores then went online ( and To get an idea what she likes and what looks good on her hand, I’ve taken my girlfriend to a few jewelry stores with me. This has helped me weed out a lot of the rings out there by determining setting, caret size, diamond shape, whether or not she wants a wedding band or guard, and metal color. I think I’ll probably end up going with a smaller higher quality karat diamond (.33-.6 a depending on the setting I chose).

DON’T FORGET IF YOU BUY ONLINE (for cashback and coupon deals)
Bluenile has 5% cashback from MS Bing Cashback and 10% if you use a Visa code.

Anyone here used jamesallen?

I think you get a better selection online. I bought my wife's ring on and got a good deal a few years ago. You can play around with the selections and settings to find one that suits your budget and your preferences.

Some women care more about carats than anything else, and if that's the case, you are going to have a tough time getting much for $1500. However, I do know a girl that got a 1.5 carat yellow-looking diamond that has a visible chip in the face and she loved it because it was so big, and I think it was under $2k. To each his own I guess.

If size isn't too important though, you can find something very nice if it has a good cut and clarity. There isn't much difference between something .48 carats and something .50 carats, but you sometimes get a price break.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can get multiple diamonds on the ring and get more sparkle for the buck. On a trip to New York I bought my wife a ring that is something like .3 total weight and it looks to me like the center diamond is about a quarter carat because of the way they are arranged. Got it for $300. That might not be much of an engagement ring, but the idea of multiple diamonds making the center stone look bigger is worth considering in your price range.

Last thing to remember is that you know your woman well enough that you'll pick something she'll like. If she doesn't like it, then you aren't ready to marry her anyway. A ring does not a marriage make. It's just a symbol. Her joy will come from the question, not the appraisal value of the ring. If that's not true, then run like hell.

Diamonds are made from carbon atoms. The same diamonds found in the ground is the same diamond made in a lab. The lab diamond is of better clarity than the ones from the earth.

Go to site like diamond nexus and get your bride to be a platinum band with a laboratory diamond. Its the same thing, and its far cheaper. There are other sites that sell similar products.

Are you purchasing the ring before or after the proposal and how picky is your fiancee about the style of her ring? If you're willing to take the time, I highly recommend the team at Union Diamond. They're a small shop out of Atlanta who do the majority of their business online (they only have a showroom in Atlanta). My now-husband and I worked with them last year to design my dream ring. We did a lot of research, including looking online at uber-retailer Blue Nile, and the prices are definitely better at Union Diamond for the quality you're looking for. For a custom design, we first picked out the diamond (with their handy search tool) and sent them photos of the type of side stones I was looking for. They emailed a couple of photos and I picked the side stones I wanted. I also emailed them a photo of the setting design I wanted (you can send a drawing if you don't have a photo) and they gave us a quote. We paid via wire transfer (for a discount), but you can also pay via credit card. They then FedExed the stones to us to inspect with a paid return-FedEx box. We just took the stones to a local jeweler and asked to use their microscope. The local jeweler was pretty shocked at the quality of the diamond and thought we must've paid twice what we actually paid. Once we were satisfied with the stones, we sent them back and the design team got started on the wax cast of the setting. They then emailed us photos of the wax setting from all different angles. Once we approved the wax, they made the real setting and set the stones in it. So, about 4-6 weeks after starting the process, we received my dream ring! It came with the GIA cert and an appraisal showing the value at 50% higher than what we paid. However, had we bought the same ring in a brick and mortar store, it definitely would've been twice what we paid, esp. if it were custom designed. Union Diamond's website is and we worked with Barbara at [email protected] It's also pretty easy to reach her by phone, but I don't remember the number. As an added perk, if you can purchase her dream ring the first time around (within your budget), you'll never have to "upgrade" later on.

Gee, guess I should've read the end of the email before posting. I looked on Union Diamond's site and there are many diamonds in your range. I just searched for round diamonds in the $1000-$1500 range, but you can search for a different cut and filter for color/clarity/etc. I found a nice 0.44 carat, E color, VS1, Premium Cut (one below their top "select ideal" cut) round stone with GIA cert for $1089 (wire-transfer price at 3% discount). Seems that the greatest variation in price (after carat-weight) is clarity. I'd go for color before clarity, though, because it's more noticeable to the naked eye. As long as you go with SI1 or greater, you should be okay. Happy hunting! (BTW, Union Diamond supports the Kimberly Process and does not sell conflict diamonds. They also have a 30-day return policy)

After doing a bunch of research online and at brick & mortar stores, I bought my wife's engagement ring on Blue Nile and had a jewler friend of mine inspect it for me once it arrived. (She was quite impressed with the quality and price.) This was back in 2004 and I spent about $3,000.

Wouldn't have changed a thing - go with Blue Nile.... Three of my college buddies did the same and were all very pleased! :-)

This really some phenomenal advice. Both in the article and the comments sections. I actually came here looking for good deals on white gold diamond necklaces, but I'm am really glad I came across this engagement ring talk. It gave me some great ideas on how to proceed once I get to that stage.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.