Juliette Bailey's Blog:
Make the Most of Your Engagement Ring Budget
Choosing the perfect engagement ring isn't the easiest thing in the world, especially if you're planning a surprise proposal without input from your significant other. Not only that, but you've also got to set and stick to a budget that won't leave you destitute after the purchase. Don't panic; you'll get the best ring your budget allows by following these simple steps.
First of all, if possible, try to find out what kind of ring your partner would like to have. You may already have some idea of the ring they'd like to wear, but if not, asking a close friend or relative may provide the information you need.
Set Your Budget
There used to be a traditional rule about the "appropriate" cost of an engagement ring which stated that a man should pay one to three months' salary for a ring. Thankfully, times have changed, and these days, there are no arbitrary rules about how much a ring should cost, nor even a requirement that a man should be the one doing the proposing. Many couples opt to choose and pay for engagement rings together, and those yesteryear rules just don't apply any more. Instead, it's all about practicality: figuring out how much you can afford, and then sticking to your budget. An engagement ring is something special, and there's nothing wrong with wanting to get the best you can afford, but don't forget that after the engagement comes the wedding. Having to spend a year or more paying off engagement rings may become a problem if you're trying to save for the wedding at the same time.
Choose a Payment Method
It's also worthwhile thinking about how you plan to pay for the ring, especially if you plan to make it an expensive one.
Saving in advance gives you a built-in budget, and you don't have to worry about getting financing for the purchase. Depending on how much you're spending you may even be able to get a discount by paying cash. Certain types of credit cards can be almost as good: for example, if you use a 0% interest card it won't cost you any more than if you'd paid in cash, and you may still be able to negotiate a discount by purchasing the ring outright. A cash-back credit card might also offer similar advantages. If you're using a credit card, ensure that you can pay off the purchase on time without incurring extra charges that negate the benefits. Finally, some jewelers offer 0% financing, but if you choose this option you won't be able to negotiate a discount, so financing deals are best considered only if cash or credit card isn't an option.
Choose a Jeweler
Jewelry stores are still the preferred place to shop for engagement rings for many people, but you do have other options. Online stores are increasingly popular, for the simple reason that they tend to offer great quality rings for less, since these stores don't have the overheads that offline stores do. So shop around, both offline and online, to find great deals.
The Best Stones for Your Money
Diamonds are typically the preferred stones for engagement rings, so it's worthwhile doing some research on these precious stones, to help you choose the best you can afford. Diamonds are graded on four criteria: carat, cut, color, and clarity, known as the four Cs.
Once you've made the purchase, don't forget to protect it, with a rider added to your existing contents coverage, or with a separate policy.