The following post is from Melissa Batai

Engagement rings are big business.  After all, jewelry stores want men to think that if they love the lady in their lives that they will show this love by buying her a big engagement ring—the more bling the better.  In fact, according to The Knot, the average engagement ring in 2016 cost a whopping $6,163!

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  You can buck the trend of an expensive diamond ring that pads the pockets of the jewelry store owner.  There are many more reasonable options.

Buy a ring that fits your budget.  Sure, this isn’t a popular option, but it is a practical one.  When my husband and I got engaged, he was still a college student and I was paying on student loans while working adjunct jobs at local community colleges.  To say we had no money was an understatement.  My engagement ring cost $250.  I love the simple stone and plain wedding band, and after 16 years of marriage, I still love it.

If you buy a ring that fits your budget, keep in mind you can always go for an upgrade when your budget improves, which it likely will during your marriage.

Buy a ring with more, but smaller, diamonds.  A ring with more, but smaller diamonds, gives the illusion of more opulence than one big stone.  Think of rings with one bigger stone in the center and two smaller ones on the sides or one moderate stone in the center and tiny diamonds lining the band.  You’ll save money because this type of ring tends to cost less than buying a ring with one large stone in the center.

Consider a different stone.  You don’t have to always have to follow the trend of a diamond for an engagement ring.  Kate Middleton’s engagement ring features a sapphire surrounded by small diamonds.  My cousin’s engagement ring is an emerald.  By opening up the possibility of different stones for an engagement ring, you can save quite a bit of money and still get a beautiful ring.

Give an heirloom ring.  Is there a much-loved ring in your family?  One that your grandmother or other relative wore?  You may be able to give that ring to your betrothed.  While it won’t cost you anything, it is rich in sentimental value.

Buy online.  You can save a great deal if you avoid the jewelry stores at the mall and instead order from an online jeweler.  Since the online jeweler has lower advertising and rental costs, you’ll reap the savings in the final cost of the ring.

Of course, make sure to check the return policy for the ring before you buy, especially if you choose a ring with a non-traditional gem instead of a diamond.  You don’t want your bride-to-be to be unhappy with her engagement ring.

And if you feel bad for spending less on such an important item of jewelry, consider this—one recent study showed that the more that was spent on “an engagement ring or wedding, the shorter the marriage” (U.S. News).

My Question for You

Did you implement any of these strategies to save money on an engagement ring, or did your spouse have her heart set on a particular type of ring?

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