Once you have committed to the love of your life, next comes the hard part…finding the diamond engagement ring. With so many options, selecting a diamond ring can be overwhelming. That’s why establishing a budget should be your first step to finding the ring of your dreams.
We asked the jewelry experts what $8,000 will get you. And the answer is countless diamond options to satisfy every style.
While ring styles and budgets vary, one thing is universal: Most brides want a natural diamond engagement ring. It’s coveted for its rarity, twinkle, beauty and heritage. Here are the expert tips on finding your dream natural diamond ring within an $8,000 budget.
Know Your Ring Style
Once you have a budget, the next question is what is your ring style? Do you want sleek and modern, delicate, bold, or vintage-looking?
“Once we have a sense of the design, then we help clients find the right diamond that lets them stay within their budget,” explains Christina Gandia Gambale, an owner of Greenwich St Jewelers, a popular destination for engagement rings in Tribeca. “There are ways to navigate the 4C’s to get the look you want and the price.” That means comprising on the color or clarity of a diamond to afford a larger size.
The fact is diamonds rare: they are formed deep within the earth over billions of years. Fortunately, they’re available in a range of qualities and sizes, so brides can explore options to get what they want within their budget.
If a larger natural diamond is a couple’s priority, then Greg Kwiat recommends you put the money into the stone over a finely detailed ring design. “For many people, diamond size is a primary consideration, perhaps more so than the style of the setting itself,” says the CEO of the New York-based family business. “In these cases, we would work with the buyer to maximize the size of the diamond within a recommended color and clarity range.”
“We would set the center in a simpler, more streamlined setting with a lower cost so that the bulk of the budget can be put towards the diamond itself.”
Invest in the Diamond
If the quality of the stone is a top priority, Rosanne Karmes, whose company Sydney Evan creates a range of diamond rings, says buy the best diamond you can for $8,000 and sacrifice on size. “Personally, I would put my money in a quality stone because if you should need to sell it (or decide to trade up) it’s going to remain valuable.” Top-quality diamonds have historically held their value or risen in value because these stones are rare and especially desirable.
Get a Diamond Eternity Band Instead of the Solitaire Ring
The diamond eternity band is a good alternative to a solitaire ring, says Karmes. It’s also a great way to get a diamondy look within your budget. “I tell young couples who can’t afford the type of diamond ring they want to wait until they can afford it and buy an eternity band with diamonds all around.”
The engagement ring guru Stephanie Gottlieb is seeing more clients choosing a substantial natural diamond band as their engagement ring, saying: “The budget appears to go further with a band than it might with a singular diamond.”
One Carat Diamonds Can Appear Larger or Smaller
There are many 1-carat diamond rings in the $8,000 range but they can appear very different. Karmes points out, “thinner diamonds can have a big spread.” That means they can look larger while a thicker stone can go deeper and appear smaller. To stay within your budget, she suggests choosing a G or H color diamond, which she says appears very white.
Gottlieb’s expert tip, “If you select a brilliant cut diamond, such as a round, we recommend compromising on the clarity first. For a step cut diamond, such as an emerald cut, we compromise on the color first.”
How to Make a Diamond Ring Appear Larger
Face it, most people want a sizable diamond. There are ways to create an optical illusion so your diamond appears larger than it is – even at .75 carats. For example, Walters Faith designed a ring with nine smaller diamonds assembled to appear like one larger emerald cut. Or, you can add a diamond halo around the center stone or sandwich it between two diamond stones to amplify the look.
“Pear and marquise shape diamonds, due to their elongated shapes, tend to look larger than diamonds of other shapes in the same carat size, so they offer a lot of bang for the buck visually.”
Designs That Stretch the Budget
A smaller diamond center stone on a stylish ring with diamond accents offers individual style – and a lot of look for the money. Gandia Gambale says a good solution is the store’s Bowery ring with a smaller center stone surrounded by a scattering of diamonds on both sides. “It can make a 1-carat stone look larger.” Smaller stones set in the popular bezel set and signet rings also deliver a bold look.
There’s Value in Vintage Diamonds
You can often get a good deal on a vintage diamond, which also delivers big on charm and character. There are many options in the $8,000 range, says jeweler Kelty Pelechytik, who specializes in antique diamond cuts in new settings. “I always tell people to find their diamond first,” she says. “The setting is important, but ultimately, a setting can be changed as you or your relationship changes, but the stone is what you want for life.”
Get a Suite of Rings
Designer Anna Sheffield created sets of nesting rings that when paired together deliver a big look. “Starting with a smaller diamond in the engagement ring doesn’t mean you have to compromise with just one ring. You can layer with a band for what I call a Ceremonial Suite.”
Look for Unique Brown, Grey or Salt and Pepper Diamonds
Diamonds in lovely warm shades of caramel and brown, and salt and pepper diamonds are more affordable than their white counterparts. While purists prefer white diamonds, others, like Anna Sheffield, are drawn to unique natural colored diamonds. “To me, the beauty of natural diamonds is never more apparent than in the grey diamond,” says Sheffield who often pairs them with side stones or in a halo of pave white diamonds.