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When you’re in the process of buying an engagement ring, your mind isn’t only thinking about color, cut, clarity, and carat. You’re thinking about the life you’ll spend with your partner and how the ring symbolizes that commitment to each other.
But during the search for the right ring, you inevitably come across an unavoidable consideration: price.
The average consumer spends $5,500 on an engagement ring, but no matter how much you plan to spend, you’ll want to know when is the best time to buy an engagement ring.
That’s because any discount on such a high-priced item has the potential to add up.
My bottom line recommendation is that you shouldn’t wait for a specific time in the year to buy an engagement ring. Instead, buy it far enough in advance of the proposal that you aren’t sweating about the ring as the big day approaches.
When Should You Buy an Engagement Ring?
Quality diamonds for an engagement ring aren’t something you should wait to purchase on a steep discount. That’s because the most reputable jewelers, both online and in-store, rarely offer significant sales on their best diamonds.
There are certain times of year when you can save on tangential purchases such as settings and upgrades.
But here’s the key: The actual diamond, which is the most expensive part, rarely goes on a discount that makes it worth delaying your purchase.
For example, I bought my wife’s engagement ring from James Allen in January, which was a round-cut diamond in this setting.
The setting costs $240, so even the 25 percent discount didn’t significantly change the overall cost of the diamond ring.
I still paid full price for the diamond.
On rare occasions, James Allen has offered three percent off natural diamonds, but I don’t think you should wait around for that type of promotion.
That means the best time to buy an engagement ring is when you’re ready. It’s too important of a purchase to hasten or delay based on a potential sale, and as we’ll discuss later, choosing your diamond based on the discount could end up costing you more than you save.
That being said, buying your engagement ring during a time that isn’t peak shopping season can be optimal.
Jewelers know the most popular times to propose are Christmas, Valentine’s Day and the days between, so the rush for consumers to buy engagement rings generally begins with Black Friday.
By purchasing your diamond before or after the holiday blitz, you catch the industry at a slower time where you’ll have more inventory to choose from and the potential to negotiate a discount.
Additionally, you won’t experience the pressure of needing to purchase a ring as your plans to propose draw near. You’ll be able to focus on the proposal itself, knowing you’ve already taken care of the purchase.
The worst time to buy an engagement ring is when you feel rushed. You’ll be more likely to make a rash decision, neglect to comparison shop, or you’ll later come across a diamond you know would’ve been a better fit. It’s unlikely you’ll find a deal on a quality diamond that makes it worth rushing the purchase.
Buying an Engagement Ring Between Black Friday and Christmas
The rest of the retail world goes on sale between Black Friday and Christmas, so it’s natural to assume engagement rings follow the same trend.
Jewelers often compete for buyers during this time just prior to proposal season by offering incentives such as free settings or percentage discounts of anywhere from 10 to 50 percent off rings.
While these sales are enticing, there are three issues to consider when planning to buy during this time.
First, you’re in serious competition with other buyers, who may have their eye on the same diamond as you.
The turnover can be quick for quality diamonds at the right price. It’s natural to find a diamond you like and then mull the purchase over in your mind for a few days before committing. This can easily result in someone else swiping up the diamond and bringing you back to square one.
But don’t rush the purchase.
The second issue is especially true if you order online. You need to have your ring well in advance of your proposal, because you may decide to choose another shape or style once you see it with your own eyes.
Though you should be confident in your purchase before you commit, you should leave several weeks between your purchase and proposal to give you time to make any adjustments or returns.
For example, a friend of mine was recently preparing to propose while a local jeweler was setting his diamond. The initial date he had in mind was coming up, and I cautioned him to not finalize those plans until he had the ring in hand.
It can often take longer than expected to put together the piece and deliver it, and you can’t leave it to chance.
If you’re planning a Christmas or New Year’s proposal, waiting until Black Friday or later to buy a ring carries risk that may not be worth any discount you receive.
Thirdly, if you see a promotional discount of 50 percent off, it’s almost never referring to actual engagement ring diamonds.
Those discounts are reserved for other types of jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, or settings.
In almost every case, it really is too good to be true if you see a 50 percent discount and think it means you’ll save $3,000 on a $6,000 ring.
This doesn’t mean buying an engagement ring during the holiday season is the worst time, it just means you need to be aware of its downsides, so you still end up with the right diamond at the right price.
Between Christmas and Valentine’s Day
Buying an engagement ring between Christmas and Valentine’s Day means you’ll likely be competing with buyers who are preparing to propose on one of the most popular days of the year: February 14.
The situation is similar to buying between Black Friday and Christmas.
There’s a chance you’ll receive a percentage discount or a free setting, but the problem of high turnover looms large.
The primary promotions you’ll see will be related to Valentine’s Day.
For example, James Allen often offers a 25 percent discount leading up to Valentine’s Day, but it’s important to note the discount does not apply to loose diamonds or gemstones.
Don’t go in thinking you’ll save $1,000 on a $4,000 diamond. Instead, this type of discount will keep $250 in your pocket if you spend $1,000 on the setting.
Additionally, online retailer Blue Nile often offers 20 percent off on bands and jewelry for the wedding party. It’s another example of the discount being on tangential purchases related to the diamond engagement ring, not the expensive diamond itself.
While these discounts can still net you several hundred dollars, you have to decide whether timing your purchase to align with these sales is worth it.
During the Spring and Summer
The spring and summer are considered off seasons for buying engagement rings because the primary times to propose are during winter.
That doesn’t mean it’s the worst time to buy an engagement ring.
Like the early fall months, you’ll enjoy less turnover for popular diamonds and be able to find an off-season discount on a setting or other complementary jewelry.
For example, Kay Jewelers has offered 15 percent off on clearance during the summer months.
It may not sound romantic to shop clearance for an engagement ring, but if you’re on a tight budget, it could be worth checking out these options.
Be extra diligent in making sure it’s still a high-quality ring and diamond. As we’ll discover, true quality diamonds rarely go on sale.
You also won’t feel rushed to ensure you can propose on a particular holiday. There simply aren’t as many specific days throughout the spring and summer months that are traditional times to propose, so you can spend more time browsing rings or planning the special day.
If you’re considering buying an engagement ring during Autumn, you might feel tempted to wait until the holiday season approaches and begin the process in late November.
But as we’ve discussed, you’ll be disappointed if you wait until the holidays, only to discover the discounts are on its setting, and you have to pay full price for the diamond.
In fact, the most significant discount I’ve seen on diamonds from a quality jeweler is when James Allen occasionally offers 3 percent off natural diamonds and 10 percent off ones grown in a lab.
While the 10 percent can result in savings of hundreds or thousands of dollars, you’d have to buy a large diamond for the three percent discount to change the picture.
So the reason buying an engagement ring during Autumn can be a smart move is because allows plenty of time for a holiday proposal.
If you start the process in October and make the purchase in early November, you’ll have room to allow for any returns, whether there’s an issue with the ring or you decide on a different design.
Instead of drawing out the purchase only to save $100 or $200 on the setting or natural diamond, you’ll have peace of mind heading into the proposal.
What to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring
Avoid Buying Diamonds With Steep Discounts
It’s common during the holiday season to see advertisements for jewelry at discounts of 50 percent or more. While these eye-catching deals might have you thinking about the thousands of dollars you could save and allow you to get a bigger diamond, you should avoid these deals for an engagement ring.
The type of quality diamond most consumers buy for an engagement ring aren’t the kind that go on significant discount. That’s because the retailers aren’t in a hurry to get rid of them, in regard to the diamond’s lifespan. They’ll be in just as good of shape down the road.
While a massive discount might suffice for other parts of the ring, avoid being lured in by these deals for the diamond itself.
Consider Online Retailers
The idea of buying a diamond online — spending potentially thousands of dollars on a diamond you’ve never seen — used to sound crazy. Now, online retailers such as Blue Nile, Brilliant Earth and Whiteflash are an incredibly popular way to buy an engagement ring.
You can choose an elegant diamond ring like the one below without leaving your house.
That’s because they offer some of the best prices, customer service, and return policies — not to mention you often get a high-resolution image of the diamond from every angle, complete with its certification.
In-store retailers have significant overhead costs that are passed on to the buyer, so all else being equal, you’ll likely save money on a diamond by purchasing it online.
Buy at Least Two Months Before Proposing
In the weeks leading up to your proposal, you don’t want to be stressed about the engagement ring and whether it’ll arrive on time or won’t have any issues that make you want to return it.
It can take over a month from the time you start searching until you finalize your decision, so it’s best to start looking at least three months out from your proposal and then buy it at least two months out.
The only issue is keeping it hidden from your partner from the time you buy it to your proposal, but that’s less of a problem than not having the ring at all.
Choose Value Over Specific Grades
The best way to save money on an engagement ring is to educate yourself about which characteristics significantly increase its price versus which ones impact its appearance.
As you move up the scale on the four Cs, you’ll pay a premium for each new level. So all else being equal, a very good cut is more expensive than a good cut.
My recommendation is to choose a diamond that ranks on the higher end of a lower grade, so the naked eye can’t tell the difference. For example, many buyers want a colorless diamond — an F, E, or D on the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale.
But because these colors are considered a premium, the jump in cost between a G (the highest in “near colorless” grades), is often significant. For a one-carat diamond, it could be the difference of more than $1,000.
But to the naked eye, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between a G and F colored diamond. So you can save money and get a near-identical look by choosing a G over an F.
The image below is of an engagement ring that meets those criteria.
The same goes for the GIA clarity and cut scale.
When it comes to carats, the premium prices generally start at one carat. That means purchasing a 0.9 carat gem can get you close to the look of a one carat diamond without the corresponding price increase.
Or for the best value, consider a lab-created diamond, like this one.
They cost almost 50 percent less than natural ones but still look identical.
Focus on More Than the Diamond
A diamond is the most important part of the engagement ring and the most costly. So it’s no surprise most buyers spend the majority of their time searching for the perfect diamond.
But don’t ignore the impact a quality setting can have on the aesthetic and performance of a ring.
In fact, there are several styles to choose from, and each adds a unique feature to your ring. These include:
- Side stone
For example, here’s a channel setting in 14K white gold.
Small diamonds are placed inside a groove within the shank. It allows the engagement ring to sparkle from every angle, and it’s more cost effective than adding that same carat weight to the center diamond.
By pairing your diamond with multiple settings, you can view of each combination complements each other.
Here’s a tip: You can increase the total carat weight of your piece by adding several diamonds through a pave setting or halo.
For example, several diamonds that weigh a combined 0.20 carats costs less than increasing the size of the main diamond by 0.20 carats.
It’s a cost-effective way to add more brilliance to your piece.
It’s often more difficult to negotiate with large chains because they want to maintain consistent pricing standards.
- Clarity: VS1
- Cut: Excellent
- Color: E
It’s priced at $5,500.
Ritani, an online jeweler, says they’ll attempt to find a similar diamond at the same or a lower price. This style of negotiation is often easier than making offers back and forth.
An engagement ring often ranks as one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s natural to wonder about the best time to buy one.
The answer is although there are instances where you can save several hundred dollars on a setting or negotiate a slightly lower price on a diamond, it’s not the type of purchase you should hold out on for a significant discount.
Instead, the best way to save money on an engagement ring is to educate yourself about diamonds and which factors cause its price to increase or decrease.
Don’t overspend by choosing color and clarity grades that command a premium but look the same as lower grades when viewed with the naked eye.
Then you can decide which criteria are most important to you and start to comparison shop across the many retailers offering similar diamonds.