I know a recent blog post was also wedding/marriage related, but I promise that this blog isn’t going to turn into a wedding blog. I know that engagement rings are a VERY touchy subject, so I just want to throw out a disclaimer that this post is not to brag about my engagement ring or to passive-aggressively complain about my ring or brag about how much money Mr. NavigatingAdulthood makes. I’m happy with my ring, and I just wanted to share some advice on how you can save thousands on your engagement ring.
Conversations We Had Before We Got Engaged
Like I mentioned before, engagement rings are a touchy subject and there’s honestly no right or wrong answer. If your biggest dream in life is to own a 4 carat ring from Tiffany’s, good for you! If you think that spending over $100 on a ring is too much, that’s fine too. Just make sure that you and your significant other are on the same page. Remember that this is a big purchase for your significant other to make, so you should have some conversations about budget, ring style, what you’re looking for, etc.
Personally, here’s what I was looking for:
- Low setting: I wanted a low setting so the ring wasn’t 3 inches above my finger. I’m kind of clumsy, so I wanted to minimize the likelihood that I could knock out the very expensive rock
- Halo: Halos make the center stone look bigger and I’m all for getting your money’s worth
- Not spend a lot of money: It’s going to sit on my finger- I just couldn’t stomach the thought of having a ring that was almost as much as an actual car sit on my finger.
- Don’t care if it’s a moissanite or a diamond for the center stone: All I really wanted was a clear stone. Personally, I was ok with a lab-made stone like a moissanite because they’re even shinier than diamonds and they’re at a lower cost point too!
What Mr. NavigatingAdulthood was looking for:
- Making me happy: His top priority during this whole engagement ring process was making sure that I was happy. If I had my heart set on an expensive ring, I know he would have tried to make it happen. Whether it was putting off the engagement so he could save more, or compromising on a less-expensive option, I’m sure that we would have worked something out.
- Diamond as the center stone: Mr. NA used to be an astrophysicist, and he was pretty set on getting a diamond. Here is his very geeky reasoning behind why he wanted a diamond:
Formation of diamonds happens at only a very small window of temperature and pressure. Too hot, you get something else. Too much pressure, you get something else else. Diamonds are only formed in two places on Earth: 1) In large meteor impacts, like the one that killed the dinosaurs, but those are TINY, 2) in the upper mantle. The mantle is WAY under ground, so the only way we get THOSE diamonds, is when they’re brought to the surface by magma, through volcanoes. SO, they’re pretty rare on Earth.
Don’t worry, if you’re thinking he’s a huge nerd, it’s totally cool- I think so too.
Engagement Ring Budget
^This image is from one of my favorite episodes of The Office.
So when we first had conversations around budget, Mr. NavigatingAdulthood thought that he had to spend 3 months salary, which worked out to being between $15,000-$30,000. I’m sure that for some people, that might be a modest number, but for me, that was a little excessive and unnecessary. I mean, I bought my 2014 Toyota Camry for less than $20,000 and that’s a lot bigger than an engagement ring.
At the time, Mr. NA was trying to pay off his debt and student loans. I was really touched that he wanted to spend so much on a ring, and I’ll be honest, I love me some sparkle. However, at the end of the day, I felt that it was just too much. It was more important to me that Mr. NA be debt free than spoiling me with a sparkly rock.
After a lot of discussion and negotiation, we mutually decided on a budget of $6,000. It was a happy compromise- Mr. NA didn’t feel that it made him look cheap and it wasn’t so expensive that I would have a heart attack every time I looked at it.
Shopping for the engagement ring
I’m going to be honest- growing up in an Asian immigrant household, Costco was a weekly weekend trip. So let’s just say that I was very aware of they sold engagement rings. Add this to the fact that I love a good bargain, and I was pretty much set on a Costco engagement ring. On the other hand, Mr. NA was not sure that he wanted to buy an everlasting token of his love from the same place that we bought $5 rotisserie chickens.
We started off our ring buying at Tiffany’s, where it quickly became clear that their rings are expensive. We went to a few other retailers like Zales and Kay Jewelers, but weren’t super impressed with their selection. Finally, on one of our Costco trips to pick up groceries, Mr. NA caved and we looked at the engagement ring selection.
We were floored by how much more ring we could get for the dollar. The carat sizes were slightly larger and the ring styles were very similar to those at other big retailers.
In the end, Mr. NavigatingAdulthood surprised me with the ring I fell in love with on our first Costco trip for and it was comfortably under our $6,000 budget. When we got it appraised for insurance, it actually appraised for $2,200 more than what he paid for. A similar ring from Tiffany’s cost more than 30% more, with a smaller center diamond!
And here’s my engagement ring- I have tiny fingers [my ring size is 3.75]
Still don’t believe the magic of Costco? Take a look at Ring A and Ring B, which are similar to my actual engagement ring, and pick which one is from Tiffany’s and which one is from Costco.
The Real Test
Ring A is from Tiffany’s: The price starts at $6,900 for a 0.5 carat center diamond.
Ring B is from Costco: The price is $3,700 and you get a slightly larger center diamond [0.75 carats].
Isn’t it insane how the two rings look so similar but the price point is so vastly different?
There are so many options when it comes to engagement rings- my biggest advice is sit down and have an honest conversation about what the two of you are looking for. I promise that this DOES NOT detract away from a super-romantic proposal [if that’s what you’re looking for]. If you don’t want a ring because you don’t wear much jewelry, you should discuss it. If you want a 4 carat Tiffany engagement ring [or a ring that looks similar], you should talk about it. If you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, I hope I’ve convinced you that Costco is a great place to look!
One of my favorite personal finance bloggers Frugal Asian Finance also wrote about how she saved money on her engagement ring by shopping at Costco. It’s a great read!
Did you guess correctly? What are your thoughts on engagement rings? Are you on Team Diamond like Mr. NA?