5 Essential Tips for Buying the Perfect Engagement Ring

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American couples spent an average of $5,764 on their engagement rings in 2017, according to a study by The Knot. But spending that much or more won’t guarantee you the perfect ring. What’s more, it’s possible to get the perfect ring and not spend close to that amount.

We’ve put together five engagement ring tips to help you find the right ring, regardless of your budget.

5 engagement ring tips you need to know

When it comes to engagement ring shopping, “you have to balance the value of what you’re getting against the price,” said Dan Moran, founder of Concierge Diamonds. But unless you’re in the jewelry business, it can be hard to know where that balance is.

Before you start shopping for a ring, here’s what you need to know.

1. Don’t base your budget on a rule of thumb

A common recommendation in the jewelry industry is to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. It’s not surprising that came from an ad for De Beers, a diamond company.

According to Moran, that approach is irresponsible. “It’s completely unreasonable to expect that everybody can spend two months’ worth of income [on a ring],” he said. “And if you’re making a million dollars a year, does that mean you have to spend close to $200,000 on a diamond? No.”

Instead, Moran recommends a different method to his clients: Think of a number you’d be uncomfortable spending on a diamond and then take off 10%. If you still feel uncomfortable, take off another 10%. Keep doing that until you land on a budget that works for you.

Moran also recommends setting your budget before you set foot in a jewelry store or start shopping online. Otherwise, you could develop what he calls “Best Buy syndrome.”

“It’s like when you go into Best Buy shopping for a 42-inch TV and then see that the 50-inch TV costs only a little bit more and the 55-inch TV is only a little bit more than that,” he said. “In the end, you’ve bought something you didn’t intend to buy and spent more money than you intended to spend.”

2. Know how you’re going to finance the ring

If you haven’t already thought about how you’re going to pay for the ring, none of these other engagement ring tips matter. Paying in cash is ideal because it doesn’t involve going into debt. But that’s not always possible, especially when you also have a wedding and other things to pay for.

It’s important to consider all your options before you go ring shopping. For example, the average personal loan interest rate is 10.22%, according to the Federal Reserve, and getting an unsecured personal loan won’t require you to put down collateral.

Alternatively, a credit card with a 0% introductory APR promotion could help you avoid interest altogether. But if you don’t pay it off before the promotion ends, you could be stuck paying a higher interest rate on the remaining balance.

Whatever option you choose, do your research and find the one that works best for your budget.

3. Don’t get too caught up in grading

If you’re shopping for a diamond ring, the grading can get complicated. Diamond experts use “the four C’s” to determine diamond prices:

  • Cut: The way the diamond is cut can affect how much light it reflects. A well-cut diamond can make up for mediocre color and clarity.
  • Color: When diamonds form, an impurity or defect in the diamond’s structure can cause it to have color. The less color a diamond has, the more it sparkles.
  • Clarity: Most diamonds have tiny blemishes, also known as inclusions. Fewer and smaller inclusions mean better clarity.
  • Carat: This is the weight of the diamond. A carat is one-fifth of a gram.

Jewelers might have specific recommendations for color, clarity, and cut. But what matters most, said Moran, is how you see the gem.

“There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what you have to get,” he said. “Everybody’s eyes are different, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t matter what a salesman sees, and it doesn’t matter what a gem lab sees. It only matters what you see.”

As for what carat you should choose, it’s important to note that the price correlates exponentially with the weight. So, as the gem’s weight increases slowly, the price can go up quickly.

4. Get the right certification

A diamond certification is a document you receive from a third party that describes the gem and its characteristics (think the four C’s). The idea is that a disinterested gem lab doesn’t care whether you buy the diamond, so it has no reason to inflate the value of the diamond to make a sale.

But that’s not always the case, according to Moran.

“There are the several hundred gem labs in the world, [and] I would say 95% or more of them are nonsense,” he said. “They’re in the pocket of some jewelry store and have every motivation in the world to be very generous in their grading.”

To ensure your diamond’s certification is reputable, Moran recommends:

  • Gemological Institute of America
  • American Gem Society
  • European Gemological Laboratory USA
  • International Gem Institute

It’s also important to note that each gem lab has its own grading standards, so two diamonds with certificates from different labs won’t be an apples-to-apples comparison. But each lab has internally consistent standards, so comparing two gems with certificates from the same lab is preferable.

5. Get a custom-made ring

It’s not easy to find discounts on diamonds, but it’s possible to save money on your engagement ring by choosing a custom-made option instead of picking one out of the showcase at a jewelry store.

According to Moran, jewelers often have to borrow cash to stock their inventory, and they pass on the interest costs to the customer.

“If you get a ring custom-made, there is no carrying cost,” said Moran. “When a client orders a ring, I’m buying the gold that day, I’m buying the diamonds that day, and I’m delivering it that day. I don’t have a carrying cost to pass on, so my cost basis is lower.”

You also can save money by shopping for an engagement ring online. But with no expert guidance, you could end up getting a lower-quality ring than if you were to have a jeweler custom-make one for you.

Start the next phase of your life right

An engagement ring is a big deal to a lot of people, so getting the perfect one without overpaying can help you start the next phase of your relationship and life on the right foot.

As you follow these engagement ring tips, you’ll be in a better position to get the right ring for your significant other without crippling yourself financially. And if you’re planning to use a personal loan to finance your ring purchase, compare several personal loan companies to make sure you get the best deal.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 7.08% APR to 15.37% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.81% APR to 14.11% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of August 10, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.81% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  3. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  4. Terms and Conditions ApplySOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS #1121636.
    (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan of $15,000 with a term of 24 months, and qualify for at least two of the following discounts: (1) add a co-borrower who has sufficient income; (2) use at least fifty percent of the loan proceeds to directly pay off existing debt; or (3) show proof of having at least forty-thousand dollars in retirement savings – contact FreedomPlus for further details.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.49% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.16% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% and the average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.81% – 15.37%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
6.87% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% – 25.00%2$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
4.99% – 29.99%3$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
5.99% – 18.99%4$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% – 34.49%5$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
6.16% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.