When Engagement Diamond Dreams, Hit Budget Bumps. Options,Ideas and Alternatives

Will You Marry Me?

“We really want this design with the three quarter carat size center, but we can’t afford the engagement diamond we want. But if we get a smaller diamond with the thinner band, it won’t look good on my hand. Calla what can we do?” Debbie lamented as we sat together at her kitchen table looking at the bid I'd drawn up and her diamond candidates.

True Tales From the Engagement Ring Trenches

As a wedding jewelry designer I’m faced now and again with budgetary challenges, trying the gum up an otherwise happy project. I’ve jumped through this hoop a few times. To answer my most recent client who said the above, I share with you these true stories. The names are changed to protect the smart!

Asking for Help from Your Family Can Yield Solutions

Darla had a dream ring in mind and Bryan wanted to give her what she wanted, but her dream was a bit costlier than she had hoped.

I asked Darla if her mom liked her fiancé. Her answer was "yes," so I suggested that Darla reach out to her mother and grandmother who also loved her fiancé.

What Darla Asked For

Three women

A Mother and Her Daughters

Darla asked her mom and grandmother if they had any unworn jewelry, gold or platinum that they might want give toward their wedding ring project.

She also asked if there were any family diamonds that might go toward her project. The outpouring of unworn jewelry from her mom and grandmother paid for about $2,000.00 of her engagement ring.

We were able to make it with the .75ct. engagement diamond center she wanted. I gave Darla and Bryan credit for the gold, mismatched little diamonds and a set of jade jewelry. It was such a happy outcome. Darla’s mom and grandmother were so glad to be able to be an important part of the happy couple’s wedding jewelry plans.

Jane Shared Her Dream with Her Family

Jane showed her parents the bid I did for her that she and Stan couldn’t afford. She also showed pictures I’d drawn and details of designs she’d printed out online in her dream ring file.

What Did Your Parent's and Grandparents do When They Got Wedding Jewelry?

She asked her mom and dad for advice and how they had figured out their wedding rings. Jane’s mom loved their ring design and ended up chatting with relatives and telling Jane’s story. In the end about $3,000 was given as early wedding presents by various relatives and that helped make their custom ring dreams come true.

It turns out that relatives had helped with Jane’s mom’s rings way back when.

Wendy Changed Direction on Her Center Diamond, Alternate Stones

Wendy knew that her engagement ring design was her priority over the diamond in the center. She and Walt couldn't afford the diamond she wanted and the engagement ring design she wanted. They could do one or the other.

Moissanite Engagement Ring

A Ring Set with Moissanites

I suggested we substitute a Moissanite, for her main “diamond” to save money on the whole project. Moissanites are laboratory grown jewels with a similar hardness to diamonds and are very sparkly. We used diamonds for the small gems and Moissanites for the larger gems in her three stone designed ring.

They do not tell their friends that they set a Moissanite rather than a diamond. These lab grown jewels sparkle very well. An approximately .75ct one costs about $350.00 and the 1/3carat each ones cost around $200.00 each.

If you want to know more about Moissanite as a substitute for diamond check out my other blog post here:

What About Moissanite for Your Engagement Ring?

When Picking Diamond Alternates, White Topaz, White Sapphire and CZ's

Becka was pregnant and feeling majorly budget conscious when she called me for an engagement ring. Russ suggested they just get a CZ. Becka didn't love the idea, but felt uncomfortable saying so. I suggested we meet and I'd give Russ my in-person opinion.

He wasn't trying to be cheap or mean to Becka with his suggestion. He thought that, 'well it looks the same, and it is way cheaper.' I started my alternatives to diamond talk with this; "when you are looking for alternative gemstones please avoid white sapphire and white topaz as they get cloudy and give no sparkle and will not be a good representation of your love. If you are looking for the clear beauty of a diamond, these substitutes do not deliver. Only a diamond sparkles like a diamond."

Pictures of CZ and Diamond

CZ Left and Diamond Right

"Russ you'd like to know  if CZ (cubic zirconia) is a good alternative choice to diamonds. My opinion as a jeweler is, no, CZ's they are not a good choice. CZ's are more brittle than diamonds and can scratch and chip more easily than diamond."

"They seem to somehow take in oils and dirt and once very dirty don't clean up back to their original shine. After a bit of time has gone by they can look lackluster and dull, like a piece of old glass."

"Since we're talking about CZ, I have to mention cost. A 1ct CZ costs about a dollar. I'm against a man-made, prone to damage, cheap, jewel representing a long and loving relationship. CZ does not say special and thoughtful to me. CZ does not send the right message to either member of the married couple of what your ring stands for. Your relationship has value, so should the gems in it."

Russ and Becka ended up with a simple ring with two rubies and a small diamond, which was both of their birthstones. They know that rubies aren't forever in an everyday ring and plan to do a new ring on their five year anniversary.

A Halo Can Help You Get the Size You Really Want

white gold diamond ring with halo on girl

Amy and Her New Halo Engagement Ring

Amy said I could use her real name. Amy’s ring rated a blog post on the use of halos in engagement diamond ring design. If your center diamond is small enough that the ring you’d set it in is really too narrow for your finger, maybe a diamond halo will be the right design solution.

The halo widens the look at the center of your engagement ring design. Your ring can taper from there giving a very feminine look and give a good balanced look on your finger.

When Your Budget Doesn’t Fit Your Diamond Dreams, Don’t Give up!

halo ring in white gold with diamonds

A Halo Widens the Center Part of the Ring, Enlarging the Impact of the Center Diamond

I've seen Grandmother’s diamonds float out of the woodwork, I've seen God-Mother’s come to the rescue and I've seen Mother-in-laws-to-be come forward to help out with a diamond from your fiancé’s family past.

These happy diamond outcomes all came about because the young couples I was working with had a goal for her engagement diamond ring and they shared it with the people who love them and were flexible.

You Have Choices!

May your diamond dreams come true!
Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Jackie Ruka
11 years ago

I love this story of recycling former jewels, platinum or gold from family members in order to make your dream ring possible! This is such a fabulous story and idea, especially knowing how your new ring carries with it love from family members who actually participated in making your ring a reality. A very touching sentiment, thanks, Calla for sharing these great family stories with us!

Dr. Lynn K. Jones
11 years ago

I had never heard of Moissanite stones, Calla and I’m glad to know they exist.
It’s probably the case that most of us have some heirloom stones waiting around to be used again for the next generation of love. Great jewelry insider info. I love Amy’s halo and the ring overall! Her ring doesn’t look like it’s made on a budget.

Lisa Starr
11 years ago

A long time ago, I got divorced and had some rings left that my former husband had given to me through the years. While our separation was mutual and amicable, it was none the less sad. I therefore never wore those rings because it made me feel a little blue. Our relationship had evolved into something different, so I thought, why not the jewelry? So I decided to take the stones and the gold from the rings and with the help of my personal jeweler, made one new ring! Which I love. Now I can wear the gold and gems,… Read more »

Lisa Darsonval
11 years ago

This is another one of those Calla Gold Jewelry great ideas. I never would have thought to ask family or close friends to help out in the manner you suggested! How much nicer than asking to borrow money. I would be more than glad to donate unused jewelry to a close loved one knowing their dream ring will bring a lifetime of happiness.

11 years ago

Calla, I did think you were going to say “get funds from family” which can be awkward. Loved the detour instead about repurposing family jewelry. What a lovely idea. I have pieces from my beloved and departed Mother-in-law that I’d love my daughter to use one day.

David Doyel
David Doyel
7 years ago

I must say you are a really horrible person. You propagate the meth the diamonds are valuable stone in representing love dabeers started that false narrative years ago do your research diamonds are coming out of bloody and war-torn Nations in Africa after the British imperialist pulled out you will burn in hell for your career choice

Kimberly Lewis
Kimberly Lewis
7 years ago

Do you do custom designs, I have pictures of a ring I want, in gold with Moissanite, if so I like to know how much my dream ring will cost. I want the center stone a 3 or 4 CT, I guess give me both quote.
Thank you