“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
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.
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.
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:
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."
"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
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!
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!