So you’re going to pop the question and hopefully set a date, huh? Congratulations! Last week we talked about how to buy an engagement ring, now let’s take a look at how to save money on an engagement ring. Right off the bat we’ll tell you that our advice won’t include the recommendation to “go cheap.” You don’t want to hear that and she doesn’t want to see that! What we’ll do is help you find a high-quality engagement ring at a price you’ll consider a bargain – or in other words, cheap.

In this Gemstone buying guide, we'll look at 5 ways to save money when buying an engagement ring.

Avoid the Chain Jewelry Stores you Find in Malls

These chain stores make huge profits by marketing inferior-quality diamond rings. Read that again and let it sink in. They get away with it because they are convenient, plain and simple. They spend their dollars on marketing, not on investing in quality stones. When you’re in the mall, poke around in these stores to get a sense of the style you may want to purchase, but don’t buy there. Chances are you’ll get poor quality jewelry that is overpriced for what it really is.

Buy Online

The reasons are many. Most notably, online stores have virtually no overhead and don’t spend the same amount of money on advertising that that the bricks and mortar chains stores do. Therefore, they can offer diamond engagement rings of far superior quality for the same money. You’ll get more bang for your buck every time. Estimates range from 30% to nearly 50% savings can be realized by shopping online.

One warning – if you buy a diamond engagement ring on eBay, where some great deals are offered, make sure the seller has a good rating and that they will use an eBay-managed escrow account to hold the money until you can have the ring appraised once you receive it. If it doesn’t appraise as advertised, ship it back and receive a refund.

Check Out Local Independent Jewelers

These are often owned and managed by trained gemologists, something you rarely find in the chain stores. In addition, they often are jewelry makers and will be happy to fashion a one-of-a-kind ring for you and do it at a better value than you’ll find in the chain stores. Which takes us to #4…

Consider Buying a Loose Stone and Have the Setting Made

Diamond wholesalers offer diamonds of all quality levels at the lowest prices you’ll find anywhere. These are often graded and certified as to clarity, color, cut and carat weight so that you know exactly what you’re doing. Diamond wholesalers often can only be found in major cities like Chicago or New York, but your local independent jeweler may also have a ready supply of loose stones to show you. Educate yourself about what makes a diamond valuable – starting with the 4 C’s – before you go to the jeweler or wholesaler and be a smart shopper who won’t be taken advantage of.

Buying a loose stone will not only save you money but will give you and your fiancé the chance to work with a jeweler to craft a diamond engagement ring in the metal and style that will truly fit her personality.

Consider Other Gems

Now, that sounds like engagement-ring heresy, we know. But consider this: an engagement ring may be the most meaningful and personal item the love of your life has ever received. It should fit her as perfectly as possible. Not all women swoon over diamonds. Some prefer sapphires or rubies, emeralds or pearls and why shouldn’t her engagement ring reflect that? In reality, today up to 35% of couples are choosing engagement rings in which a diamond is not the primary stone, and these rings tend to be significantly less expensive. It is a growing trend that gives you and your beloved the opportunity to personalize the engagement ring to really be special to her…and that’s the key, special to her, for that is all that truly matters. She is special and unique; why shouldn’t the ring that reflects your love and commitment to her alone be just the same?

When you take some time to study the art of buying the perfect engagement ring you increase your chances exponentially of selecting a ring that she will absolutely love. The secondary but important benefit is that you will also learn how to save money when buying an engagement ring, because you’ll need to save up for all the excitement that lies ahead including home buying, feeding an extra mouth or two, saving for their college fund… But don’t get ahead of yourself. Find the perfect ring or have it crafted for you. Save money in the process. These tips will help you make one of the best decisions of your life.