Buying an engagement ring can be an overwhelming and expensive process. However, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Before you rush to the nearest jewelry store, take the time to compare prices online.
But before you even look at those prices, you should determine what you’re able to spend.
If you aren’t sure how much to spend on an engagement ring, know that matching the national $6,000 average or following the “X months of income” rule is not the best way to figure it out. Instead, make your budget ahead of time based on what you can reasonably afford — and then stick to it.
Once you establish your price range, it’s time to start shopping for the best deal. I’ve recently compared a few of the most credible, inexpensive places to shop for engagement rings to help you determine where to shop and when you’ll likely find deals.
Of course, you’ll find sales on diamond rings leading up to big holidays and at other times throughout the year (including Black Friday). For the lowest markups, stick to credible online jewelers and warehouse stores.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best times and places to buy an engagement ring in more detail. Planning out this purchase can help you save thousands of dollars.
This article was updated in November 2023 and I review it every 12 months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
When To Buy an Engagement Ring
Purchasing an engagement ring is an investment, and the final decision to buy shouldn’t be rushed.
Of course, the best time to buy an engagement ring is only after you’ve taken the time to set a budget, compare prices, and consider different ring styles or types of diamonds.
Many jewelers agree that there is no specific best time of year to look for deals on diamonds, though you may find occasional pop-up deals around major holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Black Friday.
“The most competitive time for diamond purchases is going to be Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend,” says Lesley Harris, VP of sales at Brian Gavin Diamonds. She also adds that the online store she works for, like many others, runs sporadic special offers year-round.
Other than the holidays, it’s best to buy a diamond when you recognize a great deal. Watching prices over time and signing up for emails from jewelers is the best way to be notified of sales, discounts and promotions.
Give yourself a few months to watch the prices on similar engagement rings and diamonds at a selection of stores.
Where To Buy an Engagement Ring
It might be your first instinct to visit the jewelry store at the nearest mall when you start shopping for an engagement ring, but avoiding big retailers like Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared could save you thousands of dollars on a diamond.
Credible online jewelers can offer better prices because they don’t have the overhead costs of the mall stores. Money expert Clark Howard says that pawnshops are a great place to shop for diamonds that can be reset.
As far as shopping for an engagement ring online, the stores I list below stand out above the rest for their high customer satisfaction ratings, excellent return policies and overall low prices.
“I have a big bias that diamonds should be purchased at Costco,” says Clark. “The markup on diamonds is 14%, which is probably the lowest in the United States.”
In addition to some of the best prices and a great selection, Costco also offers an incredible return policy on jewelry that includes a full refund at any time as long as you have the diamond’s original paperwork. However, diamonds over 1.00 carat will receive a Jewelry Credit Memo upon return according to Costco’s website.
In November 2023, I found diamond engagement rings starting at Costco for as low as $499.99, which is a great price point compared to the nearly $6,000 national average.
Blue Nile is a popular online jewelry retailer. It’s accredited by the Better Business Bureau and maintains a 4.07/5-star rating from customer reviews and an A+ rating from BBB itself.
Blue Nile offers a selection of ready-to-ship rings beginning at $180. You can also design your own ring online with settings beginning at $400, natural diamonds beginning as low as $340 and lab-grown diamonds from $380.
You can return your purchase to Blue Nile for a full refund within 30 days of purchase. You can check out the full return policy here.
Brian Gavin Diamonds is an online jewelry store that has an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited since 2009. Customer service people will work with you directly, even though the store is online.
Diamonds here begin at $338, which means you can build your own ring at a significant discount. Additionally, you’ll find several sales and discounts throughout the year. At the time of writing (November 2023), customers could get 25% off any setting with the purchase of a lab diamond. Alternatively, customers could get up to $175 off a purchase of $1,000.
You’ll also get free two-day shipping for orders under $5,000 and free overnight shipping on orders over $5,000. Brian Gavin Diamonds offer a 15-day return policy on most items.
James Allen is another reputable online jeweler with a great selection.
You can check out recent purchases from other customers for inspiration, and you’ll notice that all of the rings were purchased for prices below the national average (many of them for less than half!).
In addition to great prices and occasional promotions, James Allen offers 24/7 customer support, free shipping, free 30-day returns and a lifetime warranty on most engagement rings. Additionally, you’ll find extended returns available during the holiday season. This year, orders placed on or after November 15 can be returned through January 20 for a full refund.
The company has an A+ rating with the BBB.
Chain jewelry stores may be great for finding out your future fiancé’s expectations, taste and ring size, but when it comes to making your final purchase, check the prices on similar styles at Costco or online.
Before you decide to shop online, take the time to check the Better Business Bureau and read customer reviews. Also, don’t hesitate to contact customer support to talk to an expert before you make your purchase.
Take the time to watch prices for a while or consider waiting for holiday markdowns or Black Friday deals.
Beyond the holidays, you’ll find pop-up promotions and great prices year-round on diamonds at Costco and online at Blue Nile, Brian Gavin Diamonds and James Allen.
Be sure to set your budget, compare prices on similar styles and research the jeweler before you make your final purchase.
More Ways To Save:
- Consider buying a pre-owned engagement ring. Louped (formerly I Do Now I Don’t) is a website where people can buy and sell engagement rings for good prices. You may also be able to find a deal from professional sellers on eBay or at a local pawnshop. Just know that the return policy on a pre-owned ring may not be the same as on a new purchase.
- Consider getting a lab-created diamond. Brilliant Earth offers a beautiful selection of lab-created diamonds, which are typically better quality and less expensive. “The sale of natural diamond engagement rings is down roughly 30% while the sale of lab-created diamonds for engagement rings is up about 65%,” says Clark. “The reason is that you get so much more for your dollar.”
- Familiarize yourself with the store’s return policy. Make sure you have the opportunity to return the item, especially if you’re ordering it online without having seen it in person. You want to make sure you’re buying from a jewelry store with a return policy that includes a full refund.
- Make sure you know what you’re buying before you pay for it. Ensure that the diamonds you’re buying are certified and the business you’re ordering from is legitimate. FAQ pages, reviews, customer support and the Better Business Bureau are great resources.
Have you shopped for an engagement ring from any of these stores? Let us know your experience in our Clark.com Community!
- November 15, 2023: Updated current ring pricing across all retailers
- November 15, 2023: Updated ratings from Better Business Bureau
- November 15, 2023: Updated Blue Nile’s return policy (I no longer see extended returns available through the holidays)
- November 15, 2023: Added information about limited-time deals available during Black Friday 2023
- November 15, 2023: “I Do Now I Don’t” is now “Louped”