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Full Heart, Empty Account: Buying A Wedding Ring Without Breaking The Bank

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Getting engaged is an incredible, emotional experience for everyone, but when you're a broke college student, those emotions can also include some major anxiety about getting the perfect ring for your spouse-to-be without completely decimating your fledgling bank account. So how can you show you want the best without needing to sell a kidney to pay for it? If you're looking for ideas on how to save on an engagement ring without resorting to your local supermarket's bargain jewelry bin, then here are some tips you'll need.

Check the Color

Though diamonds are the traditional gems for engagement rings, there are many other stones available such as rubies, sapphires, topaz, and others. If your loved one isn't set on a diamond, you can always personalize the ring by using either a favorite stone or even their birthstone.

If they really want a diamond, however, you should still consider color; diamonds are generally graded on a scale from the expensive D (a purely colorless diamond) to the cheap Z (a straight-up yellow stone) but without a microscope, you won't be able to tell the difference between a D and an E, F, or G. Stay somewhere in the G-J range for a cheaper diamond that still looks colorless to the eye.

Save on Carats

Gems are graded on carats as far as size goes, but bigger doesn't mean better here. Take the size of your significant other's hand in mind – for a small, delicate hand, a large stone might look silly – and remember that price generally jumps up every time you make it to a whole number or a .5 (1 to 1.5, 1.5 to 2, etc.). Buying a 1.45 instead of a 1.5 (or a .95 rather than a 1 carat gem) will save you quite a bit of money without making a difference to how your eye judges the size of the stone.

A Family Affair

A way to both save money and to make the ring more meaningful is to ask about old family engagement rings or other rings like mason rings. Though the ring itself might be old, damaged, or not your spouse-to-be's style, the chances of the main gem of the ring being undamaged are high. A good jeweler can take the gem out of its old setting and situate it in a new one, providing a new ring that's both your significant other's style and size at a fraction of the cost of an entirely new ring – and that has a bit of history and family connection behind it.