Cheap Engagement Rings NZ: What not to do

Cheap Engagement Rings NZ: What not to do Cover Photo
7 min read24 September 2022

If you are on a budget and looking to propose, you might feel you will need to make some compromises. But those compromises (poor quality diamond and craftmanship, weak prongs or poor customer service) doesn’t mean you still can’t get the ring of your dreams. In fact, by working with a great jeweller, you can find or even design something beautiful.

A cheap ring in this context is between $1500 and $3000. We don’t recommend purchasing an engagement ring below this range because you generally end up with a ring that won’t last forever (low-quality materials) or will need constant repairs and maintenance (poor craftsmanship). Better to save up and wait a little bit and get something that is high quality and will last a lifetime!

If you can’t wait, we recommend you consider buying a promise ring. A promise ring is a symbol of a long-lasting relationship, and a promise of an engagement ring later on. These can cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000.

Below is a list of things you should be aware of when buying a cheap engagement ring in New Zealand.

Look beyond diamonds

Your engagement ring doesn’t need to be a diamond. It is true that diamonds, lab grown or mined are the most popular center stone - but this is only because of tradition. We are seeing an increasing number of couples consider alternative gemstones. Not only can you create an engagement ring that really unique and special, but you also get a lot more bang for your buck.

Pink Sapphire with Platinum Band

Not many people know, but you can also get lab-grown versions of these gemstones (such as sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, alexandrite, rubies etc) at a much lower price and a lot higher quality. At Four Words we can custom cut a whole variety of lab grown gemstones to perfectly suit your engagement ring design.

Amethyst engagement ring with a platinum band

Amethyst engagement ring with a platinum band

If you’re set on after a clear, bright stone with a lot of sparkle-like diamonds we highly recommend Moissanites as the main gemstone. Moissanites are growing massively in popularity over the past few years as a diamond alternative. For good reason too, they’re the second hardest gemstone after diamonds, are clear in colour and will maintain their sparkle for life (they won’t cloud over like Cubic Zirconia’s). Moissanites look almost indistinguishable from diamonds but come at a much lower price!

Here at Four Words about a third of the rings we create are made with Moissanite or other lab grown gemstones.

Focus on sparkle. Not size.

If you have your heart set on a diamond go for quality instead size. If you get a large diamond for cheap they tend to be dull and lifeless (poorly cut), look brown and have visible inclusions.

You are better off with a smaller diamond or a cluster of smaller diamonds that appear sparklier than a large diamond that looks like a moon rock.

Even a 0.5ct diamond can look amazing if it is high quality – we recommend quality over quantity every day of the week.

Don’t compromise on designing your engagement ring

Many high end jewellers will blow you off if you don’t have a budget over $10,000, especially when it comes to designing your own ring. But not at Four Words. Even if you have a budget below $3000, we will still help you design the ring of your dreams using the best gemstones.

We focus on getting a design that you will love and choosing the best materials for that design based on your budget.

All our jewellery is also climate positive. So you will be saving money and doing good for the planet.

Four Words Ring Sketches

Don’t buy on finance unless you know you can afford the repayments

Buying an engagement ring is a big decision for two reasons:

  • You are proposing to another person to spend the rest of your life with.
  • It will be one of the biggest purchases of your life.

And it may be tempting to go all out. And if you do, make sure you can afford the repayments. At Four Words, we also recommend you have a conversation with your partner on their expectations and budgets.

Mall jewellers often push you towards financing because that is where they make a lot of their money. This is mainly because their salespeople are on commissions.

At Four Words, we pride ourselves on being ethical merchants — from our supply chain to our salespeople. We pay them well above the living wage so that they can help you make the best decision around your engagement ring — whatever your budget.

We do understand that sometimes timing is important so we do offer 0% interest finance for 12 months. Talk to one of our design consultants to discuss this option.

Consider diamond cuts that have more surface area

Gemstones are measured in weight and not surface area. Some gemstone shapes look bigger than others. This has all to do with how we perceive objects relative to one another.

Longer-shaped stones tend to appear bigger (even if they have the same carat size*).* For example, a 1 carat Emerald diamond will look much bigger than a 1 carat Round diamond.

Another way to have a larger looking gemstone is to maximise the depth ratio. For example, an Emerald diamond with a depth ratio of 60% will look larger than one at 70%.

However, there is a fine balance to make. If you pick a diamond too shallow, it will be at risk of “windowing”. This is where you can see straight through it, like glass. And it is problematic because it affects the job of a diamond, which is to be sparkly and shiny.

This is why at Four Words we do this all for you – one of the frustrating parts of choosing a gemstone is knowing if it is high quality. So we apply our expert knowledge for you and pick the best gemstones that the eye can see. You can read more about this with the Four Words Standard.

If you want to learn more about table-to-depth ratio, and how you can maximise the perception of the size of a diamond, read this guide on table and depth.

It is also really important to work with your jeweller on these more technical aspects of diamond characteristics. And this leads us well to the next point.

Work with a jeweller or salesperson that is not on commission

Work with a jeweller or salesperson with your best interests in mind. This means that they respect your budget. But it should also mean you respect what they can and can’t do for you at your price point.

Many of the chain jewellery store’s salespeople are on commission — and it shows.

Don’t compromise on your values

If ethics and budget are important to you, then don’t feel you need to compromise on this. We have written a blog post about where you can find ethical engagement rings in New Zealand with a number of affordable retailers.

Where to next?

Buying an engagement ring should be an exciting time for both you and your partner. But with a low budget, it can turn into a stressful one around expectations and feeling you need to fork out a lot of money.

But you can get close to what you want by working with a great jeweller. Using the tips above will help you get there. And if you need any help, feel free to reach out to Four Words so they can help you on your journey.

For further reading, we recommend the following articles:

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