The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings

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The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings

Okay, I admit that “the best” wedding ring or engagement ring is quite subjective and going to be largely a matter of personal preference. However, there are some matters of quality and similar things that we think can be reasonably categorized as “the best” (or at least, “better than…”). Here we’ll talk about how to pick the best engagement ring or wedding band (or both!) in terms of quality, durability, and ethics.

The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings The best metals for engagement rings and wedding bands

The metal you choose will depend on your personal taste and budget constraints, but for women’s rings the best metals are platinum, palladium and 18K gold (any color, yellow, white or rose gold). Why are they the best?

The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings

Platinum is the most durable and pure metal used in fine jewelry today, with a brilliant white color that won’t fade or tarnish over time. The drawback to platinum is that it also tends to be the most expensive choice for engagement rings and wedding bands and it can be difficult to resize. But for a ring that should last a lifetime, it’s really the best choice as far as white metals go.

A slightly more economical alternative to platinum is palladium, which is also very strong, pure and resistant to tarnishing and fading. The white isn’t quite as bright as platinum, but very close, so palladium also makes our list of the best metals for engagement rings.

The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings

If you want a different color or just like the idea of gold, your best option is 18K gold. In this case, more pure (22K or 24K) is not necessarily better; gold is a very soft metal, and anything higher than 18K is likely to get damaged with daily wear. Keep in mind that if you get plating on the gold (such as rhodium plating on white gold), this will wear off over time and you will need to get it replated.

The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings

The best diamonds for engagement and wedding rings

In terms of quality, keep in mind the four “C”s of diamonds: cut, clarity, color and carat, with cut being the most important (and this is not the same as shape). The better the cut, the more sparkle or “fire” the stone will have. Cuts are usually rated as: good, very good, excellent, and ideal.

The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings

On a darker note, the diamond and gemstone industry can be problematic for ethical and environmental reasons. If that’s important to you or your partner, you might be considering a certified conflict-free diamond. Unfortunately, with the many middlemen that a diamond passes through, “conflict-free” means almost nothing these days, unless you can independently verify your stone was mined in Canada. The official Kimberly Process definition of “conflict-free” still allows for child labor and exploitation of workers. Brilliant Earth is one company that has committed to going beyond that definition and selling only diamonds that have truly ethical origins. But if you can’t be sure about the diamond’s origins, you might also consider a lab-created diamond. These are chemically identical to “natural” diamonds (so the term “synthetic diamond” is really a misnomer), just grown in a lab where you don’t have to worry about civil wars and child labor. Plus, they are often more affordable!

The Cheapest Engagement and Wedding Rings

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The Cheapest Engagement and Wedding Rings

If you’re in love with your partner, you shouldn’t have to wait until you get your big break and your financial situation improves to express that to them. For budget-conscious ring shoppers, there are plenty of options for cheap engagement rings and wedding bands to choose from. Even with a smaller price tag, the ring you use to propose to your partner or the ones you exchange on your wedding day will always have incalculable sentimental value. Whether you choose to buy another, more expensive ring later on in life is up to you, but for now, here are some tips for finding the cheapest engagement rings and wedding bands.

Opt for synthetic diamond engagement rings

If you have your heart set on proposing with a diamond ring, one way to cut costs a little is to use a lab-created or synthetic diamond (which are not the same thing, by the way). Lab-created diamonds are chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds, while synthetic diamonds are extremely similar but made in a different way (also known as “diamond simulants”). Brilliant Earth is one company making lab-created authentic diamonds, while Diamond Nexus specializes in synthetic diamonds. Synthetic tends to be cheaper, but even jewelers can’t tell the difference with the naked eye. On Diamond Nexus’ website, for example, you can find diamond engagement rings starting at around $400, with a fairly large selection under $600.

Note that you can get a significantly cheaper ring that’s almost as sparkly with cubic zirconium (CZ).

The Cheapest Engagement and Wedding Rings

Check online discount engagement rings

Amazon and eBay can have some great prices, but sometimes there’s no guarantee that what you see is what you get. Other online discount retailers, like Overstock, offer a little more security in that regard and have diamond engagement rings/wedding bands starting at $60, and CZ rings starting at just $22! Jewelry Central has 14K white or yellow gold diamond rings starting at $245, and many major jewelers have a clearance section or outlet site online (e.g. Helzberg, Kay, Zales, etc.).

Choose the right metal

If you’re pinching pennies, you will probably want to avoid platinum, palladium and 18K gold, which tend to be the most expensive options. You will find hundreds of lovely and affordable engagement rings and wedding bands in 14K or 10K gold (yellow, white or rose) and sterling silver. Gold-plated rings can be very inexpensive because the actual amount of gold in them is so small (just a micro-thin layer on the outside) – just bear in mind that this plating will wear off over time.

The Cheapest Engagement and Wedding Rings

Final words on cheap wedding rings

If you still can’t find an engagement ring or wedding ring that fits in your budget, you could take a risk and propose with a 25 cent plastic ring from a gumball machine. If your partner has a good sense of humor, this can actually work! This is how my engagement began, believe it or not. We have since replaced it with a “real” ring, but the first one is safely tucked away and will always hold a special place in my heart.