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three stone engagement rings, diamond engagement rings

Engagement Rings: Engagement Ring Budget Tips

You know she's worth every penny, but you don't have to break the bank to buy a stunning ring. Follow these engagement ring budget tips to get a ring she'll love at a price your wallet can handle.

Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Put a Ring Around It

You know the saying, "strength in numbers"? The same holds true for enhancing a stone. A ring with a halo setting (a circle of smaller diamonds around the center stone) can make the diamond in the middle look bigger. And it's not just a great way to create the illusion of additional carats -- a halo can also completely change the appearance of diamond by giving it a vintage look that will stand out from an everyday solitaire.

Opt for an Emerald Cut

An emerald cut has fewer facets (the surfaces that reflect light and make the diamond sparkle), so it won't be as shiny, but the shape allows the diamond to cover more surface area than other cuts of the same carat weight do. Read: It will look bigger. And it's a timeless style, so your ring will never seem passe.

Skip Eternity Bands

Diamonds all the way around the band are great, but not for the frugal ring shopper. Instead, look for a band that highlights the center stone, like one that's embellished with twists or engraving. If you can't resist a little extra sparkle, add baguette diamonds on each side of the center stone for more glitz at a lower cost.

Go Color Crazy

Colored diamonds are popular among celebs -- but if you don't have a movie star paycheck, consider a colored gem for the center stone instead. Pink sapphires have a similar rosy hue to pink diamonds, while citrine creates the same effect as yellow diamonds.

Pick a Prong

Less metal means a lower cost, so go for a prong setting (which secures the diamond like a tripod above the band) over a bezel one (a metal ring holds the gem stone in place). This setting is a great way to highlight the diamond, and there's a maintenance upside to this one too: Since more of the stone is visible, it's easier to clean.

Make It a Set

Sometimes you can score a deal if you buy the engagement ring and the wedding band at the same time. You might even be able to get the groom's wedding band at the same time for -- you guessed it -- even more savings.

-- Justine Lorelle Blanchard