I won’t lie- I started looking at rings before we got engaged. And pretty early in the process I knew I wanted a Lab Created Sapphire vs Diamond Engagement Ring because of a single experience.
I reached out to a few friends who had rings I liked and all recommended the same local jeweler. On a random Tuesday morning I walked in and explained to the saleswoman what I was looking for. Her first question was budget and I pulled a number out of the air. “$4,000”. It seemed like an absurd amount of money to me. We are not people who have $4,000 for a ring when you have to pay for a wedding right behind it.
Thanks to Melody Gillikin Photography for the beautiful picture of my ring above.
With that she directed me to the clearance section. She walked me through all the criteria for picking a ring, told me to browse and make note of anything I wanted to see. As my eyes went down the display cases I got completely overwhelmed. It was just ring after ring all sparkly and white. Nothing stood out and I could feel my brain disengaging. I was seeing price tags for $10,000! I know not everyone experiences this kind of overload but too many choices can cause me to shut down.
As my eyes moved to other parts of the room I found myself drawn to the colored stones. As an October baby I have always hated my pink birthstone but the deep blues, purples and reds of the sapphires on display I liked. Plus instead of 3,000 rings to choose from there were about 20 which was much better. With that I left the store, went home and started googling.
Why I Chose A Lab Created Sapphire vs Diamond Engagement Ring
After this little store visit I had learned a few things. I suspected I didn’t want a diamond ring. I also knew there was no way I was letting The Frugal Rooster spend that much money so I needed to see what I could do on my end to help with that. Using my trusty friend google I began to gather information and make some decisions that would help the bottom line.
Skip The Diamond– The diamond as the jewel of choice for an engagement is actually a relatively new phenomenon. Rings have been given for thousands of years but they varied widely. The 1940’s is when what we think of as an engagement ring became main stream. And what happened? A marketing campaign from De Beers. You know, the people who sell diamonds? They are telling you that your ring has to be diamond. After that I felt even more at ease with going another route.
Hardness– So if not a diamond what do I do? The Mohs Hardness Scale is used as a way to identify a mineral’s resistance to scratching. A diamond is a ten on the scale and is virtually impossible to damage. This is one of the reasons it is a great choice for a piece of jewelry you will wear every day. When I wanted to look for an alternative I checked the Mohs scale to see what other gemstones scored well. Ruby and sapphire were a 9 and from online reviews seemed to be solid choices for a daily wear ring. With tons of colors (including clear) and styles available this seemed ideal.
Lab Created Gemstones vs Natural– A lab created gemstone is built in a controlled environment which can lead to a more uniform appearance. A natural gemstone is found in nature and took many years to develop under pressure. It has been mined, cut and polished. As appearance goes even a jeweler can only tell the difference under a microscope. Lab created gemstones are cheaper because they aren’t rare so that was a selling point. Of additional importance to me was stone’s origin. Gemstones can often come from countries where the people who work hard to mine them aren’t treated well. While there are papers proving the origin they can be forged. A lab created diamond has a clear paper trail and you can feel more comfortable about the process used to create it.
Ready to find the dress? Check out How To Stay Below Typical Wedding Dress Cost!
I Wanted a Bigger Stone– I have fat, short fingers. They have served me well typing and playing piano so I am fine with them but it means a ring with a thin band and small stone to me will look funny. I wanted a bigger stone for aesthetic reasons. So picking a larger gemstone and then surrounding it with smaller stones meant I could keep the cost down. So as I looked I kept an eye out for stones surrounded by diamond chips to give me the volume I want.
Budget– I had no idea what The Frugal Rooster’s budget was. But I knew I couldn’t walk around with enough money to buy a decent used car on my finger. The good news was that three of the decisions I had already made would help in this area. Diamonds are artificially inflated and naturally more expensive because of all the marketing. The gemstones I was interested in were going to be cheaper by nature. And lab created gemstones tend to be at least 25% cheaper because of the process used to create and harvest them. So a Lab Created Sapphire vs Diamond from a mine will automatically be cheaper. And by using chips to create the design instead of a giant stone that kept the cost down.
One Warning About Lab Created Stones
Jewelers seem to hate lab created stones. I am sure there is some logic that this technology could potentially affect their industry long term. While I ignored most of their objections there is one thing that seems certain. We have no idea what the long term value of a lab created gemstone will be. I have no intentions of trading in my ring in the future to use as a down payment on a bigger one but if that is the plan for you this is something to consider. If this ring is an investment piece lab created is probably not the way to go.
So Did We Stay In Budget?
The actual price of the ring is the The Frugal Rooster’s information so I won’t share. I will tell you that I am THRILLED with the deal he got. The ring makes me smile and seeing it every day knowing he got a deal is even better. Since we were under budget we were able to get good insurance on both the engagement ring and wedding band so I know they will last a long time and be well taken care of at no extra cost to us.
Laura Oliver is the author and owner of AFrugalChick.com. In 2023 at the age of 44 she is getting married for the first time and as a naturally frugal person the cost of the wedding is more than she could have imagined! She hopes these tips can help people have a great engagement and wedding without breaking the bank!