For most people, the old (and antiquated) adage of spending three month’s salary on an engagement ring isn’t feasible. And it’s also not necessary. Beautiful things come in small packages with all types of price points, and there are a number of talented designers and well-curated jewelry shops out there with absolutely stunning — and high-quality — rings that can be had for around $1,300 or less.
Lowering your budget for something that’s traditionally so expensive also forces you to look at rings you might not have considered before. Not a diamond person? Get an opal or a sapphire instead. Want a diamond, but don’t want one that’s blinding, or a carbon copy of everyone else’s? Opt for a colored stone, like gray or black.
Below are eight amazing jewelers making beautiful engagement rings in all different styles. We put a few recommendations for specific rings below, but be sure to check out their sites to get the full scope of what’s on offer.
LA corporate lawyer-turned-jewelry designer Jennie Kwon personally oversees production of her feminine, intricate line, which starts at $310 and runs all the way up to five figures. No matter the price, all rings feature beautiful details like minute engraving, diamond pave, and perfectly placed stones. There are many to love, but a few favorites right now are the Emerald Lexie Ring ($980), the Morganite and Green Sapphire Dew Ring ($790), and the Gray Diamond Sotto Voce Ring ($690).
The New York City-based jewelry designer makes spectacular and unique custom engagement rings that can run up to several thousand dollars. But some of her most special pieces are made with gemstones and colored diamonds, which are inherently cheaper than the traditional, blingy clear diamonds. For example, this Pavé Amulet Ring is $750, and versions of the Bea Arrow Ring, shown above, start at $975.
From a few takes on the classic solitaire (starting at $689) to vintage-inspired rings and modern creations, the husband-and-wife design team behind Meadowlark offer a wide range of metals and gemstones for each design — which means you can purchase the exact design you fall in love with, whether your budget is a few hundred dollars or several thousands. Many rings are designed to fit with the brand’s geometric bands, which can transform a simple engagement ring into a completely unique set.
New York-based designer Wing Yau’s sustainable jewelry is known for its organic curves and unexpected stones; her rings feel dainty and subtle without ever becoming too precious. The brand’s wedding collection has its fair share of bigger stones and higher price points, but you might just find yourself falling for a delicate blue sapphire ($320), a nested diamond ($1,145), or a tiny opal ($410). One-of-a-kind rings start at right over a grand.
Another NYC-based designer, Satomi Kawakita is known for simple rings with gemstones set in hexagon or round settings. A number of different metal and stone options mean prices start around $585 (and go all the way up to $16,000).
If you’re open to alternative gemstones or asymmetrical designs, definitely check out LA-based jewelry designer Loren Stewart. Her site lists dozens of rings starting well under the $500 mark in white, yellow, or rose gold, featuring stones like topaz, aquamarine, emerald, and opal, in addition to diamonds; the brand uses recycled and responsibly-sourced materials whenever possible. With pieces like this 5-Diamond Prong Set Ring ($420), the site is also a nice place to look for bands.
N + A is run by sisters Noriko and Akiko Sugawara, who pull inspiration from their childhood in Japan as well as their current home base of Tribeca. The result is a rich collection with references as varied as cherry blossoms and city skylines. Whether you choose earthy or architectural, all pieces are made with ethically sourced gold and conflict-free diamonds. Bridal jewelry starts at $377, with many pieces in the $1,000 range; this particularly unique and beautiful 14K Gold and Diamond Cluster Ring costs $1,010.
You’ll find both made-in-New York pieces as well as special antique finds at Erica Weiner, which means the prices — and styles — cover a huge range; for that reason, we recommend searching from the “all rings” tab rather than the engagement section. Rings with small, rough-cut gems start around $135; bigger, raw, and rough-cut stones start around $495; and several of the antique pieces price in the $1,000 ballpark.