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A well known rule of thumb for buying an engagement ring is that it should equal three months’ salary. The typical American, however, spends two weeks’ pay, or about $1,900, according to the New York Times.

However much you plan to spend,there are many ways to save money when buying one. Here are some ways to start. 

Spend Less
Start by setting a realistic budget of what you can afford. If three months’ salary is realistic for you and you’re willing to spend that much money, then do so. 

But maybe you have other spending priorities or you and your future wife would rather spend most of that money on a honeymoon. You could also upgrade to a better ring in a few years. However much you decide to spend, know that the rule of thumb of three months is a rule you can break. 

Shop Around
This is obvious advice for almost any purchase, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Don’t be pulled in by the beauty of a store or persuasive salespeople. 

Go wherever you normally shop: the mall, Costco, department stores and diamond stores far from the main shopping area and compare rings and prices. 

Educate yourself on how diamonds are graded so that you have a good idea what type of diamond you’re looking for. You want to compare apples to apples when looking at diamonds from different sellers, so look at similar diamonds in different stores. 

Know the Four Cs
You don’t have to be an expert in how the Gemological Institute of America grades diamonds, but you should understand some of the basics of what the diamond industry calls the four Cs: carat weight, cut, color and clarity. 

The more carats a ring has, the bigger and more expensive it is. It’s also worth knowing how a diamond is cut and how that affects its appearance and beauty, among other aspects of diamonds you may want to know about before shopping. 

A Family Heirloom?
Tell your relatives that you’re looking for an engagement ring and they may surprise you by giving you the wedding ring of your great-grandmother or someone else in your family. You may only have to pay to resize the ring. 

Consider Lab Diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are grown by scientists instead of in the Earth’s crust and are as real as natural diamonds dug out of mines. They can cost 30 percent less than mined diamonds, which can cause ecological devastation, and can be mined by forced labor. 

Lab diamonds are created in high-temperature, high-pressure chambers that reproduce the conditions in the Earth’s crust. Carbon atoms are arranged in the structure of a diamond crystal, creating a diamond that looks the same as ones created naturally millions of years ago and mined today. 

They’re not diamond simulants—stones that share some properties of diamonds but aren’t actual diamonds. These are much cheaper than real diamonds, as are cubic zirconia and moissanite that are composed of man-made crystalized materials.

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