How to upgrade the bling on your engagement ring
Do your research
An engagement ring upgrade can mean anything from swapping out a center stone to enhancing the ring's existing setting. Jeweler James Allen emphasizes the importance of doing your homework before making a decision about exactly what kind of engagement ring upgrade you want.
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"Diligently research all of your options," he says. "Most important is finding a jeweler that you trust." A good jeweler can school you in the difference between a diamond's carat weight, clarity and color, and how each can work to enhance your ring.
White gold pave halo diamond engagement ring (oval center), $725, James Allen
Review your policy
We were surprised to find out just how many jewelers offer a trade-in program for couples whose budget has grown since they first purchased an engagement ring. Jewelers like Zales, Blue Nile and James Allen will adjust the price of a new diamond or gemstone based on the price of the original engagement ring purchase.
"It's a great question to ask before buying the original ring," Blue Nile representative Josh Holland says. "So if you want to upgrade for an anniversary down the line, you can do so."
Please note: This condition may only apply if the diamond is twice the price of the original and/or provided the diamond is undamaged.
Trio pavé diamond princess-cut engagement ring in 14k white gold, $760 (center stone not included), Blue Nile
Don't skimp on quality
It would be a shame to go through the emotional process of altering your engagement ring only to be dissatisfied with the end result. To avoid being disappointed down the line, opt for the highest quality diamond you can afford.
"While the process of upgrading a diamond or setting comes at a cost," says Jeweler George Kwiat, "it is always worth the additional investment to purchase fine quality. Over the long term, a fine quality diamond holds its value far better than one of a lesser quality."
3.02 carat oval-cut diamond set in platinum with two bullet-shaped diamonds on each side, $65,000 (center stone not included), Kwiat
Keep the stone, change the finish
If you can't make a significant financial investment on a new diamond or an embellished setting, you can still give your ring a facelift. Jewelry designer Megan Thorne suggests focusing on the ring's finish instead of the stones.
"Sometimes just adding a different finish—a matte or brushed texture—can totally refresh a piece with very, very little cost!"
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Scalloped bezel ring in 18K white gold with brilliant diamond, $6,000, Megan Thorne
Switch up your band instead
If altering your engagement ring in any way is totally out of the question, consider adding a new wedding ring instead.
"The addition of a new wedding or anniversary band can completely change the look of an existing engagement ring," says jewelery designer Megan Thorne. "Try mixing metals. by pairing a platinum engagement ring with a rose gold band. Opt for a band with gemstones in your favorite color. Or pair a whimsical silhouette band with a traditional solitaire. The juxtaposition of styles, colors, and materials can make a very personal statement while still honoring the integrity of your existing engagement ring."
Baguette diamond band in 14K rose gold with 1.77mm width and baguette diamonds, $2,475, Bario-Neal
Don't buy on impulse
Because there's so much emotional weight attached to altering your engagement ring, don't act on impulse and do favor timelessness over trend.
"The biggest mistake customers make when upgrading an engagement ring is making the decision impulsively," James Allen warns. "It is extremely important to really consider your emotional attachment to the original piece, and to think about whether what you're choosing now will still be something you love ten years from now."
"On average, grooms spend three months searching for the ring and visit at least four retailers, while considering an average 27 ring styles," says Forevermark Diamond Expert Adelaide Polk-Bauman. "Remember that great investment and love goes into the purchase of every ring to every proposal. This is not a decision that should be rushed."
14k white gold bezel solitaire engagement ring with heart center, $750, James Allen
Know that costs can (and will) vary
Redesigning an engagement ring isn't a cookie-cutter process. With different options come a slew of different price tags. Jeweler George Kwiat describes how wildly varied the cost of a ring upgrade can be.
"For a simple remount of an existing diamond, the cost could be anywhere from $1,000 for simpler setting styles to as much as $7,500 for more elaborate mountings with side diamonds and intricate details."
2.50 carats of round diamonds set in platinum, Kwiat
Keep any unused stones or settings
"If you are updating diamonds or mountings, make sure the jeweler gives you back any unused pieces," Zales says. "You can use these items to make other jewelry, or you can have your items evaluated for purchase by a Gold Buyer."
1-1/2 tcw oval diamond three-stone engagement ring in 14k white gold, $4,399.99, Vera Wang LOVE available at Zales
Be confident in your decision
It's perfectly natural to want something new or lust after the latest trend, but treat this decision with extreme care.
"Know that you will have this ring on your finger for a very long time," says Darren Bagwell of Rock for Her. "You should get something you love."
"You might not have had a say in the original ring you were given," reiterates jewelry designer Megan Thorne, "so use this opportunity to create something uniquely representative of you."
18k white gold diamond halo engagement ring w/ 2ct oval pink topaz center stone, $3,200, Rock for Her