Affordable Diamond Ring Buying Guide

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Affordable Diamond Ring Buying Guide

The idea of an affordable diamond ring poses a bit of a problem. There comes a point where there is a minimum price for a genuine diamond mounted on a precious metal band is still too expensive for some pockets. At the same time, one of the things that invests significance in an item such as this is precisely that it costs more than the buyer can really afford. It is safe to say though, that few people have the resources to make the kind of grand splash that the actor Richard Burton made when he gave Elizabeth Taylor a 69 carat ring that was sold for charity in 1975 for five million dollars.

With that preliminary caution out of the way, there are a few elements that make up a diamond ring that, considered separately, can guide buyers towards the right kind of judgements to make when weighing up a purchase. The following sections look at how diamonds are valued, the purity of gold and other precious metals, and how the market for antique rings compares to new items in order to give buyers the necessary information to find affordable diamond rings.

Two Parts of a Ring

A diamond ring has the bare minimum of components: a diamond and the metal band that it is mounted on. Rather confusingly, the same term is used when evaluating diamonds by weight, and the most popular ring material, gold, by purity. Both measures are called "carat". More confusingly, the purity of other metals is not rated in carats. The following sections expand on the aforementioned topics to clear up the terms.

The Diamond

One way of evaluating a diamond's value is to observe how difficult it is to obtain native, uncut examples from deep and hazardous mines in a handful of fields scattered around the world. However, there are pragmatic reasons for the material's value, including its exceptional hardness; its crystalline structure, which is susceptible to cutting in certain specific facets; and its optical property of refracting light in a particularly dazzling way. These prized attributes are evaluated first of all by weight.


The carat is a unit of mass used to evaluate all gemstones and also pearls. It is equivalent to twenty milligrams, or 0.2 g, and it is the unit with which diamonds are priced.

Size and Impurity

There are other criteria to a diamond's value though. Eighty percent of the world's diamond output goes to service industrial uses, with only the remaining twenty percent being regarded as retail grade. Size is one criterion, but quality also varies by the presence or absence of impurities and flaws. Some impurities, which usually have the property of colouring the diamond, are more sought after than others. The standard scale for diamond colour runs from yellow to brown, using an alphabetic scale from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow). More intense colours than Z, such as pink or blue, are termed fancy colour diamonds. While K and lower-letter colours are less valuable than the upper bands, fancy colours are more valuable.

The Metal Band

Gold is the most common metal used in the manufacture of jewellery, and it too has a more or less unique measuring system associated with it. Silver has long been an alternative, and nowadays, there are other metals that are becoming increasingly popular alternatives, among them platinum, titanium and zirconium.


The purity of gold has traditionally been expressed in carats, based on an ideal maximum of 24. The lower numbers are proportional, so 18 carat is 75 percent pure. The market is moving, however, to a numbering system called millesimal fineness, which is common to all metals where purity is an issue, such as copper and silver. At the top end, it is not unusual to see millesimal fineness expressed to several decimal points, the assumption being that absolute purity is unattainable.


Millesimal Fineness (mf)

Percent Gold

























As well as the carat system, gold is often weighed in grains and troy ounces. There are 480 grains to a troy ounce, and 437.5 to an avoirdupois ounce. However, the modern world increasingly uses grams and milligrams for gold weight. Moreover, a secondary issue with gold purity is the metal used in the blend, and the effect that it has on the coloration of the resulting alloy.

Gold Colouration

Alloy Ingredients


50 percent silver and 50 percent copper


Nickel, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese

Pink (rose)

90 percent copper and 10 percent silver


High proportion of silver or cadmium


Some iron


15-20 percent iron

Adulteration is not merely a matter of extracting extra value from the gold: Different materials contribute different attributes to complement gold's brilliance and softness. White gold, rose gold, and yellow gold are the most frequently named colours in listings for diamond rings.


There are plenty of theories, but little hard facts about what the term "sterling" historically means in relation to silver. The practical fact is that it normally refers to an alloy of 925 mf silver with another metal, usually copper. Silver is a more affordable precious metal than gold, but it is a less common material in diamond ring making.


Platinum is a close neighbour of gold in the periodic table of elements and shares some of its characteristics. It is dense, malleable, and resistant to corrosion. It was unknown in Europe and Asia prior to the renaissance, primarily being found in South America. For that reason, it does not share the deep cultural significances of gold and silver. Nevertheless, it is a popular material for diamond rings, rated as only slightly less valuable than gold on the bullion markets. Another neighbouring metal, palladium, is also sometimes used in jewellery manufacture.


Titanium is a more recent discovery than platinum, and so it is another material that does not feature in the deeper cultural history of jewellery. Although it has a visual resemblance to platinum, its properties are a little different. It shares resistance to corrosion, but it is not so malleable; in fact its strength makes it suitable for mounting diamonds in ways that facilitate innovative designs, contributing to the "modern" look of a titanium diamond ring.


Zirconium does not reveal itself in nature and has to be refined from the mineral zircon. It is nearer in mass to silver than to gold, but it is malleable and resistant to corrosion. It is not a material that is commonly used in jewellery manufacture, and zirconium diamond rings tend to attract a premium price, as much because of their typically unusual and stylish design as for the cost of the raw materials.

Diamond Ring Designs

Although the materials that go into making a diamond ring contribute significantly to the price, there may be elements beside the diamond that contribute to the price being asked. Below are the most common designs.


With a solitaire, there is just the single diamond and the metal it is mounted on. This popular and simple style is easy to evaluate.

Diamond Cluster

A diamond cluster ring has is a tightly concentrated group of diamonds mounted together. There may be 20, 30, or more, all of similar sizes, or else there can be a single larger stone surrounded by smaller ones.

Multiple Jewels

Similar to a diamond cluster is a ring featuring one or more diamonds grouped together with other precious or semiprecious stones. The terminology here is traditional and refers to types of stones that were valuable in classical times in relation to others that were not. So diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are classed as "precious", while others such as garnet, amethyst, or jasper, are classed as "semi-precious" even though in some instances their values overlap.

Vintage and Antique Diamond Rings

One route to an affordable diamond ring is to consider buying one second-hand. Along a certain continuum, second-hand merges into the terminology of age so that eventually they become vintage or antique. Because of the durable properties of the materials used in manufacture, a "used" ring should retain the attractive qualities that it had when new. The only exception to that is possibly the style in which a cluster was set might become dated in an undesirable way although that is a subjective call. For that matter, the term "vintage" in listings for diamond rings may allude to the style rather than the age of the item being advertised.

Buying an Affordable Diamond Ring on eBay

To begin shopping for diamond rings on eBay, the place to start is with the home page search box. However, the term "diamond ring" most likely delivers a vast number of results that you immediately want to start filtering. One simple way of homing in on an affordable item is to use the minimum and maximum price filters to exclude those that are too expensive and also maybe those that you might feel are too cheap.

A more sophisticated way of approaching the procedure is instead to target certain parameters that make the difference between less and more expensive rings. You might target sterling silver, for instance, or a 9 carat gold. Alternatively you look at a more affordable diamond colour, say a J rated item. Moreover, to find multiple jewel clusters, including the names of other types of jewel in the search can deliver better results than relying on "diamond cluster". However, that strategy might exclude some attractive designs that use stones that were not specified.


It is hard to think of any occasion involving a diamond ring that is not special in some way, so shopping for one must be an exciting, though sometimes nerve-wracking process. The two parts of a diamond ring, the jewel and the metal, are both subject to criteria that can make the item less or more expensive. It is unlikely that a design would fuse materials with starkly divergent places in their respective value spectrums, so the price that is being asked normally reflects a balance between the two elements.

With the jewel, the evaluation is made partly on its weight and partly on its colour. For the metal, if gold, then the value is equated to purity, while other metals are valued in relation to each other and to the price of gold in the commodity markets. All the variables that contribute to the price equation can be exceedingly difficult to keep track of. Fortunately, eBay's rich filters and useful search tools make it the ideal place to go looking for that perfect affordable diamond ring.

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