@seffweds: First off, welcome!
My FH did a lot of research on here before he bought my engagement ring (although he wasn’t brave enough to make an account!) and the way he decided to go was the gemstone route, and researched those heavily.
This is my beauty:
9ct yellow gold – I wanted yellow gold to match my other ‘special’ jewellery, and when he researched he discovered that white gold is generally less pure than yellow gold, it’s mixed with other metals and then dipped to give the effect, so whilst it’s more fashionable, its metal value is a lot lower. BUT because its less fashionable, I think it can be a bit cheaper in places.
0.75ct Tanzanite – when researching gemstones, he mistakenly (although fortuitously!) thought that Tanzanite was my birthstone. It’s not (mine’s Topaz), but this means my engagement ring perfectly matches my gold-and-tanzanite graduation ring from my parents. Tanzanite is actually rarer than diamond, as there is only a small radius where it can be mined, around Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It can vary in shades from blue to purple, although as I understand it the more purple it is, the more ‘pure’ it is.
0.25ct Diamond – the diamonds are very tiny, but nicely finish the ring off. And what meant a lot to me was that he made sure they were Conflict Free, and are certified as such. Whilst they’re not necessarily ‘perfect’ (I think it’s a I clarity?), they’re so small any flaws are impossible to see, but they still catch the light beautifully. Before I saw it on the certificate, it hadn’t even occurred to me to think about having conflict-free diamonds, but once I saw it I realised that was more important to me than having the biggest, shiniest, most flawless diamond.
At full price, this ring clocks in at about £230, I think. Which XE tells me is about $363.50. He got it from an independent jewellers, rather than a chain store, and bought it online as well – AND got it in a sale, so promises me he got a bargain on it. He also promises that when he has money he’ll buy me a big beautiful ring, but I utterly adore my ring as it is, and wouldn’t change it for the world.
So I’d advise to steer clear of Big Name Jewellers, and also to shop around online. And look out for sales – apparently May is a good time to buy a ring (because it’s after Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, so there are a lot of sales on), and my FH bought mine in September, which I suspect would be another good time, because there aren’t any big holidays immediately around the corner.
I hope that helps! Good luck!