I had the SAME PROBLEM (and budget) as you!… and I’m a size 11!
Here was my solution: http://mystiquegems.com/
Yes, they are cz’s but they are FABULOUS! My boyfriend and I went to the store and we could NOT tell the difference between them and a diamond! The BEST part was it came with all the same guarantees a diamond does: If the gems fall out they will replace them… or if they ever chip or get cloudy they will replace them (which they aren’t supposed to since they are made from the toughest kind of simulant).
The people there are SUPER nice. They DEFINITELY have rings for under 1,000 and others hover around there. They will customize your ring if you don’t want such a LARGE diamond in the center. That’s what me and my boyfriend are doing (We decided I would show him EXACTLY what I like BEFORE he asked, especialy since I have such a large ring size).
They will also give you a free estimate if you see one you like and want changes.
I’m telling you… you will stay on your budget, get a FABULOUS ring, and no one will no know the difference!
Oh… and halo’s ARE the way to go! It makes a smaller carat look bigger for sure… and covers more of the finger (which is nice for us!). Here is the ring I chose (its a more expensive one):
Except I asked them to make it a 1.5 carat and a clear stone, not yellow, in a size 11.
They have even more at the store! There was a 1.5 carat oval with halo for $495 when I was there. I think 1.5 is about the right size carat for your finger… well at least it is for MINE.
What I did was go to a really expensive jeweler and say, show me a diamond ring in THIS carat… tell them you don’t care about cost (and yes… they will ASK). Then they will show you what you want. I went without my boyfriend so they couldnt “pressure” him into trying to buy what he couldnt affort anyhow… and they never pressure the to-be bride. I felt a little guilty, but that’s the best way to find out what a carat size looks next to your finger (and yes, I say next, because ALL the rings at the store will NOT fit on your ring finger. Bummer.)
Hope that all helps!