5 Classy Alternatives To Your Mother’s Diamond Engagement Ring

According to Wedding Wire, the most popular days of the year to pop the question (or have the question popped to you) is around the Christmas holiday season. Obviously, I’m talking about a marriage proposal. Now, I know that most of my readers are probably already hitched, but I am also aware that not everyone gets married super young these days. Mr. MMM and I didn’t! With that in mind, this post is here to entertain those readers who have not yet taken the plunge but are starting to think about it. 

The Standard-A Diamond Engagement Ring


Da Beers campaign

Wow. Talk about a bold campaign. De Beers certainly isn’t afraid to pull out the big guns.

The last time I heard anything about the rules of buying an engagement ring, the standard diamond engagement ring should cost the purchaser approximately 2 – 3 months salary. Are you kidding me? Despite one’s salary, that is a sizable chunk of change. And how on earth did this diamond engagement ring craze start anyway? Interestingly, even though diamond rings date back to the Renaissance and even before that, the practice of proposing marriage with a diamond was created by none other than a jewelry company! Shocker, I know. Kinda reminds me of how all those holidays were started by card companies. Hmm…patterns, anyone?

Apparently, De Beers declared a diamond engagement ring as The Standard in the 1930s and even created a catchy slogan we have all come to know very well, A Diamond Is Forever. Read all about the genius marketing campaign and rocketing sales figures De Beers experienced after their ad kick off in the early 20th century here! Okay, now we know how it all started so let’s Move on with thinking outside the diamond.

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Thinking Outside The Diamond


engagement ring

My actual engagement ring from Mr. MMM! 🙂

Fortunately, today’s couples are increasingly likely to opt for a ring that doesn’t fit the traditional mold. Some couples are happy to take a less trodden path and choose a different stone, while others are happy to forgo an engagement ring altogether.

When Mr. MMM and I were starting to talk marriage, we started exploring our options. Obviously, we didn’t want to go crazy with cost, so the De Beers rule of spending months worth of salary was totally out! We brainstormed and talked over alternatives for weeks. Ultimately, since I love surprises, I gave Mr. MMM full reign to choose the ring. So what sort of ring did he propose with? A diamond! What? Yep, he chose a black diamond in a custom titanium ring. He designed it himself and I couldn’t have been happier. Even though he went with a diamond, a black diamond is definitely not the most sought-after color out there. Therefore, he saved a ton of cash by doing so, and he gave me something I truly cherish and love.

Classy Alternatives To The Standard


couple - diamond engagement ringThat’s all well and good, but what if you still want a proposal with a ring? Do not fear! There are many classy alternatives to the traditional diamond engagement ring. Here are a few classy alternatives to spending a ridiculous amount of money on a single piece of jewelry.

Classy Alternatives:

  • Gemstones: Gemstones come in every shape and color and without an exorbitant price tag.
  • A vintage ring: Vintage rings can be found in every antique store from coast to coast. You never know what sort of gem you’ll find when you least expect it.
  • A family heirloom: Family heirlooms can be diamonds or gemstones or pain bands. Despite the variety, a family heirloom has special meaning and will probably be FREE.
  • Take a special trip or put a downpayment on a home: If you feel like skipping jewelry altogether, consider taking a special trip together or funnel the money into savings towards the downpayment of your future home.
  • Adopt a pet: What better way to make a commitment to one another than to commit to caring for a pet together? If you’re willing to become pet parents instead of dropping cash on a ring, you can rest assured your money was repurposed for a great cause.

The Best Part = You don’t have to stop at the engagement ring. By not buying into the De Beers campaign slogan, you can really do something unique without dropping a bunch of cash. That sort of attitude will carry you and your special someone far when starting your life together.  From there, you can choose similar low-cost options for wedding bands, or forgo them all together! The possibilities are endless when you Just Say No to your mother’s engagement ring.

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But, I WANT A Traditional Diamond!



Mad Money Cat travels a less traditional path. No diamonds required.

I get it. I really do. You likely grew up wanting a fairytale proposal, engagement, honeymoon, marriage, etc. The whole she-bang! I think we all have similar memories from childhood. If this is the case, it’s likely that a less expensive alternative just won’t do. This is obviously something you value and I am by no means saying that just because there is a less pricey option out there, you need to take it. In fact, I say go for the sparkly diamond! If you truly want that and it will make your heart smile each time you glance down, then there is no reason (other than avoiding debt) you shouldn’t do it.

I never advocate taking out loans or subscribing to a payment plan to acquire such a luxurious item. As always, financial planning and prowess go a long way. Make plans, save the money, and pay cash. The last thing anyone should want is for their soon-to-be life partner taking on debt just to get through the proposal.

engagement ring


What are your thoughts on diamond engagement rings? Is it still The Standard? Have any of you gone a less traditional route? If so, let’s hear about it!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Piggy Oct 8, 2017, 2:02 pm

    My husband got me an amber engagement ring that I LOVE. I wear a lot of amber jewelry and I love original looking jewelry pieces, so it fits my style perfectly. Plus I’m morally opposed to spending lots of money on jewelry, so it worked out. 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Oct 9, 2017, 9:52 am

      Yeah, I’ve never been a huge jewelry fan, either. I’d much rather spend my money on appreciating assets!

  • FullTimeFinance Sep 25, 2017, 8:14 pm

    Both myself and my wife have hand me down rings from great grand parents. In some ways it’s more special due to setimentality and also kind of cool to realize the ring on your fingers over 100 yrs old.

    • Mad Money Monster Sep 26, 2017, 7:24 am

      I love the idea of family heirlooms. We didn’t have that option, but we’re super happy we didn’t go the traditional route for thousands of dollars. 🙂

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