7 Things That Always Make an Engagement Ring Look Cheap

An engagement ring is one of the most personal pieces of jewelry one will ever own. Beyond the sentiment, an engagement ring will also probably be one of the biggest pieces of investment jewelry you'll acquire. While there is certainly a lot that goes into choosing the engagement ring that is right for you, we want to make one thing clear: You don't have to spend more than your means to get a ring that looks elevated and, well, expensive. 

I spoke to some of the most talented jewelers in the industry, and they educated me on a list of qualities that, no matter the price, carat size, or cut, will make a ring look cheap. From what to pay attention to that you might have otherwise overlooked to remembering to stay true to your personal style, the fine jewelers ahead are here to fill you in on all the ways to make your engagement ring look as expensive as possible, no matter what your budget is. 

1. Mismatched Diamond Colors

"Diamonds are graded on four criteria: cut, color, carat, and clarity. You can get by with all sorts of combinations of the above, but I like to avoid diamonds that have a super-low color grade. Diamonds that are K, L, and M tend to really show a yellow hint and not quite look like that bright, white diamond you’ve always thought of." — Octavia Zamagias, Octavia Elizabeth Jewelry 

How to avoid the above: 

"You might be able to go up in carat weight, but rather than getting a larger stone in this color range, I suggest sizing down for a whiter diamond that will really look more expensive overall." — Zamagias

2. Prongs That Aren't Balanced

"Prongs that are too wide or heavy can distract from a gorgeous center diamond and cheapen the look of an engagement ring." — Ashley Zhang, Ashley Zhang Jewelry

"Whether you are working with a quarter of a carat or five carats, be sure your stone is set by an expert. Imperfect settings that look like an arts and crafts project are not what you want in a long-term investment like an engagement ring." — Zamagias

How to avoid the above: 

"I prefer to use sharp claw prongs because they look more delicate but are strong enough to hold the diamond in place over time." — Zhang

"Details like well-shaped and balanced prongs or claw prongs make all the difference in the final appearance of your ring. Even if your stone is not top-notch in quality or huge in carat weight, if it is set well, it will look and feel far more expensive." — Zamagias 

3. Clumsy Metalwork

"There's nothing that screams cheap more than bad metalwork." — Corina Madilian, Single Stone

How to avoid the above:

"Make sure the design of your ring is well-executed and not a bad knockoff of something else." — Madilian

4. Unmatched Diamond Halo and Center Stone Color

"If you are considering a diamond halo to complement your center stone, be sure the small stones, or melee, are relatively a match in color. Having a huge contrast in the color qualities will be a notable difference that confuses the eye—and not in a good way!" — Zamagias

How to avoid the above:

"Matching your center stone to the diamond melee in the halo will actually make the center stone appear larger, which is usually the goal of a diamond halo in the first place." — Zamagias

5. Diamonds That Are Set Too High

"Diamonds that are set too high can make an engagement ring look cheap. Many times, this is due to going to a jeweler who is using a mass-produced setting that is made to fit a variety of diamond sizes. There will be too much space under the culet (the pointy part of the diamond)." — Zhang

How to avoid the above:

"We always make our settings from scratch based on the measurements of the diamond. This ensures a setting that is lower to the finger and more comfortable for everyday wear." — Zhang

6. Compromising on Your Personal Style

"Choose a style that works with you and your lifestyle. It doesn't make sense to have the It ring if it doesn’t work for YOU." — Madilian

How to avoid the above:

"Choose an engagement ring that reflects your style as a couple and your shared aesthetic. Don't be afraid of picking the 'wrong' ring nor get caught up in a specific trend. It is best to stick to a classic if you don't know what else to choose. You can always personalize your ring with bands to create something special, just for you." — Madilian

7. It Doesn't Quite Fit Your Finger

"This one may come as a surprise, but maybe you've got your dream ring, and it is just slightly too big or too small. Don't skimp on the resizing fee. I have seen people take beautiful rings to a stall in DTLA to get it resized because it is only $25 and only an hour wait. What you often end up with is a shank that is obviously cut and manipulated. Sure, it looks okay top-down, but flip that ring around and you see a solder line or mismatched seam. It's not pretty and instantly cheapens the ring overall." — Zamagias

"If you need your ring resized, take it or ship it to the jeweler you who made the ring. It might be more expensive overall and take a few weeks, but you've come this far! The seam should be undetectable." — Zamagias

Lauren Eggertsen
Editorial Director

"Copy (200 words): Lauren Eggertsen is currently the editorial director of Who What Where and has worked at the company for nearly seven years, where she started as an associate editor and has since worked her way up. Lauren has over 10 years of experience in the fashion editorial space, starting her career with internships at Marc Jacobs, Marie Claire, and The Zoe Report, where she was later hired as their editorial assistant. Lauren has worked in the Los Angeles and New York Who What Wear offices but currently calls L.A. home. It is here where she leads and manages Who What Wear's fashion team and oversees all day-to-day editorial content and large tentpole moments. This includes all of the runway, trend, and shopping-driven content that ultimately helps to build a strong brand reputation within the industry. Lauren's role also includes helping to set the fashion direction for all original photo shoots and often styles many of the celebrity cover shoots, including big names like Sydney Sweeney, Lindsay Lohan, and Megan Fox. 


She has also attended multiple fashion weeks, including New York, London, and Milan, where her personal style has been featured on sites such as Elle.com, HarpersBazaar.com, and Vogue.co.uk. She prides herself on discovering and supporting small brands and on her knack for a good vintage shopping find. When she isn't working, she enjoys researching and dining at reputable restaurants around both her neighborhood and the globe.