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1. Get the basic options from the school catalog
Sites like Jostens only reveal their prices after you start designing your ring and really try to upsell you extra features, as well. For example, I got a message saying that for only $550 I could upgrade from the silver elite finish to 10K white gold, with a big explanation of why gold is better. The problem here is that your teenager could get swept away and get their heart set on a certain design only to find out it is way out of budget—and by way out of budget, I mean that I had no problem designing something more expensive than my engagement ring!
The good news is that it is possible to get a reasonable price on sites like Jostens and Balfour by just going with the basic option, and you will still get a very nice ring. At Jostens, the basic ring with the school mascot, graduation year, and inside initial engraving costs $70 for women and $80 for men, and looks just as nice as some that cost many times the price.
2. Local jewelry stores
There are some great deals to be had by shopping traditional jewelry stores for class rings. This is a particularly good option if you want your ring in a more valuable metal like 10K or 14K gold. Kay Jewelers carries a range of customizable class rings, and you’ll save quite a bit on higher-quality rings in comparison with Jostens. For example, Kay Jewelers has something very similar to Jostens 14K Women's Pageant ring for $100 less. The other advantage of shopping at jewelry stores is that you may be able to haggle for a lower price.
Walmart.com might not be the first place that comes to mind when shopping for class rings, but with men's rings starting as low as $58 and a good selection under $100, it can be a great option if you are on a tight budget. Many of Walmart's rings are customizable, letting you select the stone, school name and side-panel design. The rings that have the best customizable options do tend to cost more and start out at around $100. As is the case with other retailers, your best option to keep the cost down is to limit yourself to lower-quality metals, as 14K gold will still run you between $400–100 even at Walmart.
JCPenney not only carries class rings, but also has some of the trendier women's styles like stackable rings, so they can be a great resource if you’re looking to save on something that is a little more fashion forward than a traditional class ring. The other great thing about shopping through a department store is you might be able to score a deal on a nicer ring by waiting for promotions and using coupon codes.
5. Online retailers
Shopping online opens up a range of options for saving on class rings. One of the biggest online retailers for class rings is Dunham Manufacturing, which has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Dunham sells rings for as low as $56, and they are very up-front about the price before you start designing your ring. They have lots of customizable options, and unless you change the metal, they are all included in the base price—so you don’t have to worry as much about hidden costs like you do with some companies. Overall, this is one of the best values out there for a great looking, custom class ring on a tight budget.
6. Go vintage
This option might not work for every kid, but I know I would have been thrilled to have been given my mom's old class ring when I was in high school. Not only is this option free, it could be something that is much more meaningful.
If your child likes to be unique you could also shop eBay where rings can be as low as $20. To get around the problem that used rings were customized for someone else, you could narrow your focus by looking for rings of people that graduated in your child's birth year. Or if they have been accepted to a university, they could try and find a college ring from that school.
7. Birthstone rings
Some high school girls are forgoing class rings altogether in favor of getting birthstone rings. I asked a couple of my students about this, and they said they prefer this option because they would rather get something they could wear after high school. If your daughter would be more excited about a birthstone ring, it opens up a lot more options to save big. Even major jewelry stores like Kay typically have a good selection for under $50.
Some teens will be as excited about saving money on their class ring as you are, but others may be more resistant because of the pressure to be like their friends. If your child is disappointed to be shopping outside the catalog passed out at school, try to spin it as a positive. Tell them that they can get something better and more unique, and they can get it before their friends get theirs. Once they see that they can still get something nice, their excitement may return.
This is a guest post by April from Grand Blanc, MI
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