Trendy, budget-friendly wedding ring picks for college students

A solitaire engagement ring by FORGE Jewelry Works. Features a white-gold band with a cushion-cut centerstone. (@forgejewelryworks via Instagram)

With wedding season approaching, college students are leaning toward engagement ring trends that spotlight affordability. 

Megan Dale, a recently engaged young adult, said her fiance took the lead in choosing her wedding ring. Selecting a budget-friendly approach, they successfully secured the ring of her dreams. Dale and her fiance chose a 2.85-carat moissanite ring.

According to Dale, moissanite gemstones and natural diamonds are so similar it’s hard to spot the difference.

“I can’t even tell the difference. If he hadn’t told me, I would’ve never guessed,” she said. 

Dale gave her highest recommendations for moissanite stones, especially to those trying to get engagement rings on a budget. 

Forge Jewelry is a Provo-based jeweler. Owner and CEO Rischelle Mikkelson shared the following top engagement ring trends for 2024: 

  • Large center stone solitaires, particularly with oval and emerald cuts. 
  • The snowdrift design, featuring smaller side stones for an organic aesthetic.
  • Toi et moi design, showcasing two similar-sized center stones side-by-side. Additionally, 14-karat yellow gold slightly edges out white and rose gold preferences.
  • Wide bands. 
  • East-West center stone settings, which tilt the main stone horizontally. 
  • Customized men’s bands, which showcase the growing interest among men for personalized designs. 

Utah aligns with national engagement ring trends, staying on track with style preferences seen across the country. The only difference is budget considerations, according to Mikkelson. 

“The national average cost of an engagement ring sits around $6,500, the Utah average cost of an engagement ring sits around $3,100 and Provo’s average cost of an engagement ring sits around $2,500,” Mikkelson said. 

Grace Richards, a recently engaged young adult, said she chose a lab-grown diamond after conducting extensive research. She emphasized its classic and timeless appeal. 

“I love the classic look of the diamond and its timelessness, it’s way more ethical and cheap than natural diamonds,” Richards said. 

The fundamental distinction between natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds lies in their origin, according to the Gemological Institute of America. They have identical chemical compositions, one is just made in a controlled laboratory environment.

Natural diamonds command higher prices because of their rarity, the site said, whereas lab-grown diamonds are notably more affordable — sometimes up to 50% less in cost.

According to Mikkelson, couples love their ring to be unique and represent their love story. 

Introducing alternative wedding band options, Spencer Rascon, My Roots Jewelry founder, emphasized the appeal of handcrafted wooden rings. 

“It’s nontraditional. We’re marketing to people who are looking for something different and totally unique,” Rascon said.  

Using traditional wood jewelling techniques, My Roots Jewelry uses sustainable wood to make long-lasting unique wedding bands, according to their website. 

Handcrafted wooden engagement ring made by My Roots Jewelry. (@myrootjewelry via Instagram)

There is value in local handmade items, and the significant effort and time invested to make them makes those items meaningful gifts, Rascon said. 

When choosing an engagement ring, Rascon said people should pick something that carries a lot of meaning.

“Think about what it is that connects you with that person that you’re getting married to,” Rascon said. 

The ring is not just an accessory, but a representation of love and commitment, Mikkelson said.

“Go with what you like! Don’t worry about trends, what your friends think, what your mom thinks. It’s your ring so it should be what you love. Don’t be afraid to have a unique ring. Chances are if you love it now, you will love it for a lifetime,” Mikkelson said. 

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