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how much to spend on engagement ring

How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

With the dozens of myths and misconceptions about buying a ring and proposing, it can be hard to know how much to spend on an engagement ring. Knowing the average cost of engagement rings can help to nail down the exact price range you should be aiming for when shopping for a ring for your significant other.

We’ll help you determine how much money to spend on an engagement ring that fits your budget and one your partner will love.

Initially, searching for a the perfect ring may not seem like a complicated process. All you have to do is find your nearest jewelry store and pick the perfect ring, right?

Wrong. There’s a lot more thought that should go into buying an engagement ring. After all, your proposal story will stay in the mind of your significant other for years to come.

engagement ring shoppingIt’s not just a matter of “I like this,” or “I like that.” You have to consider size, shape, price, and other details, like those famously known as the 4C’s (carat, cut, clarity, and color).

Any additional details, like a halo or set-in stones in the band, will also make the cost of the engagement ring vary.

Now before you get too overwhelmed, read on to find out how much money you should be spending on an engagement ring, as well as common myths and misconceptions to be aware of.


Average Engagement Ring Cost

Purchasing an engagement ring is a serious investment. Before starting to shop around for engagement rings you should know the average cost of an engagement ring.

According to The Knot 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, an engagement ring’s average cost is $5,900 — a large investment, no doubt.

This doesn’t mean that this should automatically become your ring budget. There are a lot of factors to consider when figuring out how much to spend on an engagement ring.

In a separate study, Brides’ American Wedding Study found that the average amount couples have spent on an engagement ring in 2020 is $3,700 — a significant decrease from the $7,829 average it was two years ago.

Of course, there are many variables at play. Engagement ring cost is mainly dependent on your financial situation, as well as the personal preferences of your significant other. One of the first things to do when thinking about proposing is to figure out how much to spend on the engagement ring.


Debunking Engagement Ring Myths

average wedding ring cost

There are a few common myths about how much you should spend on a diamond ring to propose with. Know that you can buy a high quality ring without stressing every day about a “three month rule” or other common misconceptions.


1. The Three-Month’s Salary Rule

engagement ring purchase

The three month salary rule is probably the most common and widely accepted engagement ring myth. Many suggest the amount you spend on an engagement ring should be equal to three months’ salary.

Fortunately, there’s no set rule on how much you should be spending on a ring. While this is just a recommendation, it’s by no means a “rule.”

This “rule” originated at the start of World War II as a marketing initiative, where many diamond marketers tried to enhance sales. Today, however, this engagement ring guideline is no longer realistic and doesn’t even take debt (i.e., from student loans) into account.

This antiquated rule shouldn’t stress you out – besides, 3 months salary looks different for everyone depending on your job. Don’t worry about how much you should spend on an engagement ring based on your months salary or any other old-school thinking.


2. The 4 C’s Aren’t Important

The 4 C’s are important when choosing wedding rings. They will prove to be very helpful in your search for the right diamond engagement ring.

Many people today have glamorized the process of buying engagement rings: you walk into the jewelers, expect to find the perfect engagement ring and, voila!

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Think of it this way: when you buy a car, you don’t just waltz right into a dealership, ask, “What do you recommend?” and buy a car with no knowledge of it; that’s a car dealer’s dream. Instead, you should take the time to research details about engagement rings in your price range — things you like, things you don’t like — so you can better hone in on the best engagement ring for your partner.

Similarly, conducting extensive research on the cut, clarity, carat, and color of the engagement ring according to your price range can be extremely useful. Eighty percent of the work should be done before you set foot in the store.

Even if you decide to tweak your preferences here and there, you can rest easy knowing you picked the perfect engagement ring for your significant other because you did your research.

For clarification, here are some tidbits of information on each of the 4C’s:

Diamond Cut

  • Considered the most important of the 4C’s
  • Has the greatest influence on the diamond’s sparkle
  • Cut grade of the diamond should be determined on your ring budget (best you can afford)

diamond cut examples chart

Diamond Clarity

  • Assessment of small imperfections on the surface and internally of the diamond
  • Considered the least important of the 4C’s due to the inevitability of natural blemishes
  • Fewer blemishes = higher price
  • The shape and size of the diamond will affect its clarity
  • Most microscopic diamond imperfections are undetectable by the naked eye

Diamond Color

  • Extremely rare to find a diamond with no color
  • Diamonds are often found with hints of gray, white, yellow, green, brown, or pink
  • See the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale for more specifics on diamond grading

Diamond Carat

  • Refers to a diamond’s weight, not the size
  • Carat weight is not related to the diamond’s sparkle
  • Diamonds with higher carats are cut from large, rough crystals, so the price is dependent on the rarity of the rough crystal


3. You shouldn’t take your significant other engagement ring shopping

couple shopping for engagement rings

Thanks to modern television and movies, many believe in the “wow” factor of proposals and engagement rings. Consequently, there seems to be an idea that you shouldn’t take your significant other engagement ring shopping because it could ruin the element of surprise.

However, this is a highly unrealistic approach. There are many different engagement ring styles to consider. You should be aware of your partner’s preferences, styles, likes, and dislikes when it comes to an engagement ring.

Ask friends and family for help, or even check out their Pinterest board (if they have one) to see if they’ve pinned any potential engagement ring options.

This doesn’t necessarily have to impact your proposal plans — you can still surprise them. But you want to make sure they love the engagement ring, first. After all, they’re the one wearing it.


How Much To Spend On Engagement Rings: Setting a Budget

shopping for an engagement ring

So, how much should you spend on an engagement ring? How many months salary?

Buying a ring requires careful thought. It can be somewhat overwhelming at first. Where do you even begin? When setting your budget, here are some things to consider.

Before diving right in, it’s best to mention there is no general rule that applies to engagement rings, meaning there’s not exactly a “right” answer. Each case is special and unique in its own way.


Talk to Your Partner

couple discussing engagement ring budget

While this may not seem like a necessity, it’s still recommended. According to a study, only 13% of couples consulted each other before buying an engagement ring, and just 6% set a budget together.

In most cases, the person buying the ring will only concern themselves with the ring budget because, well, they’re the one buying the ring. But it can prove to be very helpful in the end to decide how much to spend on the engagement ring as a couple.


Think About Engagement Ring Insurance

Though it’s often overlooked, getting  insurance should also be considered when setting your budget. Many feel it’s unnecessary to insure a piece of jewelry, but considering the average cost of engagement rings, it’s still worth thinking about.

Now we know what you’re thinking: doesn’t my renter’s/homeowner’s insurance cover that? Yes, your homeowner’s insurance covers any piece of jewelry you own in your home, but only up to a specific dollar limit.

The jeweler you purchase your ring from may have some insurance recommendations. But if not, you may want to do some scouting.

If you settle on buying engagement ring insurance, the four main things you should consider are coverage, replacement, assessment of value, and documentation requirements. Feel free to talk to your provider for more information.

A general rule of thumb for insuring an engagement ring is $1 to $2 for every $100 of value paid per year.


Consider Your Current Financial State

proposing to fiance

In general, you should always consider your financial situation. Whether you’ve saved for a down payment or plan on financing when you buy the ring, figure out what you’re comfortable with. Think about your income and whether it’s subject to change. Keep in mind bills and any major payments that might be coming up, as well.

With your financial state in heavy consideration, it’s helpful to be reminded of your fiance’s expectations and make sure you’re buying the best you can afford. Your main goal is to purchase an engagement ring they will enjoy and cherish for years to come.


Use an Engagement Ring Calculator

While not completely accurate, using an engagement ring calculator can help you set a budget when shopping for a ring. Using this calculator you’ll be able to put in your partner’s engagement ring preferences to determine your ring budget.


Factors that Affect the Cost of an Engagement Ring

engagement ring in box

There are many factors that will affect how much you spend on a ring to propose with. Here are the elements to consider when pricing a ring for your future fiancee.

The Stone

Diamond rings are the standard for engagements, but there are alternatives. Lab-made diamonds look just as beautiful as the real thing, but they cost a fraction of the price. There are also other jewels you can use as the center stone on an engagement ring.

The stone’s quality will also affect the price, so refer to the 4 C’s we discussed above. The larger and higher quality stone, the more expensive.


The Band

Most people get hung up on the diamond, but your costs will fluctuate based on all parts of the ring. The band you choose will factor into the total cost.

White gold is a popular choice for wedding bands, but if you want to save, consider sterling silver or another lesser metal. Don’t skimp if your fiancee has sensitive skin, however, since they’ll be wearing this ring every day.

Many brides dream of a diamond band, with small diamonds all around the circle of the ring itself. Any stonework in the band itself will add a significant price. If the ring doesn’t fit, you’ll also have to consider ring resizing and the associated costs.


The Setting

Finally, consider the setting of the center stone and if you want any smaller stones surrounding it. Some more creative rings feature smaller diamonds or other complimentary stones in the setting. A simpler setting will cost less.


How Can I Save Money on an Engagement Ring?

engagement party ideas

There are always helpful tips and tricks to save money on big purchases, and the same is true when you buy an engagement ring.

Choose an Alternative to a Diamond

Although diamond reigns supreme as the choice center stone, there has been a rise in popularity of using alternative stones, most notably being moissanite, a diamond simulant made of silicon carbide.

In 1893, the mineral moissanite was discovered by French scientist Henri Moissan in a meteor crater. Because of its uncanny resemblance to diamonds, Moissan initially believed the crystals were, in fact, diamonds, and thus, the use of moissanite as an alternative stone began.

According to the GIA, moissanite has been perceived as “much closer to the diamond in overall appearance and heft than any previous diamond imitation.”

The synthetic substitute is also significantly less expensive than a diamond engagement ring. Moissanite can be about $400 to $600 per carat, while a one-carat diamond can be anywhere between $2,000 to $20,000.

There are plenty of other meaningful gemstones you can choose as well for the center stone on your ring. Emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and other jewels make lovely, high quality rings at a lesser price. You don’t need a diamond to ask someone to spend your life together!


Concern Yourself Less with Clarity

diamond engagement ring alternative
As previously mentioned, clarity has the least amount of influence over a diamond’s sparkle. Most internal flaws are invisible to the naked eye, so don’t feel the need to search for “the perfect diamond,” because the truth is, you won’t find one. Due to the amount of heat and pressure every diamond undergoes, a flawless diamond is nearly impossible to find.

When it comes to clarity, internal flaws are professionally known as inclusions. Clarity has a significant effect on the price, so maximize your budget by looking for diamonds with ratings of Slightly Included (SI) and Very Slightly Included (VS) grades because such inclusions will not be easily noticeable without a close examination.


Research Online Retailers

The average engagement ring cost online is much lower than it would be inside a brick and mortar jewelry store. But if you decide to go down this route, make sure you do a lot of research — you don’t want to buy an engagement ring that’s low-quality accidentally.

While in-store engagement ring shopping is exciting, sometimes it can be too overwhelming. Especially if your significant other knows exactly what they want, it might be worth ditching the in-store experience and looking for online retailers — you’ll find it’s much cheaper.


Shop Around for Antique Diamonds

Depending on your partner, finding an antique diamond may be the way to go. Not only will this save you money, but it also adds a special touch.

Before choosing to shop for an antique engagement ring consider your partner’s style. Would an antique ring be something they would cherish? Often times antique diamonds will shine just as bright as a new engagement ring after a proper polish and cleaning.

You can also consider asking about any family rings that are passed down in your family!


Is It Possible to Spend Too Much on an Engagement Ring? 

For most of us, yes, there should be a cap on how much you spend on engagement rings. You shouldn’t bankrupt yourself to find the perfect ring – your partner will love you regardless!

If you spend all of your savings on the ring, it will only make it harder to budget for the wedding itself. Don’t throw all of your money away on an extravagant diamond ring if it compromises your dream wedding plans.

If money is no object to you, however, then spend away!


Engagement Ring Cost Recap

antique engagement ring

By now you should have a good idea on what to spend on your partner’s engagement ring. When it comes down to it you want something that your partner will love, but also something that won’t break the bank.

A good rule is to talk to your partner to discuss your budget for the engagement ring. You can ask what style engagement ring is their favorite and what their ring size is. This may affect the element of surprise for your significant other, but you can keep the details about when and where you will propose top secret.

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