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How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring: Fact vs. Fiction

by Joy Editors

You’ve found that special someone and can picture spending the rest of your lives together. But there’s a little more legwork you need to do before popping the question. If you’ve been researching how to buy an engagement ring, chances are you’ve come across a lot of conflicting information and budget suggestions.

That’s because, when it comes down to it, there is no one right way to buy an engagement ring or set amount you’re required to spend. Ultimately, how much you spend on an engagement ring is about what you can afford, your lifestyle, and your tastes as a couple.

But don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging with a vague response to your “How much to spend on engagement ring” searches. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about what an engagement ring costs, average budgets, and common misconceptions.

How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring? Hint: It’s Not Two Months’ Salary

How much to spend on engagement ring: Woman showing off her ring

First and foremost, let’s bust the myth that you should spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. This salary rule was invented by the diamond company De Beers during the Depression in the 1930s. It came in the form of an advertising campaign that, at the time, suggested men spend one month’s salary on an engagement ring.

Before then, diamond engagement rings were not the norm. In fact, just before World War II, only 10% of engagement rings featured diamonds. However, by the end of the 20th century, 80% did. Now that’s some good marketing. It worked so well that in the 1980s, De Beers upped the ante to two months’ salary with an advertisement picturing a woman with a diamond ring. It read, “Two months’ salary showed the future Mrs. Smith what the future would be like.”

This arbitrary two-month rule would suggest that those who make $100,000 per year should spend a whopping $16,000 on an engagement ring. By this same rule, someone who makes $50,000 a year should spend about $8,000 for a ring. Not exactly realistic for many people.

This oft-repeated myth is outdated, especially during a time when many millennials are struggling with debt from student loans. When setting your engagement ring budget, the first thing to do is to throw out any monthly salary rules set by the diamond industry. A better approach is to make an honest assessment about how much you’re able to spend without causing serious financial stress.

How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost?

Close-up of man holding a diamond engagement ring

Now that you know you don’t need to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring, how much should you spend? There’s no hard and fast answer, of course. But the average engagement ring cost might be a good place to start. Spoiler alert: It’s going up.

A Bride’s study surveyed 850 brides-to-be or newly married women and found that the average amount spent on an engagement in 2018 was $7,829. That number jumped quite a bit from the $5,023 average in 2017. However, couples only spent an average of $1,800 on wedding bands, just 3% of their overall wedding budget. Engagement rings made up an incredible 14% of overall wedding costs.

Still, don’t take this to mean you need to spend $7,000 on a ring. You’re starting a new life together in marriage, and it shouldn’t begin in debt from an engagement ring. Plus, your partner may not want an expensive ring, or maybe you’re saving for a house. If your significant other prefers a minimal style, or a stone that is not a diamond, there’s a good chance you can save some money that way.

Even if your soon-to-be fiancé does want a big stone, there’s no reason it has to cost $10,000 or more — unless you have the budget and want to spend that much. Read on for examples of the types of rings you can purchase in several price ranges.

Example Engagement Ring Prices

Diamond engagement ring on mirror tray

You don’t have to drain your bank account or max out your credit card on an engagement ring (although that’s your prerogative). Whatever route you take, you’ll want to know what you’ll get for your money. Here are a host of popular engagement ring options in several cost ranges to help set your expectations.

Below $1,000

An engagement ring for under a grand? That’s right. There are plenty of beautiful rings for less than $1,000. In this budget range, you’ll be looking at smaller diamonds and alternative gemstones that will still add plenty of sparkle.

Take a look at this 14K gold diamond and topaz Aphrodite Shield Ring by La Kaiser for just $510. Because the main stone is white topaz with small diamonds cradling the sides, you can get brilliant shine for a lot less money.

Another beauty is the Madeline Ring by Anne Sisteron. This elegant ring is made from 14K yellow gold with an emerald-cut green sapphire in the center and pave diamonds on the band for $825.

Both of these options show how you can still have diamonds with a small budget, but it’s far more affordable when you have another gemstone as the centerpiece.

If your significant other wants the bling of a big diamond, but cost is a concern, consider an alternative like Nexus Diamond. This lab-created diamond imitates the look, weight, and wear of a natural, mined diamond at a much lower cost. The difference is indiscernible to the naked eye. Plus, it’s ethical and eco-friendly. Check out the Bali Classic Pear Cut engagement ring for right around $1,000.

If diamonds are too pricey for you, consider stones such as white topaz, white sapphire, and moissanite, which have the look of diamonds without the high cost.

$1,000 – $5,000

In this price range, solitaire diamond rings are a more realistic option. Meadowlark Jewellery’s Hexagon Solitaire Ring ($2,345) features a strong, contemporary twist on your traditional solitaire style, with a .25 carat round-cut diamond.

If your other half prefers a more delicate, feminine design, you can opt for a row of smaller diamonds such as those in the Sofia Zakia Pleiades Ring for $2,330. It features several diamonds between 1mm and 3mm that total .4 carats.

If you want the stature of a larger carat size but need to stay within budget, consider a moissanite ring like the Charles & Colvard Forever One. For less than $1,600, it has the look of a 1.48 carat diamond without the price tag. It also has a 14K white gold band, which will withstand the test of time.

$5,000 – $10,000

In this wide price range, you’ll have a great variety of styles and gemstones to choose from. If you’re going for a diamond, this price point offers larger carat sizes and higher quality diamonds.

For example, the Marilyn Monroe Collection emerald-cut diamond engagement ring is just over $5,00 for a full 1 carat. You could also consider an eye-catching 1.25 carat round diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds for just shy of $9,500 from Kay.

Although non-diamond gemstones are typically more affordable, you can still spend a good amount on these precious stones. For instance, this ruby engagement ring from Neil Lane features a large and oval ruby center stone, surrounded by a half carat of small diamonds, on a 14K white-gold band for about $6,000.

Remember: The type of ring you are seeking isn’t the only factor to consider when determining how much to spend on an engagement ring. Depending on where you shop, prices can vary greatly. If you go to a high-end jewelry store such as Tiffany or Cartier, chances are any ring will be more expensive than if you go to a local shop that doesn’t have all the marketing costs baked into the final price of the ring. Just make sure you buy from a trusted retailer.

How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring Depends on You

Close-up of woman with diamond engagement ring holding a mug

In truth, how much to spend on an engagement ring depends on your own personal circumstances. Factor in your financial situation, debt, and your significant other’s style and preferences. As you’ve seen, there are plenty of high-quality options in every budget range.

You can spend as little as $500 or as much as $10,000 and beyond — the important thing is not to feel pressured to overextend your budget on an unattainable ring. After all, your fiancé is marrying you, not your bank account.

Before you go ring shopping, talk to your significant other about their expectations and have a good look at your financials. Your soon-to-be spouse is your best friend, and chances are the cost of the ring and the amount of money you spend is of minor importance in your grand love story.

Once you’ve set a budget, meet with a local jeweler or browse online retailers to get a feel for your options before you tie the knot. With all of today’s choices, you can find practically any style at a price that suits you and your partner.

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