You've found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and now it's time to pop the question. Before you can propose, though, you'll need to purchase an engagement ring. How much should you spend on an engagement ring? There are so many common myths and misconceptions about buying this important piece of jewelry that it's hard to really know how much to spend. Ultimately, there's no one size-fits-all answer when it comes to engagement ring etiquette, and you should spend what your budget comfortably allows.
Still, there are some rules of thumb you can keep in mind, and we asked experts Taylor Lanore and Jennifer Gandia to help us nail down a price estimate, debunked any widely held cost-related engagement ring myths, and revealed easy ways to work within your personal budget.
Meet the Expert
- Taylor Lanore is the former diamond consultant and PR director for Ring Concierge, which provides a customized bridal jewelry experience.
- Jennifer Gandia is a jeweler and the owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City.
- Tom Bergan is the vice president of Grown Brilliance, an industry leader in lab-grown jewelry and engagement rings.
Everything You Need to Know About Engagement Ring Shopping as a Couple
What's the Average Cost?
Brides's American Wedding Study found that the average amount couples spent on an engagement ring in 2020 was $3,756, which is less than the $7,829 average couples spent in 2018. However, some to-be-weds spend a lot less and some spend a whole lot more. According to Lanore, it all depends entirely on your fiancé-to-be's financial situation. "Spend whatever you're comfortable with—there's no reason to go into debt," she says. "It also depends on your partner's preferences. If she (or he) wants something very minimal, it's hard to spend a lot. But if she (or he) wants a big stone, it's still very doable. There are ways to accomplish any look for any budget."
When it comes to buying the ring itself, prices are going to vary widely due to a number of reasons. "The cost of the ring should depend on the following factors: The size and look that your significant other wants—they might choose a delicate look versus a higher carat weight or vice versa. The second factor is "the 4Cs"—what part of the diamond quality is important to them (cut, color, clarity, or carat)?" shares Tom Bergan, vice president of Grown Brilliance. Additionally, the size and quality of the center stone, any details (like a halo or stones set in the band), and the type of metal chosen all play a role in the cost of a ring.
Engagement Ring Cost Myths
Spending Three Month's Worth of Your Salary
It's become a suggested engagement ring rule that one should shell out about three months of their salary, but this is the most common (and outdated) engagement ring myth (phew!). "With the advancement of technology, and lab-grown diamonds coming into play—not costing an arm and a leg—one shouldn’t be spending over a month’s salary on the ring, while still retaining the size and quality of the stone they had in mind!" notes Bergan.
Finding a Cheaper Diamond Online
Lanore says it's riskier to shop for diamonds online because there are far more low-quality stones to select from, which isn’t always obvious to the untrained eye. Instead, she recommends going straight to the source. "It’s best to consult the pros for your needs," says Lanore. "There are a lot of tricks to know for each diamond cut and shape—it is a science, after all. I highly recommend contacting a diamond consultant to assist in center stone selection." These experts can help you work with the "Four Cs" to get the best possible diamond for your budget. If you can't find a local diamond consultant, there are plenty of companies you can use remotely.
The Ultimate Engagement Ring Guide
How Much Is Too Much to Spend?
While there is truly no set price cap when it comes to buying an engagement ring, you may still be worried your partner will be tempted to go overboard. If you know the proposal's coming, be direct and slip your opinion into a casual conversation. Make up a story, and try something like, "You know, Jen was just telling me the other day that she really wishes her husband had spent less on the engagement ring so they could have had a bigger wedding budget to play with. I think some people are going a little crazy these days. Honestly, I don't think anyone should spend more than $[fill in the max you want them to spend here], don't you?" At the end of the day, some people really just want to go above and beyond and splurge on the engagement ring, which is totally fine (and really sweet) as long as they have the means to do so.
You can also pass your concern on to your partner's family and friends, who will relay the message.
How to Cut Engagement Ring Costs
If you're working within a budget, you can still treat your significant other to the ring of their dreams thanks to a few engagement ring shopping hacks.
Ditch the Diamond
Diamonds are the most expensive part of an engagement ring, so you can save major dough by using a diamond alternative as the center stone. “Consider a white sapphire, which is hard enough to withstand daily wear and has a similar color,” says Gandia. “Other traditionally popular gemstones are blue sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. Depending on quality, these can be slightly less than a diamond, though truly rare and high-quality stones can sometimes cost more.”
Other nontraditional stones that are getting more popular by the minute? Green tourmaline, peachy-pink morganite, and ice blue aquamarine. “These are all great options for clients looking for a lower-priced alternative to a diamond that will still really shine,” says Gandia.
Know Your Settings
Keep in mind that certain settings can be expensive. Your future spouse may (understandably) be obsessed with Meghan Markle's three-stone engagement ring, but said setting can actually cost you a pretty penny and influence the size of the center stone. Instead, if you would rather focus the bulk of your budget on the ring's diamond, consider a classic solitaire setting to make the stone appear more prominent.
Manipulate the "Four Cs"
Working on the lower end of the color and clarity scales can go a long way in terms of majorly slashing engagement ring costs (especially with brilliant-cut diamonds) without sacrificing quality. As far as clarity goes, "as long as you can't see inclusions to the naked eye, you're in great shape," Lanore says. "Contrary to popular belief, clarity is independent of anything else and doesn't affect the brilliance of the stone." Lanore adds that the color of the diamond remains "purely personal preference," but, "if size is your biggest interest, consider working lower here if you're working with a budget."
Go the Antique Route
"Antique diamonds are truly magical for hiding color, and face up 2-3 colors whiter than their grade indicates," Lanore notes. "There's a real romance with these diamonds." All in all, to get the most bang for your buck and give your partner the engagement ring they really want (and deserve), Lanore advises paying close attention to their personal style or any hints they might be dropping. "What I've noticed is that if their partner doesn't request a specific design, a lot of guys (or gals) tend to pick a round brilliant diamond, which is the most expensive diamond per carat because of their difficulty to cut," says Lanore. Make sure you put your personal preferences aside to truly cater to your significant other. After all, they're the one who will be wearing it every day.
Where can I shop for a budget-friendly engagement ring?
If you are shopping for an engagement ring on a budget, there are plenty of stores and brands to consider. Etsy is a great place to find unique rings at a range of prices. Other sites such as Blue Nile and Brilliant Earth make it easy to shop by price point and create a ring with lab-grown diamonds or diamond alternatives.(Video) How much should an engagement ring cost?? #streetphotography #nyc
How much does it cost to insure an engagement ring?
If you choose to insure your engagement ring, consider factoring this into the overall price of the ring. Generally, insurance will be one percent to two percent of your ring's value. If you are considering splurging on a ring, this might be an added cost to consider when deciding how much to spend.
The 27 Best Affordable Engagement Rings Under $1,500
General Rule: You should spend at least 2 months salary on the engagement ring. If, for example, you are making $60,000 per year, you should spend $10,000 on the engagement ring.How much should a guy spend on an engagement ring? ›
General Rule: You should spend at least 2 months salary on the engagement ring. If, for example, you are making $60,000 per year, you should spend $10,000 on the engagement ring.How much should you typically spend on an engagement ring? ›
How much should you spend on an engagement ring? According to the classic engagement ring cost rule, you should spend three months' salary on an engagement ring for your loved one – after all, they'll be wearing that ring for the rest of their life.Is $5,000 reasonable for an engagement ring? ›
Absolutely! A $5,000 can get you a beautiful, high-quality diamond and setting. You can easily buy a 2-carat lab diamond or in some cases even a 2.5-carat lab-grown diamond ring with this budget. It all comes down to the quality of diamond that you choose.What is the 3 month salary rule? ›
One of the most infamous wedding etiquette rules, though, revolves around the engagement ring. It's known as the "three months' salary" rule, and it implies that a buyer should put three months of their salary toward a sparkler for their future spouse.Is 2 carats considered big? ›
While 2 carats is going to be a looker, it is definitely not even close to those mega-sparklers. However, even if you don't have the ultra-huge bling-ring, you may think that 2 carats is still too big. So, lets dive in to what makes a good 2 carat diamond ring, and what to consider when choosing one.Should a man spend 3 months salary on an engagement ring? ›
What is now known as the 3-month salary rule is simply a suggestion but shouldn't at all be the ultimate rule to follow. You can use this as a guide to help you identify what amount you can afford for an engagement ring, but you also have the freedom to choose the amount according to what you WANT to spend.Is $1000 for engagement ring cheap? ›
A $1,000 engagement ring should be simple and unflashy. But by no means does that mean you can expect a mediocre ring. While $1,000 can't afford a huge diamond or an elaborate setting, size and flair are not everything. Often the most beautiful diamond rings are the simplest.Where did the 3 month salary engagement ring come from? ›
The three-month rule stems from a marketing campaign the De Beers diamond company ran in the 1930s that sold the idea that true love and commitment could only be shown if a man spent a month's salary on his wife's ring and over time it evolved into two in the 80's and finally three months.Is $10 000 enough for an engagement ring? ›
In short, you'll have no problems affording a beautiful, elegant engagement ring with a $10,000 budget. However, with this said, it's still important to shop for an engagement ring strategically to make sure you get the best deal.
Current Engagement Ring Price Rule of Thumb
This engagement ring price rule requires the proposer to buy an engagement ring worth three months of salary. To demonstrate, if the proposer makes $75,000 per year, the engagement ring should be worth $18,750.
According to tradition, the amount you choose to spend on an engagement ring should approximate the amount of your monthly salary times two. By this measure, anyone who earns $2,000 a month should be looking at models in the $4,000 range. For someone earning $10,000 a month, a $20,000 ring would be about right.How big is a $3000 diamond? ›
Expect to spend around $3,000 to $4,000 for a well-cut round 0.90-ct diamond.
There are many options for engagement ring financing, including a credit card, “buy now, pay later” plans, directly through the jeweler or with a personal loan.How long between ring purchase and proposal? ›
The best time to buy an engagement ring is at least six weeks before the proposal, but generally, three months prior is a better timeline.Can I show my girlfriend her engagement ring? ›
If you're planning to ask your girlfriend to marry you, and she sees the ring before the proposal, the chances of something bad happening afterward are no greater than they would be if she hadn't seen the ring.Is $20 000 enough for an engagement ring? ›
A $20,000 engagement ring budget is far above the median amount spent on a diamond ring, which is around $3,000 – $5,000. When we discuss the average engagement ring cost, we note that people spending 20k are significantly above the mean.Do guys pay for engagement ring? ›
The most traditional way to go about this would be the bride pays for the groom's wedding ring plus a gift and the groom pays for the engagement ring and matching wedding band for the bride. Today, a more modern approach by many couples would be to accept the wedding bands as a joint investment by both people.Is 25k for engagement ring too much? ›
So, with a $25,000 engagement ring budget, you'll be able to afford something far above average. It's difficult to go wrong when you've got this much to spend on an engagement ring.