Here’s How Much To Spend On An Engagement Ring

how much to spend on engagement ring

Before you can worry about wedding bands, you’ll need first to get an engagement ring to propose to the love of your life. Unfortunately, the average engagement ring cost can vary quite a bit. This guide will help you figure out how much to spend on an engagement ring.

General Engagement Ring Cost Considerations

You want to propose to the person you hope to be your fiancé with the perfect engagement ring. However, before you run up your credit card balance or dive into your savings for your fairy-tale proposal, you should consider how many months’ salary you can get away with putting into your engagement ring budget.

Knowing the national average others spend gives you a general price range you can use to make the right financial decisions.

What’s The Average Cost Of An Engagement Ring?

average cost of an engagement ring

Here are a few quick facts about the average engagement ring cost:

  • According to the American Wedding Study at Brides, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2018 was approximately $7,800.
  • Yet, their 2020 data showed the average price had gone down to around $3,800.
  • The Knot reported that the 2021 average was about $2,000.
  • However, they also reported that almost 40% of shoppers were spending under $4,000.

The Average Cost Of Wedding Bands

Of course, the style of ring you get is a personal decision, but you need to remember more than just your student loan debt and credit score before you opt for an expensive diamond. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with diamond engagement rings, but you should consider affordable options for an engagement ring for one very good reason: You don’t want to wind up with a tight budget for your actual wedding.

Engagement rings are only supposed to be temporary until the day you wed. At that point, you’ll put on your actual wedding bands. According to Longs Jewelers, the average cost of a wedding band is:

  1. $1,975 for the couple
  2. $987.50 per ring
  3. $1,417 for a bride’s wedding band
  4. $558 for the groom’s band

You not only need to save money for the wedding bands you put on each other’s fingers but the actual musical wedding band, the venue, the caterer, the florist, the photographer, and many other costs that all go into your wedding.

It’s important to check around for who has the best price on men’s wedding rings before you commit to a purchase.

The Most Popular Engagement Ring Types

It’s thought that the ancient Egyptians were the ones who created gold or silver wired circles and slipped them on the third finger of someone’s left hand. They believed that the finger was directly connected to the human heart and may have been the start of the wedding ring tradition. Wedding and engagement rings are both traditions, but various kinds and styles are popular now.

how much to spend on engagement ring diamond solitaire

1. Diamond Solitaire: Diamond engagement rings are still the go-to for many couples because a brilliant diamond will shine like no other. The solitaire style might be understated and subtle, but it will never be something simple.

2. Pave Settings: This is the way to go if you like neverending sparkle. Whether you choose colored diamonds or go with a sequence of precious white diamond stones, this luxurious style will glitter all the time. The stones are set so tightly together that it’s likely no one will ever be able to tell if white gold or yellow gold is holding them together.

3. Bostonian Rings: These are also known as three-stone rings. The center diamond is usually flanked by a pair of smaller yet still brilliant diamonds. You can mix your gemstones, however. The three stones represent the three phases of your relationship, as in what was yesterday, what is today, and what will be tomorrow.

4. Halo Rings: This is a setting where any carat diamond gets encircled and then enclosed by a group of pave diamonds. This amplifies the visual aesthetic and puts the central diamond in a particularly striking framing.

5. Bezel Setting: The bezel setting is the most secure, looks quite contemporary, and has serious practicality. That’s not to say it’s not strikingly gorgeous to look at. This all adds up to it being the second-most popular style of an engagement ring these days.

Here’s How Much To Spend On An Engagement Ring

Your options for buying an engagement ring can make your head spin fast. Do you worry about average diamond sizes? Is it better to look at lab-created diamonds or natural diamonds?

Before you get bogged down in all that, you should set a budget. That budget should be based on two things only:

  1. The expectations of the wearer
  2. Your financial situation

Wearer Expectations

If you’re planning a surprise proposal, you might not be able to directly find out the answers to all these before you pop the question. Yet, do what you can to figure out things like:

  • Their most-desired diamond shape
  • Their preferred jewelry setting color (platinum, rose gold, yellow gold, white gold)
  • The kind of setting that suits their style (halo, solitaire, vintage)
  • Any family diamonds, rings, or heirlooms that could be incorporated
  • The frequency with which they’ll show their ring off to family, acquaintances, and social media followers
  • How often are they going to wear the ring?
  • How long will they wear the ring on the days they wear it?

Your Individual Financial Situation

You don’t have to be a math genius here. Your financial situation will greatly impact how much you can spend on an engagement ring. Of course, the richest actors worldwide will spend more than someone in the middle class. You should factor in considerations such as:

  • Your current income after you subtract health care and taxes.
  • Regular expenses, including housing, utilities, vehicle payments, and insurance
  • Your overall savings
  • What you’re able to afford reasonably and can pay off in just a few months

The One-Two-Three-Month Salary Rule

If you research engagement rings and how much you should spend, you’ll come across the one-month salary rule. However, it might also be two months or even three. Even online jewelers and retailers mention it, even though it’s primarily been a sales tactic on showroom floors in stores across the country for nearly a century.

The idea is that if you don’t spend one, two, or three months of your current salary on your engagement ring, you don’t truly love your partner enough to show it.

The Origin Of The Two-Month Salary Rule

The origin of the two-month salary rule is often traced back to the 1980s when it became the norm across the industry. However, the actual start of this was in the 1930s.

De Beers is a huge diamond retailer, and they launched a very effective marketing campaign based on the idea of one month’s salary. It doubled 50 years later, and since the turn of the new millennium, it’s gone up to three months.

Know Your Engagement Ring Settings

engagement ring settings and cost

Whether you go for a natural stone or choose from the many lab-created diamonds available, you’ll have many decisions regarding settings in addition to your stone. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What metal color do you want? The traditional choice is yellow gold, but you should consider the wearer’s jewelry and wardrobe preferences.
  • How high would you like the stone to sit physically? Some brides find that highly perched stones catch or scratch things their hands are near.
  • What width of band do you need? This will impact the comfort and durability of the finger.
  • Is it going to be just a standalone piece? Some brides wear an engagement ring and a wedding band as a set, but others will eventually only wear their wedding ring alone.
  • Do you want engravings? Wide bands are much easier to customize inside.
  • Is the wearer an active person? A bride who is into athletics or manual labor should get a durable setting for securing the stones.

Manipulate The “Four Cs”

the four cs and how much to spend on an engagement ring

The quality of any diamond, whether it’s a natural diamond, lab-created diamond, or lab-grown diamond, is going to be determined by what is known as the “Four Cs”:

  1. Carat: The diamond’s weight.
  2. Clarity: The cleanliness of the diamond in terms of blemishes and inclusions.
  3. Color: The more colorless a diamond is, the higher its value.
  4. Cut: The caliber of the facets, proportions, finishing details, and angles.

Each of the four categories has industry scales and rankings for each factor. But, of course, the best grades cost the most, so if you’re looking to save money, just stepping down one grade or two can bring down the price a lot without sacrificing a lot in terms of how the diamond looks.

Making Your Engagement Ring Purchase More Affordable

Engagement rings can be costly, especially if you purchase a natural diamond. However, there are many ways of making it more affordable.

Minimum and Maximum Ring Budget

Rather than settle on a firm and specific number before shopping for an engagement ring, you might want to consider a budget range:

  • Minimum Range: If you’re open to a non-diamond ring, you should factor in at least $600. This might get you a solitaire ring using a white gold setting for a sapphire or moissanite stone. A good-caliber diamond ring will likely set you back at least $900.
  • Maximum Range: In terms of a maximum range, you need to consider one of two possibilities, and they both, unfortunately, revolve around the potential loss of the ring. How much would you be willing to spend to replace it? Despite the prevalence of the three-month rule, many buyers find they wouldn’t be able to stomach more than losing six weeks of salary to replace a ring. Of course, getting an insurance policy along with the ring is the better option.

How Much Is Too Much To Spend On An Engagement Ring?

In regards to spending too much, there are three ceilings you might want to keep in mind:

1. You Can’t Afford It: Just because your love for your partner is unbounded doesn’t mean your bank account is unlimited. You’ll need to keep yourself in check here.

2. You Can’t Replace It: As mentioned earlier, how much would you be willing to spend with or without insurance to replace a potentially lost ring?

3. You Would Risk Alienating people: Going too far high in price for an engagement ring might offend some people. Your partner might not even want to wear something they think is too much. Also, don’t eat into your eventual wedding budget.

Engagement Ring Calculators

Online websites feature a number of engagement ring calculators you might use to determine a reasonable price for what you want to spend based on what you’re looking for and how much money you have to spend on a ring.

These calculators have several advantages in that you can get to know your options and preferences before seeing what’s on the market. However, they can also have some downsides.

For example, some of them might be featured on seller websites that nudge you toward their inventory, whereas a neutral source could serve you better. Also, not all calculators let you play around with the four Cs to find real value that still looks great.

Where Can I Buy Affordable Engagement Rings?

affordable engagement rings

If the only jewelry store you know of is in a local shopping mall, there’s nothing wrong with starting your window shopping there. Just make sure you don’t end your engagement ring hunting with that first stop. Seeing actual options with your own eyes is valuable, and the staff knows plenty of things you can learn from them.

However, indoor mall jewelry stores are likely to be the most expensive place you can go.

Places in strip malls are often cheaper because their overhead costs are lower. Family jewelers can be even more affordable. It’s worth taking a day to drive around and get price quotes for the same size and style ring at a minimum of three different places to find the most economical options in your area.

Finding A Cheaper Diamond Online

An online retailer doesn’t have the overhead expenses that brick-and-mortar retailers do. You might even get something tax-free, which can add up, considering the cost involved. Just make sure you only get a GIA-certified diamond. They do the strictest certificates in the diamond industry.

Stones with non-GIA certification can still be lovely, but you won’t have peace of mind knowing you got the best value or quality.

Engagement Ring Budgets And How To Save Up

budgeting for an engagement ring

Financing is usually an option, but saving up money in advance is better. As a result, you might know your engagement ring budget months before actually spending it. That’s a smart move because it gives you a chance to save up the money.

Even if you decide to pay one month of salary on your engagement ring, you probably can’t afford to spend it all in one month. You have other bills.

Once you know your budget, divide it by how much discretionary income you have to save every month. That will tell you how many months it will take to save the money. Depending on how much you’re spending, you might want to save it in a high-interest checking or savings account online, so it accrues some money along the way. A money market account might also work.

Finally, look into cash-back reward cards, and then use one for everything, and possibly you can save up even more.

Beauty On A Budget: Engagement Ring Tips

Balancing big dreams with your tight budget might seem impossible, but it isn’t. One option is just delaying the proposal until you’re able to afford what you want, but there are other things you can do:

  • Think about diamond alternatives.
  • Lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural but around 30% cheaper.
  • Imitation diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, aren’t as durable as natural diamonds. Still, if your engagement ring isn’t going to be a lifetime piece, that might be a way to save money.
  • Do a ring without stones for a unique style.
  • Secondhand rings can deliver a diamond with savings through consignment stores, Etsy, pawnshops, and eBay.
  • Family rings prioritize heritage over a big receipt.
  • Shopping with an online jeweler means saving money, having no sales pressure, lots of options, an extensive selection, and simple customization.
  • Size your diamond down. A 0.95-carat diamond looks like a full-carat stone to the untrained eye, but it costs 25% less sometimes.
  • Buy a starter ring you enhance later.
  • Work with a jeweler who is more interested in finding you value than their commission.

Unconventional Options

morganite is a cheaper option than a diamond

The traditional engagement ring is studded with a diamond, but this is far from your only option. Whether you want to save money or do something distinct, you have options.

Ditch The Diamond

Ditching the diamond for another gemstone should save you money. However, there can be other concerns. Durability is one thing that makes diamonds so precious. Rubies and sapphires are close to diamonds on the Mohs Hardness Scale, followed by aquamarines and emeralds. Pearls are lower. The softer a stone is, the more likely it is to break.

The Antique Route

It is usually considered vintage if a ring is over 20 years old. However, the jewelry industry overuses the term. Antique rings are more than a century old. You can usually find vintage jewelry through estate sales, closing out someone’s property after their death.

Whether it’s vintage or antique, an older ring can offer you many advantages, including:

  • Handcrafted jewelry from before machine-made rings
  • Knowing that reusing an older diamond avoids the ecological impact of modern mining
  • The resale value is higher for older pieces.
  • Creativity and style make older rings distinct.

What If I Can’t Afford To Buy An Engagement Ring?

If it’s your first time trying to buy anyone a ring, you might feel like you’re in over your head. There are options, however. Looking online can find you bargains, especially if you buy from a state with no sales tax outside its boundaries. You might even find international options with low import fees.

Using a shop that offers to finance is also another route you can take to minimize the impact of the price tag. Just make sure the interest and repayment terms make sense for your budget and financial situation.

Using alternative choices for the stones also helps. For example, Moissanite stones look almost like diamonds to most people but at a fraction of the price. Also, going for a cluster design of smaller diamonds lets you use cheaper stones.

Remember that not all partners want rings with big diamonds. A more minimal and discrete aesthetic is preferred by many. You can always get a bigger diamond for the actual wedding ring. Round-cut diamonds are visually tricky in a good way, as they look larger than they are. A diamond cut with more surfaces will reflect more light from all angles.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about engagement rings.

Is Spending $2000 For An Engagement Ring Cheap?

Spending two grand on an engagement ring is definitely not cheap. But, shop right, and you’ll find something positively stunning. The setting and diamond cut go a long way in determining how far your money goes.

Is $10k Too Much For An Engagement Ring?

Do not get a preset ring if you have this much to spend. Instead, buy the diamond first and then handle the setting as a separate matter. Whether or not it’s too much honestly depends on your finances. If it’s more than six weeks of your regular salary, it might be going overboard.

Is Spending $20,000 On An Engagement Ring Too Much Money?

Consider your income and the one-two-three-month rule the diamond industry loves:

  • If you make $120,000, one month is $12,000, and $20K would be too much.
  • Two months would be $24,000, and $20K is okay.
  • Three months is $36,000, and $20K is OK.

It’s up to your comfort level and math. 

What Is The Average Engagement Ring Price In Canada?

The average engagement ring in Canada costs $3,500 in national currency. The average Canadian earns $55,000 a year, so they’re not even spending enough to meet the one-month rule.

What Is The Average Engagement Ring Carat?

Country and demographics usually sway the carat size of an engagement ring. For example, it’s typically 1 carat in America, but it’s half that for most of Europe. Also, older shoppers tend to go for bigger diamonds since they’ve had more time to save or increase their income.