January 12, 2021

How Much to Spend on a Wedding Ring

Read more about Diamonds
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The average cost of a engagement ring is $7,500. Using the traditional 2 months' salary rule, if you make $48,000 a year, you should spend $8,000. But is this reasonable? Let's discuss.

Being in love and looking forward to marriage is an exciting time! But there are also some big decisions to make.

Inevitably, there will come a time when you start to wonder, "How much should I spend on the ring?"

This is one of the biggest financial decisions of your new joint lives. An engagement ring is a special gift that signifies the beginning of your new future together.

Therefore, it makes sense to talk about this together with your future spouse. The ring should ultimately be a gift you're both happy with.

In this article, we'll help you figure out how much to spend on a ring that feels right for you.

Wedding Ring vs Engagement Ring: An engagement ring is given at the time of proposal. It's a special gift to show commitment and promise of marriage. Wedding rings are exchanged by both the bride and groom at the wedding ceremony. They're a symbol of unity and a new life together.

Read more about the difference in this detailed article.

Average Engagement Ring Cost

In 2019, Americans spent an average of $7,750 on an engagement ring. This is an increase from the $6,163 average spent in 2017. The average center stone size for an engagement ring is between 0.8 and 1.2 carats.

Millennials age 18-34 spend an average of just over $3,000 on an engagement ring, according to a TD Bank survey.

If the average sounds too high to you, don't free pressured to match it. You shouldn't base your budget on what others spend.

Stay through the end for practical tips on how to get an impressive-looking diamond without breaking the bank.

What are you budgeting for an engagement ring?

Average Wedding Ring Cost

The average cost for a woman's wedding ring is $1,126. For grooms, the average wedding ring costs less at $491 because men's bands are simpler.[1]

Compared to the engagement ring, the bride's wedding ring usually costs less because it doesn't have a large center diamond.

Wedding rings are usually a joint financial decision since couples shop for them together.

Engagement Ring Cost Myths

Here are some common myths when it comes to shopping for an engagement ring.

  • Myth #1: Spend 2 months' salary
    The biggest myth is the old rule that an engagement ring should cost 2 months' worth of your salary. This means that if you earn $60,000 a year, then you should spend $10,000 on the ring.

    Let's toss that rule.

    In reality, brides don't expect a ring to cost that much.

    In a CreditDonkey survey, 36% of women think an engagement ring should cost less than $1,000. Three in 5 women don't expect a ring over $3,000. And only about 19% of people think the ring should cost over $5,000. [2]

    And yet, the national average spent is $7,750 - way over what people actually think it should cost.

    This is why it's important to talk about expectations and budgets before buying a ring. You may be surprised at her thoughts.

  • Myth #2: The bigger the better
    There's some pressure in society to show off a big ring. A lot of people think the bigger the diamond, the deeper the man's love.

    This couldn't be further from the truth. In our survey, a whopping 86% of women say that the quality of a diamond is more important than the size. And in a Brilliant Earth study, only 6% of women say diamond carat size is most important. [3]

    So don't just buy the largest diamond within your budget. Instead, carefully choose a higher quality stone. It'll be more sparkly and beautiful, even if it's smaller.

  • Myth #3: The ring needs to be a surprise
    Sure, it's romantic to think of surprising her with a beautiful ring completely out of the blue.

    Unless you REALLY know her style, you may be stumped at what she likes. Most women already have an idea of the kind of engagement ring they want. And it could be disappointing to get something else.

    7 in 10 brides say they were involved in some way in picking out their engagement ring. [4] If you're in a serious, committed relationship, then it's perfectly natural to talk about marriage and the ring.

    You'll be glad to know what kind of ring she wants instead of just guessing. This also gives you a chance to talk about the engagement ring budget and decide on something together.

How many months salary do you plan to spend on an engagement ring?

Engagement Ring Budgets

The first step is to establish a budget that you are comfortable with. How much you can spend depends on your overall financial situation. You can't just purely go off of income alone.

Your budget should be something you can reasonably afford without going into debt. To come up with a budget that works for you, consider:

  • Your current income
  • Your expenses (rent, bills, food costs, etc.)
  • How much debt you have
  • How much savings you already have
  • Will you have a big wedding and/or honeymoon?

For example, Groom A makes a good income of $6,000 a month. But he has a lot of student loan debt and other financial obligations. Maybe he can only afford a smaller ring budget.

Groom B has a more modest income of $3,000 a month. But he's completely debt free, has fewer monthly expenses, and already has thousands saved. So he can actually afford a bigger ring budget than Groom A.

Your budget will be a unique number based on your own situation.

How Much to Spend on a Diamond Ring?

We can't tell you what you should spend. But here's an engagement ring calculator to help you figure out a realistic budget based on your lifestyle and financial situation.

But note that this is to be used as a guideline only.

Engagement Ring Calculator


2. What is your lifestyle?


3. How much credit card debt do you have?




4. How much savings do you already have?




5. How often do you take vacations?



What if I Can't Afford to Buy a Ring?

The simple answer is to wait and save up until you can afford a ring. It's best to buy a ring with cash you have.

But, we understand that you may not want to wait to propose. It could take over a year to save enough to buy the ring you want to give her. And you may not want to wait that long.

In this case, you have some options:

  • Finance the purchase. This could be a good option to pay monthly instead of having a large lump-sum payment. But make sure you have a solid plan to pay it back by the end of the term.

    Read more on how to finance an engagement ring the smart way.

  • Buy a cheaper "starter" ring. It's OK to buy a smaller diamond to start. A lot of jewelers have a lifetime diamond upgrade program. This lets you trade up your diamond for a bigger one in the future when you're more financially stable.

  • Consider a diamond alternative. Moissanite gemstones are a beautiful alternative for those on a budget. They look like diamonds and they are a lot cheaper. A good quality. 1 carat diamond costs $5,000. But a 1 carat moissanite costs only $500.

    For an even cheaper alternative, consider cubic zirconia. Based on our survey, 44% of women don't care if it's a fake ring.

  • Buy a vintage ring. This is a great option if your girl has more unique tastes. You can find hundreds of beautiful, one-of-a-kind rings for less than $1,000 on Etsy.

How Much Is Too Much to Spend?

As a general rule of thumb, you are spending too much if you're going into debt to buy the engagement ring.

Don't rack up a ton of credit card debt that you can't pay back. If you are financing the ring, make sure you can comfortably make the monthly payments.

If you do have cash saved, don't deplete your entire savings account just to buy the ring. You still need cash savings for emergencies and other things.

Ultimately, what is "too much" to you is a very personal choice. Only you know what you can afford. Some people barely blink an eye at spending $25,000 on a ring. And some people may struggle to save up $2,000.

Best Ways to Save Money on an Engagement Ring

Now we'll go over some of the best ways you can cut down on engagement ring costs, and not sacrifice the quality and beauty of the ring.

1. Buy an Engagement Ring Online

We know. It's a crazy idea to make such a major purchase online. But hear us out.

Jeweler markup has the single biggest impact on diamond prices.

Stores with a physical location need to pay for a lot of overhead (the store itself, staff, etc., not to mention commission to salespeople). So these costs are passed on to you. Online retailers have less overhead, so they can sell their diamonds at closer to wholesale prices.

In our market research, we found that online stores (such as Blue Nile and James Allen) offer pricing 32% to 50% cheaper than big-box jewelry stores (like Kay Jewelers and Zales).

Buying online is not as crazy as it sounds as long as you go to a reputable site. James Allen and Blue Nile both have enlarged HD videos of the diamonds so you can see exactly what the stones look like. It's also less stressful to shop from the comfort of home.

Don't Get Ripped Off. Compare Diamond Prices Online

2. Consider a Lab Diamond

Lab diamonds are becoming more and more popular for engagement rings. Not only are they cheaper, they're also eco-conscious.

Lab created diamonds are the same as real diamonds with the same carbon structures. It's just that the process is sped up in a controlled lab environment. Even gemologists can't tell the difference.

Because they can be made quickly in a lab, lab diamonds can be 30-50% less than a real diamond of the same specs.

In our survey, 47% of women don't care if a diamond is natural or lab created. If you have a discussion with your partner and you're both on the same page, you could be saving major bucks.

3. Save on Color and Clarity

It's important to understand the 4Cs of a diamond: carat, cut, color, and clarity. These all affect how much a diamond costs. We won't go into all the details here, but you can learn about them in this detailed guide.

Of the 4Cs, color and clarity are not as important. These are usually not seen by the naked eye, so you don't need to spend so much on these features.

Instead, you only need a diamond that looks white and has no visible flaws. For best value, we recommend H color and VS2 clarity. You'll get more bang for your buck, and the diamond will still be beautiful.

It's most important to focus on diamond cut. This is what makes a diamond beautiful and sparkly.

4. Don't Buy a Full Carat

A lot of people want to hit that full 1-carat mark. But you can save 20% if you buy a 0.9 carat diamond instead. Nobody will be able to tell the size difference.

The size difference between a 1 carat and 0.9 carat diamond is only 0.2 mm (equivalent to the thickness of a piece of paper). So don't spend the money on something you can't even see.

The same is true with half carats (like 0.5, 1.5, etc.). Whole and half carat diamonds will jump significantly in price just because it sounds good to hit these marks. It's really nothing but an ego trip.

5. Consider an Alternative Shape

Round diamonds are the most popular shape. Because of the demand, round diamonds are also the most expensive.

If your girl has more unique tastes, consider another diamond shape. Other shapes are 20-40% cheaper than round diamonds. And her ring will also stand out more.

Oval diamonds are a great choice for a more modern twist on the classic round. While emerald or asscher diamonds are great for vintage lovers. If she's not set on round, you have a lot of options to save here.

Bottom Line

Don't listen to myths like the De Beers 2-month salary rule or be influenced by how much people spend on average. Establish your own engagement ring budget that you can comfortably afford.

It's best to have a talk with your future bride to understand expectations. It's important to know what she wants. And then you can discuss how you can accommodate that within your budget. Hopefully, this way, everyone will be happy.

Remember that you don't need to buy something big and expensive right away. You can always buy a cheaper ring first and upgrade later when you're more financially able.

References

  1. ^ Engagement Ring Statistics, Retrieved 1/8/2021
  2. ^ CreditDonkey, Survey: Diamond Engagement Rings, Retrieved 12/20/2020
  3. ^ Brilliant Earth, An Analysis of Engagement Ring Preferences, Retrieved 12/20/2020
  4. ^ The Knot, 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, Retrieved 12/20/2020

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Engagement Ring Calculator

If you recently decided to propose to your girlfriend, there may be a lot of thoughts and emotions running through your head.
What are you budgeting for an engagement ring?
14% Under $1000
45% $1000 to $5000
23% $6000 to $10,000
17% $10,000+
Source: CreditDonkey. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
How many months salary do you plan to spend on an engagement ring?
23% Less than 1 month salary
25% 1 month salary
32% 2 months salary
13% 3 months salary
8% More than 3 months salary
Source: CreditDonkey poll of 1,538 respondents. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
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Yellow Diamond

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