How Much Should you Spend on an Engagement Ring
A guide to how much your engagement ring should cost depending on your style
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A guide to how much your engagement ring should cost depending on your style
Figuring out how much to spend on your engagement ring is a very personal question. Don’t buy into the marketing hoopla that pressures you to spend more money than you were planning on. Spending two (or three) months salary is nothing more than a marketing campaign created by the diamond industry. Instead, focus on your budget and how to get the ring you want.
Preparing for your proposal is an exciting time, and you want a beautiful ring to make it all happen (check out our tips on how to choose one). It’s true that an engagement ring is one of the most special gifts you’ll ever buy. It symbolizes your love and your commitment to a life together. If you’re wondering, “How much should I spend on an engagement ring?,” you’ll find plenty of helpful insight in this article.
How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
How much should an engagement ring cost?
The “2 month salary rule” for buying an engagement ring
How to set your engagement ring budget
The difference in price between a setting and a center stone
Financing options for engagement rings
Where to buy a diamond engagement ring
How to cut engagement ring costs
Bottom line recommendation
How much you should spend on an engagement ring should be determined by looking at your financial situation, the desires and style of your fiance-to-bé as well as the cost of the diamond that fits that ring style. You should not follow certain rules, like spending two month’s salary, because those “rules” are often created by diamond marketers and sellers.
For the best value and the most beauty for your diamond, purchase your ring from a reputable online jeweler like James Allen or Blue Nile. You’ll be able to find a stunning diamond engagement ring like this 1.00 carat princess cut in a white gold pavé setting from James Allen or a 1.50 ct round cut in a WG double halo setting from Blue Nile at excellent prices. And if you are on the lower end of the budget, consider maximizing value with a lab-grown diamond like this gorgeous one from James Allen.
Although there’s no precise average amount spent, most surveys of engagement ring buyers tend to produce an average in the $5,000 to $7,500+ range.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to spend $5,000+ on an engagement ring. In reality, the average engagement ring cost is pushed upwards by big spenders, including people who spend $20,000 or more on their ring.
According to the NY Times, which quoted a Morning Consult survey, the median amount that’s spent on an engagement ring is about $1,900, with most couples spending less than $3,000 for their ring. You can look at our guide for $2500 engagement rings (and under) to get inspired.
There’s also a generational gap when it comes to how much people spend on a ring. Although the average amount spent is over $5,000, most millennials spend an average of $3,000 for an engagement ring.
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Although these figures can be useful as a ballpark range, we don’t recommend setting a budget for your fiancé-to-be’s engagement ring by looking at what other people spend. Instead, it’s best to look at personal factors, from your personal financial situation fiancé-to-be’s expectations and the style of ring you think she will like most.
We’ve covered these factors, and more, in detail below.
The average engagement ring cost can vary dramatically depending on the type of diamond and setting you’d like.
As we mentioned above, the average engagement ring cost in the United States is about $6,350. However, this is skewed by people spending north of $50,000. Once these are removed from the equation, the average couple spends about $1,000 to $5,000 (check out our guide for $3000 to $5000 rings).
This average can also vary depending on where you live. In general, those who reside in more expensive cities like New York City (you can check out our NYC guide) or Los Angeles (see our LA review) will likely spend more on a ring than those in less expensive cities.
To provide an example of how much prices can vary based on the type of diamond and setting you choose, you can find a stunning 1ct center stone like this from James Allen for $2,680 (for a solitaire setting for $300-$600) or a beautiful 3ct diamond like this one from James Allen for $36,390 (for a pavé setting for around $1,500).
While it can be interesting to learn about the average amount spent on an engagement ring by others, remember to stick to your own situation and not get caught up in comparing yourself to others.
There’s no specific amount that a ring is supposed to cost. Everyone is different, meaning that your fiancé-to-be’s tastes and expectations could be totally different from those of another person.
By shopping around with reputable vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile, you can get a sense of the prices for rings that meet your requirements. A brick and mortar store will always be more expensive than what you can find online.
For help estimating the cost of the engagement ring, try our diamond price calculator.
You may have heard that the rule of thumb on how much to spend on your ring, you need to look at how much money you make. More specifically, you might have read somewhere that you should spend two months of your salary on your fiancé-to-be’s ring.
This guideline, known as the “two months rule” or “engagement ring price rule,” began as a very crafty advertising campaign by the diamond industry. In fact, the marketing campaign recently switched to 3 months’ salary.
In the 1980s, diamond marketers, specifically the gigantic international diamond corporation De Beers, launched targeted ad campaigns—specifically one that suggests you should spend two months’ worth of your gross income on an engagement ring.
The original 2 month salary rule, which you can find here, was designed to take advantage of men’s collective insecurities. It essentially states that buying a large diamond ring will keep other men away from your fiancé-to-be and that spending two months of income “won’t break [the] budget.”
These ad campaigns were intended to increase the amount of money the average person spent on a diamond, thus increasing the company’s revenue. The entire campaign and the two-month rule it spawned were based on nothing more than driving sales for diamond manufacturers.
Like most “rules” established by marketers, you can safely ignore the old engagement ring price rule when you’re shopping for a diamond ring.
Beyond the fact that it was started by marketers, there are lots of problems with the two months rule for buying an engagement ring.
Gross income doesn’t take into account your taxes and health care costs. It doesn’t factor in any debt or student loans. And although it should go without saying, the size and price of a diamond don’t equate to the amount of love you have for someone (you can also check what the average diamond size people purchase is here).
So, how many months worth of your salary should you spend on an engagement ring? However much you feel is appropriate. This is your decision, not a marketing department’s decision, and you ultimately know your fiancé-to-be and their needs better than anyone else.
With this said, there are a few factors that you should look at before you start engagement ring shopping. We’ve listed these below, along with how each factor should determine the amount you set aside for the wedding ring.
As someone who likes to do extensive research before making a decision, I found The Diamond Pro website to be a very valuable resource. In addition to the many great articles and reviews they have, the ability to email specific questions about products/companies they did not review was very helpful. I would definitely recommend to a friend.…see more
Typically, the center stone costs 75% of your overall budget, the rest going towards your ring cost. Most popular setting styles cost between $300 and $1,500. If you are spending less than $3,000, you may want to purchase a simple solitaire setting and devote the bulk of your budget towards the center stone. You can always change the setting at a later date (potential anniversary gift idea for the future).
An engagement ring represents your love and commitment—and your investment in the future. The ring you give your soon-to-be fiancé does indeed matter.
Many women have dreamed about their proposal and ring since they were a child. Choosing a ring that meets their expectations is important—ensuring your special moment is nothing less than spectacular. If you feel comfortable, have an open and honest conversation together about finances and ring expectations. It’s usually helpful to be on the same page, and understand how you each feel about spending money on jewelry.
When it comes to ring expectations, consider the following:
If you don’t know the details on the style of ring or diamond they desire, try to have a family member or close friend find out for you. When in doubt, look at several options and listen to your intuition.
Remember that you’re not just planning for a beautiful engagement, but a wedding (check out the prices of wedding bands in our guide so you have a better idea about what is coming) and a future together, too. You’ll want to think about what you can reasonably afford—setting you up for the most favorable financial position for your marriage.
You want to make sure you don’t go into a lot of debt to purchase a ring. Think about the following when it comes to your financial situation:
With these factors in mind, estimate how much you can reasonably spend on an engagement ring. You want to be able to purchase a ring without financing. If you do need to borrow some money or pay with a credit card, be sure you can pay off the amount in a couple of months.
Engagement Ring Inspiration (Click a Ring for More Information)
The size of the ring you buy doesn’t equal the size of your love. An expensive ring doesn’t mean you’re more thoughtful. You can choose a stunning engagement ring—whether it’s a beautiful 0.90ct center stone in a vintage setting or a 2 ct round diamond in a halo setting. There are plenty of options to get the ring you want for less than what you would expect.
The thoughtfulness you put into designing a ring for your special someone will be noticed—no matter the carat weight or how large your budget is. Taking the time and effort to choose the most beautiful, personalized ring will pay off far more than anything else.
Also, eye-cleanliness is paramount. Even though this article is about the whole ring price, eye-cleanliness is an important part of picking out a diamond for the ring. In our opinion, a consumer’s goal should be to find the cheapest (in regards to clarity; other factors matter as well) “eye-clean” diamond you can find. We use “eye-clean” to describe diamonds that may have inclusions if you look at them with a magnifying glass (or microscope or loupe), but the typical person can’t see the inclusion with their naked eye.
We have recently developed Ringo, a patented artificial intelligence model, that can examine videos of diamonds and determine if they are eye-clean. Ringo will also filter for other parameters like making sure the diamond is well-cut, doesn’t have fluorescence issues and will match the style setting you choose.
Financing options are available to help fund your ring purchase, though we don’t always recommend them.
If you don’t qualify for the financing at Blue Nile or James Allen, you should reconsider the ring you’re planning to purchase. Going with a worse value only because they offer financing is not a smart decision when it comes to selecting a diamond.
Finding an exceptional ring starts with finding an exceptional diamond jeweler. You want to purchase your ring from a dealer you can trust: one that offers well-cut diamonds at excellent prices. Also, being able to design your own engagement ring can save you a lot.
Throughout our years of experience, we’ve vetted hundreds of diamond jewelers. We have a consistent pulse on the retailers you can trust.
For the best diamond cuts at an exceptional value, we recommend:
James Allen, and online jeweler, focuses on the customer experience and offers appealing prices. Their website is equipped with incredible diamond imagery and each diamond comes with a high-quality certification (GIA & AGS). Read our James Allen review.
Blue Nile maintains the largest online inventory of diamonds and settings, while emphasizing remarkable diamond and jewelry quality. All diamonds come with high-quality certification (GIA). Check out our Blue Nile review.
Leibish & Co. is our recommended retailer for fancy color diamonds and gemstone rings. A colored gemstone, like a sapphire or ruby, is a beautiful, lower cost alternative to a diamond. Leibish & Co. also maintains a large collection of fancy color diamonds like purple diamonds and canary yellow diamonds. Gemstones tend to be less expensive than diamonds, while most colored diamonds are more expensive than white, colorless diamonds. You can read our full review of Leibish & Co. here.
Brian Gavin Diamonds offers super-ideal cuts with the “Brian Gavin Signature” Hearts & Arrows collection. This jeweler is known for selling the best-cut diamonds—all of which have a high-quality certificate from GIA or AGS. Learn more about Brian Gavin in our full review.
Our goal is for you to find the most exceptional diamond ring at a price that’s within your budget. Don’t forget that you don’t need to break the bank in order to get what you want and it’s possible to even get a gorgeous $1k diamond ring. We want you to spend in the areas that greatly impact a diamond’s beauty and scale back in the areas that will go unnoticed (also check which shape is most affordable).
To find the most beautiful engagement ring within your budget, follow these expert recommendations and review our additional Diamond Pro resources:
Certifications – We strongly recommend only looking at diamonds with a GIA certificate. If a seller is suggesting you purchase a diamond with a different certificate, it’s best to steer clear. No matter what the report states, the actual quality of the diamond is far less than what they’re claiming.
Diamond shape – Choosing your diamond shape is dependent on what’s most appealing to you and the wearer. The shape is usually decided based on personal preference.
Diamond carat weight – Carat weight is not the same as size. For example, a 1 ct diamond refers to the weight of the diamond only. How large a diamond appears depends on how it’s cut and its shape.
Diamond cut – Only consider diamonds with an ideal cut or an Excellent grade on the GIA scale. An exceptionally cut diamond will maximize the fire and brilliance of the diamond more than any other factor.
Diamond clarity chart – Search for diamonds with VS1 and VS2 clarity grades. VS1 and VS2 diamonds offer the greatest value for what can be seen with the naked eye. Blemishes and inclusions will be unnoticeable.
Diamond color scale – Consider diamonds that are graded in the nearly colorless range of G to I. These diamonds will appear just as clear as diamonds in the D to F range but will cost much less.
Nobody else should be telling you what to spend on your engagement ring. That is between you and your partner. The average ring costs about $5,000, but the median ring cost is closer to $2,500. You can buy a stunning ring for $100,000 and a beautiful ring for $1,000
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