How Much Money Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Wedding traditions change with each generation, and that includes the traditions for buying an engagement ring. Engagement rings didn’t become popular in the U.S. until the 1940s, and even then, they were not always thought of as necessary for a marriage proposal. Today, most couples consider the ring to be an important part of their journey together.

How Much Should it Cost?

Forget about the old rule of spending three month’s salary on a ring. Modern couples are taking a more practical approach to ring budgeting. It is estimated that less than half of millennial couples spend even two month’s salary on the purchase.  Instead, they’re placing more importance on saving for a down payment on a home or paying off student loans.  Other factors that influence price include:

  • Where you live – prices vary across the country as do popular ring styles and sizes
  • Wedding and honeymoon expenses
  • Current income
  • Savings and other personal expenses

Setting a comfortable budget for the proposer, or the couple, is what’s trending today, not simply spending a pre-set amount based on outdated ideals.

A study by The Knot found that the average amount spent on an engagement ring in the U.S. is $5,500, but that 25% of respondents planned on spending less than $3,000, and 11% purchased a ring for under $1,000.

The location also determines how much people spend on an engagement ring. Not only do costs vary by region, but so do expectations and customs.

While it’s not necessary to accrue major debt in order to buy a ring, you also don’t want to skimp. Remember, engagement rings are meant to be worn and seen by your beloved every day of their lives. You certainly want them to be happy with the purchase. That is one reason why modern couples are placing more emphasis on personalization than cost.  Perhaps your significant other would prefer a vintage or heirloom ring, or perhaps they prefer a stone other than a traditional white diamond.  All types of precious gems and metals are used to make engagement rings today.

Stretching Your Engagement Ring Budget

No matter how much you decide to spend, you want to get the most ring for your money. Before making a final decision, consider the following tips for getting the biggest bang for your bucks.

Consider the Diamond

Giving up just a fraction of carat size can have a dramatic effect on your budget. To the naked eye, a 0.97-carat diamond looks identical to a full 1.0-carat diamond, but the smaller stone comes with a considerably smaller price tag. Ask your jeweler about “under-sized” diamonds and take advantage of the savings.

Make the Most of Multiple-Stone Centers

One jewelry trend that is helping buyers stretch their ring budget is the use of multiple small stones in the center of a ring instead of one large solitaire. To the common eye, a cluster of small stones actually refracts more light—and may look just as impressive as a single stone. Another way to make the most of smaller diamonds is by using them to surround a modestly sized center solitaire. Side and/or surrounding stones give the illusion of a larger center diamond without a larger price.  

Don't Be Afraid to Break with Tradition

Couples are waiting longer to get married. They have more life experience and a more fully-formed idea of what they like and don’t like.  Diamonds will always dazzle, but many women prefer something different. If your partner would rather have a ruby, pearl, or sapphire engagement ring, don’t let the gold and diamond solitaire stereotype stand in your way.  There is a world of stunning shapes, settings, stones, colors, and sizes available, many of which are much more affordable than the traditional diamond ring.

Shop Online for Engagement Rings

It may not be as romantic as surprising your partner with a trip to the jewelry store, but shopping online can save a lot of money for the honeymoon fund. The average cost of wedding jewelry at an online retailer is often comparable or sometimes even less than at your local jeweler.  You’ll also find a larger selection of loose stones and settings when you shop online. Some online stores have a setting-design feature to help shoppers create a one-of-a-kind ring or a virtual shopping assistant to provide live assistance to those who need it.

Finding a Reputable Online Jeweler

There are risks to online jewelry shopping as well as benefits. As with any big purchase, do your research and comparison shopping. A reputable online jeweler like Diamond Source NYC should be happy to take the time to answer your questions and guide you through the ring-selection process. Every diamond should come with GIA certification and a clear return policy. Contact the helpful jewelry professionals at Diamond Source NYC and let us help you find the perfect ring for your perfect person.