How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

by | Oct 1, 2019

How much to spend on an engagement ring is largely a personal decision and depends on your budget, the personal significance of the ring, and other wedding-related costs. Don’t cave in to societal pressures. Know your limits when it comes to spending, and what the expectations are. 

You’ve seen the commercials with the tagline emblazoned across the TV screen: Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend. While this might be true depending on whom you ask, the simple fact remains: Buying an engagement ring ain’t cheap. If you’re trying to have an affordable wedding, rings are a major consideration. 

If you’re planning to get hitched in the near future, an important consideration is how much to shell out on an engagement ring. As far as the costs of getting married go, an engagement ring ranks right up there alongside the wedding and honeymoon. 

We’ll go over how much to spend on an engagement ring versus a wedding ring, and what factors should weigh in with this big decision: 


How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost?


First, let’s look at the average cost, shall we? According to the The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,680. So you know that myth that you should spend three-months’ salary on an engagement ring? You can toss that rule out the door.

After all, it seems a bit ludicrous to base your engagement ring budget on your salary. Based on that outdated rule, if you’re raking in $25,000 a year, you’d be expected to fork over $6,250 for an engagement ring. Earn $150,000 annually? Then the engagement ring cost would be a staggering $37,500. No thanks. 

What more realistic? It turns out it’s close to two-weeks’ pay before taxes, or 4 percent of one’s income, according to a recent online poll by The Upshot by Morning Consult.

Now that you know the average cost of an engagement ring, how much are you supposed to spend on a wedding ring? Typically, a wedding ring costs less than an engagement ring. 


What Affects the Cost?

While there are a handful of factors that impact the cost of a wedding ring, here are the parts that affect it the most: 

Metal Weight: While wedding bands might be the same size, they might have different weights. 

Center Stone: The type of stone and weight determine the lion’s share of an engagement ring. Note that the carat of a diamond has to do with its weight, and not its size. Besides the carat weight, here’s what also impacts the price of a diamond: the cut, clarity, color, and shape.

Finishing Touches: Extra flourishes can also affect the cost of your ring. For instance, finishing touches such a milgrain, which is an embellishment made up of tiny metal beads; an elaborate filigree design; a matte finish; hammered surface, all can add to the cost of your engagement ring. A personalized engraving, which can include a quote, saying or symbol also ramps up the cost. 


Set a Budget 

Whether you’re spending $1,000 or $20,000, the most important thing is to set a budget. Start by looking at when you’d ideally like to have that money saved. The best thing to do is to squirrel away your beans until you have enough to purchase it in full. Some jewelers might offer a repayment plan where you pay in installments. However, see if you’ll need to pay any interest, or if there’s a no-interest period.

It might help to look at the entire costs of getting married. That’s right, everything from the wedding, honeymoon, bachelorette and bachelor parties down to the engagement party. Looking further ahead, could you Then, figure how much you can reasonably afford to spend on an engagement ring. 

Look at the different options for engagement rings. You can order a custom 3-D ring on Etsy, reset your grandma’s ring, or purchase one from a fancy, luxury jeweler. The devil is in the details, so pore closely at all the details of a diamond ring.


Look for Ways to Save

So how to save on an engagement ring? You don’t necessarily have to skimp on the quality or go for the second-best option. Here are a few ways how: 

Consider a halo setting. A halo setting, which is a bunch of smaller stones around the center stone, will make the center stone look larger.

Go for a minimal setting. A prong setting, which sets the stone like a tripod rather than a ring that circles around the ring, will be less expensive. 

Buy online. Usually an online retailer will offer discounts and be less-expensive than from purchasing a ring from a brick-and-mortar jewelry store. However, make sure it’s a reputable jeweler, and carefully comb over the fine print to review return policies.

Go for a smaller carat. When diamond-shopping, you’ve probably heard of the four C’s: carat, cut, clarity, and color. Whereas the cut, clarity and color all contribute to the look and “sparkle” of a diamond, going for a diamond with a smaller carat most likely won’t affect its overall aesthetic. 

Buy the wedding ring and engagement ring at the same time. If you can swing it financially, buy the wedding ring and the engagement ring as a set. You could strike a better deal than buying just the engagement ring.


It’s a Personal Choice 

How much to spend on an engagement ring is a personal decision – just like your wedding theme, your guest list, and your wedding decorations. Don’t cave in to societal pressures. Know your limits when it comes to spending, and what the expectations are. How much do you and your significant value the engagement ring? Understanding how much meaning it bears will certainly help you gauge how much you might want to spend.

Plus, one person’s idea of a “perfect ring” might be entirely different than another’s. While one person might favor a ring with a traditional setting and diamond, another might something more colorful and avante-garde. Knowing your partner’s preferences and tastes will surely have a large impact on the cost. 

And you never know, some people might decide to forgo the ring entirely. For instance, millennial money expert and spokeswoman Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez made waves when she had her finance return the engagement ring. She explained that she’d rather that money go toward other things, such as their honeymoon or wedding. 

An engagement ring can be an important, meaningful purchase. While there’s no exact number when it comes to how much to spend on an engagement ring, you’ll want to No matter how much you choose to spend on an engagement ring, make sure you prepare accordingly, set a budget, and understand the intricacies of selecting a ring, you’ll be well-equipped to buy the right engagement ring for your future wife or husband to be. 


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