How Much to Budget for an Engagement Ring?

By Published On: February 21, 2024

As you gear up to propose to your significant other, you need to buy a specific piece of jewelry to signify the moment — the engagement ring! From choosing the carat to diamond shape, there are many details that go into finding the perfect ring for your partner. How much to budget for an engagement ring is one of the most important considerations.

There is a long-standing guideline that you should spend 3 months’ salary on an engagement ring. This was actually started by an advertising firm for the world’s largest diamond producer back in the 1930s. Engagement rings are meant to last a lifetime and are symbolic; every couple is different. There shouldn’t be any rules or guidelines on the budget you set. What’s most important is how much you feel comfortable spending. Some may spend over 3 months’ salary while others may spend less.

What is the Average Cost of an Engagement Ring?

Between the years 2021 and 2022, the average engagement ring was around $6,500 to $7,000. And in 2023, the price dipped to about $5500. However, some spent significantly less while others spent significantly more. This is why this amount is an average estimate. Over half spend between $1,000 to $4,000.  The cost of the ring is going to vary due to several factors. But you can easily find a ring within any budget.

The 4 C’s — cut, color, clarity and carat — play a huge part in a ring’s price. The type of diamond selected — natural vs. lab grown — will affect the price, and the amount you spend on an engagement ring also depends on specific preferences, such as the size and the look/design of the ring. The size and quality of the center stone plus any other details like halos, stones set on the band, etc., and the type of metal all play a role in the final cost.

How Much is Too Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring?

There is no real price cap on how much to spend on an engagement, but it really all depends on your financial situation. Spending more than you have and going into debt is not an ideal situation. You want to be able to feel comfortable with the amount. Take your long-term and financial goals into consideration as well. Weddings are expensive so you may want to save some money for your big day.

Setting Your Budget

Before you even start shopping for an engagement ring, you need to figure out your budget. What is the most you want to spend? The 4 C’s play a huge factor in price. Setting priorities will help you narrow down choices and talking with a certified gemologist can help you with your options. There is no point in looking at rings you cannot afford.

How to Save Money on an Engagement Ring?

When you’re working with a budget, there are many ways you can still find the perfect ring and still save money.

Pick a Smaller Diamond

A 1.8-carat diamond ring is more affordable than a 2-carat diamond. The .2 is barely visible to the naked eye.  Even a .9-carat is a lot cheaper than 1-carat. If you buy a stone slightly shy of a whole carat, you’ll save a lot of money.

Consider Vintage Rings

While vintage rings may not always be the more affordable route, a lot of times going the antique route will give you more for your money. Antique diamonds can be magical for hiding colors and can be 2 to 3 colors whiter than their grade indicates. Vintage engagement rings are beautiful and a special part of history. Consider proposing with a family heirloom ring passed down through the generations, or look in antique shops or jewelers with estate collections. When buying a second-hand ring, it is important to decide on an era and also know if there have been any alterations made to the ring.

Pick a Fancier Shaped Diamond

Round, natural diamonds are the most expensive shape. Fancier, other shaped diamonds can cost up to 20 to 30% less than round ones. An oval-shaped diamond is a popular shape but will cost less. Other shapes to consider are princess or cushion to help you maximize size.

Choose the Right Setting

Since diamond prices increase with size, select a setting with more details and pair it with a smaller center diamond. The ring will still offer plenty of sparkle. Smaller diamond accents such as halos or side stones do not cost as much as one large stone.

Photo sourced from Vanessa Nicole

Stone Options

If a natural diamond is too expensive for you, choose a lab-created diamond instead. They are chemically and physically the same as a natural one but a lot cheaper. There are also other diamond alternatives. A white sapphire is a hard stone and is the same color as a diamond. Other popular traditional gemstones are sapphires, rubies and emeralds. They are slightly less than a diamond but still rare and high-quality. Moissanite is a colorless gemstone that looks similar to a diamond but costs a lot less.

Photo sourced from Brilliant Earth

Metal

Platinum is the most expensive metal and the most durable, however white gold looks practically the same but costs less. Yellow and rose golds are also gorgeous metals and are more affordable. 14 to 18k gold is the most popular but also the most expensive. 10k gold can give your ring a more vintage or antique vibe for a lower price. Gold plated over rhodium is also a more affordable option, but know that you will most likely need to get it replated over time. And if you are on a really tight budget, sterling silver is also an option.

4 C’s 

We’ve already talked about the importance of the 4 C’s when it comes to diamonds. You can easily work on the lower end of the color and clarity scale to help slash costs without sacrificing quality. As long as you cannot see any inclusions to the naked eye on a diamond, you can go lower in clarity. If you are working with a budget and want a bigger diamond, go lower on the quality. The diamond’s cut grade affects how much a diamond sparkles. A diamond’s color also greatly affects its value. The color grade scale goes from D to Z with D, E and F considered colorless and the most expensive. Anything below will have a slightly yellow tint, but most of the time the color cannot be seen by the untrained eye, especially when paired with yellow gold.

Compare Prices

Since buying an engagement ring is a big investment, make sure you do your research and shop around. Educate yourself on high-quality jewelry and price points. Browse styles with similar price points to find the right ring for you. Ask multiple jewelers for their prices on similar ring styles.

Whatever your budget is, there is a perfect engagement ring for you! Don’t feel like you need to spend more than you can afford. Take into account your significant other’s personal style. If you have an idea of what type of ring you are looking for, it will be so much easier to find the ring in your price range!

 

 

 

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