It’s a tricky and often emotive question, but one which you need to face up to if you want to pop the question out of the blue, or you’re talking about getting married as a joint decision with your partner right now.

To help untangle this web of conflicting advice, information and recommendations, let’s go over the options you have when it comes to buying an engagement ring, and how these impact the price you’ll pay.

Should You Spend More On An Engagement Ring?

© Can Stock Photo / AlexanderPokusay

Making Savings Without Cutting Corners: Lab-Grown Diamond Rings Are Here

The first thing to get across is that we’re living in an incredible time for the jewelry market thanks to the proliferation of man-made diamonds at affordable price points.

Suppliers like VRAI let you shop online for your engagement ring and choose pieces that use gems which were grown in a foundry that produces zero net emissions, as opposed to jewels that were mined.

The costs and complexities of mining make gems sourced in this way the most expensive examples around. Meanwhile lab-grown counterparts are entirely identical, and considerably more cost effective.

The upshot is that you can go big and keep your budget small, so long as you’re savvy about where you shop, and what type of gems you choose in the process.

Know Your Partner’s Taste: What Kind of Ring Would Make Them Smile?

Choosing an engagement ring is a big decision, and it shouldn’t only be based around the price you pay at the checkout. If you want to get it right, but you don’t know where to start, the first step is knowing your partner’s taste.

Think about whether they prefer simple designs, or something more elaborate. Consider the jewelry they wear on a daily basis, and which gems or metals are their favorites. If you’re still unsure, talk with close friends or family members who can provide insight into what style would make them smile ear to ear. Your aim is to identify a ring that is as unique as their personal style.

Once you have an idea of what design will fit your partner best, then it’s time for the next step; how much should you spend on an engagement ring?

A Guide To Setting a Budget For An Engagement Ring Purchase

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much you should spend on an engagement ring, but there are some guidelines.

If you listen to what businesses in the jewelry industry say, they’ll suggest that your budget should be some multiple of your monthly salary. For many years there was a marketing-led rumor that spending twice your take-home pay for 30 day’s work was about right.

However, this is really just a gimmick to guilt people into paying more for engagement rings than they could really comfortably justify. Even if you make a decent living, it doesn’t make sense to put down five figures or more on a ring.

This isn’t just about the price, but also about the practicality. The bigger your budget, the more elaborate and overloaded with gems the rings in your price range will be. Not only might this not gel with the personal style of your partner, but it is also more of a risk from a security perspective, and will come with additional expenses when it comes to things like home insurance and storage.

It may be useful to look at typical engagement ring budgets to get a sense of where yours might fall. A recent study found that the average spend in the US was $6,000. That’s clearly a lot of cash by any measure, but it’s also a potentially misleading sum.

Once again the idea of looking for lab-grown diamond rings should grab your attention here. You can easily find pieces for between $1,000 and $2,000 that are both stunning and comparatively affordable, so long as you’re not hung up on having mined gems on your ring.

Weighing Up the Other Costs of Getting Married

While the price of an engagement ring is often talked about in isolation, it’s really better to see it in the wider context of your wedding plans as a whole.

For example, if you’re planning to pay for the majority of the costs of tying the knot out of your own pocket, then you might find it harder to justify plowing so much of your savings into an engagement ring that’s really only a temporary bauble.

On the other hand, if you know that your families will be making a major contribution towards covering the various expenses that come with the big day, then it could be less of a bitter pill to swallow to push your engagement ring budget a bit further.

Once again it’s best to talk to the people in your life about this decision, rather than making assumptions. You want to know where you stand from a financial perspective before making any kind of commitment, or else you could end up overstretching yourself without realizing it.

So what will you expect to pay for your wedding day? Well, averages have been up and down in recent years, but between $20,000 and $30,000 is a good ballpark to keep in mind. In this context, it’s clear that paying almost half this for an engagement ring alone really doesn’t seem logical for a typical couple on average wages, whatever the marketing departments of jewelry brands might have you believe.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot of pressure around buying an engagement ring, and you really don’t want the price to be the main thing on your mind. It’s better to follow your heart while sticking to an affordable budget, and focus on getting a ring that your partner will love, rather than one that hits some arbitrary price target.

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