Here's an age-old question that always pops up prior to popping the big question: "How much should I spend on an engagement ring?" The answer to that question is a bit complicated. When it comes to the love of your life, it's easy to feel as though you shouldn't spare any expense, but an engagement ring can easily break the bank if you're not careful. The following goes in-depth about how much you should expect to spend on an engagement ring.
Does the Traditional Rule of Thumb Still Matter?
You may have heard from friends, relatives and even strangers that a groom should always be prepared to spend two months' salary on the engagement ring. However, this enduring bit of tradition is one you don't necessarily have to follow.
As BBC News' Laurence Cawley explains, this tradition is pretty recent, historically speaking. Prior to the 1930s, it was relatively uncommon for the groom to present his bride-to-be with an engagement ring. Of those who did, only 10 percent of their engagement rings featured diamonds. It was only after De Beers embarked upon a major marketing campaign that diamond engagement rings became the norm.
Spending one, two or even three months' salary on an engagement ring may be a part of tradition, but it's not an iron-clad rule you have to follow. Considering how growing debt, rising costs of living and stagnant entry-level salaries are having an effect on many people's economic outlook, spending thousands of dollars on an engagement ring might not be in the best interests of you and your loved one.
How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost?
In 2013, the average cost of an engagement ring was around $5,598. Given that the gross average monthly U.S. wage was $4,762 as of 2014, this is somewhat in line with most conventional wisdom. Of course, there are other factors that could lower or raise the price tag significantly.
The physical size of the ring, the type of material it's made out of and the intricacy of the setting that'll hold the stone in place will all have a sizable impact on the ring you and your loved one want. Certain metals, such as platinum, gold and silver, are usually far more expensive than tungsten, titanium or stainless steel.
Opting for a different shank, engraving options or the addition of accent stones can also raise the asking price. Most importantly, the cut, clarity, carat and color of the diamond will have a major influence on the engagement ring's cost.
What Can You Do to Make It Affordable?
Fortunately, buying an engagement ring doesn't have to be a financially heart-stopping experience. There are plenty of ways you can wow your significant other and remain on-budget:
- Spend what you're most comfortable with – It's ultimately up to you to decide how much you're willing to spend on an engagement ring. If you're only comfortable with spending $1,000 or less on one, don't feel bad. It's the gesture that often counts the most.
- Substitute a different gem – Diamonds don't have to be the only gem that gets your loved one's attention. You can have the engagement ring set with a wide variety of gemstones, from amethysts and emeralds to topazes and quartzes. This move could knock hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the cost of the ring.
- Forget about the ring – Proposing without an engagement ring isn't the faux pas that it was once perceived to be. According to a recent study, only 27 percent of women stated that they'd want their partner to postpone their proposal until they could afford an engagement ring.
Once you've figured out the costs of your engagement ring, you can purchase with confidence and the reassurance that the love in your life will cherish this symbol of bigger and better things to come. For more information about engagement rings, contact a local jewelry shop.