Simple question right? Didn’t someone say you should spend two months of your salary?
Based on our research, there are actually many ways to go about this.
You could spend two to three months of salary on the ring. You could spend a crazy amount like celebrities. Or you could skip the ring altogether.
So, how much should you spend on your engagement ring? Our guide will walk you through the most common ways to decide how much to spend so you can decide what makes the most sense for your financial situation and needs.
In This Article
Common Ways to Decide How Much to Spend
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to an engagement ring budget, but here are the most common ways to draft a ring budget.
1. Two months of salary (or more)
Thanks to a 1930 marketing campaign by diamond mining company De Beers, spending at least two months’ salary has become conventional wisdom. While it’s been debunked by many, it’s still mainstream. Why? It appeals to the psychology that you should splurge on romance — especially if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. In other words, everlasting romance.
2. National/global spending average
In 2021, the average American spent $6,000 on an engagement ring. This varied based on age groups: Millennials (25-34 years old) spent $6,700 on average while Gen Z spent $4,100. This can be helpful if you want to spend a socially acceptable amount without getting side-eyes from family and friends for spending too much or too little.
3. Diamond size
The bigger the diamond, the bigger the love? Some people disagree. A popular YouTube comment says it all: “If you’re worried about the size of the ring, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.”
Criticism aside, this is still a popular approach, since human beings are visual creatures — a flashy diamond ring will get someone’s attention and spark conversations. And there’s a fair bit of support for this. In a 2021 survey of 3,462 Americans, 16.6% of respondents said that carat size is the “most important feature of an engagement ring.”
So, if diamond size is important to you, don’t let criticism detract you. And that brings us to the next point…
How to Decide What’s Best for You
Now that you have an idea of common rules of thumb, how do you decide what rule to go with? It can be tempting to follow the crowd, but we recommend that you consider this instead…
Does owning an engagement ring make you happy? Whether it’s yes or no, why?
Notice that we used the word “own,” not “get”. Getting an engagement ring is a swoon-worthy moment, but owning a ring brings you back to reality — where you have to make sure that it’s something you truly want for a long time.
If owning a ring makes you feel amazing, lovely! Keep reading. If an engagement ring isn’t all that sparkly in your eyes, then that’s OK — there’s no right no wrong answer. It’s becoming more common to skip the ring (plus, you benefit by having a bigger wedding budget).
Now, if you decide that you really want an engagement ring, go through our checklist. But here’s a friendly disclaimer before we jump right in… No one can tell you how much you should spend on your ring. (Not even us!)
1. What’s your/his budget?
For many, this would be a big-ticket expense. And that’s not even considering the entire cost of your wedding.
Ask yourself or ask him at least one of the following questions: “What would you be comfortable spending?” Figure out a range to allow for more options.
Vanessa Nicole, a custom ring designer, recommends asking: “Do you have a max number that you prefer not to exceed for the entire ring?”
You will also want to consider ring insurance so that you are protected in the event of a damaged or lost ring. Geico states that this would be one to two percent of your ring’s value, which might not seem a lot at first, but can be significant if you have an expensive ring.
More importantly, as uncomfortable as it might be, it’s worth having the ring budget conversation upfront for two reasons:
- This makes sure that you don’t spend beyond your means and go into debt. Sure, it might feel good to splurge, but you risk having heartache for years, as a woman shared with The Washington Post: “I hated every second of wearing it, because we had a really tough time financially, and I was walking around with thousands of dollars on my hand. And I thought we could get rid of so many problems if I could just take this off and not have it anymore.”
- Being aligned on the ring budget can help you start discussing financials as a married couple, and suss out any differences you might have around money. After all, research indicates that money ranks among the top 10 marital conflicts.
2. What’s your dream engagement ring?
Before you start daydreaming about your perfect ring, here are some key factors to consider:
- Symbol: What does your ring mean to you? What does a “dream ring” look like and why is it important? What’s your earliest or most meaningful memory of engagement rings? Getting clear on the meaning of your ring will help you determine expected usage and design.
- Usage: How often do you want to wear the ring? Every day? Occasionally? Or only during special events like your wedding anniversary or birthday? Less frequent usage could mean that you don’t need a budget-busting ring. If you do plan to wear it more often, get a ring that is both beautiful and long-lasting.
- Design: Given the symbol and usage, how do you want your ring to look? Consider the type of ring shape, ring metal (platinum/gold), plus the size and color of the diamond or gemstone. (Yes, diamond is not the only option, contrary to what diamond jewelers want you to believe). Also, consider if you want to buy from a store, or get it custom-made. Both options are valid, it just depends on your preferences.
We recommend balancing all three factors — while still meeting your budget, of course — so that you find a ring that you’re truly happy with. This makes your decision a lot more complicated, so here are a few tips to make it easier.
- Imagine that you’re wearing the engagement ring one year from now. What would make you feel that you made the right choice? Looking into the future helps you minimize decision regret, according to Annie Duke, a former world poker champion.
- Discuss this with family and friends you trust. While this is a personal decision, getting social support can ease your stress as well as address any blindspots you have (and even give you ring design inspiration!)
With all the advice we’ve given, let’s revisit the question…
How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?
How much you spend depends on two main things:
- Your budget: How much you are able and willing to spend (factor in your wedding budget, ring insurance)
- Your expectations and needs: What you want and expect from an engagement ring (be it symbol, usage or design)
In other words, forget about the other rules of thumb you’ve heard. Create your own rules instead. It’s your moment, after all.