Pricey engagement rings a no-go for younger Americans

This is How Much an Engagement Ring REALLY Costs

Pricey engagement rings a no-go for younger Americans

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The Film Kraft

If you’re planning to pop the question in the coming months, you’ve probably already asked the question “how much are engagement rings?” or “what's average engagement ring cost?” Well, the short answer is: It depends.

What’s certain is that Americans no longer look to the old “three months’ salary” adage to figure out how much to spend on a ring (fun fact: The three months’ salary rule was a marketing ploy created by jewelry companies in the 1980s).

These days, there are so many engagement rings on the market and a wide price range—and engagement rings don’t have to feature diamonds as the center stone to be desirable and stunning (morganite, we’re looking at you!).

In fact, according to the WeddingWire Newlywed Report only 32 percent of ring purchasers spent approximately 2-months' salary on an engagement ring. 

So, how much are engagement rings? What's the national average cost of an engagement ring? We asked thousands of couples to spill on how much they spent on this very special piece of jewelry.

Average Cost of an Engagement Ring

According to the 2021 WeddingWire Newlywed Report, the average proposer spent $5,500 on an engagement ring.

However, the study found that roughly half of couples will spend under $5,000 on the engagement ring—though 18 percent spend more than $10,000! All this to say that the cost of an engagement ring really varies, depending on factors such as the stone type, size, setting, and metal. 

Where you live may also have an impact on how much you’ll spend on an engagement ring. According to the Newlywed Report, proposers in the Mid-Atlantic region spent the most on an engagement ring, at $7,600, while those in the Southeast spent the least, at $5,250. 

Factors That Affect Engagement Ring Cost

If you’re choosing a diamond engagement ring (87 percent of proposers do!), it’s essential to learn about the 4 C’s—color, cut, clarity, and carat—which can all greatly affect a ring's price tag. A diamond’s certification by an organization The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or American Gem Society (AGS) can help you learn more about a specific diamond’s quality and ratings.

  • Color: It’s not a diamond’s color that gives it a higher value, it’s the lack of color. The more crystal-clear and colorless a diamond is, the more valuable and high quality it is. 
  • Cut: A diamond’s cut, or shape, can affect its price. Round diamonds, for example, are more labor-intensive to create, and therefore cost more—but they’re also the most popular cut! Other cuts, emerald, cushion, and princess cut diamonds, tend to be less expensive. 
  • Clarity: While a diamond may look perfect, most diamonds have inclusions and blemishes that may or may not be visible to the naked eye. The less obvious a diamond’s imperfections are, the more valuable it will be. 
  • Carat Weight: According to the WeddingWire study, 50 percent of engagement rings feature diamonds that are are between 1 and 2 carats. Even a smaller-than-1-carat-diamond can make a major difference in terms of pricing. 

Another important part of selecting an engagement ring is choosing the metal. Platinum is the most expensive ring metal, but it’s extremely durable and requires little maintenance. Yellow gold is more affordable, but can be scratched relatively easily.

White gold is another more affordable option—and it's the most popular metal for engagement rings, according to our study (though it's not hypoallergenic).

But it turns out that rose gold is more durable than either yellow or white gold, but it's not hypoallergenic because it contains copper. 

An engagement ring’s setting can also impact its price. A simple, unadorned band with a solitaire stone will ly cost less than a band covered in stones. However, according to the WeddingWire study, 71 percent of couples chose engagement rings with side stones. 

Saving Money on an Engagement Ring

When thinking about how much engagement rings cost, it’s easy to get sticker shock. However, there are ways to save money if you think creatively. 

  • Set a ring budget: Knowing that the average proposer spends $5,500 on an engagement ring, decide what you reasonably afford to spend before visiting a store or checking out rings online. Budgeting appropriately and having an amount of money in mind will help you narrow down the options—and according to our study, two-thirds of ring buyers who set a budget before shopping stuck to it. Don't forget that you'll also have to buy wedding bands as your big day nears, so be sure there's room in your budget for those wedding rings, as well.  
  • Consider lab-grown diamonds: Though these diamonds are man-made, rather than mined, they are real. Not only are they less expensive than mined diamonds, they’re conflict-free. 
  • Check out popular diamond alternatives: If you have a more unique style, why not opt for a non-diamond engagement ring? Morganite, a pink gemstone, is trending right now. 
  • Go vintage: A family heirloom ring has a special history—and, if you don’t plan on revamping it too much, can be much more affordable than a brand-new piece of jewelry. 
  • Shop around: Whether you choose to buy an engagement ring from a local jewelry store, a national retailer, or online, don’t be afraid to check out several places and compare engagement ring prices and styles. On average, proposers visit three jewelry stores and look at 15 rings before making a final decision. 

When to Buy an Engagement Ring

Our best advice? Don’t wait until the last minute.

According to the Newlywed Report, nearly half of proposers started researching and ring shopping more than five months ahead of the proposal—and we think that’s a good rule of thumb.

Giving yourself plenty of time allows you to be a more educated consumer, and find the best ring for your money—you’re more ly to overspend if you rush the process. 

When it comes to actually buying the ring, 71 percent of respondents made their final purchase two months before the proposal. Of course, you’ll have to hide the ring during this time if you’re planning a surprise proposal, so make sure you have a good secret spot picked out! 

Where to Buy an Engagement Ring

From visiting a local jewelry store to shopping online, there are lots of options when it comes to where to purchase your engagement ring.

According to the WeddingWire study, 40 percent of proposers bought an engagement ring at a local jewelry retailer, 30 percent at a national chain, and 10 percent chose an online retailer,  James Allen or Blue Nile.

Again, it’s all about finding a ring that fits your partner’s style and is within budget—so feel free to take your time and look around! 

How much is too much to spend on an engagement ring?

The answer to this question varies from person to person—that’s why it’s so important to set a budget before starting to shop and be upfront with your jeweler right off the bat.

While it’s okay to give yourself some wiggle room (a couple hundred dollars, perhaps) when it comes to how much your engagement ring will cost, don’t consider rings that are way over budget.

There are so many rings to choose from, that blowing your budget by thousands or dollars is usually totally unnecessary.

Are there financing options for an engagement ring?

Yes, some jewelers offer financing options for engagement rings, often by opening a credit card through the jeweler or brand, or by opening a credit card with a zero percent APR for a given period of time. You might also consider taking out a loan, depending on your personal financial situation.

Does the price of an engagement ring matter?

No way! Our research shows that ring recipients care most about a ring’s style and appearance—not the diamond size or how much the engagement ring costs. And with so many choices out there, you’re sure to find the perfect engagement ring for your partner that's within budget.


The New Rule For Engagement Ring Buying

Pricey engagement rings a no-go for younger Americans

To all the ladies in the house, you’re in for a real treat! To all the fellas thinking about proposing, maybe not! It all depends on how materialistic you are in the first place. Even if you are already married ladies, point your hubby to this article about the new rule for engagement ring buying and you might just get a ring upgrade!

So what’s the new rule for engagement ring buying you ask?

Well before we get into the most obvious new engagement buying rule all of society should follow, let’s discuss some of the current ridiculous rules that must be thrown out the window!

Current Engagement Ring Buying Rules

The following are the present engagement ring buying rules that seem outdated in the new decade.

1) The Three Months Gross Salary Rule

This rule stipulates that if a man makes $80,000 a year, he should spend $20,000 on an engagement ring! What kind of nut came up with that idea?

There’s really no rhyme or reason why a man should spend three months of his gross salary on an engagement ring, let alone two months. After taxes, three months gross is equivalent to 1/3rd his take home pay.

Imagine if the man makes $400,000 a year. Is he supposed to buy her a $100,000 Harry Winston pink diamond? Ridiculous.

1b) The Three Months Net Salary Rule. Crazy!

1c) The Two Months Gross or Net Salary Rule. Nuts!

1d) The 1 Month Gross or Net Salary Rule. OK, not so bad as it’s under 1/10th a man’s annual gross or net income. Again, here we go with the 1/10th rule for car buying, which hints at something beautiful.

2) The Age Rule

Another crazy rule is for the man to buy a quality ring whose size is equivalent to the age of the woman. For example, if the man proposes to a 32-year-old woman, he should buy a 3.2 carat diamond engagement ring! Wow! Even if he gets em young at 18, that’s still 1.8 carats!

What if you’re a late bloomer, or are simply into older women? Is a man supposed to buy a 50-year-old vixen a 5.0 carat ring? Forget it! A very rich woman told this rule to me with a straight face at a bar one day. She showed me her 3 carat, E color, VVS1 princess cut diamond as proof. Poor guy.

3) The Beauty Rule

This could be the most dangerous rule for men as it is all-or-none. Essentially, every man before proposing will say how beautiful his girlfriend is. The problem with showering her with praise such as, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world,” or “Your beauty makes the stars look dim” is that you are setting expectations incredibly high!

Your fiancé will rightly think that if she really is the most beautiful woman in the world, she better get the biggest, most beautiful rock in the world! If I am a 10/10, then you better give me the most luxurious engagement ring among all my girlfriends.

Women will pretend to tell you they don’t care what ring you get, but don’t listen, not for one second, unless you want to start sleeping on the coach for no good reason.

Therefore, if you want to save money on an engagement ring, you may want to tone down your lavish praise on beauty and focus more on other attributes. Some suggestions include:

  • You are a multi-tasking warrior! I love you!
  • You really know your sports teams. I love you!
  • Your meatloaf is the best. Will you marry me?

The Solution: The Car Rule For Engagement Ring Buying 

Now that you understand the various outdated engagement ring buying rules for guys to follow let’s talk about the new rule for engagement ring buying. It is called: The Car Rule For Engagement Ring Buying. 

The Car Rule For Engagement Ring Buying simply states that a man should spend up to, but no more than the initial purchase price of his car!

Most guys cars. The more obsessed he is about cars, the bigger and better your potential ring. We all realize that buying a car hurts our finances because it’s a depreciating asset. Yet, guys still overspend anyway, and in a big way.

If a guy making $80,000 a year is dumb enough to buy a $50,000 Cadillac Escalade (78% of his net after tax income) you should most definitely demand he spend $50,000 on a 2 carat, Tiffany Novo ring that is an E color with VVS1 clarity! Blow up his finances with glee!

Conversely, if your man is fortunate enough to make $300,000 a year, but drives a 10 year old Honda Civic he bought for $3,000 8 years ago, then all you can really hope for is that he buys you a nice 0.25 carat, H color, VS2 ring from a generic store.

Unless you live in New York City, Boston, or Los Angeles where the average carat size is 1.8-2.0, the national average carat size is around 1 carat, so stop being greedy!

Finally, if the man so happens to be the biggest nature lover on earth and takes the bus and rides his bike, well, you’re luck! There is no way you can demand anything more than a Push Pop ring!

Be Practical With Your Engagement Ring Purchase

Cars are to men what engagement rings and are to women. If your man can’t spend as much money for a ring as he does on his car, you’ve got a problem. He is being completely self-centered and selfish if he hints to you that spending money on a nice engagement ring is a waste of money. This is especially true if he’s sporting anything MORE than a $20,000 Honda Civic in his garage!

If a man follows the 1/10th rule for car buying, he’ll never be stuck in this engagement buying predicament. Of course, the woman can be incredibly gracious and tell him only love matters. But we all know you’re just being nice!

Curious what the most popular engagement ring designs are right now? Check out the latest top 20 most popular engagement rings. There are so many beautiful choices nowadays with that wow factor you’re looking for.

It’s hard to go horribly wrong with a classic solitaire of course.

But, it’s definitely worth looking at the top 20 engagement ring designs if you want to find an impressive ring that will bring tears of joy to your finances eyes, make her proud to wear it every single day, and make a long lasting impression. After all, you know the first thing everyone (at least your female friends) will say when they find out you’re engaged is, “Congrats! Show me the ring!!”

If you want to add your own personal touches to one of the most popular engagement ring designs or get a custom ring , it’s easier than ever to do so now. Blue Nile, the first and largest on-line diamond retailer, has a Build Your Own Ring feature that lets you choose from over 300 settings.

Filter by price, metal, metal karat, band width, designer, material and more. Once you find a setting, select a diamond using convenient filters for price, carat, cut, clarity, color and much more.

Being able to browse for engagement rings and compare prices from home or anywhere you have internet access without the pressure of a salesperson staring at you the whole time is super convenient and so much less stressful.

Related: The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple


Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”


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