How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost?
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the old adage advises an engagement ring should cost roughly the equivalent of two months’ salary.
The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that works out to roughly $6,600, on average.
That’s really close to the average engagement ring cost of $6,351 according to The Knot’s 2017 Jewelry & Engagement Study.
However, a GOBankingRates survey of 5,000 adults indicates that popular opinion on how much an engagement ring should cost reflects a stark contrast with reality.
Photo courtesy: GOBankingRates
By far, the most popular response to “How much do you feel should be spent on an engagement ring?” was less than $1,000.
Only 7% of respondents felt that the national average cost of $6,351 was the right price tag.
Answers varied by age range, as can be expected, but the overarching theme is that no single price range is right for everyone.
So, how do you decide how much to spend on your engagement ring?
Start with choosing one of these four strategies:
Set a Budget and Stick to It
This is the most common strategy, according to The Knot’s survey.
47% of participating brides and grooms said they set a budget and stuck to it. Another 29% set a budget, but exceeded it, while 10% more set one, but stayed under the allotted amount.
Combined, that means 86% of couples went into the engagement ring shopping experience with a budget in mind.
The downside to this strategy? It limits your options right off the bat.
If you set a certain budget before heading in to check out any rings, you may find that your budget is going to leave you (or your fiancée-to-be) disappointed.
Instead of budget first, ring second, you could ...
Ring Shop, Then Save
Especially if this is your first major jewelry purchase, you may wind up with a more satisfying result if you determine exactly what parameters your ring must meet to satisfy your expectations before determining a hard-and-fast budget.
Make a date of it and do some ring shopping together. After all, 70% of brides-to-be participate in the engagement ring shopping process, again according to The Knot.
If you’re willing to stick out the pre-engaged phase for a little while, picking your dream ring and then saving up to pay for it straight-up is a great option.
Finance Your Ring Purchase
Already have a dream ring in mind? One that doesn’t quite match your cash flow?
If waiting to get engaged isn’t an option, or at least isn’t a preferable option, there’s always financing.
Just keep in mind that whatever debt you take on pre-marriage will follow you both into your married years, when you’re likely to accumulate more debt from additional large purchases.
Money Under 30 has a great guide to financing an engagement ring.
Buy Smart, Upgrade Later
Maybe you have a particular type of ring in mind, it doesn’t fit your current budget, but financing doesn’t appeal to you either.
Consider choosing a more affordable ring now, with a plan to upgrade a few years down the road.
Many jewelers have trade-in programs that allow you to purchase a new piece for up to double the value of the item you’re trading in. If you’re not overly sentimental about the exact diamond presented in the proposal, this route could be just right.
Even if you aren’t too keen on parting with the memory-laden diamond that made you a fiancée, you can always work with your jeweler to choose or design an affordable ring that’s conducive to upgrading without sacrificing too much of its original integrity.
How much should an engagement ring cost? In the end, it should cost as much as is right for your preferences, goals, and budget.
Hopefully the four strategies above help get you started in the right direction.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published July 1, 2016 and has been updated for accuracy.