A great philosopher once told us, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.” But what Beyonce didn’t tell us is how much money you should spend on a wedding ring.
People have all sorts of opinions about this. Let’s sort through them and find an answer that works for you.
How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Ring?
So, how much should you spend on a wedding ring? Well, there are two answers—the traditional one and the actual (aka better) one:
Traditional Answer for Engagement Ring Cost
Once upon a time, a brilliant marketing team for the De Beers diamond company talked us into believing 1) diamond engagement rings are the way to go and 2) you should spend at least one month’s salary on that diamond engagement ring.1
That one month eventually grew to the current tradition of three months. Diamond ring sales improved, and now many people consider this the norm for spending on engagement rings.
Actual Answer for Engagement Ring Cost
Guess. What. Your wedding ring budget shouldn’t be based on a marketing campaign designed to boost diamond jewelry sales in the post-Great Depression era. If you want to know how much to spend on an engagement ring, that answer is extremely personal. So, our actual answer is this: It depends!
Set a budget based on what you can afford. That’s the key here. Spend only what you can afford—without going into debt or throwing your money goals out the window.
Also, while you’re shopping, keep the personal preferences of your future fiancée in mind. Because when you buy an engagement ring, it should be about you as a couple—not a tradition designed to make money off one of the most important questions you’ll ask someone. (“Do you want to get tacos?” is a close second.)
Average Engagement Ring Cost
Turns out, the most popular engagement ring is still a diamond (85%), and the average engagement ring cost is $5,800.2 And what about the two wedding bands for you and your soon-to-be spouse? That’s another $2,200.3
That’s a total average of $8,000 for all three wedding rings. But remember, being average when it comes to spending a ton on a piece of jewelry is a fast way to go broke. So don’t think you have to hit some “standard” number to impress anyone. Even yourself.
Also, not everyone spends $5,800 on the engagement ring. Around one-third of couples pay between $1,000 and $4,000.4
Now, you might ask yourself about the range in costs and why some rings seem reasonable while others cost more than your grandparents’ first mortgage. Those prices depend on the stone, the setting and the four C’s:
- Cut (not the shape, the symmetry and proportion)
- Carat (not the size, the weight)
- Clarity (the fewer flaws, the more you pay)
- Color (the less color, the more you pay)
That’s right: The more symmetry, weight, flawlessness and transparency the diamond has, the more it will cost. But remember, you can’t always see the difference between a nice (affordable) diamond and a really nice (super expensive) diamond with the naked eye. And how many people will be checking out your finger with a microscope? Hopefully zero. That’s weird.
Okay, where does all this fit into that “three months’ salary” standard? Well, the average household income (pre-tax) is $70,784.5 That ends up being around $4,764 a month in take-home pay (because, you know, taxes, social security, etc.).
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With that number in mind, we did some math, and the average ring is a little over one month’s salary. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll have that cash in hand in one month. You still have to pay your bills, after all. But this gives some new perspective on the old tradition.
Tips for Buying Your Wedding Rings
These days, the way you propose might be a surprise, but the engagement ring itself probably isn’t. About 70% of couples select and even purchase the ring together.6
But whether you’re shopping for a ring as a couple or surprising your future fiancé, these tips can help the moment and the bling be a fantastic blessing—and not a financial burden.
1. Set a budget that works for your finances and goals.
Remember, this engagement ring is just one piece of your overall future wedding budget. A shiny, pretty piece—but just a piece! Don’t spend more than you can afford and start off your marriage on the wrong financial foot.
2. Shop around.
Did you know the average proposer visits three retailers and looks at 15 rings before making a purchase?7 Here’s your chance to go above average. Don’t settle for three and 15. Go to all sorts of stores. Try your hand at the fine art of haggling. Ask your grandmother if she has an heirloom stashed away you can repurpose.
Don’t settle for the sticker price on the first engagement ring you see. Shop. Around.
3. Buy during seasonal sales.
December is the most popular proposal month, and diamonds aren’t an uncommon Christmas gift. Jewelry stores might be running super sales at this time, but you’re competing with lots of other shoppers. So keep that in mind.
A quick search on Google shows multiple jewelry companies saying September and October are slower seasons for wedding ring purchases. That can be a good thing for your bank account. In an effort to boost sales in that slow season, jewelry companies often run promotions during these months.
You’re a savvy shopper. You know to wait for a sale on other stuff you buy. Well, it’s a great way to save on this pre-wedding cost too!
4. Look for alternative wedding ring options.
News flash: You don’t have to have a diamond engagement ring. And you don’t have to have solid gold wedding bands. Go with a different gemstone. Buy a fake diamond. Get silicone or wooden bands.
Don’t forget: Your love should last forever—not your ring payments.
5. Don’t get caught up in the status symbol or pressure.
Are you ready for a take that’s hotter than your burning love for each other?
“With this ring, I thee wed” might be a line used in most wedding vows, but that jewelry you’re slipping on each other’s fingers isn’t magic. The amount you spend on a wedding ring won’t equate to a happier life together. It won’t keep you from having money fights or ensure every part of your married life is total bliss.
Yes, it’s a beautiful symbol of your commitment to each other—but the ring itself is still just an object. This is your budget, your purchase and your relationship. Don’t let a marketing campaign from nearly 90 years ago pressure you. Don’t let your dream of showing off your new rock on social media pressure you. Don’t. Be. Pressured.
6. Budget and save up to pay cash.
We aren’t against you paying a decent chunk of change for an engagement ring if you get it in the budget, save up, and pay cash—without it messing up your other financial goals. Don’t sacrifice a solid financial future together for any of those wedding costs.
By the way, if you’re in the market for a budgeting tool as well as that engagement ring, check out EveryDollar! It makes it easy to budget for all your expenses and combine all your finances when the two become one.
In the end, remember what another great philosopher once said, “I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings.” T. Swift was most likely commenting on this truth: Your love is what should shine the brightest anyway. And that doesn’t have a price tag.
Get That Ring in the Budget
The best way to save up for the ring, the wedding and everything happily ever after? An EveryDollar budget. Get started for free.Budget With EveryDollar