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How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring

It’s the ultimate question when you’re shopping for an engagement ring: how much should you really spend? It’s a quandary that has plagued mankind for more than a century, and there’s still no perfect, one-size-fits-all answer. That said, there are a few different ways to find a price that works for you and your significant other. 

But before we start crunching the numbers on the anticipated costs of an engagement ring, it’s important to consider a few questions first. For instance, what is your total budget for a ring? Do you plan to pay for it all at once or make the purchase with credit? Finally, where can you save on the costs of an engagement ring?

In today’s guide, we will try to help you answer all of these questions, but first, let’s look at some of the traditional (and outdated) ways of determining how much you should spend on an engagement ring:

Outdated Spend Calculation Methods

If you’ve ever asked around about how much to spend on an engagement ring, you’ve probably come across some of the “old school” calculation methods. While these may help serve as some useful rules of thumb, they are largely outdated and don’t really make sense in contemporary times. Nonetheless, it’s important to know how people have calculated these costs in the past, and how some people continue to calculate them today. In the sections below, we’ll cover some of the most common calculation methods that were most common in generations past:

2 Or 3 Months Salary Rule

You may have heard of this rule before, as it is one of the most common reference points for engagement ring shoppers. Essentially, some people claim that you should expect to spend the equivalent of 2 to 3 months of your salary on an engagement ring. So, if you make $4,000 per month, this theory claims that you should spend between $8,000 and $12,000 on an engagement ring. 

Of course, the economy isn’t quite what it used to be, and few people making $4,000 per month have that kind of cash lying around for a ring. It also doesn’t really make sense for people with lower or even higher incomes. For instance, if you’re just working part-time, you may not have the available funds or credit to spend a few thousand dollars on a ring. On the other end of the spectrum, if you make $250,000 or more per year, this theory would expect you to pay as much as $60,000 (or more) on a ring, which is way more than most people would spend on a single piece of jewelry — no matter how much meaning it holds.

So where did the “2 to 3 months” rule even come from? The truth is that it came from a highly successful marketing campaign from the De Beers diamond company. The campaign ran throughout the 1930s and initially encouraged men to spend one month’s salary on an engagement ring as a show of love and commitment. Over time, the figure increased to two months and then eventually three months — with no logical reason for the change (or the initial concept). 

Average Engagement Ring Cost

Another more practical calculation method says that you should look at the “average” cost of engagement rings on the market right now. At least this method makes sense (in theory). You look at how much the average person is spending on an engagement ring and then base your purchase on that number. 

But again, this method is a bit outdated. Why should you base what you spend on a random average? If you make less than the “average” salary, you may not be able to afford the average price of an engagement ring. On the other hand, if you make more than the average, you may have a larger budget for a ring, so the average still doesn’t apply. Plus, this number can vary based on the year and even who you ask. 

Average Diamond Carat Size

The price of an engagement ring is partially tied to the size of the diamond. Since diamonds are measured in carats, this also means that there’s an “average” diamond carat size. According to various sources, the average diamond carat size for engagement rings hovers somewhere around 1 carat. So, in theory, you should aim for a one-carat diamond ring, right?

Maybe and maybe not. The fact is that there are a lot of other factors that go into the price of a ring. You have to consider the brand, design, setting, diamond cut, band material, and a host of other factors. This means that even if you decide to use carats as your guide, you could find rings that cost $500 or $10,000 — and every amount in between. 

The Better Spend Calculation Method

Now that you know how not to calculate your engagement ring budget, let’s look at a few better methods:

Understand How Engagement Ring Costs Are Calculated

Whenever you shop for anything, you stand a better chance of getting a good deal if you do your homework ahead of time. As previously mentioned, there are various factors that can affect the price and the aesthetic appeal of an engagement ring, including:

  • The 4 C’s of Diamonds (Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat)

  • Brand

  • Band material

Understanding these different factors can help you find a ring (and a price) that fits your preferences.

Determine A Budget Based On What You Can Afford

Even if you’re dreaming of a huge diamond ring, you may not have the money to pay for it. And there’s no shame in simply buying a ring you can actually afford! In fact, it’s much better to get a ring that you can afford than to start your engagement off with a lot of unnecessary debt. So, take a good look at your finances and see what makes sense for you. Then, see what kinds of rings are available in your price range. 

Adjust Ring Details To Fit Your Spend Budget

Again, you may find that your budget doesn’t necessarily fit your dream ring. This doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel. Instead, adjust the characteristics of your ideal ring to better fit your budget. This is one of the great aspects of ring shopping. You can essentially scale certain factors (like carat or clarity) up or down, while also making concessions on the brand, band material, design, or other characteristics of the diamond (like color and cut).

Get More Diamond With A Lower Spend Without Sacrificing Quality

If you’re looking to find a great ring that fits your budget, one of the best things you can do is turn to a pre-owned marketplace. Used diamond engagement rings are often half of the retail price. This means you could potentially get a ring that would have been way outside your budget for a fraction of the cost. And if you shop through HYSTR, you can rest easy knowing that you’re getting a ring verified by a trained gemologist. It’s a win-win!


We hope you enjoyed our guide on how much you should spend on an engagement ring! Are you currently trying to buy or sell a used engagement ring? If so, be sure to contact HYSTR today!

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