How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

Engagement rings can be expensive. Find out the median national average that people spend on engagement rings and learn how to figure out how much you should spend on one.

By Laura Hensley

man proposes with engagement ring
Photo by Chaz Cruz

The First Look ✨

  • Getting engaged is a magical time filled with love, laughter, and maybe a few tears!
  • Although the rush of picking out a ring may be exciting, it’s important to consider the big question-how much you should spend on an engagement ring.
  • Finding the right engagement ring that fits the right style and price can be difficult but it’s out there. Pay close attention to your budget and do your research before making the big purchase!

You found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, now you need to find the ring. Proposing is an exciting time in a relationship, but getting engaged usually comes with a price tag. The amount people spend on engagement rings varies. The average ranges anywhere from $500 to $8,000, based on reports, with most people spending between $500 and $3000.

What about that salary rule?

Right, right. You’ve probably heard of the traditional “rule” that you should spend two to three months' salary on a ring, but that’s hardly the norm these days. Instead, engagement ring spending has largely become a personal thing: partners need to determine their price point based on various factors—and these differ greatly from person-to-person.

In fact, the median American spends just about 4% of their annual pre-tax income on an engagement ring, according to a poll conducted by Morning Consult. That’s more like two-weeks pay for most people. Of course, typically spending increases with higher incomes, but generally, that percentage stayed the same across most income levels.

So how do you know how much you should spend on an engagement ring? Here are some things to consider.

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What does your partner want?

This may seem obvious, but what does your future spouse actually want when it comes to a ring? Have they sent you the name of a local designer that makes one-of-a-kind pieces? Mentioned they love princess cut diamonds? Or is their style more down-to-earth and subtle? It’s important to not only listen and observe what your partner desires but get them something that reflects their personality.

For example, if your partner has an active lifestyle and regularly hits up the gym, a flatter diamond design combined with a scratch-resistant band will be less prone to damage.

If you aren’t sure what your partner wants, try to find out. If you’ve been talking openly about getting engaged, ask them what ring styles and stones they prefer. If you’re keeping the proposal on the down-low, you may want to recruit one of your partner’s closest friends to go ring shopping. Chances are they’ll know their style preferences.

What’s your financial situation?

Budgets: not romantic. Spending within your means: honestly, romantic.

It’s important to figure out how much you can spend on an engagement ring before you make a purchase. Not only does having an amount in mind prevent you from overspending, but it also gives you a sense of what you can and can’t afford once you start shopping. You want to wow your future spouse—we get it—but you don’t want to go broke over it. If you’re comfortable spending up to $3,000, look at designs priced slightly below.

If you’re going to borrow money for a ring, make sure you can pay it off in a reasonable time. Also, think about who you borrow money from. Credit cards have notoriously high interest rates as do payday loans centers. You might get a better loan from your bank, but again, expect to pay interest. Plus, once you are married debt becomes shared, so your partner may not be thrilled about paying off their own engagement ring.

If you’re short on cash, you may see if a family member, like a parent, can help you out. Just be sure both parties are on the same page about paying back the money. Again, you really don’t want debt or bad feelings over an engagement ring.

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How To Save Money On An Engagement Ring

The good news is whatever ring you have in mind, there are ways to make it more affordable.

  • Cut back on carats. Diamond prices can significantly drop if you’re shy of the carat and half-carat mark. This means that while 1.8 carats will look similar to 2 carats, the lesser-carat stone will be cheaper.

  • Consider clarity and color. You can also save money when it comes to the clarity and color of diamonds. It won’t be noticeable if a diamond is perfect or nearly perfect, but you can score a deal on the latter.

  • Cut matters. The cut of a diamond affects pricing, too. For example, emerald cut diamonds have fewer facets meaning they’re not as shiny, but their shape covers more surface area than other diamonds, which makes them look bigger. (If your partner isn’t set on diamonds, other stones may be more affordable as well.)

  • Don’t forget the band. The actual band material of the ring can make a big price difference, too. Platinum is more expensive than gold because it’s rarer and mined less. It also won’t fade to yellow like white gold can, but it will dull over time (it can be shined professionally). Yellow gold or white gold, on the other hand, are more affordable and still look elegant. If your partner likes the aesthetic of platinum, white gold is a great, more affordable alternative.

The right ring is one that you love and one that won't place serious stress on your financial situation. Remember, you don’t want to go into big debt over a ring—especially before your wedding. Listen to your partner’s desires, determine a budget, and go with a ring that you think reflects their personality. Worst case scenario? Your partner modifies their engagement ring after the proposal. Saying “yes” to your proposal is what matters most.

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