Congratulations! You’ve found true love and you’re ready to pop the question. A proposal typically comes with a ring and you may find yourself asking “how much should I spend on an engagement ring?”
The common recommendation is to spend two to three months’ salary on an engagement ring. Some suggest it’s OK to finance an engagement ring to get one that’s truly “special”. You may even hear that an expensive ring means you love your future spouse more than if you bought a cheaper ring.
Don’t listen to any of those messages. More often than not, they’re propaganda used by the diamond industry to get you to spend more. It also comes from what’s assumed as “normal” by others – that not overspending is somehow wrong.
If you’re planning on getting engaged and find ring shopping and budgeting overwhelming, read on. We will show you ways to save money when buying an engagement ring so you you don’t start your married life in debt.
How Much Should You Spend?
In 2017, the average engagement ring cost over $6,300, according to a study by The Knot. This was a 25 percent increase in spending compared to a 2011 study performed by the same website.
Also, many people spent almost four months trying to find the perfect ring. Knowing those numbers, just how much should you spend on an engagement ring?
Here’s the deal – there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. How much you spend will depend on two things:
- What you can realistically afford
- What you’re comfortable spending
Answering those two questions should provide a rough estimate on what you can spend on an engagement ring. You should also keep in mind your future spouse’s preferences!
Those can affect the cost as well. The last thing you want to do is spend more because it’s a societal norm or because a salesperson pressured you into buying a pricey ring.
Ultimately, it’s not about keeping up with the average costs. It’s about establishing your own budget and getting the ring that fits within that and makes your future spouse happy.
Determining What You Can Afford
Determining what you can afford to spend on an engagement ring is vital. You want to take your entire financial situation into consideration.
Below are a few things to keep in mind when determining what you can afford:
- Your current salary
- Any outstanding debt
- How much you have in savings
- Long-term financial goals
You may have other things to consider, but these provide a good start. Remember, just because you may have the funds available doesn’t mean you should spend it all on an engagement ring.
Keep in mind that a ring with meaning is often more appreciated than one that’s overly expensive.
Should You Finance an Engagement Ring?
When you start shopping you will learn that many retailers offer a line of credit to buy an engagement ring. You may also consider using a credit card to buy the ring with no plan to pay it off.
Don’t borrow money or finance an engagement ring. Not only does a payment mentality create problems, it also overlooks the fact that once you’re married, that debt becomes your spouse’s too.
Instead of taking out a loan, start planning to save money now so you can pay cash for the engagement ring when you’re ready to buy it.
Save Your Money in A Separate Account
When you’re saving money for an engagement ring, it’s important to put it away in a separate account that isn’t too easy to access. You also want a high-yield savings account that pays well and makes automatic transfers simple.
The Savings Builder account at CIT Bank is one great option. It pays .40 percent when you deposit at least $100 per month, and has a $100 minimum balance requirement to start.
Saving money in a separate account is the best way to plan to buy an engagement ring. It lets you focus on saving and puts you in a better position to make an informed purchase.
The 4 C’s of Diamonds
Before we consider how to save money on an engagement ring, let’s take a look at the 4 C’s of diamonds. The 4 C’s are how diamonds are graded, and that grade will impact the overall cost of the engagement ring.
The first C, the cut of the diamond, is the most important element when it comes to choosing an engagement ring. If the cut isn’t perfect, even a high-quality diamond can look lifeless or dull.
When choosing the cut of the diamond, the best bang for your buck will be to ask for very good or ideal. These cuts do cost more but will make sure that the diamond you choose has the sparkle and shine that it deserves.
If you want to go all out, choose one with a super ideal cut. They’re more expensive but are the highest quality.
However, since the cut is what really determines the sparkle and shine of a diamond, choosing a properly cut, lower-grade quality diamond makes it look like it cost a million bucks while saving you money.
The second C is color, or in the case of the diamond, the lack of color. The perfect diamond has no color, while diamonds with a pale yellow color are considered lower-quality. The grades of diamond colors range from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or light brown in color).
For the best value, G-H or I-J are some of the best color options to choose from. While they won’t be as high quality as D graded diamonds, the naked eye won’t be able to tell the difference.
You can save a considerable amount of money, simply by going down a few grades.
The clarity of a diamond isn’t as important as the cut or color, and there are a few reasons why. First, the clarity is typically microscopic. That means that the naked eye can’t really detect any imperfections in the diamond.
Also, the clarity doesn’t really affect the diamonds natural beauty, so there’s no need to worry. The only importance of the clarity of the diamond is how it affects the price and resale value. If you were to ever upgrade the ring, the clarity would affect how much it’s sold for.
However, choosing a clarity grading of slightly included or very slightly included means you can save money while also gaining greater value for the ring.
The last of the C’s is the carat weight of the diamond. This doesn’t mean the size of the diamond. In fact, size has nothing to do with carat weight. The carat weight is based on two factors —the distance across the top of the diamond (or the diameter) and the cut grade of the diamond.
For example, a larger carat diamond with a poor cut grade will appear smaller than a smaller diamond with a higher cut grade.
So what does that mean for you? As long as you’re choosing a higher quality cut grade, you can choose a smaller diamond that can fit in your budget.
That would mean selecting a carat weight slightly below the whole and half-carat marks. Instead of a 1.0-carat diamond, you could go slightly lower and choose a .8-carat diamond. With a higher quality cut grade, that diamond could still look rather large.
How to Save Money on Your Engagement Ring
While you’re saving your hard-earned cash, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting the best value when choosing an engagement ring. Here are some easy ways to save on the ring of your choice.
Remember the 4 C’s
Remember the 4 C’s of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Choosing the right cut is the most important, so it’s okay to splurge a little for the higher quality cut. After that, choose the importance and grade of the other 3 C’s.
You can save money by choosing a slightly lower grade in color and clarity that aren’t as noticeable to the naked eye. You can always go with a lower carat weight (like 1.95 carats instead of 2.0).
These are all qualities that no one else will be able to determine but that will save you a considerable amount of money.
Another way to save money on the engagement ring is to compare prices. Once you’ve set your budget and know the type of ring you’d like to buy, visit several reputable jewelers and to determine who has a better price.
If you can get the same ring for less, do it! It doesn’t matter where the ring comes from, as long as the jeweler is reputable. You can also try negotiating a lower price if you find a ring you like.
Buy Your Engagement Ring Online
Did you know that you could save money and buy an engagement ring online? Because online jewelers typically don’t have the high overhead and inventory costs that in-store jewelers have, you can usually score a better deal on your ring.
Plus, you don’t have sacrifice the quality and integrity of the ring or worry about what kind of customer service you might get.
Some of the more reputable jewelers like Helzberg, James Allen, and Blue Nile all have terrific customer service online. They also give you the option to search for your ring based on your budget and other qualities like setting or diamond shape.
Look for the Best Diamond Alternatives
One potential way to save money on an engagement ring is to look for diamond alternatives. Your future bride may not want a diamond, or she may want something a little more unique.
Below are some of the best diamond alternatives:
Go for a Gemstone
If a diamond is out of your price range, consider a gemstone engagement ring. They are typically cheaper and are unique, which could be a great thing depending on who you’re proposing to.
Each month has its own gemstone, and many vary widely in what they look like. Below is a list of gemstones by month:
- January – Garnet
- February – Amethyst
- March – Aquamarine
- April – Diamond
- May – Emerald
- June – Pearl and Alexandrite
- July – Ruby
- August – Peridot
- September – Sapphire
- October – Opal and Tourmaline
- November – Citrine
- December – Tanzanite and blue topaz
Some of the stones are more affordable than others. You can even make the ring a little more special by picking the gemstone that corresponds to your future spouse’s birth month.
Cubic zirconia is the best alternative to diamonds. Diamonds are naturally occurring, but cubic zirconia are synthetically made to look just like a diamond.
This makes cubic zirconia much more reasonable than diamonds. The untrained eye probably won’t even notice the difference.
Keep in mind it’s important to speak with your future partner to ensure they’re OK with a diamond alternative. You want to be honest, and if they have their heart set on a diamond, they may be disappointed.
Choose Gold Over Platinum
Platinum ring settings are much more expensive than gold or white gold settings. You could easily pay $500+ when choosing a platinum setting.
Instead, keep it simple (and still classy!) by selecting a 14k or 18k gold setting.
Get the Ring Insured
Anything can happen to an engagement ring including theft, loss, or even stone popping out. Insuring the ring means protecting for years to come.
While it is more expensive upfront, should anything happen, you can always get the ring replaced or fixed, which can cost a lot of money out of pocket.
An engagement ring is definitely something that you want to protect.
How much should you spend on an engagement ring? That’s really up to you. You want to buy a ring your future spouse will love, but you also want to ensure they’re on the same page with the purchase and the budget.
By knowing the 4 C’s, how to save money on an engagement ring, and determining your budget, you’ll be able to make the right choice for you.
Popping the question is a lot more thrilling when you don’t have to worry about the debt that comes with it.
What are some other ways to save money on an engagement ring? If you’ve bought an engagement ring, how did you determine what you could afford? Do you think it’s OK to finance an engagement ring?