It’s engagement season! Every year between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day couples all over the country take the first step toward marriage. Traditional engagements include the presentation of a diamond ring which can range in cost from modest to lavish. Discover the average cost of an engagement ring and learn more about saving for your special purchase.
Why do we give engagement rings?
Some archeologists believe the first form of the tradition can be traced to a Roman custom in which wives wore rings attached to small keys, indicating that they belonged to their husbands.
In 1477 Archduke Maximillian of Austria sparked a diamond engagement ring trend in Europe when he commissioned a ring for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. The trend was given a boost by Victorians (1837 to 1901) who popularized ornate rings that mixed gold and diamonds with other precious metals and gems.
Engagement rings as we know them today were embedded in the American psyche when the jeweler De Beers launched its now classic campaign “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947.
How much should I spend on an engagement ring?
If you’ve asked this question before, you may have heard this answer: “you should spend up to two months’ salary on an engagement ring.” Some versions stretch that number to three months!
However, the data tells a different story. In a recent survey by TheKnot.com, the average cost of an engagement ring is $6,000. That is equivalent to just over one month’s salary for the median household income of $67,521 in 2020.
The Average Cost of Engagement Rings
Why Are Engagement Rings So Expensive?
The cost of an engagement ring usually depends on the size, cut and clarity of its primary stone. That expense is followed by the type of band. The design can also affect the cost, with custom or more ornate rings with multiple diamonds or other gems costing more.
- 50% of all engagement rings are between ½ and 2 ½ carats
- 41% of all rings were round cut
- 54% of rings included a diamond center stone with side accents
- 28% had a solitaire diamond
Engagement rings tend to be expensive because ring quality diamonds are in high demand. Diamonds, as a natural resource, are not particularly rare. However, the supply of ring quality stones is tightly controlled which drives up the market price.
Some of the demand has been manipulated by the controlling interests in the world’s largest diamond mines and stores. To control the supply chain and prevent diamonds from flooding the market and driving down prices, corporations like De Beers closely control the release of available stones.
The Most Popular Days to Get Engaged
Thinking about getting engaged? If your proposal happens on one of these four days you’ll be in good company!
- Valentine’s Day
- New Year’s Eve
- Christmas Day
- Christmas Eve
Before you plan your proposal, make sure you have budgeted for your engagement ring purchase.
Budgeting for an Engagement Ring
When making any large purchase, it’s important to plan ahead. While some buyers may pay for a ring with existing savings, others may want to save for the special purchase.
Regardless of your approach, you’ll want to update your regular monthly budget either to set aside money for the ring or replenish your savings after the purchase.
You can download our free budget worksheet and add a line item to your monthly expenses while you are saving.
Should I Go Into Debt Buying an Engagement Ring?
Probably not. While it is up to you to determine your financial priorities, starting out your engagement in debt may strain your finances. Remember, once you are engaged you’ll want to start planning your wedding. Those costs can quickly add up and it’s best to avoid engagement and wedding debt as much as possible.
If affording an engagement ring is giving you cause for concern, it may be time to look into alternative or lower-cost options. Vintage rings, family heirlooms, and alternative stones or metals can help make engagement rings more affordable.