Rules Be Damned: How To Decide What Your Engagement Ring Budget Should Be

Written by: Sue Fritz | | Insuring Your Jewelry Jewelry

A diamond engagement ring is the perfect symbol of your love: beautiful, sparkling, and resilient. Diamonds are forever, but paying for your diamond shouldn’t be. You’ve got a wedding, a honeymoon, and a future to think about, not to mention the rest of life’s day-to-day expenses. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of ring shopping and go overboard in a romantic frenzy of wanting to spoil your beloved. The smart move is to know what you can reasonably afford before you start shopping. There are many (ahem…) facets to consider.

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Let’s review them, shall we?

What’s The Rule of Thumb?

They say the ring-budget-rule-of-thumb is pretty straightforward: 3 months of the groom’s salary. But let’s examine this a bit more, because who are “they”, anyway? Let’s do the math: the average amount spent on a ring is about $5,000, according to a survey conducted by The Knot and The Wedding Channel. But the average age of first marriage in the United States is about 27 for women and 29 for men.

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So for the average 30 year old (yeah, we rounded) college-educated guy earning about $65,000 annually, this would mean the average amount spent on a ring should be closer to $16,000? So back to that rule-of-thumb: rules tend to not care about the little things, like student loans and other debts. They don’t consider rising healthcare costs and the can’t-live-without-it-HBO-subscription to satisfy your Game of Thrones addiction. But…you should. The odds of marriages ending in divorce over finances is about 45%. Do everything you can to tip the odds in your favor: make smart, realistic choices.

What Do You Have On Your Plate?

Are your parents or soon-to-be in-laws helping pay for your wedding or are you covering the costs yourself? Are you planning on having children in the first few years of marriage? How much longer will you be driving your car before it needs repair or replacement? Take an honest look at your expenses, not only now but in the coming years. Are you willing to finance your ring, or do you want to pay for it outright? The woman of your dreams wants to start your future together on the right foot and probably doesn’t want to place pressure on your financial situation. Talk about your priorities together and your goals for the next few years.

Does Size Really Matter?

Though few women would turn down a rock that would make Kim Kardashian jealous, most don’t walk around with that expectation.

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Women today lead busy, active lives and a clunky ring, however impressive, can easily get in the way. If walking around with a huge diamond makes your darling feel uncomfortable or awkward when going about her day, she might be more likely to take it off during activity or travel… and more likely to damage or lose the ring. Since this everlasting symbol of love will live on her finger every day for the rest of her life, the metal choice, setting, and shape of the diamond should reflect her personal style – and the size shouldn’t inhibit her lifestyle. Nor should the cost inhibit yours.

Make Educated Choices! 

The 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, are all factors that determine the 5th C – cost. Spend some time taking a look at a variety of diamonds so you can determine which of these factors are most important to you. You might be more interested in cut and clarity than carat weight or color. Alternately, you might be willing to go big and select a diamond with a bit less clarity.

Your setting and ring style can make a huge difference, too. Cuts with a larger top surface area give the appearance of a larger stone. By surrounding the center diamond with smaller ones, you can add more sparkle and make a bigger impression.

You may also save a bit of money by purchasing a wedding set, rather than separately buying the engagement and wedding rings. You’ll also have an easier time coordinating them this way, as you want them to match perfectly and complement each other… just like you and your sweetie.

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