What’s The Average Cost Of An Engagement Ring?

Whether your newly-engaged friends have been showing off their rocks or you’re the one with the flashy ice on your finger, engagements always drag an elephant into the room: How much did that ring cost?

The Average Person Is NOT Spending Two Months’ Salary On The Ring

Traditional grandmother wisdom says that the ring-buyer should spend two months’ salary. But, according to industry analyst Ken Gassman, the average diamond engagement ring cost $3,150 in 2009. Interestingly, that amount is down about $300 from the previous year. Since the average person isn’t making less than $20,000 per year (which they would be if $3,150 were two months’ salary), it’s clear that grandma’s rule no longer holds.

What Else Could That Money Get You?

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t buy an engagement ring, but we also don’t think it’s wrong to play with conventions every once in a while. For example, one of our friends asked her boyfriend for a vacation fund rather than an engagement ring. More and more couples are putting the extra money from the engagement ring toward goals that they can save for together, such as the down payment on a home or the wedding itself. Of course, if you invested that money in an IRA instead, you’d wind up with over $22,000 in the end.*

We’re not saying you should skip buying a wedding ring, though you should consider all your options.

Diamond Alternatives: Less Or More?

We’re not saying you should skip buying a wedding ring, though you should consider all your options: The Jewelry Information Center has reported a trend toward brilliantly color stones, which includes both colored diamonds and other types of stones. These rings, made with stones like sapphires and rubies, are often less expensive than standard diamonds, but they vary widely by cut and design. “The price, like that of a diamond, is completely dependent on quality and rarity,” said jeweler Michael C. Fina’s Teegan Conti.

To give you a sense of which stones cost more, we compared rings with the same style but different stones from Tiffany & Co. We know that these are very expensive rings, but we wanted to demonstrate relative value:

The Most Important Thing Is To Talk Openly

This rule doesn’t just apply to engagement rings. Money is the number one thing that couples fight about, so it’s crucial to be open about your expectations. If you view the engagement ring as an important tradition, it’s important that your partner knows that. Make sure to openly discuss how you plan to save for these big purchases as a couple, to prevent misunderstandings later on.

Of course, if you’d just as soon go on a vacation instead, make sure to express that, too.

 

*If you are 25 now and retire at 65, calculated at an inflation-adjusted 8%.

  • Howaboutweshmoop

    two months' salary is a lot to spend on an engagement ring.

    • carolinewaxler

      @Howaboutweshmoop agreed. what do you think is a better amount? (also, LOVE your commenter name.)

  • Sarah

    I would love to hear what people think is appropriate to spend!

    • carolinewaxler

      Sarah I think it depends on your whole financial picture. I've even heard of people getting very inexpensive rings and then “upgrading” when they are doing better financially.

      • http://www.palmbeachgemologist.com Kbrez

        Yes, very true. I curretly sell engagement rings. I have people on average spend from $1200 to $3000 on beautiful rings. They are out there. Make sure you dont go to a mall and buy one. Go to a local jewelry store. They will always have a better deal than a corporate company. Make sure you dont buy comercial grade diamonds. Waste of money. Anything Less than (I1) . That is what most stores in the mall (Frachise stores) sell. And there prices are very high to begin with! trust me i used to run a jewelry store in the mall!. Also if you go to a private jewelry store , likely they will work with you on price and help you pick out a unique setting. Another idea just as i would agree with Caroline, you can always upgrade!!!

  • Perry

    I understand that this is a big expense– btu what about going to estate sales or antique houses…you get something original, one-of-a-kind, and likely get a great discount!!

    • carolinewaxler

      Perry, great idea! do you have any tips for doing this?

  • Tracy

    where's the best place to get engagement rings?

    • carolinewaxler

      I've heard nice things about Michael C. Fina. But I think Perry is onto something!

  • Kate

    I also recommend asking your family members if there are any heirloom rings that you can use. While you might not like the ring itself, it's a lot less expensive (and a lot more sentimental!) to use the stone your great-grandmother wore in a new setting that you and your boyfriend/partner designed together (or, if you have very clear ideas of what you want, designed on your own).

    • carolinewaxler

      GREAT IDEA!

      • Chalupa

        Antique/vintage is the way to go and can save you money. EXCEPT make sure that you have a professional jeweler examine the ring to make sure that a stone isn't loose and ready to fall out and of course that it's polished. They can tighten the “clamps” or whatever holds the stones. I know from experience because my fiance proposed with his grandmother's ring and the gorgeous emerald one day wasn't there and we have to get it replaced. Even though you save money by proposing with a family heirloom, you still have to do your due diligence, which shouldn't cost too much.

    • Emily Note

      Heirloom rings are an amazing idea! There's nothing like having a stone that really means something in a setting that's unique to you and your hubby.

  • Poppy

    Kudos to Learn Vest for showing different options for engagement rings. I never understood why so many women want to wear the same ring. So many engagement rings look exactly alike.

    I don't have an engagement ring; after we married, I wore a plain band for several years from James Avery until we saved up for a wedding ring.

    I opted for a beautiful, large colored stone surrounded by diamonds set in a reproduction of a 1920's setting. Not only did I get something completely different than anyone else, it's a nice size on my hand and very colorful. I get compliments all the time. By the way, to design this ring, we worked with a private jeweler in Atlanta (Laura Powers).

    • carolinewaxler

      Poppy, I agree with you! I love colored stones. Will you post a pic of yours on our Facebook page? I'm encouraging our staff's friends and family to do the same.
      In the meantime I'm going to search for Laura Powers. Do you have a URL for her?

    • http://twitter.com/amkade Allison Kade

      Hi Poppy,

      Glad you found it useful! Sometimes I sit on the subway and count how many people are wearing engagement rings (it's interesting that some trains are way more married than others, on the whole) but so many of the rings look so incredibly alike. I am a big fan of more unique styles, if only to keep subway passengers interested.

      Allison

    • frugalnhappy

      Hey Poppy! I have a colored gem as well. I love it! I get compliments on my ring every day!!!! My husband picked the band, I picked the center stone. He thought I was going to be extravagant with the size and price…he was shocked to find that HE had gone overboard…not me! LOL

  • Fiona

    My cousin bought his girlfriend a beautiful sapphire ring, and a family friend told me that when he proposed to his wife, he didn't know her ring size and so he bought her the nicest fake ring he could find and then they shopped for a real one together later

  • http://twitter.com/amkade Allison Kade

    Does anyone have any suggestions for what to do if your boyfriend wants to surprise you with a ring… and choose it himself… but you know what you like better than he does?

    • Fritz Nancy

      Non-chalantly show him what you like in catalogs, on routine shopping trips etc. My daughter just told him she liked white gold, not yellow. Princess cut was her fave, just give him the particulars, I bet he'll do a good job. Tip to the guys. My son just bought a simple solitaire so he could suprize her with the proposal and told her she could have it set to her preference.

  • Tmeawad

    The average person does make less than $20K per year. The average family of four has an income of $24 K, assuming that half are one parent, the average adult makes $16k. Just a thought.

    • Tmeawad

      Sorry incorrect calculation. The average person is about $26k in 2008. I was thinking about the poverty line. Sorry, though the number is decrease due to the economy

      • http://twitter.com/amkade Allison Kade

        Hi Tmeawad,

        I'm glad you're engaging with our statistics!

        Check out this chart listing US median income in 2008: http://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/data/statec… According to this data, US median household income was over $52k per year, varying more or less than that by state.

        For another chart with 2009 info of per capita (rather than household median) income, check this out: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104652.html According to this data, which lists per capita income by state, there's a high degree of variability, but every state appears to have been over $30k in 2009 (with Connecticut over $54k).

        Hope that helps!

  • Brookeberman

    I have an inexpensive engagement ring — we found it at an estate sale type shop, it's antique — a few hundred dollars — a tiny diamond — and I LOVE IT. I wouldn't trade it for a big rock for the life of me!

    • Fritz Nancy

      Good place to buy! I found an .85 carat for $1200.00! And it was gorgeous, perfect color, breathtaking!

  • http://twitter.com/polyhymnia7 Nicole Egidio

    It makes more sense financially to buy an engagement ring than start a vacation fund. Gemstones and jewelry are actually good investments. If you buy quality, your ring's value should go up over time.

    • Mattie

      An investment suggests that you will at some point redeem it for value, like when you sell a house, stocks, or baseball cards. Theres not really a world in which you’ll sell your engagement ring when the price of gold or diamonds rise…theres no holding period like with your retirement where you know you will cash out of your 401k so you can live…nnIf you have a good investment thats never meant to be sold, is it actually an investment?

      • Jen

        the point, originally, of an engagement ring was so that if the man failed to follow through on the promise of marriage, the woman could sell the ring to help her recover. In that sense it is still an investment, because that’s usually the situation where someone would sell an engagement ring. 

    • nkdeck07

      HAHAHAHA are you kidding? Literally every study on earth has shown that diamonds are one of the absolute worst investments you can make. They are like new cars, they loose their value as soon as they leave the show room.

    • chrystine

      Gold is a commodity, gemstones are not. It is all personal preference. I did have a nice honeymoon but I also wanted a beautiful ring I could wear for the rest of my life.

  • frugalnhappy

    My husband and I went a little unconventional and we are very happy with our choice. My ring setting cost about $3000 on sale. My center stone is my birthstone, which I love, the blue topaz. That stone was only about $150 including the setting. So, $3150 is definitely not 2 months' salary, but the ring is exactly what we wanted. OH, and for the honeymoon we went to South Beach instead of the Bahamas. We got the beach, great drinks, and great nightlife for a fraction of the cost. We are definitely trying to be wiser w/our money…

  • http://www.overstock.com/Jewelry-Watches/Engagement-Rings/14657/subcat.html Izzy

    So it seems like the unanimous votes say not to go with department Jewelry stores but how does everyone feel about online Jewelers?

  • Mattie

    Lot of things you’re not saying in that article…

  • Lucille Shaw

    My husband bought my engagement ring at a local gem-and-rock-jewely shop (Gem State Crystals in Moscow, ID) for ~$100. It is a silver lattice weave with a blue topaz, and absolutely perfect for me. Since we were both poor college students at the time, it was the best decision on all counts.

  • Armywife1230

    For my engagement ring, I told my (now) husband that I wanted the stone to be his birthstone. He was born in October, so we picked out a lovely opal ring that only cost $200, but to me, it’s more beautiful to me than any huge, expensive diamond ring out there.

    • nkdeck07

      I was looking at opals but was terrified I’d destroy the ring since they are so delicate.

    • chrystine

      Opals are lovely but they are not designed to be worn daily.

  • http://www.diamondscalgary.com/index.php?page=Rings&cat=2&sub=21 Robinkilson45

    If I’m going to buy engagement rings, I’d look at the diamonds first before I can look for the alternatives just so that I can have a good comparison. When I asked my fiancée THE question, the ring I gave was just an alternative to the typical diamond rings some people would give. Bottom line: it’s the thought that counts. Don’t you agree?

    • heather

      not necessarily. it depends on the person and what’s important to them. engagement rings mean different things to different people. i’m not really materialistic and i don’t care of designer things. but i know i would be embarrassed and unhappy if i thought my ring was too small or an ugly design. i wouldn’t wear it with pride and it could potentially cause issues between me and my fiance (currently boyfriend). my sister on the other hand, doesn’t really wear jewelry. she’s the type to only wear clothes from REI. a simple band would probably be sufficient enough for her, and might be upset with too many diamonds. 

      in the end, the “thought” will only get you so far. you have to understand what the girl wants and what will make her happy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-McManus/554693822 David McManus

        You can get diamond aleternatives such as Mosianite which are visually indistinguishable from real real diamonds.  They look exactly the same, are almost as physicaly hard as diamonds and since they are much cheaper you can buy a much larger one if you wish to.  Even a jeweller would be fooled by looking at them – the only way you can distinguish them from real diamonds is by a chemical test.

        You can also buy a palladium ring which is much cheaper than platinum and looks much better – it will not tarnish or lose its shine.  Diamonds are a racket – they are not actually particularly scarce or rare.  The only reason they are expensive is because their distribution is controlled by a cartel headed by De Beers – an extremely unpleasant company.  Don’t start your life with your romantic partner off by being conned into transferring a large slice of your wealth to these creeps – buy a synthetic or a sapphire – which is what Kate Middleton and Princess Diana had in their engagement rings.

  • http://www.diamondscalgary.com/index.php?page=Rings&cat=2&sub=21 Robinkilson45

    If I’m going to buy engagement rings, I’d look at the diamonds first before I can look for the alternatives just so that I can have a good comparison. When I asked my fiancée THE question, the ring I gave was just an alternative to the typical diamond rings some people would give. Bottom line: it’s the thought that counts. Don’t you agree?

  • heather

    is there more up-to-date data on this article? i noticed a lot of people responded a year ago. i know someone who spent $24K on an engagement ring. he went to his girlfriend’s aunt, who is a jeweler. i know that’s an insane amount of money to spend on one ring, but $3150 sounds pretty low. even in your example above with the tiffany’s rings, a colored stone is still over $8500.

    and isn’t “average” kind of broad? wouldn’t it depend on your education and income level? i personally don’t know anyone that makes under $40K let alone $20K.

    so what is a REALISTIC cost for an engagement ring? i know my boyfriend and i will probably be approaching that in the next few years.

    • heather

      PS…i also knew a store manager of blockbuster (when that still existed) bought his wife a $10K ring and he acted like that was settling for something cheaper…they were not financially well off…

    • PalmBeachGemologist LLC

      Having grown up in a family jewelry business I have sold thousands of engagement rings. I have seen it all. People buying $150,000.00 -$300.00 . It all depends on your income and your demographic. There is no right or wrong answer as to how much should your engagement ring cost. The way I see it , you have to pick a size that fits and compliments your hand. Look up the four C’s. Prices will vary w/ color, clarity. It’s what ever you like. Pick up a Rapaport sheet. It’s what the Trade use for prices world wide. I tell my clients that it’s good to research and buy from a Graduate Gemologist from GIA. Today since checking the market in the U.S. The average price spend on a engagement ring this year is $6500.00. And 1 ct is very popular size. Also the round shape comes in first choice and Cushion then Asher cut follow , leaving princess cut in the dust.

  • scott schaper

    heather, $24K really is an insane amount if you ask me, but I also wonder what the average price is. I tried looking in many places and the most frequent numbers lie within 4-8K, but these are according to blogs, comments and such, but nothing really scientific. I have yet to find real statistics anywhere. The closest I found was on http://www.diamondcodes.com where they have some stats of their own over here – diamond ring stats. You should take a look although according to them the most common price range for a diamond ring is $500-$1000. I’m not sure how they got this.
    I guess the only way to know for sure is to have some high ranking friend working at zales or some other large jeweler that has these numbers handy.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-McManus/554693822 David McManus

    You can get diamond aleternatives such as Mosianite which are visually indistinguishable from real real diamonds.  They look exactly the same, are almost as physicaly hard as diamonds and since they are much cheaper you can buy a much larger one if you wish to.  Even a jeweller would be fooled by looking at them – the only way you can distinguish them from real diamonds is by a chemical test.

    You can also buy a palladium ring which is much cheaper than platinum and looks much better – it will not tarnish or lose its shine.  

    Diamonds are a racket – they are not actually particularly scarce or rare.  The only reason they are expensive is because their distribution is controlled by a cartel headed by De Beers – an extremely unpleasant company.  Don’t start your life with your romantic partner off by being conned into transferring a large slice of your wealth to these creeps – buy a synthetic or a sapphire – which is what Kate Middleton and Princess Diana had in their engagement rings.

  • Cheater1357

    two months salary for a nice ring & everything gets repoed, then live off ramen noodles. she’ll love you a lot.

  • http://ringvoyeur.blogspot.com/ Kristen

    I am always curious about how much people spent on their rings, so I just love this new site which shows the real price and diamond grade for rings purchased online. Check it out:

    http://ringvoyeur.blogspot.com/

  • nkdeck07

    Spent $400 on mine and I am happy as a clam. (And that included resizing and getting it special ordered since it didn’t come in yellow gold). My SO and I could have certainly afforded a larger ring but why would we?

  • Trish

    My daughter continues to do metalsmithing, learning and working with many metals, and has taken a gemology class or two learning about various stones. Her engagement ring will be more about the intricate band and what the metal is made out of (which can cost) rather than the stone. So many bands are pretty plain as I think most women want a big stone. I guess you have to decide which is more important, the band or the stone. But to each his own.

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