How much should you spend on a wedding ring? It’s a question that many couples face as they prepare to tie the knot. After all, the wedding ring is a significant symbol of marriage.
It’s something that will last a lifetime, so you want to choose the right one. You don’t want to go into debt, but you also don’t want to skimp on something so important.
So how do you find the perfect balance? Here are some tips on choosing the perfect wedding ring and staying within your budget!
How much money should you spend on a wedding ring?
According to a study by The Knot, the average wedding ring cost for a female wedding ring is about $1,100, while the average cost of a men’s wedding ring is around $550. Wedding ring costs can vary greatly depending on the type of metal and any additional gemstones you choose.
But how much should you spend on a wedding ring? The answer is simple: buy a wedding ring that feels comfortable and (most importantly) fits within your budget.
Some couples may splurge on their rings, while others opt for more budget-friendly options. Whatever your choice, it’s important to remember that the wedding ring symbolizes your love and commitment to each other – not how much money you spent on it.
Furthermore, keep in mind there are always options for financing or payment plans if you decide to spend more than you have readily available. Just make sure to keep an eye on interest rates and budget accordingly.
Choosing a wedding ring that fits your style and relationship is essential – not one that breaks the bank. Wedding ring costs can become exorbitant.
So don’t feel pressured into spending more than you can comfortably afford. The most important thing is that you’re committing to a lifetime with the love of your life. That’s what matters.
Are wedding bands the same as wedding rings?
The answer to this question is a little more complicated. Technically, the answer is no – wedding bands and rings are not the same.
A wedding band is a type of ring typically wider than a traditional wedding ring and often has fewer gemstones. Wedding bands are often given as a second ring to complement a more expensive diamond engagement ring.
However, many couples refer to both rings as “wedding rings,” regardless of their specific design. So, in general, the terms “wedding band” and “wedding ring” can be used interchangeably.
How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
Simple answer? Buy the engagement ring you can fit into your budget, whether that means adjusting your lifestyle to save up, borrowing to buy the ring, or simply paying out of pocket with the cash you have.
Don’t let others tell you what to spend. How much you should spend on an engagement ring is entirely up to you and maybe your forthcoming fiancée (more on that below).
Here are some things to consider when trying to decide how much of your budget you should spend on an engagement ring:
Align expectations with your partner
If you already share finances with your soon-to-be-fiancée, it would be wise to feel how much they consider reasonable to spend on the engagement ring.
If you find your budgets are mismatched, this is an excellent time to discuss your differing expectations around money rather than waiting for marriage.
Are you trying to keep your proposal a surprise? You can still open up a general discussion about money without explicitly mentioning the engagement ring cost.
Buy a meaningful ring, not an expensive one
There are many ways to find a meaningful engagement ring that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars.
For example, you could:
- Use an heirloom ring rich with a family history that doesn’t cost you a dime.
- Find an alternative, less expensive gem than a diamond.
- Work with a local jeweler to create a custom design.
- Choose a ring from an online retailer such as James Allen or Blue Nile.
Yes, an engagement ring symbolizes love and commitment, and the money you put into it can contribute to that symbolism. But sinking yourself into years of debt to buy the flashiest ring at the dinner party doesn’t get your lifelong commitment off to a great start.
The “two months” engagement ring myth
You’ve probably heard the famous rule that you should spend two (or more) months’ salary on an engagement ring. Where did that come from?
Advertising, of course.
The “rule” was established through ads by the diamond company De Beers throughout the 20th century. The company’s ads also established diamonds as the norm for engagement rings — for the first half of the century, engagement rings contained all sorts of gems.
The concept is also tied to outdated notions of gender roles in relationships and society. One De Beers ad from around the 1980s reads:
“Two months’ salary showed the future Mrs. Smith what the future would be like,”— suggesting the husband’s role as breadwinner (even at a time when that reality had already been fading for decades).
We’re not in the 1950s anymore.
Today’s young adults are graduating with significant student loan debt and facing humbling entry-level salaries, not to mention high living costs.
Almost all women are working, and even with two incomes, most of us can’t afford to go from college to married homeowners with kids in less than five years.
How much does the average person spend on an engagement ring?
Unfortunately, good data on how much people spend on getting married is tough to find.
Most of the data available come from surveys conducted by bridal magazines, typically surveying a pool of trend-conscious readers. They don’t hear quite as much from your frugal cousin in the Midwest who invited 80 guests and made their cake.
So, take these numbers with a grain of salt.
The Knot reported that the average engagement ring cost $6,000, with one-third of respondents spending between $1,000 to $4,000 and 8% spending less than $1,000. A 2020 study by Brides found that the average ring cost $3,756.
How to set a budget for an engagement ring
Setting an engagement ring budget is similar to setting a personal budget for any major purchase you want to save for or finance.
Follow these steps to figure out how much you can afford each month:
- List your total income.
- List your total expenses.
- List your monthly debt payments.
From this budget-based information, you can figure out how much money you have to play with (if not, perhaps make a smaller budget).
- Total your debt payments and expenses to figure out how much money you need to cover your lifestyle and financial obligations.
- Subtract that total from your income to find your disposable income amount.
Your disposable income is the money you have available to spend as you please. You could set some of it aside for a few months to save up for a ring purchase or use it to determine how much you can borrow and pay back if you want to finance a ring.
Should you borrow money for an engagement ring?
As I’ve written before, these days, it’s unreasonable to think that you’ll be debt free before getting married. With rising credit card and student loan debt, combined with the fact that we tend to delay marriage, many of us will bring debt into our married life.
Still, the less debt you bring into a marriage, the better.
To avoid racking up debt before tying the knot, consider the following:
- Only borrowing for an engagement ring as much as you can repay within 12 months.
- Delaying your proposal and saving up for the engagement ring.
- Buying a lower-priced engagement ring and paying for it in cash.
What you decide depends on what’s important to you and your partner about the proposal — the style of the engagement ring, the timing, the value, etc.
If you decide to finance an engagement ring, we’ve covered you.
But remember: Engagement rings symbolize your love, not the measure.
Don’t forget about your debt-to-income ratio
Also, consider your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). When deciding to lend you money, this is a number lender look at, and they generally want to see a DTI lower than 36%. If borrowing for a ring would put you over that threshold, you might want to hold off on your engagement ring purchase until you’ve reduced your debt.
To find out your DTI, use MU30’s Debt-to-Income Calculator.
Should you shop for an engagement ring together?
I used to think shopping for an engagement ring together was a great way to ensure you were both on the same page about what you wanted.
And, in some ways, it is. You can eliminate surprises and get a sense of each other’s tastes and styles.
However, there are also a few potential drawbacks to keep in mind when co-shopping for engagement rings:
- First, it can put a lot of pressure on the proposal itself. If you’ve already picked out the ring together, there’s not much room for creativity when it comes time to pop the question!
- Second, it can be tough to find the right moment to bring up such a big purchase. It’s not an easy topic of conversation, and you don’t want your partner to think you’re only interested in them for their money!
- Finally, there’s always the risk of one person feeling overwhelmed or left out by the process. If you’re not careful, shopping for an engagement ring together can become more of a chore than a fun activity.
So, while there are some benefits to doing it together, be sure to weigh all the potential drawbacks before making your decision.
Best stores to buy an engagement or wedding ring
Aside from local jewelers, there are plenty of online places to buy wedding and engagement rings. Here are some of our favorites:
Best overall: James Allen
I love James Allen. Not only are their rings gorgeous, but you can completely customize them to your liking. You can choose the metal, the diamond, and even the setting! They also have a vast selection of rings, so you’re sure to find the perfect one. And their prices are unbeatable – you can get a high-quality, stunning ring for a fraction of the cost of other jewelers. I highly recommend James Allen to anyone looking for an engagement or wedding ring!
Best for cost savings: Blue Nile
Blue Nile is a retailer of high-quality diamond jewelry. They offer a wide variety of rings, necklaces, earrings, and more at very competitive prices. On the plus side, Blue Nile has a large selection of beautiful diamond jewelry, and their prices are very competitive, making it easy to find affordable rings and other jewelry pieces. Also, all of their products are made from high-quality materials, so you can be sure they will last a lifetime. One factor we didn’t care for is that there can be a delay in shipping time if the piece you order is not in stock.
Best for building a ring: Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry
Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry is the best place to go if you want to build your own custom ring. They have a vast selection of rings, and their prices are very reasonable. Plus, their customer service is excellent. We highly recommend Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry for anyone who wants to create a one-of-a-kind wedding ring.
Best national chain: Zales
Zales is an excellent option for those who want to buy from a national chain. They have a wide variety of options, from classic to modern styles. They also have an excellent return policy, which is vital if something doesn’t fit or you change your mind after buying it. The only downside is that their rings can be a bit on the expensive side.
Best if you’re in a hurry: Kay Jewelers
If you’re looking for a quality diamond at an affordable price and don’t have a lot of time, Kay Jewelers is the best option. They have a vast selection of rings, and you can get them quickly without worrying about sacrificing quality. The only downside is that their rings are not custom-made, so you may be unable to find the perfect ring for your fiance.
How do I know what ring size to get?
It can be tough to pick out the perfect ring size for someone else. If you’re not sure what size they need, there are a few things you can do to figure it out without asking them directly.
- One option is to measure their finger while they’re sleeping secretly. Use a piece of string or floss and wrap it around the base of their finger, marking where the two ends meet. Using this chart, you can then use a ruler to measure the length of the string and convert it to ring size.
- Another option is to find a ring they already wear on the correct finger. Measure the inside diameter of that ring and compare it to this chart.
- Or, if you have access to their jewelry box, you may be able to find a ring sizer which is a flexible strip of plastic with hole markers of different sizes. Just put the sizer around their finger and choose the hole that fits snugly but doesn’t pinch.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to pay attention to their daily activities. If they work with their hands or play sports, they may need a slightly larger size to accommodate swelling.
You should also remove rings before swimming or using harsh chemicals like bleach. With a bit of detective work, you should be able to find the perfect ring size for your special someone.
What kind of material can an engagement ring be made of?
Traditionally, engagement rings have been made of precious metals such as gold or platinum. However, there are many alternatives if you’re looking for something more unique or budget-friendly.
When choosing a metal for your wedding band, it’s essential to consider your lifestyle and how you plan to use the ring. If you tend to wear your hands in water or do a lot of heavy lifting, titanium may be a good option since it’s more durable than gold or platinum. Platinum may be a better choice if you want something that will stand the test of time.
Gold is the most prevalent metal used for engagement rings, and it’s easy to see why: it’s beautiful, durable, and hypoallergenic. Gold comes in various colors (including yellow, white, and rose gold), and jewelers can combine it with other metals to create unique looks.
Pure gold is 24 karats. That’s why you’ll see things like “18K gold” or “14K gold” – it just means it’s not pure gold. Now that we know that let’s talk about the three types of gold.
- Yellow gold is a popular choice for engagement rings and other jewelry. It has a classic look that never goes out of style. Pure gold is yellow, but the color can be changed by adding different metals. The more copper and silver the alloy, the less intense the yellow color will be.
- Rose gold is attractive if you’re looking for something different from yellow gold. It gets its rose color from the addition of copper to pure gold. The more copper in the alloy, the lighter the tone of the rose will be.
- White gold is a good choice if you want something that looks like platinum or palladium but isn’t as expensive. White gold gets its color from nickel, copper, and zinc. Silver can also be used to make white gold, making it more vulnerable to tarnishing.
Platinum is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an alternative to gold engagement rings. Platinum is as beautiful and durable as gold but also hypoallergenic. So, platinum may be a suitable material for you if you have allergies or sensitive skin. Plus, even though it costs more than gold upfront, platinum doesn’t require as much care over time.
While silver isn’t as popular of choice for engagement rings, it can be just as beautiful and more affordable. Remember that silver isn’t as durable as gold or platinum and will require extra care. Furthermore, people with allergies or sensitive skin should avoid this metal because it tarnishes over time.
Titanium is a solid and lightweight metal that is becoming increasingly popular for engagement rings. Titanium is very durable and will not tarnish over time. However, titanium can be difficult to resize, so it is vital to ensure that your ring size is correct before ordering a titanium ring.
Stainless steel is another solid and lightweight metal that is becoming popular for engagement rings. Stainless steel is very affordable and will not tarnish over time. Like titanium, stainless steel can be difficult to resize, so make sure you know your ring size before ordering a stainless steel ring.
Tungsten carbide is one of the strongest metals on earth, making it an extremely durable choice for an engagement ring. Tungsten carbide rings will not scratch or dent easily and will not tarnish over time. However, tungsten carbide rings cannot be resized, so make sure you know your ring size before ordering a tungsten carbide ring.
Cobalt chrome is a strong and lightweight metal that has recently become popular for engagement rings. Cobalt chrome rings are very affordable and will not tarnish over time. Like titanium and stainless steel, cobalt chrome can be difficult to resize, so make sure you know your ring size before ordering a cobalt chrome ring.
Popular types of engagement rings
You might think of the solitary diamond engagement ring as the “classic” engagement ring. But, as I mentioned above, that trend is about 60 years old, and it was manufactured by a diamond company (with, um, a little bit of skin in the game for engagement rings).
If you’re choosing an engagement ring for someone else and feel clueless about what’s in style, consult the bridal magazines for tips — your beloved is probably looking at them, too. Knowing what they expect in style could help you figure out what to expect for your wallet.
Brides magazine notes several trends that depart from the so-called classic style — and these trends could be more affordable. Consider:
- Gender-neutral designs
- Emeralds and other colorful gemstones
- Vintage rings
Whatever you decide to spend, do your homework: Buying your engagement ring online can save 40% to 50%.
Also, it’s NOT all about size. Tons of factors contribute to the cost and desirability of an engagement ring.