Look at you, in love, and ready to propose. Happiness looks good on you. As you’re getting ready to take the next step, an inevitable question comes to mind, “how much should you spend on the ring?” That’s where we come in. In a world of advertising campaigns, outdated myths and endless choices, deciding how much to spend on your fiance-to-be’s synthetic diamond ring won’t come without a little research. Join us as we break down the average engagement ring cost, explore the most affordable settings and debunk the three months’ salary rule.

A round cut lab grown diamond in a rose gold setting

How Much Does the Average Person Spend on an Engagement Ring?

First things first, how much exactly does the average engagement ring cost? And how much should you spend on an engagement ring 2021? It’s no secret that a diamond engagement ring is a big investment so you’ll want to do your research as to how much you should expect to spend. According to 2020 research from the Knot and the Brides’ American Wedding Study, the average couple will spend anywhere between $3,756 and $5,500 on their matrimony bling. Of course, these numbers are just averages and some couples spend far more or significantly less on an engagement ring than others. In fact, the Knot found that one-fourth of survey respondents were spending between $1,000 and $3,000 with 11% finding their perfect ring for less than a grand.

Engagement ring pricing is impacted by several factors including the size and quality of the center stone, the metal of choice, certain design elements and retail mark-ups. In addition, studies also found that region significantly influences a couples’ average spend on their forever adornments with people in the Mid-Atlantic cashing out around $7,600 on average while those in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast were on par with the national average mentioned above. 


Myths and Tools


What Percentage of Your Wage Should You Spend on a Ring?

We’ve all heard of the “rule” that a person buying an engagement ring should set aside three month’s salary to cover the costs. Luckily, this is nothing more than an outdated myth that actually began as a marketing campaign near the start of World War II when marketers recommended setting aside one months’ salary which eventually evolved into the three month rule of thumb that we know today. “It’s highly unrealistic, especially since it considers gross income rather than net or inflation, and doesn’t look at debt load. Despite what jewelry ads may want you to spend, it’s never a good feeling to spend the first several years of your marriage paying off the engagement ring,” said Sarah Hanlon, associate editor of the Knot.

There’s no right answer as to how much you should spend, however, the easiest way to avoid going overboard is to set an engagement ring budget and to find out the best places to buy engagement rings online in 2021.

Always set an engagement ring budget

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring in 2021?

While it can be easy to go overboard, it’s essential to remain realistic when deciding how much you should spend on an engagement ring. There is no set price cap or best practices regarding the amount of money one should place towards an engagement ring, but here are a few things to keep in mind when setting your budget.



    What’s Your Financial Situation?

    Evaluate your current financial situation. Home payments, car insurance and student loans, depending upon the price tag, you might be looking at adding ring payments to your monthly financial roster. You should also consider what percentage of your wage you can afford when buying an engagement ring online or in store. Take a close look at your budget to determine what you can realistically afford.


    What Does Your Partner Like?

    You’re ultimately shopping for a beautiful ring for your significant other and you’ll want to keep their tastes and interests in mind throughout the process. What kind of designs do they like? Do they have a signature style? Do they have a job or certain hobbies where a flashy ring will get in the way? Plus when looking at the average diamond size, it might be helpful to know how much a 1 carat diamond costs. For some extra help, do some sleuthing on their Pinterest boards to see if they’ve left any hints or, if all else fails, go to their friends and close family members for some advice.

    Alternatively, ask your partner outright which ring options they prefer, you can even go window shopping at a local jewelry store to take a few rings for a test drive and figure out what they really like. 


    What Are Your Partner’s Expectations?

    Perhaps they’ve always dreamed of donning an expensive ring with the largest possible carat size. Or maybe they love the look of white gold and can’t imagine flaunting a wedding ring without it. An engagement ring is something that you will wear for the rest of your life so your partner may have a few expectations as to what their ring will look like. 

    Once you figure out what your partner likes you can start thinking about priorities. Shannon Delaney, director of communications for James Allen, recommends that you consider the following, “Are you looking for a high-quality diamond? Are you willing to sacrifice a bit on quality in order to make it a larger diamond? Are you planning for a simple band which will be cheaper or something with a lot of smaller diamonds that will take more of your budget?”


    What Does The Ring Mean to You and Your Partner?

    Sometimes the sentimental value of a ring or piece of fine jewelry far outweighs its monetary value. Take for example an heirloom ring. Heirloom rings have a rich history as they are passed down from generation to generation and are often the only ring of their kind. A family ring can make for the perfect proposal and it can save you some serious cash that could be better allocated towards your dream wedding or honeymoon.

    However, saying “I do,” to a family heirloom can come with its own set of challenges as being the primary caretaker of such an important piece of history can amount to a lot of pressure. Make sure that your fiance-to-be is up to the challenge before you pop the question with the beloved adornment. Brides.com recommends that you do the following to partake in proper heirloom engagement ring etiquette:

    1. Get a gauge of how your partner feels about the ring.
    2. Talk to your family.
    3. Understand the expectations. Can you reset or modify the ring?
    4. Explore the ring’s history.
    5. Clean it, appraise it and insure it.
Heirloom pieces make for great engagement rings

Where Are People Buying Rings?

Shopping for diamonds online can be risky business as some retailers will try to sell lower-quality stones, with imperfections not easily spotted by the average shopper. However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid the online market, in fact far from it. The online fine jewelry and engagement ring market is booming and as long as you stick to shopping with reliable brands there’s no reason to expect that you’ll be getting a bad deal. 

There’s also something to be said about the selection that shopping online offers. Digital showrooms offer tremendous selection and online retailers often have more inventory to choose from than your typical brick and mortar shop.

Of course, some people will prefer to shop with a local jeweler where they can examine and choose their future stone in-person. Both options are completely valid and it’s up to you and your partner to decide which is the best choice for you.


How to Reduce Engagement Ring Costs

If you’re still looking to reduce your engagement ring costs there are a few tricks that you can try.


    Opt for a Synthetic or Colorful Gemstone Instead

    It’s no secret, natural diamonds can be pricy, that’s why more and more couples are opting for nontraditional stones. This includes synthetic options such as moissanite and the Nexus Diamond™ alternative and colorful center stones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

    Many diamond alternatives are incredibly budget-friendly without sacrificing quality such as the Nexus Diamond™ alternative which costs up to 80% less than a mined diamond. Plus, synthetic diamonds are conflict-free and environmentally friendly offering consumers an ethically-sourced choice.


    Choose a Different Setting

    Not all engagement ring settings are created equal, or at least that’s what your credit card says. While unrivaled in their sparkle, halo and accented settings can get expensive as they feature several pave accent stones which are basically tiny round cut diamonds that are used throughout the ring’s design to amp up the dazzle.

    To save in the settings department go for a striking solitaire design. This style first came into popularity after world-famous jeweler, Tiffany, released its famous Tiffany Setting solitaire in 1886. The term solitaire refers to a piece of jewelry that features a single diamond and in the case of engagement rings, the diamond will be paired with a metal band to draw the eye toward the stone. Although simple in design, the solitaire setting still offers room for customization as you can choose your favorite diamond shape and choose from a variety of carat weights.


    Manipulate the Four Cs

    Diamond color and clarity scales leave some wiggle room when it comes to cutting engagement ring costs, especially when it comes to round brilliant diamonds as they’re particularly good at hiding minimal imperfections. “As long as you can’t see inclusions to the naked eye, you’re in great shape,” said Taylor Lanore, diamond consultant and PR director of Ring Concierge, in an interview with Brides.com. “Contrary to popular belief, clarity is independent of anything else and doesn’t affect the brilliance of the stone. If size is your biggest interest consider working lower here if you’re working with a budget.”

A yellow gold engagement ring in a solitaire setting

Does it Matter How Much You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

The short answer is no. How much you decide to spend on an engagement ring depends on your unique situation, and the design your partner is looking for. Don’t feel pressured to spend a quarter of your salary on an engagement ring. In the end, all that matters is the celebration of your new love.