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How much should you spend on an engagement ring?

How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you might be thinking about tying the knot. Uncertain about how much you should spend on an engagement ring? Don’t worry.

We have summarised some general rules that are normally applied, and the reasons behind them.

1. Paying one month’s salary

This rule of thumb was part of an extensive marketing campaign thought up by diamond manufacturer DeBeers in the 1930s.

The campaign was hugely successful, and diamond engagement rings became very popular as a result.

2. Paying three months’ salary

This is thought to be the modern evolution of the ‘one month’s salary’ rule. This takes into account the increased quality and price of diamonds now used in engagement rings.

However, for many people in today’s world, it’s difficult to justify spending such a large sum of money on a ring.

Thankfully, there is a wide range of available rings to choose from at a number of different price points. So don’t let this rule put you off if you want to get engaged but have limited funds.

3. Sharing the cost

This is a more modern approach to engagement ring buying. Sharing the cost will ensure you are both happy with the amount you are spending.

If three months’ salary seems a bit steep, you could opt for spending one month’s salary each.

When thinking about how much you should spend on an engagement ring, two months salary could be considered a reasonable amount that won’t break the bank.

4. Paying the national average

An average person will reportedly spend around £2,000 to £3,000 on an engagement ring. A millennial (aged between 23 and 38) will pay around £2,000.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average UK take-home salary was £2,086 per month in 2020. Therefore, the average spend is about one month’s salary.

When it comes to the maximum amount that you could end up paying, the sky’s the limit. However, the average cost of an engagement ring is £1,500 to £2,000.

So, if you’re considering how much you should spend on an engagement ring, around £2,000 seems a good target amount.

5. Reducing the cost

Don’t be too disheartened if the average cost is too expensive. There are plenty of options for budget-conscious couples. These are as follows.

Second hand

A ring belonging to a relative would be handy and inexpensive. However, in the absence of a family heirloom, you could try an antique jeweller. This may take time and patience, but you could get a bargain if you shop around.

Alternative gems

An engagement ring doesn’t have to have a diamond. There are some cheaper alternatives that look just as good.

Cubic zirconia is a colourless man-made gemstone that costs a fraction of the price of a diamond.

If you prefer a bit of colour, you could also opt for a semi-precious stone. Rings set with gems such as amethyst, aquamarine, opal or tourmaline are cost-effective.

Compromise on the four ‘C’s

If nothing but a diamond will do, think about compromising on one or more the four C’s. These are Carat, Cut, Colour and Clarity.

The two C’s that have the biggest influence on the cost are Carat and Cut. Opting for a diamond of a lower carat size and lower quality cut will reduce the cost considerably.

It might be worth doing some research before going to the jewellers. You will be in a better position to ask questions about the type of ring you can get for your budget.

6. Not buying one

Yes, you read correctly. Not buying a ring is a possible option.

Engagement rings became the norm on the back of DeBeer’s advertising campaign. Before the 1930s, most women were only given plain wedding bands.

Don’t feel pressured to buy or accept an engagement ring if you really don’t want to. The most important thing is your intention to marry, not an engagement ring.

Final thoughts

Have a frank and honest discussion with your partner. Talk about the cost of the engagement ring as part of a bigger discussion about the cost of the wedding. This can help to stop you from being overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations.

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