How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

You envision the moment: the perfect timing, the right words, and a beautiful ring that will serve as a lasting memory of your proposal and a statement of your love. You want to do everything just right. However, when it comes to selecting the ring, sometimes numbers can get in the way.

Determining how much to spend is often the biggest source of anxiety for those preparing to pop the question. But in truth, buying a ring should be about choosing the quality and style of ring that best suits the love of your life — not stressing about price. To help ease your mind, we’re comparing the traditional view with a more modern perspective.

When you shop for clothes, you’re probably used to glancing at the clearance rack or shopping sales for seasonal items. However, major wardrobe staples that will last year after year usually come from high-end retailers with a reputation for quality and attention to detail. After all, no one wants a suit that unravels at the seams or fades after dry cleaning. The same principles apply to engagement ring shopping. Your soon-to-be fiancée will wear this ring every day for the rest of her life. This ring will hold high emotional value for both you and her, so it’s important to find a high quality ring to hold up against daily wear while retaining its brilliance throughout your years together.

The old-school advice is to spend from one to three months of your salary on an engagement ring. Many people stick to this rule of thumb simply because it carries the weight of tradition. Saving a few months’ salary can take time, but the amount can serve as a meaningful target for you to hit; and while you’re saving up, you can also be doing research and finding the perfect engagement ring for your soon-to-be fiancée. Following this approach may also be appealing to the romantic in you — saving up demonstrates your dedication and commitment to the proposal and your partner.

The one or three month salary rule works well for some people, but it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. In 2015, the average cost of an engagement ring was $5,871, according to a study by The Knot. To give some perspective, this is less than what the average person makes per month in Washington, DC, while it is higher than the average monthly salary in California. Unsurprisingly, average engagement ring spend also varies considerably by state. Choosing a price around your state’s average is a good starting point.

Yet the fact is, people in the U.S spend anywhere from $130 to upwards of a million dollars on their engagement rings. This isn’t helpful in telling you exactly how much to spend — but it does illustrate that the price of your ring can and should be a deeply personal choice.

While you’re thinking about how much to spend on the engagement ring, step back and take stock of where you’re at financially. If you’re well-established in your career and finances are in good shape, it’s truly up to you to set your budget. Just as nobody can tell you how much you should spend on your car or watch, you have the luxury to spend what you feel is right for the perfect diamond ring.

On the other hand, if you’re searching for the right job, continuing your education, moving across the country, or facing student loans, saving up a few months’ worth of your income might be impractical right now. Just as you probably won’t buy a high-end car for a few years yet, it’s smarter for you to find a smaller yet high-quality diamond from a jeweler that offers an upgrade policy — this gives you the option to add a larger diamond to the ring later on. Ritani offers an upgrade policy with a 100% credit on your trade in.

Additional considerations are your upcoming wedding budget and whether or not you’ll want to purchase a home in the near future. Both are important financial factors when weighing the cost of a ring investment. In addition, the personal tastes of your soon-to-be fiancée might mean varying budgets. A simple, elegant solitaire ring might amaze her as much as a more glamorous masterwork setting. If you choose to be open about an impending proposal with your partner, the two of you can discuss the important factors of the ring and its budget before you select the right one.

Finally, financing your engagement ring is a great way to add more flexibility to your purchase budget. Ritani offers 12 months of complimentary financing for free.

While your ring will serve as a physical symbol of commitment, worrying about the numbers will do nothing but hinder what’s most important: starting your life with the person you love. No matter what ring you choose, your proposal and the years to follow are the most important parts of the journey.