January 21, 2022
Maybe it happens in the park where you had your first date. Maybe you dress up and go for an expensive dinner. Or maybe you’re the type who wants to pop the question on the Jumbotron.
Regardless of how you decide to propose, there will be one star that evening: the ring.
Choosing an engagement ring can be hard. We’ll help you establish a personalized budget so you can narrow your choices and keep your heart from running away with your wallet.
What Is the Average Cost of an Engagement Ring?
The average U.S. couple spent $5,225 on an engagement ring in 2021.
If that’s an eye-popping number for you, don’t panic. The amount of money spent varies a lot based on annual income, geographic location, age, and other demographic factors.
Cost factors in a number of qualities from metal composition to gemstone quality to intricacy of the design and even the brand name. (When it comes to diamonds, cost is determined by the four C’s, a system that rates the defining features of a cut stone.)
So, no matter what your budget, there is sure to be an option that will make you and your partner happy.
How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?
You may have heard it’s customary to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring, but that “rule” isn’t grounded in tradition. It actually comes from a marketing campaign.
In the 1930s, De Beers launched a campaign urging men to spend one month’s salary on a diamond engagement ring to demonstrate their financial stability. By the 1980s, this expectation had grown to two months’ salary.
However, there is no good reason you should feel obligated to spend two month’s salary. Instead, you should feel comfortable setting a budget that suits your financial circumstances.
How to Budget for An Engagement Ring
If the two month’s salary rule is out, how much should you spend? The answer is as personal as the ring itself. However, experts agree that you’ll be a lot happier with your decision if you start by establishing some spending limits.
There are three main factors you need to consider when setting your engagement ring budget:
- Your financial situation: Look at your monthly expenses, any debt you’re carrying, and your savings to determine what’s realistic.
- Other wedding expenses: An engagement ring is usually the first of many expenses on the road to getting married. If you choose to elope, keep your wedding small, or plan on a long engagement, then you may find you can spend more on the engagement ring.
- Your partner’s preferences: You’ll also want to consider your partner’s preferences. Your partner may be delighted to wear your grandmother’s ring or a secondhand antique, and that could save you some money. But if you know your partner would really prefer a large stone, expensive band, or flashy cut, you’ll need to budget more.
Be wary of ring calculators from companies that sell engagement rings or diamonds. Some may try to persuade you to spend more than you can really afford. Remember, getting engaged should be a fun experience, not a stressful one.
What Is the Average Cost of a Wedding Band?
In 2020, the average cost of a woman’s band was $900, while the average cost of a man’s band was $500. White gold, rose gold, yellow gold, and sterling silver — materials common to women’s bands — tend to cost more than tungsten and titanium bands, which are more common in men’s bands. And if a wedding band contains diamonds or gemstones, you can expect it to cost quite a bit more.
How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Band?
You’ll need to consider many of the same things while shopping for a wedding ring that you considered when choosing an engagement ring, especially your partner’s preferences and their lifestyle.
You’ll probably end up spending less on a wedding band than an engagement ring because bands often don’t contain stones — but not always. Metal composition will affect how your partner’s band stands up to wear and tear year in and year out, and different metals vary widely in price.
Some metals, like gold, are naturally softer and more vulnerable to scratches and dings. Stronger materials (like platinum and palladium) are often costlier but may be worth the added expense.
That said, the price of metals can fluctuate — in 2021, platinum was cheaper than gold — so be sure to check current trends. Above all, you should buy the ring you can afford without stretching yourself too thin.
Consider a Bridal Set
You might consider buying the engagement ring and wedding band at the same time in what’s called a bridal set.
Pros of bridal sets include:
- Cost savings: By purchasing two rings at once, you can sometimes get a better deal than if you purchased each one separately.
- Style points: This is also a great option if you think your partner will want to wear both rings every day, since these sets are designed to fit together perfectly.
Cons of bridal sets include:
- Upfront costs: Even though you may save more overall, you’ll still be paying for two (or three, if you purchase your own band as part of the set) rings all at once.
- Less options: Your partner might actually want to pick out their own wedding band.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Once your ring budget is set, there are additional things to consider before making your final purchase.
Upgrading Your Rings Later
As your tastes evolve (and your combined budget grows), your rings can evolve with you in a few ways:
- Invest in a more expensive band and reset your original stone
- Purchase a larger stone and use your original stone as a side stone
- Add birthstones as accents to celebrate special dates
- Add a ring enhancer or anniversary band
Purchasing Wedding Ring Insurance
Picture it: You arrive home from a fantastic vacation — maybe even your honeymoon. Unpacking, you suddenly realize your partner’s wedding ring is missing. You search everywhere, call the hotel, retrace your steps, but it’s gone.
If you invest in an expensive ring, you should consider how you’ll insure it against theft, loss, or damage. Most homeowner’s policies offer replacement coverage or a rider/floater that will cover the ring for an added premium, but dedicated wedding ring insurance may be your best bet. This insurance may even assist with lost stones or repairs, and you will usually receive better payouts for full replacement.
Regardless of the insurance you choose, you should factor this into your ring budget from the start. The more you spend for your ring, the more it will cost to insure.
Avoid Purchasing Your Rings With a Credit Card
If you take months to pay off the debt, high interest credit card charges mean you’ll actually spend a lot more for the ring than you originally budgeted. Even worse, in the long run, you may pay more for the ring than it’s worth.
It’s best to save up and buy the ring outright. Here are some ways you can avoid charging it:
- Have a yard sale or sell your stuff online
- Pick up a part-time job
- Ask your jeweler about special sales and financing options (many jewelers offer point-of-sale plans with low or 0% interest for six months or more)
- Use a personal loan to cover the cost of your rings
Personal loans come with lower, fixed interest rates that make them cheaper than credit cards. You can take out a personal loan to cover just about anything. In fact, you can even use a personal loan to cover your wedding and to improve your home if you need more space after combining households.
Setting Your Own Traditions
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when choosing a wedding ring. Although traditions are nice, nothing says you can’t have fun establishing your own traditions if they suit you better — especially if they can save you money.
For instance, silicone wedding rings have grown in popularity recently. While they don’t look like traditional wedding rings, they are lightweight, durable, inexpensive, and easy to replace if you drop them down the kitchen sink. They also suit a number of people with specific needs like:
- Couples who enjoy activities like extreme sports or swimming in chlorinated pools
- People who work with their hands, such as carpenters and welders
- People working high-risk jobs like EMTs or firefighters
- People with sensory needs or chronic health issues who may find traditional rings painful or heavy
Other less traditional options include wedding bracelets, necklaces, and even finger tattoos. These options may cost marginally less than a traditional wedding ring.
Buying an engagement or wedding ring should be one of the many happy memories you make on your way down the aisle. Take the stress out of this major purchase by paving your own way and setting — and sticking to — a budget that works for you.