Starting to look for an perfect engagement ring is very exciting and once you start to dig deep into the process it ends up being confusing and often a complex math problem to solve. And we know that math and romance don’t gel well…
The dilemma often is “how much should I spend on an engagement ring?”
This article will help you to find the sweet spot in a way your partner and your wallet both are happy.
Before you distract yourself with the technicalities of the ring such as setting, style, diamond quality and metal, we recommend that you understand your personal preferences.
Begin with these five simple, yet powerful questions that will ultimately help you determine how much you should spend on the ring. We’ll be first to admit that there is no right or wrong answer. Diamonds rings can cost a fortune, but your perfect ring doesn’t need to dwindle down your bank balance to zero.
1. What do you value as a couple?
Do you value minimalism vs. extravaganza, big brands vs. small shops and handmade vs. machine-made?
Minimalistic engagement rings generally have fewer diamonds and use less metal such as platinum or gold. Extravaganza rings have fancier designs and use more diamonds and metal. The cost of the ring is dependent on how many diamonds make up the engagement ring and the amount of metal used. The type of metal used has less impact on the cost relative to quality of diamonds.
Big brands include companies such as Tiffany & Co. and Cartier. Small shops include your local jeweler, someone you and your family trust. It’s easier to trust a bigger brand as they offer social proof and certifications that remove any unknownness about the diamond quality. However small shops can often offer the same diamond quality guarantee for a fraction of the cost.
No two handmade engagement rings are identical. Handmade rings have a human touch that make it unique and special – just like your love. Machine made rings are more precise in their design. The cost of labor involved in making the ring determines if handmade will be more expensive than machine made. The cost of handmade rings can be comparable to that of machine made rings.
2. Do you believe the size on the diamond is proportionate to how much you love your bride-to-be?
This personal belief is powerful and will determine the size of the rock you will want to purchase and determine the final price of the diamond. The is really no limit to how large and expensive a natural diamond can cost.
One thing to remember is that larger is not always better. A smaller diamond can look large on the ring based on the ring setting (ex. diamond raised on a prong). Conversely a large diamond can look small on certain ring settings.
3.How much can you afford?
Getting engaged is an important milestone in one’s adult life and you don’t want to start off with a debt.
An engagement generally succeeds a college education with limited savings in the bank. You can definitely splurge on the engagement ring but it is important to ask yourself, how much can you afford to spend?
Some considerations include existing loans, credit card debt, your savings and wedding budget.
4. How you relate to society norms and expectations including family history and culture?
Many people will tell you need to buy a diamond ring worth two or more months of your salary. Whether you believe this to be true or not, is your personal choice. A simple google search tells us that this belief is an outcome of a “2-month salary” marketing campaign by diamond giant DeBeers in 1980’s. But you need to ask yourself how much you truly want to spend – it could certainly be more (or less) than your “2-month salary”
Many will also be influenced of celebrities and how much they are spending on diamonds. However you need to also pay attention to those celebrities that are not splurging on diamonds even though they are rich and famous.
In Western cultures, there is significant focus on the engagement ring as it is the most important jewelry piece. In the case of Indian weddings, in addition to the engagement ring, there are so many jewelry pieces that a groom needs to give the bride like the Mangalsutra, Payal (Silver Anklet), bridal set, gold or diamond bangles and much more. Therefore you need to think about how to best divide the wedding budget and what’s important to you.
5. How does your interest in diamonds compare with real life experiences?
Natural diamonds are beautiful and have been enjoyed by our ancestors for several centuries. Diamonds are a symbol of love and romance. And yes, it is also true that a diamond is just a rock.
If you are someone who values real life experiences more than diamonds, you should spend your money accordingly. An engagement ring can be a simple band, it does not need to have a diamond.
Now that you understand your personal preferences, you are in a better position to make the best decision that is in your best interest on this very important purchase.
Next, use the following tips below to make the engagement ring buying process fun and easy to follow.
Tip 1: Know what you love and what you can wear for life
This can be the shape of the diamond (round, pear, square are some choices) and the ring style that you or your partner are gravitated towards. Most people love diamonds, as this has been a top choice for engagement rings. But there are some creative ways to use precious gemstones such as your or your partner’s birthstone. This can be very special and meaningful. In terms of metal, you can never go wrong with gold as it holds true to its properties and is very timeless and sturdy.
Tip 2: How big you would want your overall ring to be
This is a crucial question and mostly depends on the bride-to-be and her taste and personality. Some engagement ring settings like halo and high prong make the diamond look bigger. The carat weight of the diamond does not necessarily determine how big the diamond will look on the ring. You can learn more about diamond carats here.
The well-known 4C’s are not the only thing that determine the size of a diamond as there are other factors such as diamond symmetry. When possible, be sure you see the diamond in person before you set your mind and heart on the diamond carat.
Tip 3: Jeweler you are buying from
Bringing a beautiful ring to life involves a huge team of people. It is said that a diamond changes a minimum of 8 hands from discovery to cutting and polishing.
For example, a one carat diamond from branded retailer may cost several thousand dollars more than your family jeweler. Some reasons for this price discrepancy include high overhead costs for storefronts in big cities, the fact that they need to pay their salespeople and distributors. Local jewelers usually have lower overhead costs, especially if the jeweler is creating the ring from scratch using raw metal and diamonds.
If the ring design is more important to you and money isn’t an issue, go with a big luxury brand. If you have a set budget and don’t care about the design, you should support your local jeweler. However if both budget and design are equally important to you, find a jeweler who also offers design services.
Tip 4: Ethical vs. Non-Ethical
Despite of it’s beauty, diamonds have a bit of a bad reputation in terms of ethical mining process. In one of our previous articles, Dirty Diamonds, we dig deep into this topic. The bottom line here is that you should be buying natural, real diamonds and not lab-made diamonds in the name of ethical diamonds.
Tip 5: Cost deciding factors (Special SJ insights)
This tip in itself is super-valuable and can save you several hundred dollars right away. Diamonds are priced differently based on a jeweler you are buying from. Similar to gold, diamond prices are published weekly on a report known as Rapaport. You can purchase the latest Rapaport price list for $50 and it will tell you how much your desired diamond should cost.
In summary, you should spend time getting to know your personal preferences. Knowing yourself, what you love and desire, will ultimately determine how much you will want to spend on your engagement ring.