How to Budget for an Engagement Ring

How much should an engagement ring cost?

Honest answer – there are no rules. Doing some research before you’re ready to shop will help you find an engagement ring that meets your partner’s expectation and works for your wallet. It’s helpful to sort through myths on spending and learn about the 4C’s (cut, color, clarity and carat) so you can make an informed purchase. Establishing financial parameters early on will help you maximize your money and find a perfect engagement ring within your price range.

Save a Couple Months’ Salary

If you think that doesn’t sound quite right, you’re not alone. This outdated thinking was actually started as a marketing ploy by a diamond company. Around the start of World War II, diamond marketers used this “salary rule” to encourage people to spend more on their engagement ring or any piece of nice jewelry. Somehow guidance for buying an engagement ring that equaled one, two or even three month’s salary stuck. Today, think about buying the best quality diamond at the best possible price that’s in your budget and you won’t go wrong.

Talk About It

If you’re already living with your partner, you’re probably already having financial conversations. Have an open talk about specific engagement ring styles and how much those cost. If you’re trying to be a bit more traditional, asking your partner’s opinion on diamond shapes, preferred metals, or even how much they think engagement rings cost, can give insight into what they like and if the range you were planning is too high, too low, or right in line to meet their expectations.

Get Some Help

Talking with a trusted financial advisor is always a smart move. They can help you factor upcoming purchases (maybe buying a house), other debt (like student loans), and your earning potential (along with other investments) to help paint a more comprehensive financial picture. That doesn’t mean you should shop for the largest diamond you can find. It does mean they can help you evaluate your current budget to ensure you’re making a smart decision for your partner and you.

Consider Financing

Some jewelers or credit card companies offer 0% APR promotional periods or options with a low interest rate to help prospective buyers afford their dream ring. Great Heights has a partnership with Affirm that allows you to immediately calculate your monthly payment on any engagement ring you choose. If you go this route, just make sure you develop a pay-off plan as part of your budget.

Buying Tips

  • Do your homework. Understand the 4C’s and what you want to prioritize to find the ring that will make your partner (and your wallet) happy.
  • Go just a smidge smaller. Selecting a diamond just under a standard weight, like buying a 0.9 carat stone instead of a 1 carat diamond, can save you money and you’ll never notice the difference.
  • Know your metals. Platinum, known for its shine and durability, is the most expensive metal used in jewelry. Opting for 18k or even 14k white gold can give you the same look and will hold up just fine. Yellow gold and rose gold can also create beautiful pieces, add interest to an engagement ring, and be budget friendly.
  • Change the shape. Most people pick a round diamond, especially if they don’t know their partner’s preference. Another shape, like a princess or even a cushion or oval shaped stone, can maximize size and interest, while costing substantially less.
  • Go to the lab. Diamonds created in a lab have the exact same chemical, optical, and physical properties as natural diamonds – just without the environmental impact and at a lower cost. Lab-grown diamonds, like those available at Great Heights, cost about 30% less that natural diamonds of a similar size and quality.
  • Add some sparkle. Pairing a smaller center stone with a detailed setting can create more brilliance for your buck. A halo setting or side-stone accents can create the illusion of increasing the overall size and interest of a ring, but don’t cost as much as one large stone.
  • Shop online. Research and shopping can go hand-in-hand when you look online. Just find a vendor with a wide selection, customization options, and quality customer service. Being able to live chat, email, or talk with a diamond pro ensures you’ll understand your diamond purchase.
An engagement ring is an outward reflection of your commitment and your partner will wear this piece of jewelry every day. It’s important to make sure the engagement ring you buy is one both of you will treasure... and that you can afford. Doing your research and setting a budget will help you feel proud and secure with your diamond purchase.