Getting engaged is a huge step to take in life. It signals your intent to marry this person, and the ring is traditionally seen as a gift to the partner to confirm this intent. Once accepted, the couple are engaged to be married.
Tradition dictates that the man buys the ring for the woman, but this isn’t as relevant in modern society. Same sex couples, non-binary couples and those who reject the gender norms mean that anyone can propose to anyone, regardless of their gender.
The question of how much a person should spend on a ring is one that is fiercely debated. Some believe that the amount a person is willing to spend on the ring is a sign of their love, while others believe there are more important things to worry about than the price of the engagement ring.
While some will settle for nothing less than the best, others would be happier to spend more money on the wedding or honeymoon. In this guide, we’ll look at some of the factors that might influence your engagement ring budget so you can decide how much you should spend on a ring.
What determines the price of an engagement ring?
There are a few factors that will determine the price of an engagement ring, including the brand, the materials used for the band, and the stone in the setting. There are a few ways you can get a better deal on your engagement ring, including:
- Choose a ring from a lesser-known brand. If you choose a famous brand like Tiffany’s or Cartier, you are paying for the iconic blue or red box. You could find an identical ring with the same components elsewhere, but the brand will make it more expensive.
- Choose a cheaper metal. Platinum is often the most expensive, but silver and gold will be cheaper. Just bear in mind that silver and gold are softer metals, so the wearer will need to be more careful about scratching the band or damaging the setting.
- Compromise on the stone. Choosing the biggest and most expensive diamond will hike up the overall price of your ring. But there are ways to achieve a dazzling ring without the expense. For example, a modest diamond surrounded by smaller pave diamonds will make the centre stone look much larger. You could also choose moissanite stones or lab grown diamonds, which both look like diamonds but are a fraction of the price.
- Buy vintage. A second hand engagement ring or a vintage ring will allow you to save a lot of money. You need to think carefully about the recipient if you choose this route, as some people would be offended by a vintage ring and only a brand new ring will be good enough.
- Use a family heirloom. You might have a family engagement ring that will allow you to pop the question without spending a single penny. This can be more complicated, as the ring is technically given as a gift, so your family needs to be aware that they might not get the ring back if the proposal is called off.
How much should an engagement ring cost?
If you’re wondering how much you should spend on your engagement ring, there are a few things to consider. There are a few traditions you can consider, or you can take your own initiative when it comes to setting your budget.
Tradition states that a man should spend three month’s salary on the engagement ring. More recently this has been scaled back to one month’s salary. Obviously, this all depends on how much you can afford to set aside. If you are struggling with debt, sinking so much into a piece of jewellery might not be the wisest choice.
It’s worth noting that engagement ring culture was started by diamond manufacturer, De Beers. During the Great Depression, the company ran adverts stating that a man should spend one month’s salary on an engagement ring. Diamonds were also popularised as a stone of choice during this time.
For this reason, it’s worth keeping in mind that these “traditions” were started by companies trying to sell diamonds during an extreme recession. So this approach should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Spend the average
The average amount spent on an engagement ring in the UK in 2020 was £1,865. This has increased significantly from 2016 when it was just £573. Spending the average amount can be an easy compromise if you aren’t sure what is reasonable.
However, it’s important to remember that this should still be within your personal budget. If you earn below the UK average salary, then don’t worry about spending the UK average on an engagement ring.
Spend what you can afford
A far better approach is to start saving when you can afford to do so, and then you will only spend what you can afford. Deciding you want to spend 3 month’s salary on a ring is only achievable if you have this kind of disposable income. This approach encourages the person to take some time before deciding to get engaged and actually popping the question.
Saving money for an engagement ring is a great way to ensure it is affordable and will also encourage you to shop around. The last thing you should do when buying an engagement ring is to get into debt.
Think about the recipient
The person you are giving the ring to should factor into your considerations. If they enjoy expensive things and like to show off on social media, then you’re going to want to save up a little more to meet their expectations. But if the recipient is thrifty and likes things to be unique and special, a huge dazzling diamond is likely to be unwelcome.
If your partner would be disappointed with a cheaper ring but you don’t have the budget at the moment, you could propose with a placeholder ring and let them know you hope to buy a better one in the future.
Still in doubt about which way to go? Browse more tips for choosing the perfect engagement ring in our dedicated guide for guaranteed success.