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— by Cullen Jewellery — Reading time 9 minutes

How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring?

You've fallen in love, and found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Now: to find the perfect engagement ring.

When you're making such an important purchase, it can be hard to know how much you should spend. Unfortunately, many engagement ring based myths and ring budget theories are confusing — and lots of couples spend much more on engagement rings than they need to.

After reading this, we hope you'll feel more informed, so you can take your engagement ring budget into your own hands.

What is the average engagement ring cost, and how do you find the perfect ring if you're on a tight budget? These questions, and more, will be answered below.

Yellow gold engagement rings. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Oval solitaire engagement ring and wedding ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

What is the Average Price of an Engagement Ring?

Surveys of average engagement ring prices show very varied results.

It depends what kinds of rings are surveyed. The engagement ring Lady Gaga or Megan Markle sports is going to skew the scale if we consider all rings in our average.

Couples may also choose to refurbish family heirlooms, or even go to a special workshop to make an engagement ring.

Diamond engagement rings and nontraditional stones also vary dramatically in price. Lab grown diamond engagement rings also cost a lot less than mined diamonds do, and the only real difference is that a lab diamond is a more ethical and mine free version of the same product.

We think it's not always best to pay attention to averages. The price of an engagement ring depends on its style, setting, quality, and stone type. A better question is how much should you spend on an engagement ring? This will depend on what your, or your partner's, perfect engagement ring looks like, and the ring’s quality.

Engagement Ring Price Myths

So many common myths exist around the price of an engagement ring. The main one is:

The One Month's Salary Rule

You may have heard the old 'rule' that an engagement ring needs to equal your income for one month. Or, sometimes, it's the two month salary rule. This idea came from a marketing campaign created by De Beers jewellery company in the 1980s. Their advertisements made claims like: "Isn't two months' salary a small price to pay for something that lasts forever?"

This idea, ultimately, is a result of good marketing. And the world looks very different today than when this campaign came out a few decades ago.

The price of diamonds is very different too. Couples spending one of their salaries on an engagement ring today would be able to afford a much larger diamond than people would have been able to purchase before.

Now, with the invention of lab grown diamonds — you can spend even less for a much larger and higher quality stone.

Some jewellers put forward the 'exciting life events rule' instead. This rule says you should consider all of the big life events you have planned, like your honeymoon, buying a house, and having a baby, and factor all of these in when considering how much to spend on an engagement ring.

Considering Your Budget

Many significant expenses come with a wedding, an engagement, and starting a new life together. All of these will impact the budget you'll have to put towards an engagement ring.

So how much should an engagement ring cost? That will depend from couple to couple. How elaborate do you want your wedding to be? How many people will be invited? When do you plan on buying your first home with your partner? How far across the world will you venture for your honeymoon?

The other part of the story is the quality and look of your engagement ring. You deserve a beautiful engagement ring that lasts. But not all engagement rings are made equal.

Engagement Ring Quality

To keep costs down, some jewellers will use materials that tarnish, discolour, or become murky over time. They may also choose a cheaper alloy for the ring's band. But cheaper alloys often include metals that are not hypoallergenic, which means you could have a reaction to your ring if you have any metal sensitivity.

Some alloys also won't appear as shiny and lustrous as others due to their lower proportion of gold present.

And lastly, cheaper alloys are not well-suited to engagement rings because they aren't as durable. When you're looking for a gold engagement ring, it's best to opt for an 18k gold alloy. 14k gold and 9k gold have a lower elongation percentage than 18k gold, which means they are more likely to break than bend when put under pressure. For the delicate prongs of an engagement ring, a lower elongation percentage can have serious consequences, as the prongs may snap, and you can risk losing stones from the ring. In the end, replacing these will cost a lot more than buying a higher-quality engagement ring in the beginning.

It’s worth paying a bit more for a higher-quality ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Wedding Budget

A wedding is a chance to celebrate your love with the people you're close to. But weddings are expensive affairs, a lot of the time. Finding a venue big enough for everyone, and sourcing enough flowers to adorn every corner, adds up.

You might want a simpler, and more affordable, paper signing at an office kind of day. Whatever you imagine for your wedding day — you'll have to factor it all into your budget when you're deciding on how much to spend on an engagement ring.

Part of your wedding budget will also be your wedding band budget. Not the mariachi kind — although this is certainly an option if it's your thing. But we're talking about wedding rings, more specifically. A wedding ring is often more expensive than an engagement ring, because it typically features accent stones, or pavé bands, which means — more diamonds.

Therefore, it's good to factor in a larger budget for your wedding ring than your engagement ring. And always consider wedding costs — they can add up quickly when you have lots of guests to consider.

Wedding rings. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Wedding rings. Source: Cullen Jewellery

How to Find the Perfect Ring on a Budget

Being on a budget doesn't mean you have to buy an engagement ring with low quality stones. It doesn't even mean you'll have to compromise on carat weight. There are many ways to maximise your 'diamond dollar' when engagement ring shopping.

Teardrop engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Choose Lab Grown Diamonds

Lab grown diamonds are much more affordable than mined diamonds, which means you will be able to afford a higher quality engagement ring if it features lab grown stones.

Putting the same budget towards a mined diamond engagement ring as a lab grown diamond engagement ring also will mean the mined diamond will have a much smaller carat weight.

Lab diamonds don't just significantly lower the final cost of an engagement ring — they are also a more ethical alternative to mined diamonds. Because lab grown diamonds are made in labs — people don't have to enter dangerous mines to extract them. Our lab diamonds are also carbon neutral, which means they're better for the planet too.

Opt for a Lower Clarity Diamond

Another way you can reduce the final cost of what is shaping up to be an expensive ring is opting for a lower clarity diamond. Clarity, arguably, isn't as important as some other factors when it comes to a diamond's appearance. Clarity, if you don't know, is a measure of how many small 'inclusions' are present in a diamond. These might look like flecks or grains of sand, but they'e often microscopic details at most. A diamond with a lower clarity grade will be much more affordable, and even with some inclusions it will often look the same as a higher clarity diamond to the naked eye.

Clarity, along with cut, colour, and carat weight, are known as the 4Cs of diamond quality. You can learn more about the 4Cs here.

Bezel set engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Engagement ring being made. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Choose a Diamond not Entirely Colourless

Colour is another aspect of a diamond you may be able to compromise on when it comes to choosing a centre stone for your engagement ring. Colour is a measure of how clear or colourless a diamond is, and how much you factor in this measure when buying an engagement ring is dependent on personal preference.

Many engagement rings feature stones with some colour. Often minimal colour won't be noticeable and won't take away much from your stone's sparkle, so it can be worth compromising on when trying to reduce the overall ring cost.

What to Invest In

How much about to be engaged couples spend on a ring will determine its overall quality — including its durability and sparkle.

Engagement rings come at a variety of price points, but that also means they will vary in quality.

Couples buying engagement rings on a limited budget should always prioritise investing in a high-quality, 18k gold band or a similarly strong and hypoallergenic metal band like platinum.

The most beautiful engagement ring is often the brightest. Buying a diamond with a higher cut grade is therefore worth investing in. A well-cut diamond will refract light in that irresistible and iconic diamond way.

Different shaped stones. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Platinum engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Affordable, High-Quality Engagement Rings

Your special moment doesn't have to cost more than a car. But you don't have to compromise on the right ring for you either.

We have a range of ready-to-ship lab diamond and moissanite engagement rings that are both affordable and beautiful.

Ava engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Our Ava ring — a cushion solitaire — is classic and delicate. You can choose a lab diamond or a moissanite centre stone with a yellow gold, rose gold, or platinum band.

Alexandria is our signature 6 claw pavé solitaire. This beautiful ring is elevated by the accent stones running along the band.

Alexandria in yellow gold. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Grace ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Grace is a beautiful ring featuring a gorgeous oval cut stone and two round cut side stones. Grace is completed with a stunning trellis setting and stylish tapered band, which can be made in white gold, yellow gold, and platinum.

Final Thoughts

You don't want to enter married life with a huge credit card debt. But you don't want to compromise on your perfect engagement ring either.

How much should you spend on an engagement ring for you or your future spouse? It doesn't have to be exorbitant, but it's always good to invest in quality to make sure the ring lasts, and sparkles, as long as you want it to.