How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

How much to spend on an engagement ring large

 

The giving of diamonds to 'seal the deal' on an engagement and the associated 'three months' salary rule' of spend were conceived as part of a now timeless marketing campaign in 1947 by DeBeers Diamonds in the post-Depression era.

Sales had fallen dramatically during the Depression, and the public were once again ready to buy into a tangible, everlasting purchase after a decade of financially challenging times. Over half a century later, and diamonds are still the most common engagement choice for couples in love.   

Show me the money

In 2017, the average UK salary is £27,600. Using the 3 months' rule would give you a figure of around £4,500. That would easily get you a 2 carat diamond but it’s also a third of a deposit on the average home in the North East.  

Another ‘rule’ which has been fashionable is that an engagement ring should be no less than the cost of your first car. But with the cost of getting on the road as a young driver as high as £6,800 - of which up to two-thirds could be insurance - this is a less-observed rule of thumb.  

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

While Marilyn Monroe's hit song from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes might have rung true at the time with the bridal industry booming, brides are now looking for ways to differentiate themselves.

You could look at getting your ring made, which can be cheaper than buying on the high street as wholesalers can buy gemstones in bulk for multiple commissions. In place of diamonds, think about tanzanites which, with only one remaining mine in the world, are sure to increase in desirability. Rubies, emeralds or sapphires are classic alternatives to diamonds and while they’re harder to find in modern jewellery stores you could always...  

Go antiquing

While diamonds are technically a depreciating asset, one place you won’t always find small prices is in the world of vintage engagement rings. That said, it does depend on what you’re looking for. You can sniff out a bargain on the high street or online. London’s Hatton Gardens, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade all feature a range of modern and antique jewellery stores. Online, Etsy has many vintage jewellery sellers. You should also check out antique stores and fairs. If you’re not sure if a dealer is reputable, ask for papers of origin to justify any inflated prices. The market is very competitive, so you should expect fair prices from a respectable seller.  

Stand out in the crowd

If you know your fiancée is set on a diamond above all else when you pop the question, consider bucking the current trends - even future heirlooms are influenced by style. Fashion has dictated setting throughout the history of the engagement ring: solitaire, trilogy, square cut, cushion cut, princess cut, Deco-style baguettes, pavé diamond accents, a halo. Trends come and go, but remember that this ring has to represent a lifetime of commitment to one another. If these are all new terms, don’t worry.  

Know your diamond alphabet: the 4 Cs

Decided on diamonds? Knowing 'the 4 Cs' is as integral as knowing your budget and what style you’re looking for. This will help you understand the value of the ring you’re purchasing. 

CARAT: The unit of weight for gemstones - 0.2g equals 1 carat. 

CLARITY: Clarity is the scale of a diamond’s inner and outer flaws: fewer flaws equal greater value. However, after a certain point, flaws are not visible to the naked eye. Considering a diamond with flaws only detectable with a jeweller’s loupe could save you a pretty penny! 

COLOUR: Most diamonds have some element of yellow within them, so here 'colour' refers to the sliding scale of strong yellow tones to least yellow, closest to white. The purer the colour white, the greater the value. 

CUT: This isn’t actually in reference to the style of cut as mentioned above, but rather to the depth and dimensions of the cut which basically determines how sparkly your diamond is. The better the cut, the more sparkle and greater value.  

So how much should you spend?

It’s a question that really has no answer other than what you think is right for you, your partner and your finances. So if you're thinking of popping the question, ask a few more subtle questions beforehand. The only thing you really need to understand is their expectations.

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