I can tell you from experience that one of the top questions of people's minds when they are thinking about proposing is - how much do engagement rings cost? I get asked this more than any other question related to engagement rings.
And I get it. There are a lot of rumors out there that engagement rings cost x month's salary, that they should be x percentage of your total wedding cost, and the list goes on.
Not only are there a lot of myths out there dictating how much you should spend, but there also isn't one good answer. Whenever I'm approached with this question, I always give the same response - it depends. This is usually followed with an eye roll and a "c'mon, you have to give me a ballpark number!" So, this is the explanation that I then follow up with:
The "national average" answer
At Long's, we can find anyone a beautiful engagement ring no matter what their budget might be. And it's true - I've seen absolutely stunning rings from our store that cost under $2,000 and ones that cost $50,000. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the range of stunning rings in all of the Long's proposal stories we've posted online.
But then people will often say - ok, but do I budget $1,500? $3,000? $15,000? Or more? Where do I even start to create a budget for the ring that is realistic and still makes her happy?
If someone really wants to start talking numbers, I start with a common baseline that everyone can relate to. I turn to the national average cost for an engagement ring, which was $5,855 in 2014. This really doesn't tell us much other than 50% of people bought rings below that price and 50% bought rings that were much more expensive. But it serves as a starting point to work off of as I continue to explain further.
Settings + diamonds = price of engagement rings
The next point that I bring up (that not many people may realize at first) is that engagement rings are made up of two parts: the setting & the diamond. Most jewelers, including Long's, will display their engagement ring settings online and in their stores without the center diamonds included. So, a platinum three stone setting may cost $3,000 - but this cost DOES NOT include the main, center diamond (it does include the 2 "side stones"). If you were to buy that ring right then and there, you'd be getting a ring setting with an empty center - not ideal.
Some jewelers will have pre-set, or complete, engagement rings on display. This can give you an idea of what the setting plus a center diamond would cost as a complete unit. Click here to take a look at a limited selection of our complete rings so you can start to get an idea.
You can easily find out the price of a ring setting. The price of the center diamond that will be placed in the setting is another story. A one carat stone can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 depending on a number of different factors. This is where it becomes tricky to give someone an exact answer to this question. To say that a 2 carat stone costs $20,000 isn't accurate - it would be more of a range between $15,000 - $50,000 depending on the quality of the diamond. Click here to learn all the different factors that determine the final price of a diamond.
A few more things you'll want to consider
I then start to ask about her expectations for the ring and your future financial goals together. You want to get her a ring that you'll be proud of and that makes her happy. If she expects a 2 carat ring and you only have a budget of $6,000, then it might be important to get on the same page about what would make the most sense for both of you.
There are many ways to stretch a budget to get the best ring for the price, but some things, like a nice quality 2 carat ring for $6,000, just won't be attainable by any stretch. One way you can still get 2 carats for $6,000 might be to get a smaller center stone and get larger diamonds along the side that end up totaling 2 carats instead. There are also many ways to make an engagement ring look bigger than it actually is while still maintaining quality. It's not worth buying a cheap ring so it meets a certain desired size if it doesn't even sparkle or look good!
Another consideration is her profession or lifestyle. If she works in a school environment or is a medical professional, you may want to think about what would be most appropriate for her day-to-day life. Both of these professions work with their hands often, making certain rings difficult to wear on a daily basis. Her lifestyle may also help lead you in the right direction. If she's very active or likes to be in the gym or hiking a lot, you'll want to take these things into consideration. You may need to go with a more durable metal like platinum that would still look great over time even if she is hard on her hands.
Lastly, you'll want to seriously think about your future financial goals. An engagement ring is a big purchase. If you are saving for something, maybe a house, then make sure to take that into consideration when purchasing the ring. It's very common to upgrade a ring later in life, so many couples decide to find an affordable ring to begin earlier in life.