How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

What is the cost of true love?

People have long been telling themselves that they should spend a certain amount of their yearly salary on a ring. Why is that? Do any of us know?

Here are a few attitudes you'll find due to our society and the pressure it puts upon us.

1. Hey, everyone else is spending at least 5k, I guess I have to as well.

2. My friends and family say it has to be really nice. What's really nice?

3. The cheapest ring on Blue Nile is 10k which works for me.

4. My wife is special and she only deserves the best. Canary Diamonds?

5. I know my wife likes Tiffany's jewelry so that should work.

After growing up in a culture that teaches us money means power and happiness it's understandable that everyone feels pressured. Plus, if everyone else is doing it why shouldn't I? No one wants to be the outcast, right? So, like many of our friends, we walk into a jewelry store and spend a lot more than we want to.

Please don't misconstrue what I'm saying as, "Be cheap, don't spend the money." Hey, if you have the money and want to spend it then I'm all for it. (Shoot, I did.) I guess my hope is that your intentions are right and well-founded. Don't let society and the media, bully you.

True story:

I once went into a jewelry store (I won't mention which one) and asked them, "So, how much should I spend on an engagement ring?" Their honest response, "General rule of thumb is 3 months pay." Ouch! I starting thinking to myself that 3 months pay for some people is a lot of money.

My advice:

My goal in life is to provide for my family and make them happy. Since I was a kid I've dreamt about giving my wife everything should could ever want. Happiness, a nice home, beautiful kids, support, a great car and of course a lovely ring! If buying my wife a 3 carat diamond is what I want to do then so be it. Don't worry about the numbers, or society's "norms". Just do what your heart tells you!

Seriously, since when did putting a monetary value on an item determine a person's worth? Love, live & prosper.

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Comments 30 comments

Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

Good advice on doing what's right for you and ignoring what everyone else around you is doing (if you can).


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

I agree with you epictruth. My brother-inlaw spent two hundred dollars on both my sister's engagement ring and wedding ring, but I think these are absolutely beautiful. In today's economy it would be economically impossible for many people to set aside that much income for a ring and there are many beautiful rings that are less expensive.


tcnixon profile image

tcnixon 8 years ago from California

I think the total for the three rings - mine and both of hers - came to less than $500. It was what we could afford. Still married. I think that is the true test. I have seen a number of folks who got those big, beautiful rings and who are now divorced.

Trust me, it's not about the ring.


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@SweetiePie - Thanks! Yes, 1/4 of your income seems like a lot to spend on any given item. I guess my hope is that people spend the money for the right reasons.


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@tcnixon - Incredible. I love to hear stories like that. Congratulations on a successful marriage. I wish you all the best.


monitor profile image

monitor 8 years ago from The world.

You're absolutely right that no price should be put on love, epictruth. Happiness should indeed come before anything of monetary value. Thanks for sharing your honest opinions on this very interesting topic.

Your fan.

Mon.


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@ monitor - Thank you for your comments. It is definitely an interesting topic and has been one of many discussions throughout my life. Buying an engagement ring for the person you love is an incredibly special time. If we can all remember the purpose behind the ring then I think we will all be a bit happier in the end.

Thanks again!


PlayaNorte profile image

PlayaNorte 8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Great hub, i think a lot of people overspend on items like this due to pressure from friends and loved ones. I have a friend who got an amazing yellow sapphire ring on ebay for $500 and loves it!


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@PlayaNorte - Really?? See, that is a great story. I'm glad to hear she's happy.


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

Okay, I think I"m going against the tide here...but I go with "the initial price should really hurt !!!" NOW, why do I say this when everyone else talking about bargains.  First, a bargain is something that people usually are willing to settle for...are you and the woman of your dreams just 'settling' for each other? Is that how precious this relationship is? It's not a great deal on toilet paper for goodness sake...this purchase should last years and years and years!!!! Maybe you get her a new one when you renew your vows on your 20th anniversary!!! Should she look at the ring on her finger and think "man, what a bargain" or should she think "My man thinks I'm really worth the world to him and he made this extravagent purchase to show me just how much I mean to him...I'll adore looking at this ring as a testament to his love for me and our committment to our futures."  (Credit cards MUCH better spent on this than a motorcycle, flat screen TV, expensive gym memberships)

Second....since this purchase will last years and years and years...and you're getting past the "oh, the tangible expression of our love that she will wear was really cheap!!" and you're ready to take the next step.  Let's say you adore this woman so much that you can truly imagine the day...10 years down the road...when you want to renew your vows...to show her that you've been the husband you want to be and the father you want to be and that you just adore her more than ever for being the greatest wife and companion you could ever imagine. Now ... Ten Years...365 days/year x times 10 years...is your lady love worth a $5.00 latte each day? WEll, sir, that's an $18 thousand dollar ring.  With good payments, it'll be paid for in 5 years and you'll have five years of NO payments to enjoy...but truly, each payment COULD be used to mentally renew your monthly appreciation for the woman you have by your side. Is she worth a latte a day?  In reality...isn't she worth TONS more than one stop at Starbucks???

THird...the inner pride you will have every time you look at her, love her, and hold her hand. Do you want to kiss the hand of a woman when your sole goal was to score a bargain? At what point, as you come to realize how deeply you love her, and how appreciative you are to have this woman in your life, are you going to want to see the tangible testament of your love for each other on her hand and think..."man, what a bargain." Let's hope there's more to your heart, soul and mind than this. Score your bargains on good deals on a fishing boat, a used Harley, and any other boy toys you were thinking of adding to the household inventory.

Fourth. You love her. You can foresee spending the rest of your lives together. This visible statement of the love you have will be flashing before you each time you're in the kitchen together cooking dinner, holding hands at the movies together, out in public at parties, with the guys from work, with her girlfriends...do you want to feel button-poppin' chest-bursting proud of what you've set on her finger to represent the love the two of you share...or do you want to feel smug about some bargain?

Now, all discounting talks about bargains aside....You do want the best for your money...and this is NOT at the Mall national chain jewelry stores. Great "rocks." beautiful settings of all types are best found at estate jewelry stores.  Remember Chandler buying a ring for Monica on TV show FRIENDS? So avoid the Malls, avoid the department store "fine jewelry" departments and hit the estate jewelry stores. Often a great stone is sitting in an old-fashioned setting that can be 're-done.' Like having a suit altered.

I say GO FOR IT...GO OVER THE TOP...SHOUT OUT THROUGH THIS SYMBOL YOUR LOVE!!!  (And, then, by the way...INSURE IT FULLY!)

As TCNixon says above, "it's not about the ring." And it's not. BUT that ring should be a sincere heart-filled "eternal" symbol of a love that outshines the mere 'daily-ness' of life. It should be a flashing testament to something grander, dearer, more heartfelt, more adored, more treasured than any other element of your entire life. It's not about the ring...but the ring can seal the deal on the committment the two of you have for each other.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Hi epictruth,

i cannot agree with desert blondie, although sweet and very expensive it all seems.

I think if you love someone and they love you, You dont have to get married to make it official with a piece of paper by being married, or splashing out on a ring that costs an arm and leg and will make many newly married couples broke for years and in debt after the all the wedding costs!!

Regardless of what you do its more of the thought! right!

I know a couple who have been happily together and love each other so much .They had a quick reception wedding and the reception "do"at home, and the ring was as cheap as chips!:P

I say forget traditions and be original and do something different, fun and unique! You dont have to prove you love someone by spending large amounts of money and following fashions!


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

If living "cheap as chips" was the strongest motive in our society, we'd all drive Hondas and Kias, we'd make our food at home from scratch and carry it around in styrofoam containers instead of pulling through yet another fast food window, we'd all have at max two pairs of shoes, one purse, no flat screen TVs, no payments for Sirius radio, no vacations.   WHAT I'm trying to get across is that jewelry is often a once in a lifetime purchase...once whose price we're not accustomed to in our typical daily life.   BUT if it can be so special, that it truly does serve as a physical tangible reminder of something extraordinarily special...finding love.

And actually, since we all agree IT IS THE THOUGHT...why not make that one 'thought' one of the most special of all ... we all have a credit cards, right? THIS is one of the most important reasons to possibly use one...instead of swiping it at Walmart for another load of Made in China stuff we don't really need!


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

lol desert blondie!,

Ok,. you win!, i will start investing, saving my pennys n pounds right now for my big day!:D


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@desert blondie - I think I understand what you're saying. However, what I'm failing to understand is why we need to have a "price" associated with the actual gift itself. If I told you that your ring was worth 100k would that make you feel better than if it was 2k? How about if I told you that your ring was worth 100k but in reality was only worth 10k. Does that make it a bad ring? Does that mean I don't love you as much.

I agree with you when you say that it is a once in a lifetime purchase. (At least it should be but for more than half of this country its a two time purchase) So, it should definitely be special and mean a lot. But, I don't think the price has anything to do with meaning a lot. Would you rather have a roof over your head or a 100k ring on your finger? What if you had to choose.

I think a huge problem is that people think they need to spend a lot of money on a gift in order for it to mean something to the other person. As in, "I spent 100k on this ring - 95k over my budget - so I must really love you!" Instead of, "Here is a ring that I picked out for you. I love you". Doesn't that seem more special?

In the end, everyone has a choice as I stated. I just hate to see people get into serious debt because of the pressure that society, friends or family put on them. It's like families who pressure their kids to get married at an early age and then are surprise when their kids get divorced.

An engagement ring should DEFINITELY be a special moment. BUT, the cost should not define how special that moment really is. :)

Thanks for the note!


stateofgrace profile image

stateofgrace 8 years ago

I feel like this kind of thing should start with the ring itself--I think that we forget that we're not shopping for a price, but for a piece of jewelry that represents a commitment. We all know that the most expensive rings aren't necessarily the ones that feel right or are going to make the girlfriend happy. It totally depends on the person--some people don't attach any sentimental value to objects, and then in that case the particular ring chosen doesn't matter as much. But if the ring that pops out to you as the perfect symbol of your relationship/one that she will absolutely love for eternity happens to be really expensive....well obviously, don't spend what you literally can't afford but....couldn't you not eat out for a while or cut say, a vacation in hawaii a few days short? :)


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

Right, as stateof grace says, we Don't need to give it a price...but a price it will indeed have. AND, epictruth...no woman will feel good if you try to tell her a 2k ring is worth 100k...she'll just feel lied to! AND if you did "spring" for a 10k ring...yu don't have to tell the love of your life it's worth 100k...she's no dummy, AND a 10k ring will be extraordinarily beautiful and something she'll lovingly wear as a testament to your relationship. So, why'd you jump over to the 100k figure in your logic, i never mentioned 100k. Plus, if you've actually been thinking 5k for this beautiful symbol....you've got it made...it's these 500 rings that had me so upset...these 'cheapas chips' comments. So, yep, no need asking how much you should spend. It WAY doesn't have to be 100k, but it sure shouldn't, in my opinion by $500. Your 5k sounds perfect. Best to you and your lady love!


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@ Desert Blondie - I think we are on the same page. :) I completely agree with you that we should not spend $500 on a ring. That's being cheap. (Although, everything is relative) From the sounds of what you were writing I had the 100k in my head. 5k seems very reasonable and very fair.

Thank you! I really appreciate your comments.


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

@StateofGrace - Yes, you're right. You can definitely cut out many things in your life to save some extra money for a ring. There is no denying that. However, I just want to make sure it is for the right reasons. Though, in the end, it's still your personal decision.

Thanks for the comments!


quensday profile image

quensday 8 years ago from New York

Hey Epic! Maybe I'm not as sophisticated, but if it were up to me, I rather have a vacation, a car, or an investment bundle over the ring :D


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

Hey! Great point!! I think every person should decide how much they want to spend on an engagement ring. But, it's important to keep in mind - at least, in my opinion - that it should in no way define the level of love you have for that person. :)


Maddie Ruud profile image

Maddie Ruud 8 years ago from Oakland, CA

I think $500 is perfectly acceptable for an engagement ring. In fact, I don't think an engagement ring is necessary at all. It's just a symbol anyway, and has whatever meaning you give it... has naught to do with monetary value, in my opinion.


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

Maddie - this is true. As you state, we should not put a monetary value on a ring. However, its tough nowadays not to do so.


betherickson profile image

betherickson 8 years ago from Minnesota

I agree that a ring is a symbol of attachment. How strong we hold the relationship is what the value of the ring. It's not the price that counts but it's the value of how we symbolized true love.


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

Well said. Thanks for stopping by! :)


Finance Chick 911 profile image

Finance Chick 911 8 years ago from New York City

I love this hub - really what a refreshing article to read!


epictruth profile image

epictruth 8 years ago from Frisco Author

Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)


Kotodama 7 years ago

THANK YOU Desert Blondie!!! I have spent too much time looking for what the "traditional rule of thumb" is in regards to how much to spend on a ring, and I have grown tired of the ENDLESS, SPINELESS advice of "spend as much -or little- as you like." I can get the same advice from a wall.

It is true that the ring is JUST a symbol ...but then again, so is "getting married". I mean, if the only thing that matterd was "love" then there is no need for mariage... all we need do is "live together". But the thing is, we want to EXPRESS out love.

I (now) agree -the ring "should hurt". We are willing to spend the REST OF OUR LIVES with the one we love, why not "put your money where your mouth is."? It is NOT about the money... it's about the EXPRESSION of Commitment. People who buy a cheap a ring and justify it by saying "it's not about the money" are kidding themselves. With that said, a cheap ring doesn't necessarily mean it's heartless. The IMPORTANT thing is what it repressents. If the ring is cheap because you rather spend money on traveling, that's fine. But if it's cheap because you can't justify spending the money -then it IS about the money, and your lack of respect and commitment to the one you claim you want to marry and be together forever.

Once again, THANK YOU Desert Blondie. In my attempts to find how much I should spend YOURS was the only voice offering a true suggestion. EVERYONE ells are too worried about being "politicaly correct" to give an honest opinion. THANK YOU!


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water man 5 years ago

I spent less $200 on engagement ring that is now in a jewelry box but have enjoyed Ann. Christmas and other holidays over last 28 years of upgrading to a very nice band that my wife get compliment all the time

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