Not Engaged Yet

How much to budget for engagement ring given our circumstances?

Hi everyone! I'm new here and new to the whole wedding scene. My boyfriend and I have recently discussed getting engaged and he asked me to pick out some ring styles that I like. Both being naive, we went to a few jewelry stores that everyone knows about (e.g. Tiffany's) to check out some designs in person. One ring was over $40,000, and another we pointed at was $60,000! I'm aware that brand name jewelry stores are overpriced, but now I have no idea where to look and what price range is reasonable. I was so embarrassed.

So, I did some research online to see how much we should spend on a ring. I know the 3 month thing is a hoax. Problem is, everyone says "spend what makes you comfortable" but I don't know what amount that is. Some say, don't bother with a ring at all (ok by me actually) and others say it should be based on your financial situation.

Our situation is that we're both working (though he may go back to school), have a mortgage and both make six figure salaries. Neither of us have any debt other than day-to-day credit card debt. If you go by the 3 month rule, then he should spend $25k! If you take my income into consideration, we could spend more than that (although he wants to buy it himself). But I'm also reading the average cost is $2-5000. What is considered appropriate? Also, where should I be looking? Thanks everyone!

Re: How much to budget for engagement ring given our circumstances?

  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    There really is no right answer to this question besides don't go into debt for a ring! The best thing to do would be to sit down with your BF and look at your finances and come to an agreement about what the budget should be. If you talk about it together you'll get a feel for what you're both comfortable with. Also, if he really wants to buy it himself you can let him decide what he's comfortable with. For example my BF is comfortable than spending more than I would be but I know he won't go into debt and since it's his money it's his decision.

    As for where to look there are lots of options! You can look at a big chain like Jared's or Kay. Or you could look at local jewelers and even look online.

  • I would just spend an amount that both you and your BF feel comfortable with.  Look online ( I loved playing around on Blue Nile) see what styles (band and diamond you like) go to jewelry stores to try on rings to figure out the cut of diamond and size that looks best on you. 


  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Aahahaha yeah $40k is more than we're spending on the whole wedding. I can't imagine having such an expensive object on my person on a regular basis. Wow.

    @bethsmiles' advice is really good.

    Unfortunately, "Spend what you feel comfortable spending" is really some of the best advice about ring prices. For us, that meant about $1k, and that was after increasing our budget (he has a ring, too, and we both paid for both rings). We also included the rings as a wedding expense.

    It sort of helped to have a dual mentality about the whole thing. "It's just a piece of jewelry, I didn't even want an engagement ring, the wedding band is the important ring, and it has no bearing on whether or not we're legally married!" = keep costs as low as possible. And, "I have to love it if I am going to wear it every day, we can afford to spend more than $100-200, and since I'm going to wear it forever, let's think about how much it'll cost over time, and not just up front" = it's okay to spend money on a ring.

    What I recommend is starting with: What kinds of rings do you both like? Look at Pinterest, Etsy, brand name jeweler websites, and even TK (both the main site and the ring thread in Just Engaged and Proposals). Once you have an idea of what styles you like, talk about how much you'd like to spend. Listen: If you can afford to spend $30k on a ring, and you're OKAY with spending that much on a ring, then please don't feel like you're not allowed to. But maybe you don't want to spend that much. Maybe you want to spend less than $10k. Maybe anything above $5k feels frivolous to you. Hell, even if you can afford $25k, you might not want to spend more than $500.

    Then, start hunting down the styles and stones you like in your price range. We ran into problems early: not only did my partner HATE the styles I liked, but the embellishments we had to add to turn something I liked into something HE liked ended up tripling the price. We made the decision to increase our budget instead of settling for something else.
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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    Another person is not going to be able to answer how much you should spend.

    Do you want a diamond or some other gemstone?
    What type of metal do you want your band to be made of?

    You can also take another approach in how much (rings included) do you wish to spend on the wedding?  From that you can take a percentage and put it towards the ring - example:  Let's say you wish to spend no more than $15,000 on your wedding - and you're willing to put 10% of that towards your ring, that means your budget will be $1500.

  • What you can afford and what you are willing to spend are both relative.  Only you and your bf can come up with that number.

    It's similar to buying a house.  Most banks will approve people for 3-4x's their salary.  Sure you could spend that, but that may mean you're eating ramen the first few years.  For me, I'd rather pick a halfway point and still get to enjoy fabulous steak dinners.

    Only you know what you want and are comfortable with.  Make sure you do it for you and not to keep up with the joneses.  They don't have to pay your bills.
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  • labrolabro Hotlanta member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I agree with @peaseblossom55. I would go online, or to a store, and determine first what you like. Stone type, cut, type of metal for the band, halo diamond or not, etc. etc. I think once you figure out your preferences it will be easier to start narrowing down a budget. For example, maybe you realize the overall quality of the stone is more important than the actual carat weight. Obviously it's still up to your bf how much HE is comfortable spending, but you can help him narrow it down by showing him your style preferences. There isn't any "appropiate" amount you should spend. An engagement ring can be a $0.50 plastic ring from a gumball machine or a $60,000.00 four carat diamond ring from Tiffany's.

    Peaseblossom55[Deleted User]
  • it should be noted that I would throw a $40k or $60k ring back in some guy's face if he proposed.  I'm a jerk though, obviously.

    My FI did not follow the 3 months rule, but he did make sure that he had enough money in the bank to cover the ring.  It was really important to him not to go into debt for an engagement (cause obviously, a wedding costs a bit too.)

    And if you would say no because he didn't spend enough (which it doesn't sound like you would)...then you shouldn't be getting married in the first place, so in the end, the cost doesn't matter much. 

    It's okay to have a discussion concerning your expectations and his expectations though.  In fact, it kinda sounds like you should have one of those.
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  • It really IS about what you're comfortable spending.

    If you think spending 5 figures on a ring is overkill, you don't have to.  Maybe the best thing to do is to decide on a price range you feel is reasonable, go back shopping, and see what you like that falls in that price point.

    And if you don't want a ring at all, that's ok too.  Just decide what you're most comfortable with and go from there.
  • This is completely a personal decision based on your personal finances, wants, style, etc.  Think of it as buying a car...just because you may be able to afford a $60K car, doesn't mean you have to buy a $60K car, or that that's even something you are remotely interested in.  But you take your budget and decide what you can afford, then consider your feelings on a car (do you want something simple and reliable, or do you want something flashy), then you start looking in a price range that matches your taste/budget.  

    FWIW, I'm not much of a jewelry person and I never wore a ring before my e-ring.  There's no way in hell I would have been comfortable wearing something that was worth 3 months of H's salary.  We could have afforded more, but we went with what I was comfortable wearing. 
  • You could be a little more direct with your boyfriend and simply ask him to give you perhaps a range for pricing, or a max for pricing.  If he doesn't want to do that, then tell him that you will be giving him ideas about style, cut, etc., by showing him examples of what you like, but that when you do, you are not showing him based on price, only based on styles that you like.  You can pretty much find the same kind of styles in all different price ranges, so he will be able to take it from there.
  • No ring is "too cheap" for your salary. And that goes for EVERYONE. So, even if you have a 6-figure salary, don't feel obligated to only look at rings just because they're above a certain price. Find something you like, evaluate the price, and see if you're fine spending that amount. If not, then keep searching until you are.

    If you find a ring for, say, $699 that you love, don't feel like you have to pass on it just because you CAN afford more.
  • @laceybird one of my good friends proposed with a $700 ring. 6 years later they're still married and their relationship is awesome. They both make close to 6 figures.
    I guess, to tell you the truth, I've never had much of a desire to grow facial hair. I think I've managed to play quarterback just fine without a mustache. - Peyton
  • eilis1228eilis1228 Southwest member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    I think there's a lot of great advice on here, and I'm sure I'll just be echoing everyone else:
    Do you have a style you're set on? Does it have to be a diamond? Do you know if there are any family heirlooms on his side or your side that could be used as the ring or stone? For example, my mom offered my boyfriend the diamond my dad gave her when he proposed (they divorced when I was 2, and he passed away a few years ago). For a while we talked about using that diamond in a new setting, but I think we're actually going to go with moissanite now. 

    We determined budget for the ring by looking at our overall budget for the wedding. Like you and you BF, our salaries combined are in the 6 figures. The 3 months rule would end up being a ridiculous amount of money, and we just weren't comfortable with spending so much on a piece of jewelry. Of course, we both have student loan debt, so our savings plan for the wedding is still going to be a little tight. Our overall wedding budget is going to be about $20k (rings, dress, suit, venue, honeymoon, etc). No way we were going to spend most of that on a ring. I think setting an overall budget for the wedding will help you figure out a ring budget and is probably what is meant when people say "spend what you're comfortable spending." 

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  • Thanks everyone. I think I will sit down with him again and broach the subject. Unfortunately I don't know how amenable he would be to having this convo as he says that he wants to keep the amount he spends a secret. I haven't even begun to think about a wedding (one step at a time). 

    I don't mind not having a diamond, but having a ring would be nice. I've heard of Blue Nile but will do some research online. In terms of styles, I like ones that are simple and not ornate. I assume he'll spend a bit more than the average (he already has tens of thousands sitting in his bank account) but definitely NOT a ridiculous sum! And we definitely won't go into debt for it. It just makes me wonder who has the money to spend $40-60k on an engagement ring!!
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