How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

We’ve all heard the marketing slogans...two month’s salary, three month’s salary, and so on, but how much should you spend on the engagement ring that you want to buy for your significant other? 


Considering the importance of the occasion and the depth of the proposal question, is it really something that one can just assign a number too...i.e. this is the number I assign to the value of this moment in our relationship?


Doesn’t reducing the value of what one should spend on an engagement ring to a percentage of one’s income fall well short of a good, well thought out answer to this question?


At Emma Parker and Co. we don’t look at this question the same way! For us, the question we ask is different as the individual people that make up our world. There is no way that we could ever apply one rule or guideline to answer this question. In fact, the question of how much you should spend on your engagement ring only prompts us to ask new questions. 


We think there are lots of factors to consider when deciding your budget for an engagement ring. Some are practical and some are emotional. Since the practical ones are boring, let’s get those out of the way first. 



Never Over-spend Your Means


While this might seem simple and basic, it is a very real factor. When purchasing an important gift for the one you love it is easy to push the limits and to ignore the practical consequences that will arise from emotionally over-spending. 


Many people, myself included, proposed to their spouse at a young age, and as such, were not in a position of financial abundance. The finances to buy the “ideal” ring were simply out of reach. Budget restraint is a necessary part of making a good decision and failing to follow this principle will cause stress to be attached to a gift that really should be one of joy, love, and happiness. 


A simple guideline to follow would be this… never allow your budget for an engagement ring to exceed an amount that you can spend without causing undue stress on you or your significant other. 



An Engagement Ring is a Gift, not a Need


Again, this is stating the obvious, and of course to those who are seeking to buy an engagement ring, they would most likely consider this an indispensable gift to accompany such a question as life partnership...I felt this way when I proposed to my spouse. 


I have often been reminded over the years that my spouse would have said yes with or without a ring, and, at the end of the day, the ring that she wears was never going to meet any of our needs as we walked through life together.


Don’t misunderstand, I would never take back my decision to purchase a ring for her. The numbers agree…this past year, 97% of couples in the United States sealed their engagement with the giving of rings. I am by no means diminishing the significance of the ring, rather simply pointing out that it is not a basic human need. 



Now we can move on to the emotional guidelines for what to spend on an engagement ring. When considering budget from an emotional standpoint, the unique factors of your relationship and your significant other’s personality will come into play. 


Below we have tried to outline some key factors that we think should be part of your decision making process on how much to spend on an engagement ring. This list is by no means exhaustive, and you will most certainly have your own considerations to add to it. 



What Does Your Significant Other Think or Want (Know their love language!)


It is a well known and understood concept that individuals communicate and look for evidence of love via different channels. The five “recognized” love languages are physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts. 


Knowing and understanding the way your significant other receives and communicates love is a great way to determine how much you should be spending on an engagement ring for them. For example, a person for whom gifts is the lowest ranked love language will most likely care little to nothing about the actual cost of the ring, whereas a person who’s primary love language is gifts will place a much higher “love value” on the investment that their significant other made to purchase the ring. 


There is no right or wrong here. The fact that one person places a higher value on the cost of the gift vs. another person only indicates the type of love language that they use and understand. The importance of understanding the person to whom you will be presenting this gift cannot be overstated. A solid understanding of your partner’s love language will allow you to set a value on the importance of budget for your purchase.



Symbol vs. Significance


Another question that you should ponder on this journey is the view point of your significant other for the role the ring will play. Will they see the ring as a symbol to show the world your love for them, or a significant promise between just the two of you, or a mixture of both?


Again, as before, there are no right or wrong answers for this. Think of this as a sliding scale and everyone lands somewhere on this scale. On the one extreme might be a person for whom the public view of the symbol is the most important part of the ring, and on the other extreme would be the person who doesn’t care if this ring is ever seen by another person as, to them, it exists purely as the physical representation of the relationship that exists between the two of you. 


Understanding your partner in this way and having a solid understanding of their view of the ultimate purpose for the ring will help you to focus on most important aspects of the ring and will further allow you to set your budget wisely. 



Forever Sentimental vs. Change is Good


There are a lot of numbers out there, but across the board they all agree with one fact...some of the engagement ring wearing community will upgrade their ring every 7-10 years, while some will keep their ring forever. 


When purchasing an engagement ring, this is a major question that should be considered in setting a budget for your engagement ring purchase. For example, if your significant other is the “forever sentimental” type, then investing in the more expensive metal of platinum, which has a much longer life than other metals, may indeed make good budgetary sense. However, if they are the type of person that will want to upgrade regularly, or stay with the latest trends, adjusting the budget accordingly will make more sense. 


Again, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is entirely based off the preferences of your significant other, and, as a result, is a major factor is determining the budget that you might want to spend on the engagement ring. 



What is your Significant Other’s Style


Unfortunately, this can be one of the hardest things to determine. This is where friends and family can play a large role in determining the style of ring, and therefore, the potential cost of the ring that your significant other will love. 


Do they like solitaire, three stone, halo, antique? Do they want a large stone or a small stone? Do they like white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold? These factors and more will determine the style of the ring that you will be looking for which will, in turn, play a role in the budget planning for your purchase. 


Take some time to learn and figure out the style of your significant other, and you will have a less stressful shopping experience and  a better understanding of the budget you will need. 



Tradition! vs. Bring on the New


As technology continues to shape the world, the jewelry world has been no exception. With technology have come things like alternative metal compounds, moissanite stones, lab grown diamonds, lab grown gems and more. Understanding how your significant other feels about technology, as it pertains to the engagement ring that they will receive from you will help you navigate these waters. 


A lower cost option such as a lab grown diamond may not be an option for your engagement ring if it would affect the meaning of the gift to its recipient, however, some individuals may be just fine with a lab grown diamond or even desire that kind of stone over a naturally formed stone. 


Saving money with an alternative stone should not be considered if it will have an impact on the emotional value of the gift. It is important that you know and consider these options when shopping for the ring and when deciding on your budget. 


Buying an engagement ring is a very important process and considering the different possibilities and options will be much easier and less stressful if you have considered what you are going to purchase carefully in light of how that will affect your budget. This will allow you to be prepared, to ask the right questions, and to shop with confidence!


You can shop for a great engagement and experience our top notch, stress free customer service at Emma Parker & Co. We specialize in pre-made designs and custom rings. View our collections here!