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Home » Lifestyle Finance

How much should you Spend on an Engagement Ring? How about Nothing?

Last updated by on January 4, 2016

We were standing at the top of a hill on an island in the middle of Lake Michigan. It was a clear September day, my soon-to-be wife’s birthday, as a matter of fact.

A rare bald eagle soared over head. Was it a sign?

The hill, frequented by tourist hikers, was busy on this particular day.

As we finished up our picnic lunch, I anxiously awaited for the foot traffic to clear out. A tiny $3,000 stone on top of a white gold band lay tucked away in the pocket of my shorts.

As the last hiker turned the corner, I got down on one knee and pulled out the engagement ring. “Will you marry me?”.

How Much should you Spend on an Engagement Ring?

4 months earlier…

I knew that I was ready to propose. The only question left in my mind was, “how much should I spend on an engagement ring?”.

I did my research, like any smart young naive man would do. Three months salary? That sounds about right. It was my first job out of college and I was pulling in a whopping $35K. Three months salary would put me right around that $3,000 mark – most of what I had saved at the time. Thank you for the kind recommendation, De Beers.

I spent months researching color, clarity, cut, and certification. I wanted the perfect engagement ring. I visited dozens of jewelry stores before settling on just the right diamond online (from a certified, reputable source, of course) and adding it to a gold band from a local jeweler. Was I ready?

how much should you spend on an engagement ringLet’s refer to the engagement proposal checklist…

  • 3 months income saved? check
  • diamond engagement ring purchased? check
  • date or location of significance? double check
  • unsuspecting element of surprise so she can’t say no? check!

Indeed. I was ready to seal the deal.

The Ridiculousness of Tradition: Why Settle for a Cheap Engagement Ring when you should not Spend Anything?

My wife and I are still happily married to this day.

However, I look back upon the engagement and proposal process with a bit of embarrassment, even shame.

I didn’t think to question the engagement ring tradition at all. This is ironic, in that just 10 months later, we would wrap up a cheap wedding that only cost us $2,500. One of our primary goals was to ignore all of the average wedding cost recommendations and avoid tradition as much as possible.

That’s right. I spent more on the engagement ring than we did on the wedding.

I spent my savings on a tiny material item that had no family history, no sentimental value, and had a negative impact on the environment to unearth.

And I did it because it was ‘the thing you do’. In fact, more than 80% of American brides-to-be receive a diamond engagement ring. Average cost? Now, it’s up to $5,855. By the way, this ‘tradition’ didn’t evolve until the 19th century and really didn’t take off De Beers discovered mines in South Africa that drove the price of diamonds down and the ensuing 1930’s and 1940’s advertising campaigns to convince the American public.

Since then, my wife and I have changed quite a bit. We’ve evolved. Material possessions mean absolutely nothing to us these days. We’ve spent a good part of the last year selling off about half of our possessions – many of which we were emotionally attached to at one time.

Just the other week I decided to cancel the $30/year jewelry coverage we had added on to our homeowners insurance policy to cover the ring, in the event it were lost or stolen. If we lost it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We wouldn’t try to replace it. So why pay insurance on it?

I even went so far as to propose to my wife that if she ever decided she wanted to get rid of the ring (perhaps to unleash the $3,000 weight off her hand), she had my support. It has nothing to do with the cost – we are doing well financially these days – rather, the glitzy piece of jewelry does not represent us anymore. Looking back, it never really did.

Reconsider the Engagement Ring & Proposal Process

What might be even more shameful than buying a $3,000 engagement ring, in retrospect, is that I bought in to the whole engagement tradition.

When you would like someone to make a LIFELONG commitment to you, is it fair to approach that moment with an element of surprise and an expensive piece of jewelry?

How ridiculous is that?!

The marriage decision should be a careful evaluation and discussion of life goals and values over a period of years.

There should be no element of surprise. There should be no $3,000, $10,000, or $20,000 engagement ring carrot.

If you need any band at all, why not just make it a wedding band? Something that you can pick out together. Something with significance.

Besides, what percent of engagements have ended in complete failure? And for those that don’t, there is now research that suggested spending more on an engagement ring can lead to higher rates of marriage failure!

Most expensive traditions that have been adopted in this country have been born of or at least amplified by corporate interests – Valentine’s Day, spending hundreds on Christmas gifts, having at least 2 cars per family, the diamond engagement ring, spending 3 months of salary on an engagement ring, every aspect of the traditional wedding, building a home, getting a 3-4 bedroom with a 3-car garage, the Disney World family vacation, taking out a mortgage on a home, getting multiple degrees and taking out student loans, even funerals! Sounds like the picture perfect American life.

Perhaps the number one variable of one’s financial success over life is their willingness to turn their back on tradition?

Engagement Ring Cost Discussion:

  • How much did you spend on your engagement ring? Why?
  • What is your engagement ring story? (good or bad)
  • If you are still married, does the engagement ring mean anything to you or your spouse

Related Posts:

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Sacha Chua says:

    Yes, it’s possible! W- and I decided to get married when we found ourselves making long-term plans together. No Hollywood moment, no engagement ring, no nervousness, no gender stereotypes… Glad we did it that way!

  • Raven says:

    I gave my wife my maternal grandmother’s ring. 40 yrs of one of the happiest marriages most folks that knew them had ever seen, 8 children–lots of good vibes on that little piece of platinum and diamond. I gave it to her with the understanding if the ring wasn’t her style or preference, we’d buy another and that would be a ‘starter ring’. Being who she is, she loved it and the history and family connections it brought.

    There was a wedding band in a matched set. All I had to do was buy a replacement diamond chip as one of them had fallen out. Under $100. We later got the rings soldered/fused because they had a tendency to spin on her hand.

    And I saved $5k!

    I recently bought her a new under $200 wedding band in a larger size because she’s pregnant and has sporradic swelling. Still saved a ton and the rings already had blessings on them.

  • Amanda says:

    Wouldn’t 3 months salary be almost $9,000? I think that’s completely ridiculous, but I’m just asking.

    If I ever have this happen to me, I would prefer a surprise proposal with a non-diamond ring after extensive discussion, but that’s just my preference.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Good catch. Perhaps the recommendation was 3 months net income? Either that, or I was more frugal than I thought!

    • BG says:

      LOL – busted!

      Anyhow, the wife got a whopping $250 engagement ring. Five years later, and we upgraded it to a $6500 ring (she still have the original one in a jewelry box).

    • Ryan says:

      Let’s think about this. Three months salary at 35k annual salary is $3,000? With twelve months in a year that would make $12,000 annual salary. Even after taxes that is about half of what three months salary should be. If your jobs pays you 35k annual salary. Twice a month you get a check for around $1000 after taxes. Two thousand a month over 3 months is $6,000 for three months salary. I’m living out a scenario similar to this and I would not be able to save three months salary if I wanted to get married in a year or the next. For a couple in their early twenties, $2500+ is an outstanding gesture. It seems 3 months salary is kind of ridiculous. If you shrink it down to about 1 pay check per month which is the math for what the author suggests about $3000 on 35k it appears to be a more accurate scale of affordability.

  • BF says:

    Ah, man. While I totally get that spending a ton of money on an engagement ring is ridiculous (we actually spent half of what you did), for the majority of women, getting engaged and planning the wedding is just not about logic and practicality. Or if it is, it’s only about 30% of it. You can try to make the argument against spending money on something so fleeting, frivolous, and material all you want, but the emotions tied to getting married will always win out.

    And just to be clear, while the engagement ring and wedding bands we bought to get married had no sentimental value at the time, they DEFINITELY do now. I wear my engagement ring and wedding band with pride, love, and hope for the future.

  • SarahB says:

    I’ve been married almost 7 years. We simply decided to get married, there was no big proposal and I didn’t want an engagement ring. We eventually went to a local, family owned jewelry store and picked out our wedding rings together and spent $550 total on our rings. I have a lovely half-carat sapphire wedding ring, which I still love.

  • Jessi says:

    I completely agree that the “tradition” of costly engagement rings is pretty silly.

    I just got married about four months ago, and my husband actually spent more than 3 months salary on my engagement ring. But that’s because he was a student employed at a front desk job in one of the dorms, so the $300 he spent was both more than 3 months salary and way less than the $3200 average!

    And I love the ring, it’s perfect! When we got married we spent a little bit more ($500) on my wedding ring to have it custom made to fit the engagement ring and I wear them both now.

    The cost doesn’t matter to me, it’s all about the significance and meaning behind it. And I imagine years down the road that I’ll still love these rings because of their sentimental value, not because of how much they cost 🙂

  • Sun says:

    I believe you only get married once. The significant cost of an engagement and wedding ring really makes you think about your commitment to your spouse. I was able to negotiate a better cut and colorless diamond because I paid cash.

  • Jay S. Fleischman says:

    I get that the cost of an engagement ring is absurd, and there’s a limit to which someone should go in professing their undying love. I think the best option is to use a family heirloom but, barring that possibility, a good second choice would be to balance what you can afford with what you want.

    After all, you can always upgrade the stone at a later date. Makes for an excellent anniversary gift later in life.

  • Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    I guess my viewpoint is different than most of the other commenters…

    My diamond cost about $2k and the custom setting was about $2k. That was 2 months’ salary total.

    My husband picked out the diamond and proposed with it on a throwaway setting and we had our setting designed during our engagement.

    Yes, the ring means a lot to me, and my husband likes that I like it. I absolutely love the design and I have received many compliments on it over the years. Looking at my ring reminds me of my husband’s proposal, which was surprisingly thoughtful, romantic, and elaborate from a man not prone to those extravagances. Having a proposal that involved surprise, a significant financial expenditure, a lot of planning, and an actual question reassured me that he really wanted to get married – that he was putting it all on the line. Actions speak louder than words, I suppose. We had spent the previous two years evaluating whether or not we would be good life partners (the first two years we dated were less purposeful) but I appreciate that he drew a distinction between our discussions of marriage and the start of our actual engagement.

    Could all that have been accomplished without the big financial expenditure? Sure. That he invested a lot of time making our proposal special was the really important part. But to also have a lovely piece of jewelry that we designed together and put a lot of thought into is wonderful as well. He had the savings to buy my ring after accomplishing other financial goals, so why not?

    • Pili says:

      I’m sorry but you asking awfully materialistic and immature. All of your comments are about hope the amount of money signified his love to you… Honestly, slightly bothered that there are people like you around. It has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of the ring nor that your friend think it’s awesome. I truly am thankful my soon to be fiance does not use the verbiage you choose to. Sorry for the negativity, just annoyed with ” oh my god!” Girls like you.

      • Olivia says:

        I am recently engaged, within the last few days, and my engagement ring was a pretty penny. It should be noted, while I love my ring and it was my dream ring it was not the one I told my fiance to get. I did show him and he said it fit me, but I told him it was too much and gave him a few other options that I also liked greatly. When he asked me to marry him he surprised me completely with the “dream” ring and I was crying and saying yes over and over. Before I met my fiance I was dead set on never getting married, or getting a ring or anything. I hated all of it and I refused to be apart of it. Then I met my fiance and he is so wonderful and perfect for me he made me want all those things I thought I was against. I do not wear jewelry. I wear no jewelry except my ring, I have never been a jewelry wearer and I only own one pair of earrings I wear about three times a year. I hate it, I think it looks stupid but I love my ring. I kept telling him he shouldn’t have bought it, it was too much and he told me that it was something he wanted to do for me. He didn’t want me to worry about anything that had to do with it, it was a gift. I think that is nice, I didn’t demand the ring I simply once said I loved it. That is it, I also showed him other options that were far far far less expensive. I am a very cost conscious person. But when he spoke to me about the ring after, because I felt badly for even liking it. He told me not to worry, it was one thing I wasn’t to worry about because it was something he was doing for me. He said I worry and take care of everyone else, that I run myself ragged for him and the children that this was one thing he could give me. I have read where women say they would slap their man for spending money like mine did but why would I try to take something away from him he was doing out of kindness. I love my fiance, and while my ring is amazing and beautiful it doesn’t and will never compare to how wonderful he is and makes me. He makes me a better person, the ring is just something I get to wear so everyone knows I am his without me saying it.

      • sonya says:

        I believe a lot of these comments are influenced by age. There are many stages we go through in life. Some of our ideas change as we get older. Some people still hold on to their original way of thinking.
        There are many phases of Love that couples go through and oviously we all have different goals in life. What some people think is outragous, others do not. What one person can afford to spend (on whatever) should not be compared to another person that cannot afford the same expense.
        One reason people view weddings, and engagements differently comes from what they were taught at home. Some parents still feel romantic about their purposal, engagement, & wedding, no matter how big or small the events. Some barely discuss any of those subjects.
        My husband and I were married after 5 months of dating. We decided to elope because we wanted to be together (we lived 1 & 1/2 hours away from each other). I also had a very meddling relative trying to change all my wedding plans.
        Yes, I was the girl who bought those consumer bridal magazines (& dont regret it), and dreamed of the day I would find that perfect someone that belonged in my life. We would have the wedding of my dreams and live happily ever after.
        We had already picked out our rings, $1,000 for mine, $500 for his. We got a very good price because we were friends with a jewelry store owner. I chose a 1/2 a karat because I knew it was what he could afford. It would have been nice to have a 1 karat but I did not want my ring to be a burden for him.
        When you are really in love with each other, you know what is sincere & what makes each of you happy. It’s not the ring, or exactly where you purpose, It is the fact that you put a lot of thought into what you did and said that matters.
        I do not believe you should look back like the author has done and say that it was all a waste of time or money. With my Hardheaded sons approaching wedding, I have found out that PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO FOR THEIR OWN REASONS.
        So the author of this article and everyone else did what made them happy at the time. No I do not consider it selfish to buy a large ring or have a large wedding as long as you do not have to go into debt. I believe we should only spend the amount we can afford. But, hopefully all of you are smart enough to know that especially in this economy.

        One last word. Yes, everything to do with a wedding usually has some deep rooted meaning. But the author did not go back quite far enough in his search. Weddings started off as a simple celebration for friends to wish the bride and groom a good marriage. The Aristocrats and Royalty have made it into the huge expensive affair that we see today. So if you want really cheap and simple you might want to do some real research about wedding traditions.

        (Looking back, I wish I had told my relative to “go jump in a lake” and had my wedding I had been dreaming of all my life, I was 18 and my husband was 20.)

        I am now 47.

  • Lindsey says:

    My husband and I shopped together for rings, but he sent me away after we had picked a couple of choices. Even though I had helped shop for the ring that afternoon, I was still surprised when he pulled the ring out that night.

    Going into shopping, he knew he didn’t want to spend more than $1500 and knew what kind of diamond he wanted to buy. He ended up negotiating the price and getting it for less.

  • Jim says:

    There’s some “reverse brag” going on with this post. I get the point that the “tradition” has its history in marketing and there may be better things to do with the money. But some women like, and prefer, the diamond ring and they shouldn’t be judged on that by personal finance snobs (I include myself in that group 😛 ). I had the savings for a nice diamond, my fiance loves it, and in the grand scheme of things we won’t miss the money. If someone is in debt or doesn’t have the savings, though, you’re right on the money.

  • John says:

    I chose a ring based on what it looked like rather than cost. I picked out out many months before buying it. It dropped in price by *half* which is when I bought it.

    It’s more important to spend money on the things you do together rather than a piece of metal that is worth nowhere near as much once it leaves the store.
    The money “saved” will go into the engagement party and house renovations.

    The important point to remember is that the 3 month salary tradition comes from Jewelry sellers. They came up with the idea to sell more expensive rings.

  • Cathy says:

    The engagement ring that my husband got me was more expensive than I would have preferred. However, he knew that deep down I wanted a nice ring. We recently had it re-appraised for insurance purposes and found that the ring is actually worth 25% more than it was 5 years ago. So an engagement ring can also be an investment. Although, my husband said we are never selling it. lol

  • Ellen says:

    I was absolutely against my other half spending so much (of OUR) money on a ring when I am not a big fan of diamonds anyways. So I found a pearl and sapphire ring at a jewelry closeout sale for $400 and told him its the one I REALLY wanted. He was relieved that he didn’t have to find (and pay for) a really expensive diamond ring… and I LOVE it!

  • Micah says:

    Good post!

    I bought my wife a ring on Craigslist for $500, no questions asked, when we were starving grad students. That was over seven years ago. We are happy now, and have three kids. My wife is a social worker, and she rarely wears the ring, usually just the wedding band.

    Looking back, I’m so thankful I got married when I was poor. Now that I have a decent income I would feel pressure to actually go out and blow some real money.

    Still, I’m glad I bought the ring. Tradition is around for a reason, but I agree it doesn’t have to be expensive.

    • Mike says:

      Hey Micah do you not realize that the engagement ring tradition is based purely on marketing and jewelers trying to make money? THAT is why that tradition is around. People bought into it and it trickled down from generation to generation.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    My wife actually bought us both of our rings. She paid less than $500 for both w/ lifetime guarantees for adjustments.

    It later didn’t mean as much to her as she never wears them and I only wear them when I go out.

  • jeffrey@moneybuilders says:

    Bravo! I’ve always been disgusted by the rampant materialism associated with popular culture, and in particular conceptions of romance. The glitzier a ring, a wedding, or any meaningless outward display of affection, the more it cheapens the intention behind the act of giving. In the case of an engagement ring, I would think cost and extravagance are secondary considerations next to personalization and presentation. A friend of mine just bought his girlfriend a bracelet for her birthday on which was engraved the ridiculous term of endearment “walrus snuggs” and far from caring about the cost of the jewelry she was deeply touched by the obvious consideration he put into the gift.

    • Elizabeth says:

      You make some pretty large assumptions and judgments here. Outward displays of affection are not always meaningless, and it does not necessarily cheapen intention. For some people, it is easier to display affection only privately. Professing your lifetime commitment to each other CAN mean more when it’s in the presence of your loved ones.

      Some of us have a lot of family, so we’ll be spending a decent chunk of money on food and booze for them. Sure, we could have a wedding with no meal and ask that no one bring gifts. And we would – if the wedding was threatening to put us into debt. However, my family likes to throw big parties for each other, and my dad has been looking forward to hosting something like this for quite a while. He’s paying for the aspects that are important to him, and my fiance and I are paying for the aspects that are important to us.

      The key is to not buy into things just because it’s the “way it’s done.” Have intentions with how you spend your money, and you’ll rarely regret it.

      As for the ring – I took issue with diamonds because of the marketing and human rights aspects. Future husband did TONS of research and found me a moissanite and palladium ring. It’s durable, beautiful, and special to us. FILLED with sentimental value.

  • Mary says:

    I love that all of the ads on the page are for diamond rings. 🙂

  • Kate says:

    My husband is so smart – he didn’t let our finances stop him from proposing, or allow himself to go into debt. He proposed quite cleverly, with a family-heirloom, diamond engagement necklace.

    The stone is significant to his (now our) family -it came from the engagement ring his Father gave to his mother. After his Father’s death, his Mom remarried and had the ring turned into a gorgeous necklace. I wore the necklace the entire two years of our engagement and often still do.

    My husband also inherited his Father’s wedding band. We purchased a simple gold band for me, which I got to pick out. It’s a simple, yellow gold band with small diamonds inset along the top. I LOVE wearing my wedding band. I don’t have to worry about the ring catching on knit sleeves and mittens. We were lucky to have the family pieces. I imagine many families would like to see jewelry stay in the family and not end up in an estate sale.

  • Diana says:

    $14k and appraised for $19k. And our ring was on the low end compared to my family, where most engagement rings were $20k. Ans yes, this was equivalent to 2.5 months of his salary.

    • Unemployed says:

      Hello Diana, It is really sad that you would wear such an extravagant piece of jewelry and not feel bad that some person living under a bridge could buy a home for at the most, half of that! You are seriously the POSTER DIVA for what is wrong in America! Keep sporting your glorious ring on your finger cause with a ring that big, 5 boys in Africa died to mine that for you and another 5 children will starve in America cause you haven’t sold it to help a fellow American down on his luck in these Horrible Economical times! Vanity does not take care of your community, But in your community your probably all rich snobs! Enjoy the Glistening Jewels! I’m so glad too that you slapped the rest of us in the face that this was 2 1/2 months salary for him! And so the rest of you know my husband and I spent $1,300 on our 3 piece set. and after my husband became unemployed the Gap Insurance had to pay all but $100.00 (after harassing us daily for 6 months). We have been married for 20 years this year and the rings now seem so less important since we sold them to feed our family! We have Degrees too, but is not enough anymore, unless you are fortunate to be born into money! American traditions should be taking care of our communities, remember it takes a village to raise a child and especially in light of the Country’s Financial crisis! For those of you who haven’t purchased an Expensive ring, Don’t, you will get so much more reward if you go to a local food pantry and really see where America is at right now. Serve the Homeless on Thanksgiving or Christmas, you will then see the true Value of Life! Good Luck all.

      • Sun says:

        I hope your situation improves. Good luck to you.

      • Z says:

        Are you kidding me “unemployed” It is not Diana or anyone’s responsibility for get anyone out of debt or off the street. Her fiance’/husband wanted to purchase that for her and so he did. It is really none of your business. Yes, I know she posted it but you are not entitled to their money or anyone else’s money. I get so irritated when people feel entitled to other people’s money and hard work!!! And you don’t know them, they could be giving to a shelter or food bank or some other charity. She posted about her ring as she was asked….Not to have someone think that the money was owed to them simply because YOU are breathing. It is hard economic times, but no one owes me one cent and if they choose to spend it on a gaudy piece of jewelry, car, house, or clothing they earned it!

        • c88 says:

          Here Here Z!! I agree 100% it is horrible that someone feels so entitled they have to make someone who is clearly hard working and has earned it feel bad about a ring. My current boyfriend and I are stating to look at rings and while we do not have quite as much to spend he wanted to make sure I get the ring of my dreams…maybe around 5-6k (around 1 month of his gross income). He and I have spent extensive amouts of time volunteering in the US and Eastern Europe and donate to our favorite charities reguraly. It is not right for us to be judged based on 1 material item, I wear costume jewerly only but this is the 1 item (other then my wedding band) that I will wear every single day for the rest of my life.. if you break it down, a 6k ring = 120/year or 10/month given a 50 year marriage…

          And “Unemployed”…I am currenlty in a position with my job where I am responsible for recruiting a few entry level employees but I have yet to interview anyone with a college degree who has fallen on hard times (or a college degree at all), mind you these are full time positions with a fortune 500 company, benfits and all. It baffles me that so many affected by these “hard economic” times are willing to wait in line palm up but are not willing to put aside their pride and accept a position “beneth them”

          //end rant

        • Ashley says:

          I agree with you 100%. Mine cost around $16K and is around 1.5 his salary, but he said the ring was to prove his commitment to me.

  • Sean Hopcraft says:

    I sure hope that the woman I marry does not have a huge desire for the hyped up engagement moment. Something simple (material wise), yet very thought out and special. As of right now, that’s not on the horizon so I’ve got time to breathe.

  • bax says:

    Fascinating info on the evolution of a “tradition” I was lucky, I had a family heirloom to give, and frankly, she was worth it.

  • NYLIGUY says:

    Spent $10K on ring. Appraised for $17K – I pay insurance on it every month.

    I’m usually very frugal in my life, and known as a tightwad even when I make a decent living. Therefor I thought she deserved something that felt somewhat of a sacrafic to me. Engagement rings back to roman times were known to be a way of sacrificing and showing you would work hard to provide for her.

    Not much of an engagement story, usual proposed during a nice day spent together followed by an evening celebrating with family and friends.

    Still engaged, and not married yet. I think it means something to her, she’s very proud and loves it.

    Now the wedding, spending upwards of $50K for a one night party. This to me seems incredibly insane but there’s no way around it unless you start looking at midweek and backyard weddings.

    My logic is I throw Holiday parties that would trump a midweek or backyard wedding, so shouldn’t I have something more for a special wedding day?

    To rent a hall on a Saturday night in the summer is costly in New York.

    More power to those that were able to spend less.

  • Honey says:

    I knew exactly what I wanted the ring to look like, but I didn’t care if the stone was real. So my fiance got me a white gold band with CZ stones that looks fantastic (if the center stone was real, it’d be about .75 carat). I love it, and when we were doing some initial comparison shopping for bands for him the other day, one of the jewelry store women said it was beautiful and did he buy it at their store, it was the only place she knew with rings that nice?! I know she was sucking up hoping I’d pop for the $975 band we were looking at for him (nope, sorry, bought basically the exact same one on Amazon for $275), but it made me feel good to know that even if she was overcomplimenting as a sales strategy, she certainly had no idea the stone wasn’t real. I think the engagement ring was about $350 and so was the matching wedding ring we bought off the same site, and like I said his was less than $300, so I think we got all 3 for less than $1K and no one would ever know.

  • Usiere says:

    It is different strokes for different folks when it comes to spending generally, engagement rings inclusive. If you can afford it, buy what you like, if you can’t afford what you really like, buy what you can afford. It is the thoughts and feelings behind it that matters. The key issue would be how to know whether you can afford it or not, as cleaning out your savings to buy an engagement ring is not smart financially although it may make sense emotionally

  • aaron says:

    I spent 2800 dollars on my wife’s engagement ring. I was still in college at the time working at a Chinese Restaurant. I was making decent money but I spent every penny I had. I thought I was getting ripped off. Now I am graduated without a job in my field. We moved out of state and my wife gets her ring cleaned every 6 months at the jeweler. When she went to the jeweler, for some reason, they appraised the ring right in front of her for 2300 dollars. She thinks I was cheap now when I bought her ring. I refuse to tell her how much I spent. Long story short, I bought a car for 2600 dollars that runs great! Engagement rings are such a rip off.

  • Frankie says:

    My niece just got engaged. She is still in college and her fiancée just graduated. They have been together for 2 ½ years and we all knew that they would eventually get married. He spent several weeks carving a simple band out of wood to purpose with and is planning to get her a more traditional ring later when they can afford it without going into debt.

  • ST says:

    I’ve just recently gotten engaged, my fiance’ didn’t do the whole big proposel thing, even though i’ve always thought it may be nice to do so but the way it worked out really works for me and wouldn’t change it for the world, it was just a normal conversation about plans for the future (brang up by him) and then he said he wanted to marry me, wanted me to be his wife and spend the rest of his life with me, i said the same and we have gone from there to being engaged. Does it really matter if you have a nice big rock on your finger or something thats cute and sweet and compliments the both of you as a couple. I still do not have an engagement ring, he wants to go and buy one, spend alot on it aswell, where as i know im happy with just a lol ring with some pink or light blue stones in it, then again i really couldn’t care if i ever got one to be honest. As long as i do become his wife and i can spend the rest of my life with him i’m happy with that.

    • Laura says:


      My boyfriend and I have had this conversation that you’ve had and now we talk about a formal engagement (that involves a proposal, a ring and telling friends and family). But I’m convinced I don’t need a ring as I think it would be a waste of money for us and I’m not much into jewelry. I would just like a small wedding band after we are married. But how do we share our engagement with others in this day and age? It’s sad to say that people will question our commitment without a ring. It’s sad that a proper announcement of engagement is with photos of the ring on facebook and showing it off to family. We can simply tell people we are engaged but explaining why you don’t have a ring can be hard without insulting someone else’s choice to have an expensive diamond. Have you struggled with any of the social norms in this type of ring-less engagement?

  • JY says:

    My husband proposed with his mother’s wedding ring (she’s divorced, so this band has been sitting in a drawer for almost 30 years).

    He was uncertain if I would fear it would bring bad luck, but in reality I am thrilled NOT to have wasted money on a diamond ring. I don’t like rings of any kind on my hands and have never worn any outside of very special occasions.

    To this day that wedding ring has only been worn once, for photographs at the wedding ceremony. We have been together ten years and the money we saved by not buying diamond ring has gone towards something we both enjoy – vacations and home renovations.

  • Matthew says:

    We bought 2 sterling silver rings from Wal-Mart for $28 each. That’s all we ever dreamed of spending on silly rings. It’s the relationship that counts, not the rings. Our wedding also costed about $700.

  • LeeLuu says:

    I Would be so pissed if I didn’t get a surprise proposal. I agree on the things you say about the diamonds, but I bet your wife cherishes that memory of the proposal.

    You sound like a depressing old codger trying to take all the romance out of marriage.

    YOU are the kind of person that ends up divorced.

    You: “I got my wife a vacuum for our anniversary. Its more PRACTICAL. We aren’t the ROMANTIC type. I would rather PLAN everything”

    Meanwhile she’s out banging the pool boy because he understands women enough to buy her some fucking candy and flowers.

    • eagle says:

      painfully true comment.

    • November says:

      What is romantic to you maybe… You shouldn’t paint all women with your brush. I couldn’t give a crap about candy and I like flowers but I like to plant them myself. 😛

      We bought white gold bands online for <$100 after our backyard fall wedding plans turned into January morning sickness back yard wedding. 🙂 I wouldn't trade them for anything, even though his is all scratched up from skateboarding and doing crazy science. And we decided to get married in the first place because we couldn't seem to avoid talking about forever and other (In my opinion) romantic stuff like that. Love love love that man and we will never be into date nights and sparkly things and I can't even imagine judging his love based on the 'stuff' he gets me. He's a scientist. Oh wait he does get me stuff. he once brought me home 12;bs of copper scrap to make art with. *single tear* SUCH ROMANCE!!!! <3

      Besides, the "traditional" diamond industry is terribly evil if you ever research it. :S

      Before you buy, think hard about the person you are with…are they materialistic? (no judgment) If they are you probably will need that diamond just to keep things happy, and more jewelry down the line…

      If they are not materialistic, is it just because of tradition? Can you scratch that itch with something more sentimental and personalized that isn't a new expensive rock? Be creative.

      Do they not care at all about any of this? Carve let's get married into that cherry-limeade slushie cup with your fingernail and get down to brass tacks. 😀

  • Z says:

    My husband’s proposal was less than “romantic” He was in the navy and I was a Sr. in high school. He was due to get orders to his next duty station and the thought of us being so apart from each other was more then either could bare. So our phone conversation was as follow, “Z, what do you want to do?” “i don’t know, what do you want to do?” This went on then finally he said, “Lets get married.” Now all of this was over the phone and I was so happy!!!! When he came to my house the weekend from leave, we went to Montgomery wards and purchased a wedding set for $150.00 I couldn’t have been more pleased. I got him a simple gold band for $50 at Walmart. Yes we do hold on to those rings, but we do not wear those anymore. I purchased 2 rings for S since then and he has purchased a couple for me, one for 10 yr anniversary and 1 for graduating nursing school. And guess what, none have ever equaled to 3 months salary. LOL. we both love ours very much, not because we are flashy but because it symbolizes to the outward world of our love and commitment to each other. PS we have been married 21 years and it will be 22 yrs in Decemember.

  • Kelley says:

    My husband and I got married back in December. He bought me a cheap, small 1/4 carat engagement ring. He is convinced to this day that he is going to get me a bigger and better one when he has the money to do so because he knows the ring he got me wasn’t my style. I still love it even now. I am going to be honest and say I was a little disappointed, but I soon over-looked that because it’s not the ring that matters. It’s the fact that he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. It’s genuinely a simple and beautiful ring and I will welcome any “replacement” he gets me. I full intend on still wearing the ring I have on now because it is special to me and I would like to one day hand it down to one of our children. I know it sounds silly saying that a material object is special to me, but it is. To me it signifies our bond. It’s what we exchanged our vows with and it never leaves my finger

  • Marvin says:

    Reading these comments from women confirms my belief. I’m not going to even consider proposing to my gf of 3 years until I can easily afford a nice ring…which won’t be a for a while. I spent $2700 on my ex-wife’s ring and after a nasty little divorce she kept it. I love my gf to death, but I don’t see how going into debt is going to help our relationship. We love to travel and we have expensive tastes. I’d have to basically put our life on hold for 6 months to buy a ring she would love. This is such a BS tradition!

  • vickie says:

    First engagement ring bought at Service Merchandise. He paid $3752. I picked it out and it was on sale. Plain 6 prong Tiffany Setting. Fast Forward ten years later and I received a 3 carat pear shaped diamond with 2 baguettes on either side. Now its twenty years we have been married. Do I love all my diamonds? YES- I love them. I wear one or the other every day. Do I still love my husband? YES- He is a gift from God. Whats the difference between us and some of the people who are down on engagement rings? He was in his 30s and I was in my late twenties when we got married. We were both established in our careers and were both independent. As for not having insurance on a ring you have already bought? Thats ridiculous. Hide your wife’s rings and see if she notices they are gone and see what happens. I guarantee she values those rings.

  • andi says:

    My husband and I got married this last June. When we started talking about it one of the first things I did was make sure he understood I didn’t want any diamonds. Moral implications of diamond mining aside I think I would have said no on principal that any man who spends that much on a ring that I will then stress about not losing is crazy. Besides think how much nicer a honeymoon or house we could get for that amount. I’d rather spend the money elsewhere. He did end up getting me a gorgeous sapphire ring for $300 but even cheaper than that would have been fine. I really love it. Honestly I like the uniqueness of my ring so much more than I would have a diamond that looked like everyone elses.

  • Emi says:

    I have a 2.85 fancy yellow diamond, VS1 with trillions set on 18K white gold. It was $23,500. I love it and do believe in the 3 month salary rule.

  • Emi says:

    @Marvin: Buy what you can afford without going into deep debt. Don’t let it stop you from being with the one you love. Best of luck!

  • Nansweetnan says:

    I’ve been married a long time. The money I see people spend on weddings today makes me laugh! Etsy has cheap wedding shoes near 1000 bucks and they sell like hotcakes…really? Everyone lives together and combines finances; then plans a wedding and registers for expensive china, electronics, etc. People have forgotten that the tradition of an engagement is to 1) express your commitment to each other & gain the support of family and friends 2) get to know each other on a deeper & more committed level–that hopefully leads to marriage and then get married. A ring,no matter the cost symbolizes this time period. And finally, marriage is your acceptance of this proposal or commitment to each other in front of those that mean the most to you–a social contract you are making not only with your future spouse but with family and friends as well. So when you invite me to your plastic wedding, please don’t give me a silver frame with a kissing photo and don’t make me sit through your PowerPoint filled with pro photos and outfit changes, it comes across as fake and I silently think you will be divorced in five years. The best engagement periods and weddings are those that reflect the spirit and nature of the couple, not what some glossy ad says you should have. So I agree with G.E. think about the commitment you are making and make decisions that fit your life, not the Kennedy’s life. Your friends, family and (maybe the Kennedy’s) will thank you.

  • Barb says:

    Got engaged 38 years ago. Went to the same local jewelry store where hubby’s folks got their rings from the current owner’s dad. The owner was so tickled when we told him that, he gave us a discount. Got a perfect 1/3 carat diamond he had set himself in the gold band for a bit over $300. With the discount the gold wedding band was $45! Even converted to today’s $$$$, itwas a deal. My sister had Mom’s diamond reset in a plain band. Mine’s been the perfect symbol of love for 38 years, hers for 20. Use your head and be creative. Go with a good CZ and use the rest toward a house.

  • Justin says:

    I graduated with an Accounting Degree and work in Finance, and diamonds have to be the single most disgusting market I have ever seen. The process and marketing techniques are nauseating.

    I spent $1700 on my ring. Equivalent of about 1.25 pay checks. You know why I love my girlfriend? She hates materialism just as much as me, maybe more. Also because the cost of the ring I am got her is twice as much as she paid for her car.

    It is the love and compassion you feel for one another that makes a relationship work. Why do I have to spend a fortune to prove that? I have no doubt she will love it, and I feel the big ring isn’t really just for your significant other, as much as it is to impress everyone else. This reason alone does not describe who I am, and therefore will not describe my engagement ring purchase.

    You want to spend your money on something for the future of your relationship? I suggest a 401K or Roth IRA.

  • Tom says:

    I agree with Barb, and thankfully so did my wife. Actually it was her idea to get CZ. She thought it was stupid to spend a lot of money on a ring when we barely had anything. Sure I had the money stashed away, but she wanted to use that for a down payment on a house. A real diamond could wait. Now that we’re a little older we’ve paid more attention to the diamond market and will be looking for man-made or conflict free diamonds when we replace the CZ. My brother bought his bride a plain old ring with a rainbow of non-precious stones in it, not a single diamond. She loves it.

    My wife is also very much against V-day. The first V-day we were together she told me not to get her anything. Yeah, I wasn’t that dumb… so I got her some roses. Man did that NOT go over! Since then we just laugh at the V-day marketing.

    My wife jokes that because she’s part Scottish she has deep pockets and short arms, so she can never reach the money.

  • GMS says:

    I’m not married and I’m not engaged, but I am in love and I’ve talked to my boyfriend about the possibility of getting married countless times. Each couple is different and how they view traditions should dictate whether or not they follow them.

    If saving money is more important to you than respecting your future spouse’s appreciation for tradition, or their desire to have that symbol of commitment, then you need to re-evaluate more than your budget. I’m not saying it’s right -or- wrong to follow tradition, I think it’s foolish to buy something -just- because it’s expensive. Whether a ring is 10 dollars or 10,000, what’s important is one, what it means to you, and two, what it means to the person you give it to.

    My boyfriend has never bought me jewelry for any occasion and I’ve never asked him to because I really don’t care much about it. He’s jokingly offered me a ring-pop for an engagement ring. Now… I don’t want to wear something with an expiration date on it, personally. But when it comes down to it, I don’t have any other request concerning it, I really just care what it means.

    … Thing is, though? Sometimes people feel it means -more- if it costs more. I’m not saying _I_ do, but -before- getting indignant about that sentiment, I urge you to think it over. Have you considered

    What are they trying to say? Maybe, “the money I used to buy this is not as important to me as you are because your happiness is worth more to me than my own interests.” Maybe it was the work put into making that money? “I’m willing to put this time and effort into just buying the ring, and this is a promise that I will put even more into our marriage.” Maybe just the effort of going to different stores, picking and choosing every detail out carefully, is just to say “I took the time to get to know you, your likes and dislikes, and I care about them, even if they seem small, they’re important to me because they’re important to you, and I wanted to prove it.”

    Maybe you don’t feel this way yourselves, but please don’t judge people who do, and they shouldn’t judge you either if you feel that tradition is just not for you.

    As for me, I do respect tradition and I would like to have a ring as a memento of the day we decide to make that commitment to each other. But that’s all it needs to be. That… and not edible.

  • Derek says:

    I have not purchased a ring yet but will be in the near future. A lot of guys have no problem spending tons of money on nice cars and if they don’t spend a lot of money on a nice car then they want a cool sports car. A sports car makes most guys feel cool and its something they can talk about with their friends. I think its the same with girls. They want a nice ring. It makes them feel special and makes them smile so why not save up enough money to buy the right and best ring!!!

  • Elise says:

    I think if I were in a serious relationship I would let my boyfriend know that I don’t expect him to buy me a ring – it would be up to him how he’d like to propose. I agree that a lot of traditions just make life more difficult. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind a very simple wedding – maybe even one at a courthouse. I think it’s better to save money to live on, instead of spending a lot before you even start your life together.

  • Debbie says:

    My husband and I did not follow the “tradition”. We had been together for 3 years we had talked about getting married and finally decided it was time, we went together and picked out our rings. We opted against big fancy wedding, just had a ceremony just us and our parents, total cost $80. Five years later we are happily married with a four year old son. Many of our friends that went the “traditional” route with surprise engagement, big expensive ring and wedding and are already divorced. It’s about understanding the commitment involved and both sides being willing to continue to work on the relationship to keep it strong. All the rest of it is just materialistic stuff that has no bearing on the success or meaning of the marriage.

  • Awesome Possumb says:

    Shortly after our tenth anniversary, I asked my husband what he spent on my diamond engagement ring. It is a beautiful antique, a small stone compared to what the other women in the office are wearing, but far more lovely for all the scrollwork and other carving on the setting. He knows I love old fashioned things, as opposed to the current style of a huge rock on a plain band.
    I braced myself, worried that he’d blown far more than I could be comfortable with. He is fond of grand gestures.


    This is a guy who understands me wonderfully.

  • Melyssa says:

    My husband and I both got each other’s first and middle initial tattooed on our ring finger. That was our engagement ring. A whopping $100 later, it’s a permanent symbol of our commitment. We LOVE it!! Our wedding rings came to a grand total of $60 all together. The whole wedding came to a grand total of $350. And I later got a 2kt white sapphire and white gold solitaire for my first Mother’s Day. $150. We are so happy. We don’t need to flash around fancy things to prove our love. Plus, financial security is huge for us. Why spend so much money on things we don’t need?

  • lillyanna says:

    My fiance and I get married in 9 days, financial security is very important to us. We have been together for multiple years now and had talked about engagement rings for a long time. When it came down to it , I told him I thought diamond rings were so cliche and we found an extremely less expensive route to take. Epiphany diamonique by qvc. Yup, my two piece set (engagement ring and wedding band) cost just $80. They’re beautifully crafted , not even experts can tell the difference and theyre platinum. Best part is -if they ever get lost or stolen , no loss. Its much easier to replace somethi ng that cost less than one days pay compared to three months. We laugh at people who fall into the whole trap of wedding rings and the whole wedding market for that matter -(and I’m a wedding coordinator!) Our whole wedding -dj , dinner, photographer, cake , rehearsal, favors , dress, tux, rings , dishes and all cost less than $1, 000 total. Dont tell me it cant be done! !

  • Charlie says:

    Here are few thoughts on the engagement ring cost. Your personal opinion is totally valid, but not everyone feels the same way. Most brides feel extremely sentimental about their engagement rings. It’s not the price that matters most, but the love and commitment behind it. The engagement ring with a small diamond that I gave my fiance was very inexpensive, because I didn’t have much money to spend at the time. But our wedding and honeymoon were paid for in cash, also. Later, I was blessed with the opportunity to give her a very nice diamond that I inherited from my grandmother.

    There are beautiful engagement rings in almost every price range, starting at about $500. If you can only afford a $500 ring, then go for it. You can always trade up later. It makes a cherished anniversary gift, and it’s great away of saying “I still love you” years later. Jewelry is considered the most romantic gift a man can give the women he loves.

    Also, the engagement ring is the only piece of jewelry that your bride will expect wear every day for the rest of her life. Do you want her to have to wear something that seems cheap or trivial? Or not to even have an engagement ring? Probably not. And especially if it is the symbol of your love and commitment to her. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying her a very nice ring that she will feel good about wearing. Women want to feel pretty, and her jewelry can be a very important par of her wardrobe.

    But even if you spend more on the ring that the wedding, it makes sense from an economic point of view, because the ring will hold its value for a lifetime. If you spend $25,000 on a wedding, all you will have to show for the money years later is probably a video and photos. Your engagement ring will have a lasting value, both emotionally and financially. It’s something you can pass on to your children someday.

    So let your own values be your guide.

  • Spencer says:

    Says the guy who works for DeBeers. This couldn’t be more false. The diamond market is a sham propped up by the diamond companies. They’ve created a false scarcity and limited the resale market to prop up their prices. Check out this artcle from 30 years ago: Almost all of it is still true today.

    • Mid-Life Momma says:

      Great article. I’d love to see a detailed update on how the diamond market has held or faltered in the 30 years since. So funny, I kept remembering all the old De Beers advertising campaigns from the 1980s and 1990s, which were no doubt spurred on by the efforts to mitigate the emerging markets discussed in the article.

  • Des says:

    I think who ever wrote this is a jerk and can ruin the “traditional” engagement. Yea youve been married for 10-15 yrs now and think that the ring wasnt that big of deal. But it still was at that time as it is for any person who gets engaged. ITs a big deal to a women to have the “perfect” engagement. Sure its not always what we have dreamed of. But when you find the right person and get to the point of talking about the next step you know that no matter what they do they will do what they think is best for you. IT IS A SYMBOL A LIFE LONG ITEM THAT REPRESTENTS THE YEARS, MILE MARKERS, AND BATTLES COUPLES GO THROUGH TO BE A COUPLE AND LIVE A LONG LIFE TOGETHER.

    • Mid-Life Momma says:

      It is no such thing. All an engagement ring was ever supposed to be was a promise—a clarification—of a man’s intentions to marry a woman, and of her acceptance of him. If it was supposed to be a symbol of the years and milestones of a life spent together, it would be given at a later date, not in advance of the history yet to be built.

      Young couples (women more so than men) tend to get swept up in the pageantry of The Proposal, The Ring, and The Wedding…all the while losing sight of the fact that it’s The Marriage that matters.

  • RNT says:

    Alot of people I know put a premium on exchanging rings that come from their family (how many “grandmothers” rings have you heard about?) I think this is lovely, but was not an option in our family – in fact, there are no family heirlooms for either my husband or I to have and pass on. That was a big reason why I ended up getting a nice ring at our 5 year anniversary. We did just have something “affordable” for when we got married, but by five years it was beat up and nothing that would ever be a nice gift to hand down through the family. The ring I got at our anniversary wasn’t outrageously expensive, but its beautiful and locally crafted and something I will be happy to pass down through my family when the time is right.

  • Sunny says:

    I don’t honestly know if my boyfriend will ever ‘marry’ me as he was seriously burned by his ex-wife. Having said that I know he paid $7200 for her ring when he was only making about $27k annually in his middle 20’s. we had a conversation once about rings and his comment to me was this, “if I ever put a ring on your finger it will be what I want you to have”. This is an important thing to remember about rings or any jewelry for that matter. Yes it is important for the bride to be to have a ring she likes but its just as important for the potential groom to feel good about the piece that will be displayed in front of his friends and family. I personally LOVE the small stud earrings he gave me a few years ago ($100). He still feels like I deserve a bigger set, but I could care less what size diamonds they are as all that matters is the gift from him. Now my girlfriend has the complete opposite view. She associates how much her man cares about her by the size and quality of the stone he gives her. It’s all about personality. There is no right or wrong way of approaching the matter of jewelry as long as you keep in mind what you can afford. My boyfriends brother is ready to propose to his girlfriend. She is much like me in that his love and commitment is all that matters but he is putting off proposing because he wants her to have a billboard ring. It is what is it. Everyone here needs to step off their soap box and get with the program. Woman and men alike want big shiney billboards and the opposite is also true.

  • pam says:

    my wedding ring was on sale for 1500.00 and we bought it for our 19th anniversary. I never needed a massive diamond and didn’t really want one, we bought a house instead. Then one day just out looking I saw a ring I thought I liked, while waiting for it to be ordered I saw another ring that started at 2100.00 and on sale for 1500.00 . we bought that ring.
    As for our wedding bands we got them at Montgomery wards for about 100.00 total. wedding costs, at our house about 300.00 with the minister fees included. Reception was a couple cases of beer and a few bottles of hard stuff. Coming up on 37 years in March.

  • Laurie Swenson says:

    Interesting post. I’ve never really liked the idea of the man choosing and presenting a big expensive ring to the woman; I much prefer picking the ring out together. (I recently read a tip to propose with a cheap fake ring — which could itself be a fun keepsake — and pick out the ring together if you want the full proposal experience).

    My takeaway from your article is not “don’t buy an engagement ring,” but rather, “think about why you do things and decide if it’s really what you want to do.” What you want to do may indeed be to have a beautiful wedding ring set. Or not. Same with a wedding.

    My ex and I picked out a ring set together that I still love. I was happy to have it. I think it cost $975 in 1981. We had a fairly typical, not very expensive wedding. I think if I were to get married again, my youthful imagination would include a wider range of possibilities. I might prefer matching wedding bands, which seems to reflect equal partnership more. As for a wedding, I don’t see myself getting married at city hall, but I might like a secular ceremony in a park or yard with a handful of closest friends and immediate family. It would depend, too, on my spouse and his lifestyle and visions.

    I have heard too often of a couple not getting engaged because the guy doesn’t have enough money for a ring. I can see lack of money stopping you from all sorts of endeavors, but 1. I’d be happier to be engaged without a ring than be waiting to be engaged; 2. Money shouldn’t be a factor; and 3. I’d also be happier to be married in a modest ceremony than single or engaged and wishing to be married. With two incomes, it’s cheaper for them to live together than separately. This notion is back from when men felt they had to provide for their spouses, but most couples work as partners today.

  • Anna S. says:

    First post I fully read as a newly subscribed subscriber. And I’m now promptly unsubscribing since I do believe “if you don’t like pineapple, then don’t eat pineapple. But don’t follow pineapple around all day tell it how much you don’t like it.”

    There is already just too much of that finger wagging, holier-than-thou attitude I have come to –unfortunately expect–but intensely dislike about most PF blogs. Why commit a hasty overgeneralization condemning a group of people by automatically assigning YOUR values to them? Why be so nitpicky, and yes, reverse brag about how great you are because you don’t choose to do something that maybe some other people do you put value and stocking? There is no financial clarity or education to be had because you chose not to spend a lot on your wife’s engagement ring.

    Having something fully paid off that is of some monetary value, and not bothering to insure it is ridiculous. If you are still sweating $30 a year on insurance as an unnecessary expense than you really aren’t financially savvy or well-off. Lastly, you might have just shopped a little bit more for better, more affordable insurance. You can insure wedding or engagement rings via your homeowners insurance for as little as $10 a year. Did your wife tell you that her engagement ring has no sentimental value? Really? Dubious. Why insure your house? If it’s gone, it’s not the end of the world!

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Did you even read the post? Or did you just see the headline and think to yourself “I wanted my big rock and got it, who is this guy to say that was a mistake?” before commenting.

      Personal finance is at least 50% values based decision making. The rest is a collection of tips. I wouldn’t want to read a blog that had no values – what’s “personal” in that? If you don’t like personal views, don’t visit any website other than Wikipedia.

  • Mid-Life Momma says:

    If it’s just about the tradition of offering a ring, why not a ring of topaz, amethyst, garnet, etc.? I hear young people saying they plan to get married, but holding off because one or both of them think an expensive engagement ring is required.

    Years later, will these couples look back and say they’re glad their marriage was delayed month after month so a “suitable” ring could be purchased? Will they be glad they had to hold off on having babies because the young missus has their financial security tied up around her ring finger?

    There’s something ugly about coveting a trophy beyond one’s financial means. We’ve turned the diamond engagement ring into a magic talisman, even though it can’t assure prosperity, or fulfillment, or a joyful family life. Why not reconsider a diamond ring as an aspirational acquisition for a future wedding anniversary, if it is to be acquired at all.

  • Joe says:

    Wow. A lot of “My ring cost Super-X$$$, but if you don’t have the money, that’s ok, because I still have a more expensive engagement ring than you…etc” comments flying around. This pecking order nonsense is ridiculous. Does your husband wash your laundry? Hold your hair if you are sick and throwing up? Defend you when you are accosted? Love you when you are intimate? Does he make you feel worthwhile and the promise of a lifetime for him? If any of these are no, is your relationship based on money and convenience or is it based on serious hard-core love?

    “I have a VS1 blah blah”

    “I have husband I had no doubts about, no regrets with, who makes me feel the worth of my life every second of the day. I don’t need a jeweler to tell me he is a catch of a lifetime.”

    • Laurie Swenson says:

      I don’t see posters bragging about their rings here. I see diverse opinions about engagement rings from posters, some of whom talk about the rings they bought and/or received. Being happy about an engagement ring isn’t bragging.

  • Matt says:

    I’ve not read all the comments but I don’t view jewellery as a waste, I view it as an investment and part of my family portfolio. In fact, I’ve seen the value of the modest collection beat my investment in the stock market over the time I’ve been married.
    I also think of gems and precious metals as being heirlooms, something to pass on through the family, also something that changes with time. I’ve refashioned several of my darling’s old pieces of jewellery either as an update or because one of us got bored with it.
    As for the engagement ring. I asked my betrothed to point out rings she loved and she picked a piece of estate jewellery. It cost $2500, appraised at $5600 and has been modified every few years to reflect our life. For instance, the weeding ring was designed to complement the engagement ring – again, our own design. Then this year I decided to make the rings stronger and get new bands made for them. (they were terribly delicate). At the same time I will get another addition for the overall ring.
    So, allow shiny things to do just that, shine. Reinvent them, make them reflect the changes that occur through your life and think of them as investments that are wearable rather than an number online in an account or 401K.
    Incidentally, I don’t think anyone should be spending 3 months net or gross salary on a ring to tell someone you want to spend the rest of your life with them. The modular approach fitted us. At some point I will take the diamond out of the engagement ring and remodel the diamond into something else….replacing the diamond with another investment gem. I also believe on filtering the jewellery that is no longer worn to siblings and children. The sentiment comes not from the metal and the gem, not necessarily the form it is in.

  • Sadie says:

    My fiance told me to go buy my own ring. He gave me a lot of money to spend from. I bought a ring for 5 dollars. It is not even silver. It is a simple band made from faux jewelry. I wear it on my ring finger on my right hand and to me it is both wedding and engagement ring. And I will never take it off until the day that I die!

    I do not think it is because I am cheap because I have spent so much money buying jewelry and watches for other people. I think I just wanted us to be unique, not like everybody else, spending thousands of dollars on rings and stuff. I don’t want us to be like anyone else.

  • Joel says:

    For once, I’m glad I’m gay. Haha. My boyfriend and I make a decent amount of money. We shopped for each other without price being an issue, and it ended up that each of use got the other a ring that cost less than $100 each. We could have spent thousands, but the ones we wanted just happened to be inexpensive. For our wedding rings, I want opal. It’s so beautiful, and even if it did cost more than diamond, I would still want opal.

    I laugh, seeing some of these guys having a pissing contest over how much their gf’s ring costs. If she’d leave you for getting a ring that only cost $1000, then the bitch is worth dumping. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with getting an expensive ring, but keep in mind that sentimental value is far more valuable than money, especially with women.

  • eric says:

    Most people seem to agree spending three months salary is too much. I don’t really think spending 3000 seems like so much you should live your life in regret.

  • Laura Beth says:

    I love this post G.E.

    It’s honest commentary like this that ultimately drives change, shifts perspectives and adds value to people’s lives, over time.

    I can tell from previous comments that some women are put off by the notion that a ring shouldn’t cost 3 months of salary. I understand their emotional attachment and the inherent sentimental value of the ring.

    But when you step back and think about it, the engagement was de-valued even before personal finance bloggers began pointing out its association with consumerism and the amplification by corporate interests. When the divorce rate began skyrocketing in this country many years ago, a marriage was not necessarily forever anymore.

    Just a thought.


    Laura Beth

  • Jeff says:

    I count myself lucky to have met a foreign, thrifty woman. While I had roundly laughed off the two-month “rule of thumb” I’ve often heard (honestly, it’s patently ridiculous and everything in that range for me was garish, ugly, and overly complicated/heavy) I was still considering spending a couple thousand on a serious rock. But since we had talked our way through to the decision to get married without any big dramatic surprise moment, I wasn’t going to pick it on my own – her tastes can be peculiar and there was no point in flying solo here. When I asked her, she said she just wanted one wedding ring, no separate engagement ring, and nothing expensive. Eventually we got replicas of the One Ring from LOTR, which we wear with pride and an ironic sense of DOOM. Total cost $75. Happiness: complete.

  • Ari says:

    We’ve been married nearly 30 years. Our first custom made ruby and diamond ring set was a good thing to show off. So good that we got robbed. Now we have plain gold bands and we are just as happy.

  • Steve D says:

    We went with Moissanite, which was an excellent choice. We were both full-time students but even if we weren’t, we’re both frugal as heck. She told me to spend less than 100 dollars but I couldn’t do it.
    Her ring (.9 carat with .15 side stones) cost 800 something and she’s been asked if I spent more than 3 grand on it, lol.
    It looks fantastic and wasn’t the result of unethical mining practices.

  • Patrick says:

    I spent $15,000 on my wifes engagement ring. That was in 1995.

    Today the diamond itself is worth about $35K.

    So it can be worth the investment. Not as good as apple stock from then but still a decent return for what otherwise could be construed as a consumable.

    We do not buy any costume jewelry. But we have invested in high quality jewelry that has increased in value over time, and that still looks great. It is better than buying a new purse and shoes on a monthly basis and it means a lot more.

  • Johnny says:

    I spent nearly 50K on her engagement ring. Though money wasn’t really an issue for me. I did it because when i saw the ring, i knew IT was made for HER.
    And i believe i did the right thing. I got her a flawless 3.xx Carat diamond sitting on platinum with smaller pear shaped emeralds that reminded me of the color of her eyes the second i laid eyes on the ring. She has the most beautiful green eyes.
    Funny part is we spent roughly 10K on our actual wedding and played it out as simple as we could. Her engagement ring was twice as expensive as our entire wedding and our honeymoon combined.
    Still haven’t told her the price after 5 years. I’d bet she would freak out and call me names if i ever did for spending that much on a ring.

  • Paul says:

    I didn’t buy an engagement ring for my wife. It’s not a tradition where she is from. I used the money on the wedding. 10K, 100 Guests at a high end restaurant – banquet facility and a week long Disney honey moon in 2007. I was surprised how good the basic package was at the facility. Just didn’t fall for the monogrammed napkins and plates ect…

  • Rae says:

    My 1.51 cushion cut solitaire ring is worth 10k. My husband payed it in cash, we own a home, boat, and we both have great careers. We also paid for our small wedding in cash which was also about 10k. I do think it is silly if you are in massive amounts of debt to go into further debt by buying a ring that you cannot afford. Regardless of what the “rules” are for buying a ring, you should not let it put you in a lot of debt period.

    In response to this article; The average ring cost in America is a little over 5k, and that is something she will wear EVERY DAY of her life. I have every intention of handing my diamond down through my family as an heirloom. Meanwhile, the average cost of a wedding is 35k, and it is ONE day of your life. I know many people that didn’t know half of their guests, so in other words, they are paying for people they’ve never even met on an extremely intimate day. So to me it was like would I rather have a big ring or a big wedding? Call me selfish, I chose the ring.

    I believe different things are important to different people. My husband and I thought it was more important to invest in something that would be in our family forever. My best friend just reset her late grandmothers wedding ring, and it is so stunning and sentimental. I would love to be able to do that for my kids or grandchildren one day.


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