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By Prue Bell

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring In 2022?

25 February 2022

The cost of rituals and customs

2022 is most definitely a year of new beginnings, for starting fresh chapters in life. And they don’t come much bigger than getting engaged to be married. If becoming betrothed is on the cards for you this year, you have most likely been thinking about engagement rings. Quite possibly diamond engagement rings. So, if a diamond is forever, what on earth is that worth?

The majority of people looking at purchasing engagement rings have minimal experience at selecting the precious stones and metals which make up a ring. That’s where we come into it of course, and we will carefully guide you every step of the way along this most magical journey. But how much should you spend? Many have no idea what sort of money they should be looking at outlaying on an engagement ring. What’s the answer? That’s simple – it depends. 

The rituals and customs around betrothal and marriage have continually evolved for thousands of years, however probably never as significantly as in recent years. Society’s idea of what constitutes a couple is more fluid. Partners are generally getting married much later in life. Same-sex marriage is legal. More men are opting to wear engagement rings. Ceremonies are no longer mostly held in churches. The sort of married life which people are anticipating these days looks quite different from that which a couple twenty years ago would have expected, in the main. 

Yet the essence remains the same. Betrothal is a promise to be married. Save the date! A wedding seals the deal. Engagement rings and wedding rings are amazing, powerful symbols of vows and bonds. These gorgeous items of jewellery are the very important emblems of two people’s love and devotion, their joining and eternal union. 

We have seen that people are increasingly seeking engagement rings which are far more personal than ever before. Particularly the younger ones are telling us they want rings which express who they are, which speak to their individual style, which hint at their aspirations and dreams. People want engagement and wedding rings which are unique. For some of these people, this might entail ‘hanging the expense’, but for others it may mean less is more.

What are the costs of engagement rings?

An engagement ring costs whatever you want it to. There are a number of factors you should consider from the outset. Firstly, how much funding are you going to need for the wedding and the honeymoon? There could be huge expenses there, or not, depending on what you are planning. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be starting off your married life penniless, because you blew everything on the reception, the holiday and the jewellery. 

What is your income like? Is it reliable; a pretty good pay packet? Might it improve in the near future? Will you be pooling your financial resources with your significant other? Covid has changed the game for many people and a 9 to 5 job with a steady salary is not necessarily the standard anymore. It is crucial to make a realistic, sober appraisal of your financial circumstances. More than anything else, this should guide what you spend, simply because you must stick to a budget which is within your means. 

Secondly, you and your beloved’s expectations need to be carefully considered, to be understood. Your fiancée-to-be may have been dreaming for years about what sort of engagement ring and wedding ring they would one day wear. This is the case for many women. You will need to work together to try to realise this vision. But you’ll need to keep it real. This is what we want, this is how much we’ve got, what’s our plan of attack? 

Thirdly, as mentioned above, do you want an engagement ring or rings (and wedding rings) which symbolise both your individual styles yet also represent you as one couple? These are the best types of rings. The style of ring(s) you aspire to is of course going to determine the spend. You may not go for a diamond but rather a sapphire. You may decide you prefer a simple gold setting rather than elaborate platinum with accents. These matters of style will affect costs. So you need to talk about these things from the get go. 

What about the two-month rule?

There is a lore which stipulates that a man should spend two months of his salary on an engagement ring.

Some people apparently think it’s three months. This is not actually a time honoured custom, but a twentieth century marketing ploy in reality, instigated by the world’s largest diamond company, De Beers. It has become a widespread tradition, and not necessarily a bad one. It has probably helped countless fellows over the years who didn’t know where to start when it came to this particular budget. The trouble is, two month’s salary is very different from one person to the next. Also, in the 20th century, two month’s salary went a lot further than it does now, in general. 

In Australia, the average spending on engagement rings floats around the several thousand dollars zone. That sounds vague because it is! Whilst many couples are very happy with a ring which costs them a couple of thousand, others are well and truly into the five figures. People in Melbourne and Sydney typically spend more than in other parts of the country. Older couples tend to pay more than younger couples for engagement and wedding rings. 

Get the best value for your money

You should definitely endeavour to get the best bling for your buck. There are a number of possibilities you could look into: 

  • Purchasing a diamond or other precious gem loose and then having it set by a jeweller will often cost less. You could also potentially re-purpose a stone that you have been bequeathed or given by family – and have it placed in a new setting custom created for you. 
  • Buying a diamond that is fractionally undersized – i.e. 0.95 of a carat and not 1.00ct, can save you as much as 20%, and no one will know the difference. 
  • Focussing on cut above all else. You can often get away with lower gradings in colour and clarity – and fewer carats – but provided the cut is top-notch, the diamond should look superb, and you will pay a little less. 
  • Consider alternative stones, such as sapphires and emeralds; they are stunning and usually more affordable than diamonds. Definitely contemplate the fancy shapes, which are typically less expensive than the brilliant round. Also, be open to different settings which may be cost-effective.
  • Make sure you only buy a diamond with the appropriate paperwork – a GIA certificate – so that, whatever you end up spending, you know you’re getting what you paid for