How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?
After watching all of your friends get married, it’s finally your turn. You’ve found the one who you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you know in your heart it’s meant to be.
Now, all that you need is to plan the proposal— and buy a ring. An engagement ring is more than just a centerpiece to what is the biggest event of your life. It’s a memory, a keepsake, perhaps even part of a future wedding band (we’ll get to that). And it’s going to the one person who is most important to you.
While it’s easy to get swept away in dreaming of the perfect proposal, once you walk into a jewelry store and start staring at rows and rows of rings, you’ll realize a little preparation goes a long way. And when it comes to something as lasting as an engagement ring, you need to know your options and boundaries. This includes a budget, but it doesn’t stop there. So how do you pick the perfect treasure for your treasure? And ensure you can afford it? Let’s start with the basics.
Myths and Misunderstandings About How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring
No, you don’t need to spend three months’ worth of your salary (in this market? Heck no!). And no, the ring doesn’t have to have the biggest diamond you can hold (have you tried typing with a ring constantly rolling around your fingers? Ick.). If you and your partner are of the same mind you don’t even have to get diamonds!
The important thing is to talk to your partner. You don’t have to let them know you’re proposing anytime soon to get a feel for what they want or like. Go window shopping as part of a casual date, point out your favorite stone and ask about theirs. Casually mention an article in a magazine about wedding budgets and ask your partner if they’ve ever thought about it. Find out if your partner even wants a ring– perhaps they have a different token in mind, or a family heirloom. If they have a friend or family member who is good at secrets, you could recruit them to get a feel for your partner’s wishes and preferences.
Types of Rings to Consider When Budgeting for an Engagement Ring
Engagement rings come in many styles shapes and sizes. You have your traditional diamond solitaire, for instance. Or you can aim for a stoneless band. Some jewelers also offer customized rings, including special symbols on the band or engravings within. It’s important to note that not all of these can fit with a secondary band after your big day. If you want to get a set of bands that will work together, it’s best to buy them at the same time– just realize you are limiting design options. Some folks continue to wear their engagement ring after marriage as their wedding band, while others find a different sort of secondary band to go with it.
Let’s be honest, some couples don’t use rings at all! Have you considered matching ring finger tattoos? Matching necklaces? Anything that fits your personality and style can work as an engagement heirloom.
What Influences the Price of an Engagement Ring?
The cost of your ring will depend on several factors: the material of the band, the uniqueness, the setting, the stone, and the four Cs.
Bands can come in gold, white gold, sterling silver, tungsten…any fine jewelry metal you can think of. Likewise with stones. Sapphires have been growing in popularity, or you can choose the ever-constant diamond (or a lab-grown diamond!). Rubies, opals, amethysts, and more are also options. Some folks choose to get multiple stones with one focus stone; some choose a simple diamond solitaire and then pick other stones for the wedding band. A lot of it comes down to preference and budget.
Settings are how the stones are ‘set’, or mounted, on your ring. It’s meant to highlight the main stone. For example, a Tiffany setting is the traditional six prongs that lift a round-cut diamond above the band. A solitaire is a four-prong setting holding any cut, and a halo is where several smaller round stones ring the main stone.
Consider also the four C’s of gemstones: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat
Cuts change the entire look of a ring; these are the shape of your main stone. You have the round-cut, heart-cut, princess-cut, and more. Make sure you have an idea of your partner’s style or do some snooping before you commit.
Color is relative to the stone you choose, so there isn’t much advice we can give you in these general guidelines. If you have a stone in mind, you’ll want to do some more specific research about it’s color quality.
Clarity represents the absence of ‘inclusions’, or materials trapped inside the gem, and blemishes that can affect the look and durability of your stone. This does not mean you have to go with the greatest clarity rating! So long as you cannot see the inclusions, they really don’t affect the look of the ring. By going with a lower clarity, you can save some money for that wedding.
Carat is all about the size. No, literally, it’s a unit of measurement. And sometimes, especially with jewelry, bigger isn’t always better. Keep an eye on what your partner wants to wear: do they go for the larger, chunkier looks in accessories? Or a more simplistic, minimal style? Focus on their tastes, not on keeping up with the Kardashians.
Alternatives to Societal Tradition
Despite the persistence of the diamond industry, many couples are learning it’s OK not to go the traditional route. You can use a family heirloom if you wish, or pick a ring with a stone you like. Antique stores are full of vintage treasures you can look into resizing. And if you love the look of a diamond but don’t love some of the abusive mining practices, you can ensure your diamond is ethically sourced by going lab-grown (it’s also typically cheaper).
Always remember, your upcoming marriage is the most important. It’s not worth going into debt for a ring; that will affect your entire future, including if you want to try and buy a house. And knowing what your partner prefers – or abhors– is important. You want your proposal to be a treasured memory, so make sure you do some research before popping the big Q. Don’t just go with what everyone seems to like – you of all people should understand just how unique your partner is. Play to your lives, not the lives of those around you, and you’re sure to have an amazing memory for a precious milestone. Got more questions or interested in browsing engagement rings in Augusta, GA? Call or contact Windsor Fine Jewelers today at (706) 738-7777.