How much should an engagement ring cost?
When you're getting ready to pop the question, choosing the perfect engagement ring can seem like a minefield. It’s not just about choosing the right engagement ring style, you also need to think about things like sizing and, of course, the cost.
Outdated traditions, the weight of societal expectations, and a general lack of knowledge on the technicalities of jewellery can make setting a realistic engagement ring budget difficult.
How much should you actually spend on an engagement ring? Does it really have to cost three months of your salary? In this article, we'll break down the costs for an engagement ring, looking at average prices and how choices like gemstones and design can affect final cost.
We’ll also bust some of the common myths about engagement ring prices and give you some practical tips to help save money without sacrificing on quality.
What’s the average cost of an engagement ring?
In the UK, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2023 was between £1800 and £2200, according to jewellery sellers.
But, in reality the cost of an engagement ring can vary wildly – from zero for inherited family jewellery, all the way up to millions of pounds for the largest diamonds on the market.
The most expensive engagement ring in the world
The most expensive engagement ring in the world belonged to Grace Kelly, who married the Prince of Monaco in 1956.
At the time, the 10.48 carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring was valued at over $4 million. Today, the stunning Cartier ring would be worth almost $45 million.
What affects the cost of an engagement ring?
The cost of any engagement ring will depend on a variety of factors. Metal types, the gemstone characteristics and the overall ring design will all impact the price of your ring.
An elaborately carved or engraved ring will be more expensive than a simple solitaire band. Adding a sparkling halo or other decorative detail will also raise the price.
Classic yellow gold or white gold will have different price points depending on your chosen carat weight. Platinum is usually the most expensive precious metal, but it’s also the most durable and won’t need replating.
Gemstones like sapphires and rubies are often more affordable than diamonds. But if you’ve got your heart fixed on a diamond, then consider a lab grown diamond engagement ring. These genuine diamonds are more affordable than mined diamonds – as well as being more environmentally friendly – which means you’ll be able to afford a bigger and better stone for your budget.
Most of all, the 4 Cs of a diamond – carat, cut, colour and clarity – will heavily impact the cost of your engagement ring.
Understanding the 4Cs of diamonds
If you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, you need to understand the technical elements of how diamonds are classified to make sure you get the best value for money.
For instance, a bigger stone with some inclusions and a slightly lower colour rating could actually be more affordable than a smaller - but more technically perfect - diamond.
- Carat: Carat weight determines the size of a diamond. Often, you’ll need to strike a balance between carat and the other 3 Cs to stay within budget. The higher the carat, the more expensive the ring.
- Cut: The cut of a diamond affects its brilliance and sparkle, with well-cut diamonds commanding higher prices. ‘Excellent’ cut diamonds are the most expensive with ‘Poor’ the most affordable.
- Colour: While colourless diamonds are prized for their purity, diamonds with slight colour variations can be more budget-friendly without compromising on beauty. The colour rating D is the most expensive with Z the most affordable.
- Clarity: Clarity relates to the presence of imperfections or inclusions in the diamond. The more perfect a diamond is internally, the more expensive it will be. A Flawless diamond is the most expensive and one rated ‘Included’ is the most affordable.
Learn more in our Complete Guide to the 4Cs of Diamonds.
How to spend less on an engagement ring
Cutting costs on an engagement ring doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing quality or sentiment. Here are some tips to help you save money on an engagement ring:
- Consider lab grown diamonds: Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds. They are physically, chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds. Eliminating the mining process just makes them a more affordable and planet-friendly option – which means you’ll be able to afford a bigger stone for your budget.
- Explore alternative gemstones: While diamonds are a classic choice for an engagement ring, there are other options available, such as lab created sapphires, emeralds or rubies. These gems are equally beautiful, but often come with a lower price tag – especially the lab grown versions.
- Choose a smaller carat size: Opting for a slightly smaller diamond or gemstone can significantly reduce the cost of the ring while still maintaining its overall aesthetic appeal.
- Consider the shape: Some diamond cuts will naturally look larger than others. Elongated emerald-cut and oval-cut diamonds are great choices for this.
- Opt for different metals: Your choice of metal will significantly impact the cost of your ring. To cut costs, choose yellow or white gold instead of platinum.
- Choose a simple design: Intricate designs and additional embellishments, like halos, can increase the cost of a ring. You can save a lot of money by choosing a more simple design, such as an elegant solitaire or timeless three-stone engagement ring.
- Strategically time your purchase: If you want to save some serious money, try and shop during sales events or seasonal promotions.
How much should you spend on an engagement ring: the myths
- The Three-Month Salary Rule
The most common engagement ring myth suggests that you should spend the equivalent of three months of your salary on an engagement ring.
However, this “tradition” was actually only created in the 1930s as an advertising campaign!
The De Beers diamond company originally promoted the “one month salary” rule, before raising the amount to two months’ salary in the 1980s. It was simply a way to make people spend more money on their products.
There is absolutely no practical reason to stick to this rule. Budget what you can afford comfortably. If you want to spread your payment, Created Brilliance offers Klarna payments so you can pay in three separate instalments.
- “Bigger is Always Better”
While some people may appreciate a huge rock, it's more important to choose an engagement ring that reflects your partner's style and taste.
For instance, if your beloved does a lot of sport or manual work, they may not want a massive ring getting in the way. Dainty rings might be a better fit if they have smaller hands. Or maybe they just prefer a more minimalist jewellery style.
Choose something you know will suit them and that they’ll be happy to wear every day for the rest of their life.
- “The More You Spend, the More You Love”
There's a false belief that the amount you spend on an engagement ring directly correlates with the depth of your love and commitment.
In reality, the amount you choose to spend on an engagement ring is deeply personal and varies between couples.
Overspending on a ring doesn't guarantee a successful or happy marriage. In fact, if you spend more than you can afford, it may actually cause bigger problems in the future!
Buy something personal, not pricey
Buying an engagement ring doesn't have to be overwhelming or costly. Societal expectations and so-called “traditions” can add unnecessary pressure, so it’s important to recognise that the cost of an engagement ring doesn't define your relationship.
Understanding factors like the 4 Cs and exploring alternatives like lab grown diamonds will help you to make informed decisions without breaking the bank.
In the end, the value of the ring lies in its meaning, and there's no need to stick to arbitrary spending rules.
Select a ring that fits your budget and suits your partner – and remember that love isn’t measured in carats. If you want to talk to us about choosing a ring, we are happy to help.