Jewellery Guides

How Much Should I Spend On An Engagement Ring?

Written by Jenita Samuels
September 29th, 2020 • 3 min read

Google ‘how much should I spend on an engagement ring’ and you’ll be overwhelmed by the different answers, ring ‘calculators’ and national averages of what we’re supposed to spend.

Myths and 'ideals' leave ring buyers flummoxed - how much is enough, and how much is too much? Here’s our decisive guide, to bust the myths and give you a straight answer.

How much to spend on a ring: busting the rules

One of the most well known ideas around how much to spend on engagement rings is three months’ salary. With living costs rising do we really need to spend that much?

The idea all originates from a De Beers marketing campaign in the 1930s, after the great American Depression, which saw their profits drastically fall. At this time, De Beers controlled 60% of rough diamond trade, so needed a way to boost the demand for diamonds. Prior to this, proposing with a diamond engagement ring was not a popular norm. So, De Beers set out their campaign - a change in fashion to encourage men to purchase diamond engagement rings for their partners; this was to become the new norm. And how much should they spend per ring? One month's’ salary, suggested the campaign.

Diamond solitaire ring prices start from £1,300

By 1980, this had become two months’ salary. In Japan, De Beers encouraged men to spend three month’s wages by 1970 with their (not so catchy) slogans such as, ‘a diamond engagement ring: worth three months’ salary’. So it all comes down to one marketer’s clever campaign - and we’re not sure this qualifies as a logical rule to follow.

Diamond halo ring prices start from £2,250

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How much do people spend on rings?

The group Jewellers of America recently suggested that the average American spends $4,000, or just under £3,000, with the average salary at $37,000 a year, or £27,500, suggesting most Americans splurge close to De Beers’ ideal 'one month's salary'.

Other reports suggest Brits are spending an average of £2,700 on their rings, with other sources claiming as little as £573. Equally, a ring worth upward of £5,000 isn’t exactly uncommon, and is close to the average we see at Queensmith.

In the UK, the majority of us are buying 0.60 carat natural diamonds to adorn our partner's’ ring finger, with things getting a little bigger (and more costly) in London. As a London-based jeweller, we find the majority of engagement ring purchases fall somewhere between £2,500 and £8,000 - although our prices start from around £1,300 and can be anywhere upward of £25,000 depending on the size and quality of the diamond selected by the client. It really goes to show that there is no right or wrong amount to spend - just what works for you.

Research shows Americans and Australians take their diamonds pretty seriously, and on average purchase 1 carat diamonds for their engagement rings. So to put it bluntly - there is no normal!

Compare the costs of different ring styles

How lab diamonds are changing the cost of engagement rings

In recent years, lab grown diamonds have soared in popularity. Diamonds produced in a laboratory are chemically, optically and physically identical to mined diamonds - but lab diamonds cost 40-60% less, thanks to the efficiency of their production. Because of this, we're seeing clients with similar budgets to before, affording much larger lab diamonds. This means the UK average carat weight is fast shifting from 0.60ct to larger 1ct stones - but the average spend is remaining much the same.

Setting A Ring Budget: 7 Simple Steps

  1. Spend what you can, but don’t start married life in debt! It probably should hurt a little bit.
  2. Don’t prioritise a cheaper ring that may have been poorly mass produced. Poorly made settings can break and wear easily, and in worst case scenarios irreplaceable diamonds and precious stones fall out. With an in-store workshop, Queensmith create every ring to order onsite, with a free lifetime care package.
  3. Do your research. At Queensmith, we pride ourselves on being able to cater for a plethora of budgets - we’ve seen it all and we’ve made it all! Expertise and transparency are key to what we do - we'll advise how far your budget can stretch, and which areas to dedicate budget to.
  4. Be creative and clever with your design - there are various ways of optimising your budget, and certain designs can achieve a bigger overall look, while other simple styles allow you to obtain a great quality stone.
  5. This is a lifelong investment and you should be realistic about what you and your partner might expect. Some people buy a modest ring with the idea of upgrading it in the future - but you're unlikely to find your ring appreciates in value over time.
  6. If you want bigger and better diamond than what your wallet will allow, consider lab diamonds or gemstones like sapphires, rubies and emeralds, which retail considerably lower than natural diamonds.
  7. There is no normal. Don’t feel you need to follow a set guideline - don’t break the bank, and equally, if you’ve got the cash, why not splash a little!

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A ring consultation at Queensmith with a professional design expert and gemmologist, working with a happy couple to make their engagement ring

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