What’s your love worth? Obviously, you can’t put a price on such a thing, but when couples go engagement ring shopping, price is a key decision factor. Whether it’s a surprise or a joint purchase, a diamond ring is often a young person’s first big ticket purchase, so it’s important to be well-prepared before you go to buy the ring.
Naturally, a ring budget depends on a multitude of factors, including your income, debt and future goals, but there are guidelines that apply to just about every budget. We asked some jewelry experts whose job is to help couples find the ring of their dreams for advice on establishing a budget and navigating the all-important ring purchase. Check out their top six diamond engagement ring shopping tips here:
1. Don’t Base Your Budget on Averages;
Americans Spend a Wide Range on Engagement Rings.
The average cost of a diamond engagement ring in America is $5,500, according to The Knot’s 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study. The study also revealed that 25% of the survey’s respondents spent between $1,000 and $3,000 on a ring. Not surprisingly, that figure is greater in major cities like New York and Chicago, where buyers tend to spend more and purchase larger diamond rings.
2. Know Your Budget—And Don’t Go in Debt!…
Whether a couple is purchasing the ring together or as a surprise, it’s important to take a close look at finances prior to establishing a budget. Consider your income, dept, expenses and savings. Will you finance the ring? If yes, what monthly payment can you afford? You don’t want to go into debt for the sake of getting a ring that will “wow” your friends.
“Buying an engagement ring is a life decision, which means bringing your shared values into the decision,” explains Jennifer Gandia, owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers in Manhattan. “Of course, that means looking at the other expenses related to the wedding and other big life decisions, like home ownership, creating a family, etc. Partnerships no longer follow a linear trajectory of engagement, wedding, home, family, so there can be many big things to consider when the ring is being discussed.” That is sound advice.
“Due to the sentimental and heirloom qualities of an engagement ring I do think it’s also important to consider those aspects when setting your ring budget and choosing your style,” continued Gandia. “Think about wearing it in ten, 20, even 50 years down the road, and if you’d want to pass it down.” The average price of an engagement at Greenwich St. Jewelers is between $6000 to $10,000.
“It comes down to what each couple is comfortable with allocating from their discretionary budget,” says Nicole Wegman, Founder of Ring Concierge, an online/private appointment diamond retailer. “Make sure you establish a budget you can comfortably afford without impacting other areas of your life negatively. Keep in mind all costs that may be associated with the purchase, like interest (if you plan to use financing) or the sales tax rate for your state so there are no surprises along the way.”
It’s a very individual purchase and a couple should consider what is most important to them when buying a ring. “Is the size of the central diamond or is the quality of the central diamond more important?” asks Tobias Kormind, the Managing Director for the online diamond seller 77Diamonds.com. “Some couples prefer a larger stone, while others like to go smaller and focus on clarity and cut. I would suggest looking through some educational material to understand the 4Cs in diamonds, as this will help them get a better understanding of what their central stone should look like. Once their main preferences are established, they can see how all these fit into their budget and choose the diamond engagement ring that ticks all the boxes.” His average diamond ring purchase is between $3,500 and $5,000.
3. …But Remember, the Engagement Ring is a Purchase You’ll be Wearing for Decades to Come.
“Don’t be afraid to stretch your budget,” Wegman says. “You won’t regret it since this is something you’ll wear for many years.”
“We’ve never had a client come back and say they wish they’d spent less, but we do have clients come back often to upgrade their rings, wishing they’d spent more initially,” says Wegman.
4. Engagement Rings Can Serve as Investments and Assets.
When couples do stretch their budget, it’s often reassuring to know that the ring is a tangible asset. “While diamonds are not technically a commodity, mined diamonds are a natural resource with limited supply and are tradable around the world,” says Wegman. “Historically diamonds retain a high value over time, which is why they are passed down over generations.”
At 77Diamonds.com, Kormind says that some clients have purchased diamonds as an alternative asset. “Natural diamonds have proven to be a very good store of value over the long term,” he says. “Like most investments, this always depends on factors such as the year in which you purchase the diamond, how quickly you need to sell it, and if it’s in a more obscure stone category. If you buy a good quality one carat round diamond, you are likely to sell it for a good price. If you buy a heart or marquise shaped diamond with a low color grade, high clarity but with strong fluorescence, you are likely to be offered very little if you try to resell it.”
Still, Gandia cautions that only top-quality stones are considered as investment grade diamonds, and those are usually quite rare and expensive.
5. Aside from Monetary Value, Engagement Rings Have Lasting Emotional Value.
“I would consider the engagement ring as an investment in your love story,” says Gandia. “It is the symbol of your commitment, imbued with all of the romance and sentimentality that our life partnerships ignite for us. It is that point in the arc of the story where a couple decides to embark on an adventure together and any time they want to look back on where it began, the ring is the talisman that symbolizes that moment.
6. The Plethora of Engagement Ring Options Means You Can Find Something Amazing, No Matter Your Budget.
The good news is that whatever your budget, there are more stylish and individualized diamond rings available than ever before. For those looking for something beyond the classic round or emerald cut, where size and quality play a big factor in the purchase, the retailer Catbird presents a range of designer-made diamond rings under $3,000. “Considering how personal the process of searching for a ring is, we think the price should be secondary to how a ring makes you feel, and what your aesthetic preferences guide you towards,” says Sriya Karumanchi, the store’s Marketing Manager. Among her favorites are the modern gold and diamond Diamond Brickwork Ring ($2,025) made exclusively for Catbird by WWAKE, a Brooklyn-based design firm. Another feminine option is a gold Paeonia ring by Sofia Zakia with a rose-cut diamond center, which retails for $2,850.
Whether your budget is $1,500 or upwards of $10,000, there is a diamond ring that will suit your style. “In the end, the love you share is always what is most important,” affirms Kormind. “Buying a ring should be a joyful and special moment, not something that brings on financial insecurity.”