How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

When Elizabeth Taylor got engaged to Richard Burton for the second time, he gifted her a massive 33-carat white diamond – known then as the Krupp diamond – which she crafted into a ring. It was purchased specifically for her at an auction in 1968 for $307,000, a very high price for an engagement ring diamond at the time. The ring has been synonymous with the Taylor-Burton ill-fated romance and remains a popular part of engagement folklore up until today. Famously renamed ‘Elizabeth Taylor’s Diamond’ after her passing, it was auctioned in 2011 for a whopping $8.8 million. More recently, billionaire James Parker outdid this figure by gifting his fiancée Mariah Carey a $10 million ring – a 35-carat emerald-cut diamond set in platinum.

While these are lovely engagement ring stories to know, most of us in the real world cannot pull out the stops to gift our significant other engagement rings worth millions. However, we still need to ensure that this jewelry piece is beautiful and significant to mark the most special day of our lives. The important question is, how does one decide how much to spend on an engagement ring in 2022?

What is the Salary Rule for Engagement Rings?

The salary rule has been one of the oldest ways (dating back to World War II) to budget for the best ring you can afford. The golden rule is to save up at least three months’ salary for an engagement ring. So, if you’re making $50,000 a year, spending $12,500 on an engagement ring is considered appropriate. However, many millennials and Gen-Zers on the verge of proposing or tying the knot want slightly more practical and affordable engagement and wedding ring options.

A tighter budget doesn’t mean your ring has to look any less gorgeous. So, the three-month salary rule has recently been replaced by the two-month salary rule. This ensures you can still purchase a great ring while making room for other financial commitments, loans, lifestyle expenses, and wedding costs. If you shop smart, you’ll have a great design that looks just as stunning as a higher-priced option.

Try out these engagement ring settings that cost between $1,500-$2,500. The prices mentioned here and on our website are for the setting, not the total ring. Note that most of the engagement rings at Gabriel & Co. are sold as settings without the center stone. You’ll have to factor in an additional cost for the center stone (roughly $5,000 upwards) and pick it up separately.

This white-rose gold diamond engagement ring is timeless and elegant with a 1-carat round engagement ring setting. 14k white gold prongs secure the precious center stone, while the slim straight shank is crafted from 14k rose gold for a stylish upgrade.

Another great option is the 0.32-carat oval halo diamond engagement ring. As the striking diamond halo boosts the brilliance of the oval-cut center stone, the setting is fashioned from 14k white gold with a slim, diamond-encrusted band.

How Many Carats is the Average Engagement Ring Diamond?

The most popular engagement ring carat weight varies from country to country. For instance, the average engagement ring diamond in the United Kingdom or Europe is around 0.5-0.6 carats. In the USA, though, it is roughly 1-2 carats. A carat is around 200mg in weight.

While deciding how many carats the engagement ring diamond should be, budget is obviously the first thing to consider. You also need to take into account finger size and the diamond shape. For instance, a one-carat oval, elongated or pear-shaped diamond will look larger than a square or round diamond. Interestingly though, round diamonds continue to be more popular since people don’t mind compromising on size in favor of a classic and timeless shape. Also, the carat isn’t the only thing to consider while spending on an engagement ring. There are three other crucial C factors from the 4 Cs – cut, color, and clarity

These engagement ring settings at Gabriel & Co. cost between $2500 and $4000 and can accommodate a versatile selection of diamonds.

A round three-stone engagement ring setting in white gold can accommodate a 1-carat diamond that is 6.5mm. It is also available in platinum along with 14k and 18k yellow, rose, and white gold.  

Yet another beautiful piece is this 14k white gold, round diamond engagement ring, which features a straight shank punctuated by alternating round and marquise diamonds. These diamonds weighing 0.46 carats add further beauty to the 1-carat center diamond, held firmly by four prongs.  

How Much Should You Pay for a 1-Carat Diamond?

There is no fixed rule on how much a 1-carat diamond costs since we’ve seen that other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also need to be factored in. You could potentially shell out anywhere between $1500 to $15000 for this diamond. So how do you decide which end of the spectrum to veer towards? Consider a balance of the cut, color, and clarity you’re looking for, in addition to the weight.  

Color grades for diamonds range from D to Z, and there’s quite a difference between them. If you look at grades that are next to each other, you may be unable to tell the difference, but grades apart exhibit a significantly noticeable difference. D is colorless and is more expensive, while Z has a yellow tint but is probably far more affordable. The sweet spot is grades G through I, balancing price and quality.  

As far as cut goes, emerald-cut or marquise-cut diamonds offer the illusion of a bigger size. This is because they are shallower than the more conventional round-cut diamond. So, if size matters, look for shapes and cuts that give you more worthiness for your buck.

And then, of course, there is clarity, which essentially refers to the visible flaws in a diamond. Many people prefer spending money on diamond clarity over size since they’d like a near-flawless diamond. The flaws tend to be more clearly visible if you have a bigger diamond, upwards of 2 carats. In this case, your minimum goal should be a VS (very slightly included) or VVS (very, very slightly included) diamond ring with a higher clarity grade. This is assuming you can’t or don’t want to splurge on a Flawless (IF) or Flawless (F) clarity.

Note that in addition to the cost of the center diamond, you’ll also have to consider setting costs and the metal and stones used in the ring before you arrive at a final price. If you’d like to splurge a bit on the setting, here are some enticing options from Gabriel & Co.

This striking bypass-style engagement ring is crafted in 14k white-rose gold while showcasing a pear-shaped diamond center stone. The swirling white gold shank is divided into several tapered tendrils, including one in contrasting 14k rose gold, each covered in glistening pave diamonds. One tendril curls around the center stone, creating a halo and elevating it to a place of pride in this exceptional 1.04ct diamond ring.

Another luxurious piece is this 14k white gold and diamond engagement ring setting. A 1-carat center stone is highlighted against a band lined with alternating baguette and round diamonds. Thanks to its clean-lined silhouette, it is also perfect for pairing with stackables, maybe the wedding band, anniversary, or eternity bands.

Why Are Engagement Rings so Expensive?

According to reliable, resourceful data, the average price of an engagement ring in 2022 is $6,000. 92 percent shoppers spend over $1,000, 50 percent below $5,000, and 20 percent over $10,000.  Engagement rings are typically more expensive than wedding rings since they have more detailing and come with a center stone, most often a diamond. Wedding bands, on the other hand, are precisely bands. So, they tend to be simpler, cheaper, and less intricate. With an engagement ring, a lot more thought and customization are put in to reflect the personality and taste of the wearer. Engagement rings include styles like halos and three-stone settings, which require more meticulous execution than a plain band. The materials are more expensive, and the jeweler spends a lot more time crafting and putting together the engagement ring.

However, worry not. If you’d like to purchase a beautiful engagement ring setting, we have some great options under $1,500. Pick up these inspired designs that are easy on the pocket but extraordinary in their style impact.

With pared back embellishments, this 1-carat round-cut solitaire engagement ring is an ideal choice for the simple, classic woman. A hidden diamond choker adds .04 carats of sparkle to the center stone, while a 14k white gold shank completes this timeless setting.  

Another vintage-inspired engagement ring setting is this piece with a distinctive octagonal backdrop crafted in 14k white gold. This is designed to showcase your round-cut center stone to its best advantage. Triangular clusters of graduated accent diamonds flank the center stone. The tapered 14k yellow gold shank features vintage-inspired engraving and milgrain detailing.

Is It Appropriate to Propose Without a Ring?

Of course, it is. A proposal is a highly individual and unique expression of your love. If you and your partner agree and consent with one another, no one else gets to decide what is appropriate or how much should be spent on a proposal or ring.

Having said that, a ring symbolizes your commitment and attachment toward one another. It is something to look at, value, cherish and even pass on to your children. The ancient Egyptians believed that the ring was a symbol of eternity since it is in the shape of a circle with no beginning or end. Couples who exchanged engagement rings were considered bonded forever. Not to mention, they are a sound investment as opposed to any alternate engagement gifts from your significant other.     

While the person gifting the ring will be paying for it entirely, remember that you’re going to start a life together as a couple with combined finances. Perhaps instead of doing away with the ring altogether, you and your partner can have an open conversation about how much to spend on it and your style preferences. It just makes sense then that you would decide on this budget as a unit.

More than the lavish spending, it is the profoundness of emotions behind it that truly matters.

What Are Some Other Alternatives to Diamonds?

You don’t have to break the bank and purchase only a diamond to fit one of our engagement ring settings. If a sapphire is good enough for the Duchess of Cambridge, it also works for us! Fortunately, 2022 has seen the return of color. Emeralds, topaz, and yellow diamonds have become popular center stones, thanks to celebrities like Katy Perry, Zoe Saldana, and Scarlett Johansson. Vintage styles like Art Deco and Edwardian are also making a strong comeback, so look beyond the tried and tested ones.

Should You Insure Your Engagement Ring?

If your ring is expensive enough and you’re not someone confident about handling their jewelry well, explore insurance. Ask pertinent questions to your insurance company on coverage, replacement, value assessment, and requirement of documents. Don’t pay more than 1%-2% of your ring’s cost as an insurance premium per annum.

For an excellent selection of ring settings to suit all budgets, head to Gabriel & Co. Our engagement ring settings are versatile and can be customized in all metal variations – yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold.

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