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How Much Should you Spend on an Engagement Ring

A guide to how much your engagement ring should cost depending on your style

By Mike Fried,

Preparing for your proposal is an exciting time and you want a beautiful ring to make it all happen (check out our tips on how to choose one). It’s true that an engagement ring is one of the most special gifts you’ll ever buy. It symbolizes your love and your commitment to a life together. If you’re wondering, “How much should I spend on an engagement ring?,” you’ll find plenty of helpful insight in this article.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
How much should an engagement ring cost in 2023?
The “2 month salary rule” for buying an engagement ring
How to set your engagement ring budget
Financing options for engagement rings
Where to buy a diamond engagement ring

How much you should spend on an engagement ring should be determined by looking at your financial situation along with the desires and style of your fiance-to-bé as well as the cost of the diamond that fits that ring style. You should not follow certain rules, like spending two month’s salary, because those “rules” are often created by diamond marketers and sellers.

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

For the best value and the most beauty for your diamond, purchase your ring from a reputable online jeweler like James Allen or Blue Nile. You’ll be able to find a stunning diamond engagement ring like this 1.04 carat princess cut in a white gold pavé setting from James Allen or a 1.52 ct round cut in a WG double halo setting from Blue Nile at excellent prices. And if you are on the lower end of the budget, consider maximizing value with a lab-grown diamond like this gorgeous one from James Allen.

Deal Alert: Save 25% on settings at Blue Nile!

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How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Although there’s no precise average amount spent, most surveys of engagement ring buyers tend to produce an average in the $5,000 to $7,500+ range

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to spend $5,000+ on an engagement ring. In reality, the average engagement ring cost is pushed upwards by big spenders, including people who spend $20,000 or more on their ring.

According to the NY Times, which quoted a Morning Consult survey, the median amount that’s spent on an engagement ring is about $1,900, with most couples spending less than $3,000 for their ring. You can look at our guide for $2500 engagement rings (and under) to get inspired. 

There’s also a generational gap when it comes to how much people spend on a ring. Although the average amount spent is over $5,000, most millennials spend an average of $3,000 for an engagement ring.

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Although these figures can be useful as a ballpark range, we don’t recommend setting a budget for your fiancé-to-be’s engagement ring by looking at what other people spend. Instead, it’s best to look at personal factors, from your personal financial situation fiancé-to-be’s expectations and the style of ring you think she will like most. 

We’ve covered these factors, and more, in detail below. 

How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost in 2023?

The average engagement ring cost can vary dramatically depending on the type of diamond and setting you’d like.

As we mentioned above, the average engagement ring cost in the United States is about $6,350. However, this is skewed by people spending north of $50,000. Once these are removed from the equation, the average couple spends about $1,000 to $5,000 (check out our guide for $3000 to $5000 rings). 

This average can also vary depending on where you live. In general, those who reside in more expensive cities like New York City (you can check out our NYC guide) or Los Angeles (see our LA review) will likely spend more on a ring than those in less expensive cities. 

Average engagement ring price graph

To provide an example of how much prices can vary based on the type of diamond and setting you choose, you can find a stunning 1ct center stone ring like this from James Allen for $5,070 or a beautiful 3ct diamond ring like this one from James Allen for $25,995.

While it can be interesting to learn about the average amount spent on an engagement ring by others, remember to stick to your own situation and not get caught up in comparing yourself to others.

There’s no specific amount that a ring is supposed to cost. Everyone is different, meaning that your fiancé-to-be’s tastes and expectations could be totally different from those of another person. 

By shopping around with reputable vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile, you can get a sense of the prices for rings that meet your requirements. A brick and mortar store will always be more expensive than what you can find online.

For help estimating the cost of the engagement ring, try our diamond price calculator.

There Is No 2 Month Salary Rule for Buying an Engagement Ring

You may have heard that the rule of thumb on how much to spend on your ring, you need to look at how much money you make. More specifically, you might have read somewhere that you should spend two months of your salary on your fiancé-to-be’s ring. 

This guideline, known as the “two months rule” or “engagement ring price rule,” began as a very crafty advertising campaign by the diamond industry.  In fact, the marketing campaign recently switched to 3 months’ salary.

In the 1980s, diamond marketers, specifically the gigantic international diamond corporation De Beers, launched targeted ad campaigns—specifically one that suggests you should spend two months’ worth of your gross income on an engagement ring. 

The original 2 month salary rule, which you can find here, was designed to take advantage of men’s collective insecurities. It essentially states that buying a large diamond ring will keep other men away from your fiancé-to-be and that spending two months of income “won’t break [the] budget.”

These ad campaigns were intended to increase the amount of money the average person spent on a diamond, thus increasing the company’s revenue. The entire campaign and the two-month rule it spawned were based on nothing more than driving sales for diamond manufacturers.

Like most “rules” established by marketers, you can safely ignore the old engagement ring price rule when you’re shopping for a diamond ring. 

Beyond the fact that it was started by marketers, there are lots of problems with the two months rule for buying an engagement ring. 

How much to spend on an engagement ring

Gross income doesn’t take into account your taxes and health care costs. It doesn’t factor in any debt or student loans. And although it should go without saying, the size and price of a diamond don’t equate to the amount of love you have for someone (you can also check what the average diamond size people purchase is here).

How to Determine Your Engagement Ring Budget

So, how many months worth of your salary should you spend on an engagement ring? However much you feel is appropriate. This is your decision, not a marketing department’s decision, and you ultimately know your fiancé-to-be and their needs better than anyone else. 

With this said, there are a few factors that you should look at before you start engagement ring shopping. We’ve listed these below, along with how each factor should determine the amount you set aside for the wedding ring.

Ring Cost vs. Center Stone Cost

Typically, the center stone costs 75% of your overall budget, the rest going towards your ring cost. Most popular setting styles cost between $300 and $1,500. If you are spending less than $3,000, you may want to purchase a simple solitaire setting and devote the bulk of your budget towards the center stone. You can always change the setting at a later date (potential anniversary gift idea for the future).

Round cut milgrain side stone engagement ring

Understand His or Her Expectations

An engagement ring represents your love and commitment—and your investment in the future. The ring you give your soon-to-be fiancé does indeed matter.

Many women have dreamed about their proposal and ring since they were a child. Choosing a ring that meets their expectations is important—ensuring your special moment is nothing less than spectacular. If you feel comfortable, have an open and honest conversation together about finances and ring expectations. It’s usually helpful to be on the same page, and understand how you each feel about spending money on jewelry.

When it comes to ring expectations, consider the following:

  • The shape of the diamond they most desire
  • The color of jewelry setting (white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or platinum)
  • The type of setting that matches their style (i.e. solitaire, vintage or halo)
  • If there are family heirlooms, rings or diamonds to incorporate
  • How they’ll show off the ring to family, friends and social media
  • How often they’ll wear the ring: every day

If you don’t know the details on the style of ring or diamond they desire, try to have a family member or close friend find out for you. When in doubt, look at several options and listen to your intuition.

Vintage white gold engagement ring with a princess cut

Consider Your Financial Situation

Remember that you’re not just planning for a beautiful engagement, but a wedding (check out the prices of wedding bands in our guide so you have a better idea about what is coming) and a future together, too. You’ll want to think about what you can reasonably afford—setting you up for the most favorable financial position for your marriage.

You want to make sure you don’t go into a lot of debt to purchase a ring. Think about the following when it comes to your financial situation:

  • Your income minus taxes and healthcare
  • Your monthly expenses like rent, car payment or insurance
  • The amount of savings you have
  • What you can afford (at a minimum: be sure you can pay off the amount in a couple of months)

With these factors in mind, estimate how much you can reasonably spend on an engagement ring. You want to be able to purchase a ring without financing. If you do need to borrow some money or pay with a credit card, be sure you can pay off the amount in a couple of months.

Remember That ‘Thoughtful’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Expensive’

The size of the ring you buy doesn’t equal the size of your love. An expensive ring doesn’t mean you’re more thoughtful. You can choose a stunning engagement ring—whether it’s a beautiful 0.90ct center stone in a vintage setting or a 2 ct round diamond in a halo setting. There are plenty of options to get the ring you want for less than what you would expect.

The thoughtfulness you put into designing a ring for your special someone will be noticed—no matter the carat weight or how large your budget is. Taking the time and effort to choose the most beautiful, personalized ring will pay off far more than anything else.

Also, eye-cleanliness is paramount. Even though this article is about the whole ring price, eye-cleanliness is an important part of picking out a diamond for the ring. In our opinion, a consumer’s goal should be to find the cheapest (in regards to clarity; other factors matter as well) “eye-clean” diamond you can find. We use “eye-clean” to describe diamonds that may have inclusions if you look at them with a magnifying glass (or microscope or loupe), but the typical person can’t see the inclusion with their naked eye.

We have recently developed Ringo, a patented artificial intelligence model, that can examine videos of diamonds and determine if they are eye-clean. Ringo will also filter for other parameters like making sure the diamond is well-cut, doesn’t have fluorescence issues and will match the style setting you choose.

Financing Options for Engagement Rings

Financing options are available to help fund your ring purchase, though we don’t always recommend them.

For instance, Blue Nile offers a credit card  that allows you to pay over time with no annual fee. James Allen financing also offers payment options for 6 or 24 months.

If you don’t qualify for the financing at Blue Nile or James Allen, you should reconsider the ring you’re planning to purchase. Going with a worse value only because they offer financing is not a smart decision when it comes to selecting a diamond.

Where To Buy a Diamond Engagement Ring

Finding an exceptional ring starts with finding an exceptional diamond jeweler. You want to purchase your ring from a dealer you can trust: one that offers well-cut diamonds at excellent prices. Also, being able to design your own engagement ring can save you a lot.

Throughout our years of experience, we’ve vetted hundreds of diamond jewelers. We have a consistent pulse on the retailers you can trust.

Yellow gold engagement ring

For the best diamond cuts at an exceptional value, we recommend:

James Allen

James Allen, and online jeweler, focuses on the customer experience and offers appealing prices. Their website is equipped with incredible diamond imagery and each diamond comes with a high-quality certification (GIA & AGS). Read our James Allen review.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile maintains the largest online inventory of diamonds and settings, while emphasizing remarkable diamond and jewelry quality. All diamonds come with high-quality certification (GIA). Check out our Blue Nile review.

Leibish & Co.

Leibish & Co. is our recommended retailer for fancy color diamonds and gemstone rings. A colored gemstone, like a sapphire or ruby, is a beautiful, lower cost alternative to a diamond. Leibish & Co. also maintains a large collection of fancy color diamonds like purple diamonds and canary yellow diamonds. Gemstones tend to be less expensive than diamonds, while most colored diamonds are more expensive than white, colorless diamonds. You can read our full review of Leibish & Co. here.

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Brian Gavin Diamonds offers super-ideal cuts with the “Brian Gavin Signature” Hearts & Arrows collection. This jeweler is known for selling the best-cut diamonds—all of which have a high-quality certificate from GIA or AGS. Learn more about Brian Gavin in our full review.

How to Cut Engagement Ring Costs

Our goal is for you to find the most exceptional diamond ring at a price that’s within your budget. Don’t forget that you don’t need to break the bank in order to get what you want and it’s possible to even get a gorgeous $1k diamond ring. We want you to spend in the areas that greatly impact a diamond’s beauty and scale back in the areas that will go unnoticed (also check which shape is most affordable).

To find the most beautiful engagement ring within your budget, follow these expert recommendations and review our additional Diamond Pro resources:

Engagement Ring Buying Guides

Certifications – We strongly recommend only looking at diamonds with a GIA certificate. If a seller is suggesting you purchase a diamond with a different certificate, it’s best to steer clear. No matter what the report states, the actual quality of the diamond is far less than what they’re claiming.

Diamond shape – Choosing your diamond shape is dependent on what’s most appealing to you and the wearer. The shape is usually decided based on personal preference.

Diamond carat weight – Carat weight is not the same as size. For example, a 1 ct diamond refers to the weight of the diamond only. How large a diamond appears depends on how it’s cut and its shape.

Diamond cut – Only consider diamonds with an ideal cut or an Excellent grade on the GIA scale. An exceptionally cut diamond will maximize the fire and brilliance of the diamond more than any other factor.

Diamond clarity chart – Search for diamonds with VS1 and VS2 clarity grades. VS1 and VS2 diamonds offer the greatest value for what can be seen with the naked eye. Blemishes and inclusions will be unnoticeable.

Diamond color scale – Consider diamonds that are graded in the nearly colorless range of G to I. These diamonds will appear just as clear as diamonds in the D to F range but will cost much less.

Above all, we recommend reviewing the diamond yourself or having an expert assist you. Contact us to start a complimentary search process.

Bottom Line Recommendation:

Nobody else should be telling you what to spend on your engagement ring. That is between you and your partner. The average ring costs about $5,000, but the median ring cost is closer to $2,500. You can buy a stunning ring for $100,000 and a beautiful ring for $1,000

What to look for
What to avoid
Base your decision on how much you can afford, taking into account your upcoming wedding expenses
Ignore the "3 months' salary" rule. It is nothing but a marketing ploy created by DeBeers
If you want a bigger diamond than what you can afford, consider going with a lab grown diamond
Do not sacrifice too much on quality in order to get a larger diamond. You'll end up with an eyesore for a ring
Having trouble navigating the diamond buying minefield? We are happy to help. CONTACT US

Here are more specific budget topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Save 25% on settings at Blue Nile with an exclusive coupon code!

Please enter your email address to receive your personal one-time use unique coupon code for 25% off engagement rings:

What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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