It’s peak wedding season again. Since I got married earlier than all of my friends, I have become somewhat of a resource on weddings and such. It took me a while to formulate my opinion on this, but this is basically what I tell people now:
First, let’s get some things out of the way. Yes, diamonds are essentially very organized carbon atoms. Nobody can tell it apart from a lab-created one or even cubic zirconia. It’s a horrible financial investment. De Beers has a virtual monopoly on the diamond trade, and does it’s best to create a false scarcity of diamonds. Those “Diamonds are Forever” commercials are some of the best marketing I’ve ever seen.
You can even show her this scary list, but chances are – She won’t care. Here are the real facts. Your potential wife will be wearing it and looking at it for the rest of her life. If she cares how she looks, she will care how this looks. She will show all of her friends this ring. It will be compared with others every time someone else gets married.
So, how much should you spend on it? My answer is very simple – Spend whatever you can afford to make your wife happy. That means both time and money. You are going to be with this person many many years. Communication is the key to a good marriage, ask anybody who’s happily married. You should know what she likes.
If she’s very practical and would be happy with a simulated diamond or other gemstone, great, buy that. If she doesn’t care about size then get a small one and put the money to good use elsewhere. If her family has a heirloom ring, use that. If you know your girlfriend won’t be happy with a $500 ring, and you can afford more, then well, suck it up. If you already splurge in other areas, don’t be cheap here.
If you really can’t afford it and she wants a 2 carat monster, then maybe you should be rethinking your relationship. Having similar financial priorities has been shown to be critical to future wealth. If she’s a spender and your a saver to the point of fighting, that’s not a good sign.
Finally, please please please don’t get an ugly ring. Again, if you’re ready to marry this person, you should know her taste. Don’t get an round-cut on platinum if she’s an emerald-cut with ruby side-stones on yellow gold. Is she funky? classic? antique? Take her browsing and test out the waters. Ask the best friends. Put some thought into it! Believe me, girls talk. I know exactly which of my friends secretly doesn’t like her ring.
As for me, I bought a ring very similar to the picture above. Very classic and clean. Round cut diamond that was between 0.75 and 1.0 carats. 6-prong Tiffany-style classic setting. The ring was platinum. All the 3 C’s were above average, but not flawless. It was more than two months gross salary when I bought it as a grad student, but less than two months salary as a professional. That 2 months rule was made by the diamond industry anyways.
I have never regretted spending that money. And this is coming from a person who has his wife cut his hair.
By Jonathan Ping | Frugal Living | 9/6/06, 10:54pm