How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

tiffany.jpgIt’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.

Comments

  1. I remember people saying “2 months pay” and so on, which never seemed practical. When I got engaged, I was still in college and was making squat. Today, now that I have a good job, 2 month salary would be a much larger ring than she’d want. Your advice is right on… buy what your wife would want. Get something to their tastes, and don’t really compare it to what others get.

  2. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/198202/diamond

    I know you’ve seen stuff like this before, but it’s fascinating. (the article is dated though)

  3. the whole diamond thing is a really iffy point for me. the fact that you’re spending an inflated price on diamonds that may be a conflict/blood diamond is a real sore point for me. the fact that diamonds have entrenched itself so deeply in the engagement ring mindset due to brilliant marketing, is also another part I’m not too thrill about.

    take a look at japan wedding tradition and history, and take a look at it after de beer brought about their marketing campaign to the region.

    you’re right though, none of this really matters.. because its the standard today. I can show my girlfriend the scary list and she won’t care too.. not because she’s a heartless bitch, but that’s just how it goes. whether she like it or not, she’ll care about the diamond ring she may get; and in turn, I’ll care too.

  4. Great post! The good news is that there seems to be a small but growing backlash against diamonds amongst twenty-somethings these days. Hopefully, people will be educated and realize that they’ve been victims of a massive propaganda campaign.

  5. I tried using logic to convince my future bride (now wife) to accept a CZ, but she wouldn’t go for it. Nine year later, I consider the money I spent on her diamond to have been a great investment in my marriage.

    The mantra I live by is happy wife, happy life. I’ve never thought about it, but I guess that happy future wife = happy future life too.

  6. When I got engaged, I didn’t have anything. I know that traditionally, a diamond ring should be given to the bride to be. In my case, I thought it was not important. His love and loyalty is more than enough than a piece of stone.

  7. John Wilks says:

    I remember reading the argument at FatWallet over “Giving your girlfirend a fake diamond.” It was interesting. More were in favor of giving a fake ring and not telling her. Which is something I may do.

    -Wilks

  8. We know that diamonds shouldn’t be bought as investments, but are there any diamond company’s rings that over time, could be considered heirlooms (won’t go out of style), if you want to pass it down generations?

  9. I completely agree – spend what you can because that ring sits on her finger forever. Best of all, it’s a relationship gut check – you definitely confirm with yourself that you found the right person when you drop money on a diamond you can’t afford :-)

  10. If you show her that list and she doesn’t care, what kind of soulless hag are you marrying???

  11. My wife did not like diamonds at the time of our engagement. Instead, as a college student, I bought a modest emerald & gold ring. Later on, after we settled down with kids & a good job, I surprised her with a much larger emerald ring. She loved it but 2 years later wears the original on another finger – its that important to her.

    The 1st ring was $200.
    The 2nd ring was $2000.

    She has hinted to me now that she wants a 3 stone diamond ring for our 10th (were on 8 now). This could cost even more depending on the rocks.

    Sure, its all fluff and marketing but in the end I buy what I know she will like and I can afford at the time. Also consider you should be expecting to do this only once in your lifetime so make the best of it. Everyone will be looking at that ring for the rest of your lives and one day your kids or grandkids might be wearing it.

    For last xmas, I got her her first diamonds, earrings from bluenile. I got 10% off plus fatwallet cash of 3%. Very pleased with the infinite selection and was able to buy GIA certed diamonds way cheaper than I could afford locally. They are a tad under 1ct (.96) and they are spectacular. I found that cut & polish were huge for overall look. I went as colorless and flawless as I could afford. In the end, they were VVS2, F, Ideal Cut & Polish. They sparkle like crazy and I could definitely tell the difference from the yellowish mall variants.

    I am considering a diamond pendant for this xmas to match the earrings but bluenile has no discount coupons yet :)

    One last thing, HOW you propose is even more important than the ring. Do something original and romantic. If you are successful, she will be telling her friends about it forever.

  12. Independent George says:

    I’m hoping that synthetics become both popular and cheap soon. I can understand the desire for a ‘real diamond’, but I also think of synthetics as every bit as real as the ones harvested from the ground by slave labor. I’d laugh out loud it if DeBeers were suddenly driven into the ground by a glut of cheap synthetics from Russia.

  13. I got lucky…My wife didn’t want a diamond. Her comment was that she would rather pay down the mortgage. Her mother ended up giving us a ring that belonged to my wife’s grandmother. The diamond is small but a beautiful flawless blue.

    My wife never wears the ring anyway, neither of us wear our wedding bands (which we bought for $20 each…) either. What it comes down to is that neither of us considered the jewelry to be important.

  14. I think your advice of “Spend whatever you can afford to make your wife happy. That means both time and money.” is the best advice I’ve heard concerning rings. Although that hasn’t stopped me from convincing my girlfriend that the $$$ rule is two months salary instead of the 3 months she was convinced was the norm… also she’s given me the option of not giving her a diamond engagement ring and giving her a car instead… a BMW because she says it stands for Be My Wife… I think I’ll stick with the ring.

  15. Solid advice, sir… and precisely the formula I used in my approach to marital bliss (except I went with a four-prong setting).

    Unrelated question: My 1st promotional year with Citi Diamond Platinum Rewards has ended. I asked customer service if I could switch to Driver’s Edge, but the terms weren’t nearly as juicy as for a newcomer (2%/1% vs. 6%/1%). I was thinking about applying anew… but it seems redundant and possibly a risk to my credit score since it could potentially reset my account age.

    Advice for savvy savers much appreciated!

  16. that 2 months rule is what makes the jewelry store (not girlfriend) happy.

    i got a 0.5 month rule myself. my lady’s happy with the small ring (by Tiffany). we’re both savers, we both prefer quality (branded and near flawless) than quantity (size).

  17. I got lucky. My family had a huge heirloom ring. And I got doubly lucky because my wife didn’t want a traditional wedding. We just got married by the JP and went on a trip – with her gigantic ring.

  18. The point, that she will be wearing this ring everyday for the rest of her life, is a good one. I wear a nice (not cheap nor expensive) watch. If someone said that I had to buy a watch and never wear another one. With the assumption it would never break, I would probably go out and buy a more expensive watch than I currently have.

    Diamonds aren’t practical, but people aren’t always practical either.

  19. Yep, you just have to suck it up and spend the money on a decent ring. When I got engaged about 10 years ago, I ended up spending about 2 weeks salary on an engagement ring with a 2/3 carat diamond. I only would have spent 2 months salary if I was marrying someone like Elizabeth Taylor. :)

    I just hope that guys who are pressured for a 1+ carat diamond know what they are getting themselves info. An expensive wedding and a lifetime of buying status symbols are in your future!

  20. Diamonds are a girls best friend. Cubic Zirconia is a mans best friend.

    Or freekout your spouse with…”LifeGem
    Presents the services of a company specializing in converting carbon remains of deceased into diamonds as part of memorial services.”

  21. Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to rings … unless you’re into phoniness. Get something she’ll like, try and spend what you think is reasonable but don’t skimp if it comes down to an extra $200 or so.

  22. I say buy a modest ring, and spend the money on yourselves (vacation, hobbies, house, etc). Same goes for the wedding. Dont spend tons of money to impress people, to get “wow” factor, or to invite a bunch of people you dont know to a free dinner. Spend some money, but keep it real, and dont fall into the engagement/wedding trap of one-up-mans-ship and spending obscene amounts of money. Love is what marriage is about, diamonds and filet mignon are not. The later two are for middle men to profit on the American consumer craze. Perhaps if couples spent more of the wedding planning time and money on themselves, the divorce rate wouldnt be so high. Or, since the divorce rate is so high, maybe couples shouldnt blow so much money on a wedding.

    My favorite wedding, other than my own, was a close friend who had a simple/small gathering of friends and family on a public beach in Santa Barbara. The reception was modest, but intimate and fun.

  23. For the love of God, don’t buy retail. Whatever a person decides to spend (or however big a person wants), buy it on the second hand market — getting it appraised first by your appraiser.

    A few years ago (10 or so), many of the appraisers refused to take on this kind of business. A friend of mine was buying a gigantic stone for his wife, and the appraiser refused to take his business. The next one did, because my friend told the second appraiser that he inherited it and wanted to get the value for insurance purposes.

    At least if you buy on the second market you can likely sell the it down the road for a lot closer to what you paid for it than if you buy retail (of course the only reason for selling it is because you have more money later in life and want to get a bigger and/or better stone).

    As a ballpark, I’d expect to pay 50% of retail and 30-50% of the appraised “value”.

  24. Matt Lauzon says:

    As the owner of a diamond focused company I obviously find this debate intriguing. On one side, I make my living providing people with diamonds. On the other, I am in a serious relationship with a girl who could not care less about a ring. In my business, my approach is not to convince people to buy diamonds. Some people love them and some people hate them, but the reality is that most people will end up buying one. I think it is important to note that if you are buying a large stone as a down payment on a relationship, then you may want to reconsider the quality of the marriage you are getting in to. An engagement ring is something a woman wants to be proud of, but it should never be the reason why she says “Yes.” I encourage you all to shop around and find what makes sense to you. Be wary in who you purchase your ring from and understand that many places do have margins that are out of control. Diamonds are becoming a commodity, and there is no reason to overpay. Also remember that if your stone is not certified, then you have no way to verify it is what the jeweler tells you.

    The whole process hinges on trust. You need a woman you can trust, and you need a jeweler you can trust. If you have both, the price you end up paying will work itself out.

  25. Why? Because she’ll pretty much have to…

  26. Going fake and lying about it can be a bad idea. If she ever brings it in for service (resizing, bent prong, or even cleaning), they have a machine that instantly tests it for authenticity.

    It’d be better to go used and keep that to yourself, if you’re going to go that route. :)

  27. I’ve been repeating for the past two years, “I’d rather have money to spend on the marriage than spend it all on the wedding”, “the diamond industry is evil”, “diamonds are too expensive for me to wear on my hand”, “they’re going to be totally devalued inside of a decade anyway”, “we have to save up for a house”, “we’ll be able to afford better wedding rings”, etc.

    I guess my boyfriend listened a little *too* hard – not that I wasn’t serious! – while I was proud of him for being practical and for taking me seriously, it’s a different story when what you spend on the ring is half what you just spent on your new iPod. I mean I made it clear that I didn’t want a sign for my hand that says “MUG ME”, but… For pete’s sake, find a compromise!

  28. For someone who doesn’t want a fake ring, then looking at other stones should be an option. It’s much more individual, can save money (depending on the stone), and the ring gets sized up (as it will), some people will probably think you splurged on a colored diamond. The Europeans have kept this tradition more so they in the US; I believe Lady Di sported a ruby.

    My husband got me a real stone for my ring–a 1 ct. sapphire–and I much prefer the blue color to the typical clear diamond.

  29. Must be nice for the diamond industry to say 2 moths salary, I’ve heard some girls even talk about up to 6 months salary. So as through the years american’s increase their salary the diamond industry stays pegged.

    I just think it’s a joke when a person has a 30,000 dollar ring on her finger. I don’t care if that’s 2 months salary or not, but if you have to get it insured and it costs more than a lot of people’s cars, isn’t that a problem.

    One topic I wonder is the best place to purchase though? I’ve heard costco is one of the absolute best price places that most people don’t think of and are suprised and they have up to 100,000 dollar rings last time I looked.
    Jake just wondering how you go about getting it on the second market for around 50% off?

  30. Another way you can cut the cost of the ring is to buy a “used” stone and then get a personalized setting. That should shave a bunch of money. Unfortunately, once the lady friend catches wind she’s got a second hand stone, you may be in a world of trouble.

  31. Solid advice on the ring. Just a major factual error: It’s *easy* to tell CZ and diamonds apart. “Fire”, conductivity, hardness, inclusions all give it away easily. Synthetic diamonds are a bit harder, but only the best ones require lab tests to distinguish them.

    A couple other ideas for the ring are:

    * Get an old stone and have it re-set
    * Use colored stones, not diamonds
    * Instead of having an expensive stone, invest in a jewelry class and make your wedding bands together

  32. I bought my wife a emerald ring. One emerald for each year we dated and she loved it. It was a fraction of a diamond rings in price. Actually, emerald are rarer than emeralds, but diamonds get all the kudos because of being shiny.

    Another bit of trivia for you. Diamond rings were not the standard item until DeBeers came along. Guess who came up with the 2 month rule of thumb? Good old DeBeer’s.

    Here’s another thing to avoid. Get married and then down the road getting the 3 diamond ring to celebrate the past, present and future. No such concept existed until the DeBeers marketing machine came up with that one.

    Just get a nice ring that’s affordable and be done with it.
    Actually, check out pawn shops!! There was an article in the local newspaper where a pawn shop setup a seperate jewelry store next door to them using pawned items and they sell like hotcakes.

  33. It’s nice to see a guy approach this from the emotional aspect :)

  34. You aced this topic when you said “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.”

    You are wise beyond your years – your analysis of the facts is quite impressive. You have to not only know how to make money, but also how and when to spend it. Once you decide she’s worth spending the rest of your life with, scrimping on the diamond will cost you in the long run. As you said, diamonds are a horrible financial investment. What really matters here is the value SHE places on this mere material thing. Spend the money, recover and move forward.

  35. My wife opted for a reasonable sized ring and a house downpayment. Now 10 years later she’s an avid sailboat racer and wears a $10 alloy wedding band so she won’t have to worry about the real thing. She wears the real thing for fancy outings, which are rare.

  36. If it sparkles, it’s fine. If it’s CZ, that’s even better. If he spends two months’ salary, I’d be peeved! There’s no reason to spend upwards of ten thousand dollars on a band and a rock that’s going to stab me in the eye the first time I rub my eyes. Aside from the social argument that the diamond industry, and correspondingly the diamonds are badbadbad, I just don’t understand the insistence of calling it a financial investment because it really isn’t.
    Personally, I would love it if we found a great bargain [plus sale, plus Fatcash ;) ] on rings to share for our wedding, and if he thinks that it’s important to prove that I’m worth a lot to him, I hope he knows that’s all we should need to get married, not a sparkly gem.

  37. Who could see that list above and not care?!? Anyway, my husband and I ran off to Vegas and eloped (my choice). We only wear plain 18k gold bands (my choice). Unless I just gave birth or someone died, I think flowers are a waste of money too. I have never, ever understood the lure of a huge ring and a large wedding. Generally these two things are ways to appease a woman’s Cinderella fantasy left over from childhood or impress/compete with her friends/family.

    That said, you are spot on when you said “Spend whatever you can afford to make your wife happy”. If you really want to marry a woman who requires all that to keep her happy (for whatever reason) and you have the money, then I guess it’s worth every penny.

  38. “Give me something real expensive so I’ll marry you.”

    I don’t get it. How is this different than being a whore?

    I’m sure I’ll give my gf a ring of some sort when we get engaged, but if she actually wanted one (let alone demanded one), I wouldn’t be dating her.

    “Thanks” to Melissa, for not being a plastic fluff-chick. My kinda girl.

  39. If you just let her know that all a diamond really signifies is that it is considered the “lease with option to buy plan” she’ll be so pissed that she’ll be willing to go along with investing the money in a house downpayment-or maybe buy her a car so that she will have wheels to commute to her job once you are married.

  40. Maybe this giving of an expensive ring means: “I am the one with the wallet, and you are the one that has to give up her job later and take care of a pack of unnerving brats and my dirty undies.” – ?

    I didn’t want one, and I didn’t get one. In any case, my money and his money become our money after we’re married, so why have my husband waste money on a thing I would not buy for myself?

    What really shows his love and commitment to me is that he does half the housework on a regular basis. Buying something from a jeweller is cheap in comparison. Plus, diamond rings are not for chemists like me – they tend to slit open one’s rubber gloves.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Claudia

  41. I was surprised at how beautiful moissanite gems are. You can get a beautiful platinum ring with clear/green moissanite gems for under 5k and feel guilt free in refusing to submit to the De Beers marketing machine.

  42. Well here’s a girlfriend who doesn’t want a diamond ring or any kind of engagement ring for that matter. I’d rather have the money spent on a nice honeymoon. Plus, I wouldn’t feel good inside knowing this clear rock on my hand came from slave labor. ish! So, this 25 y.o. female does care about that scary list you referred to! And I won’t feel bad telling anyone who asks to see my engagement ring and then sighs and says “oh you didn’t get one” that I didn’t feel right contributing to slave labor.

  43. Like I said, if it works for you by all means do it. Not saying this is you, but I’d be kind of annoyed at someone who felt high and mighty because they don’t have a diamond ring, while they sport Nike shoes, Gap pants, and drive an SUV. The fruit you eat, the clothes you buy, the oil you pump into your car also has a high probability of being processed by a country with poor living standards.

    An estimated 1-3% of diamonds are conflict diamonds. Look up the Kimberly Process and buy from a retailer that follows it. In addition, there are also certified conflict-free diamonds from Canada, which only cost about 5-10% more than traditional diamonds.

  44. I’ve been stressing over a year about saving for a diamond engagement ring and was planning on proposing to my girl friend next month when we go to Vancouver. I saw the movie Blood Diamond during the holidays and found out about the one true Evil Empire that is De Beers. I’m ashamed to admit that despite finding out that the movie does accurately depict the horrors that happened in Africa during the 90s. I was still planning on getting a diamond ring. I was rationalizing it would be the one and only diamond ring I’ll ever buy. I didn’t think there was any other way to propose then with a diamond ring.

    While looking for diamonds rings online I decided to Google De Beers and found out that the Diamond industry and De Beers has over 100 years of history in exploiting Africa and promoting nothing but misery, death, and slavery. I think just knowing about conflict diamonds and how much suffering is due to one company and it’s greed should convince any moral person not to buy a diamond.

    I was like most people and was conditioned to still want that hunk of carbon regardless of how much misery and suffering other human beings have endured because of what essentially is just a vanity. It’s not until I found out that the diamond engagement ring tradition was just a product of brilliant marketing and didn’t exist before 1939. To also learn that if De Beers didn’t successfully condition me to equate love and commitment with the diamond ring it would actually only be worth $5 to $35 a carat if solely used for industrial purposes. I was enraged that I was being manipulate by a company that was founded by Cecil Rhodes who is one of the fathers of apartheid. Ironic this is the same guy for whom the Rhodes Scholarship is named after. Just shows you whant money can do.

    I always thought that diamonds were rare that was the reason for their high price. To ad insult to injury and find out that approximately 100 Million carats are harvested each year and that De Beers stockpiles diamonds in order to set a artificially high price. The retailers pay whatever De Beers wants because they basically have no choice. Then the retailers mark it up 300 % and that’s the price we the consumers are supposed to pay.

    I decided I wanted no part of it. I proposed with out a ring and my girl friend was just as thrilled like I gave her the 1.27 carat hunk of carbon I was stressing over.

    Most of my friends sadly sound like the last poster Jonathan. They try and compare diamonds to cloths, cars, or gasoline. I think that’s sad because if everybody has that “everything in this world is fucked up attitude and you can’t change the world” then we would all be doomed. The big difference is that I can’t walk around naked or take the bus everywhere in LA or ride my bike all the time. I can very easily choose not to buy a diamond which serves no purpose except to look shinny on my fiancee’s finger.

    I guess the saddest thing is that what I thought would be the symbol of my everlasting love is really the one universal symbol of oppression, misery, exploitation, slavery, dismemberment,and death. How’s that for some really good marketing?

  45. there is no such thing as a “blood” diamond. It’s just another cause celebre that people are touting around these days. you can call any commercial good on the market “blood” commodity as any commodity on the market is harvested at the exploitation of people, in the mind of non-globalists etc, and pays for weapons and funds wars. if you are anti-israel, you can say that most diamonds are blood diamonds as many go through israel for cutting anyways, and the money gained goes towards fighting palestinians. it is also another way for de beers et. al to control diamond flow, even though the supposed “blood diamond” market is very miniscule compared to the overall diamond market. if you believe in the cause, then so be it.

    second, people simply do not do their research when it comes to diamonds. people spend hours on researching cars, but do absolutely nothing in buying diamonds. a tenth or two tenths less than one carat can save considerable $$ and size-wise people aren’t going to know that it isn’t the same size. moreover, no one with a naked eye can tell an IF versus VS2 or colors in the colorless range. all add up.

    to appease her (yes i whole heartedly agree on this point), i got the wedding bands from Tiffany & Co (absolutely ludicrous b/c of the mark up), but reasoned with her to get the engagement ring from Bluenile. her friend absolutely had to have a Tiffany’s engagement ring, despite my best efforts to show her that the same ring could be had for 2/3′s less.

    talking about whatever makes her happy, my wife said she didn’t like diamonds and didn’t want an engagement ring. thus, we went to Tiffany’s for the bands that she had picked out. then the evil Tiffany’s had a diamond/plt band that she liked and all things like getting matching plt bands went out the window. i got the simple plt band, she got the diamond/plt band. then a bit later after the wedding, and several friends getting engagement rings later, i was searching for an engagement ring: .9c, VVS1, D, ex/ex GIA.

  46. the post was getting long and i forgot to mention that getting a diamond ring isn’t all that different from the rest of the world. my wife is from asia, and prospective groom has to pony up $$ in the estimated value of raising the prospective bride to her family. the middle east and other areas, the women get as much gold jewelry as can be afforded (more utilitarian rather than aesthetics if you’ve ever seen the gold), potential husbands again have to pay the wife’s family to wed her. just think how lucky we are in the west, that we only pay for a small diamond ring.

  47. I was wondering what you thought about ring insurance? Is it really necessary?

  48. Jonathon – I don’t sport Nike’s or shop at the Gap. I do drive an SUV HOWEVER, I am in the process of selling it to get something more environmentally friendly and gas efficient. I try to buy local produce and I buy meat from a family run business.

    If you want to interpret this as being high and mighty that’s to bad. I’m not doing it to be high and mighty – I’m doing it because I am attempting to be more conscious of what I choose to spend my money on and what it funds on down the line. My small steps (easy changes) might be big steps (hard changes) to you, but since they are small choices to me I don’t mind doing them and I won’t be made to feel bad about them. Every little bit helps. If more people made these little changes it would add up to a big change.

    CARLOS — Great post – I agree 200% That last part summons it up and it’s heart breaking! Congratulations on your engagement!

  49. I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad. I think your decision is great. It works for you and makes you happy, which is what I was talking about when I said “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.”

    I got the impression that you were trying to make others feel bad by implying that anyone that wears a diamond supports “slave labor”, and I just wanted to say something to the effect of “judge not, lest ye be judged”. But apparently I’m not that eloquent :)

  50. Yep, a buddy from college married his Chinese girlfriend. Paid her family $20k in dowry. I thought it was pretty screwed up in this day and age.

  51. JP,
    ring insurance is like any other insurance, you only need it when you need it. You can calculate how much it will cost you to insure it and whether that amount is worth the risk of needing or wanting to replace it. A couple things about jewlery insurance, though.

    First, insurance companies may only give replacement cost or actual cash value. Insurance companies can base replacement cost not off of what you purchased, but what they can get the ring for, which is far less than what us consumers can get the ring for (any shop that states they are a wholesale diamond, is just smoke and mirrors, there is no such thing as a diamond wholesaler).

    Second, this is why you should suck up the $100-$250/hr to get your jewelry appraised by a certified appraiser (not just from the store necessarily) if you are going to insure your ring. You might get a really warm fuzzy from the mall store who says that you bought the ring at $5k but it is worth $10k. When you insure the ring for $10k you are paying far more insurance premium than you should be paying, especially when you find out that the ring’s real appraised value is only $3k. You can insure the ring for whatever you want, but in the end it comes down to the fine print of the insurance company and how they evaluate the ring or how much they can replace the ring for.

    Third, you should check with your insurance company. Many require special schedules for high valued items (i.e. jewelry in general policy may only cover up to like $500, so if you want to replace the $5k ring, you’ll have to schedule it). If you have lots of expensive jewlery you might compare from your renter’s or homeowner’s policy versus a company that specializes in just jewelry.

  52. A related question, but one I hadn’t really seen asked around the net: Do people ‘tell’ the fiance/wife how much they had spent on the ring immediately after proposal? Is there a rule similar to how you never ask how much a birthday gift cost? If so, were any people offended at the number, or by the fact that it was bought from a wholesaler or other source vs a (mall) retailer?

  53. Engaged before says:

    Great explanation. The ring was and is never about us guys. The ring you get from a 25 cent machine at Wal-mart would work out for us. Luckily the woman makes the call on what she thinks is the perfect wedding ring.

    Bite the bullet and spend the amount that makes your wife feel special. After all they just want to feel like they are appreciated and worth the investment.

    I understand. I puchased a basic ring when I first got married for my wife at 21 years old. 9 years later I didi a significant upgrade on a cruise to Alaska. It was time.

  54. For those of you thinking that you can buy a lab-created or cubic zirconia stone and use it as an engagement ring thinking she’ll never know, please don’t. Yes, they look exactly the same, and yes, it makes practical sense. But you’re lying to your future wife and the future mother of your children.

    Plus, she’ll divorce you after she has it appraised. Yes, she’ll have it appraised. What, you think we’re stupid?

  55. Ok… for the ones who want to get your girl a “fake” ring without her knowing… I really feel bad for her.

    That doesn’t say too much about you or relationship if the ring she is going to be wearing for the rest of her life is a lie.

    Guys, just suck it up and get your girl the ring that she wants. If it puts you back a bit just ask yourself if she is worth it… if you answer “no” to that question then you shouldn’t be getting married to her in the first place. Make her happy… because out of all of the guys in the world she wants to marry you, dont dissapoint her.

    and this is coming from a guy…

    step it up guys

  56. I wear the engagement and wedding rings that my father gave to my mother, which is the only reason that I have diamonds on my finger at all. I would much prefer either a lab-created gem that is socially and environmentally friendly, or something totally out of the norm, like the awesome rings from http://www.konzuk.com/home . I am 100% opposed to spending two month’s or even one month’s salary on a piece of jewelry. If my husband and I decide to get new rings (since it’s very possible that he just lost his ring), it will be from Konzuk, and the two together will be about $500. Of course, once I start thinking of the environmental consequences posed by mining any kind of metal and/or stone, I end up not wanting to buy anything at all. However, in my strivings to maintain a semblance of proper socialization, I’m down with getting something funky like concrete and stainless steel from Konzuk. :)

  57. I agree with alan, suck it up and get her something nice. that conflict diamond is an excuse to be a cheap ass. and as for paying down your mortgage instead, i feel sorry for your wife when she’s out in public with a diamond you have to blink to see or CZ….that is pathetic. i personally spend 6k and dont feel the least bit bad about it. theres always time to make more money!

  58. Wow, after reading most of these posts, I feel weird.

    I’m buying a 2 carat, well cut- great quality ring for approx. $23k. It’s below retail, which is anywhere from $30-$50k. It’s been months but I finally found the stone and we’re having it custom made.

    I’m already a homeowner, and have a decent job, with decent savings. It took a while to make the decision to buy such an expensive ring. I originally budgeted for $15k, but I really wanted to buy something over 2c. so I’m “sucking it up”

    Based on the reviews I’ve already seen, I’ll probably get bashed for spending so much but like everyone says, this is what I can afford to make her happy. She didn’t want something this nice, she would of been happy with a smaller ring but I wanted to give her something that would be a reflection of my love for her.

    I was just curious to see if anyone else is in a similar situation as me.

    I’m 28 y/o.

  59. @ anon

    Nope not in the same situation at all.
    Rather than spend $23k on custom made ring, I’m making one myself.

    Three stone ring, two side .25ct emerald cut diamonds, one 1.3ct emerald cut Paraiba Tourmaline in the center. Will work out about 2mnths wage after factoring the cost of tools and materials etc.

    Like they say “Size isn’t everything”.

    I’m 27 y/o.

  60. Don’t get your girlfriend/wife-to-be a fake ring and not tell her about it. Imagine if she ever found out about that. She would probably be humiliated and pretty pissed off at the fact that you wanted to marry her but didn’t want to fork out the $$ for something you will only ever buy her once. Make it special.

    I know all of this sounds really materialistic, but which girl doesn’t like receiving a nice piece of jewellery? Especially when she’s going to look at it at think of you, and the fact that you’re willing to buy something that beautiful just for her. In theory, she’s the only girl who will ever receive that ring from you. I hope this is making sense as to why a real ring is important.

    Now, about this whole “two months salary” thing. You do not have to spend thousands of dollars on a ring. Just make sure that you’re not buying a fake. My fiance paid $750 for my ring and I absolutely love it. We’re only 19 and even though his bi-monthly paycheck is about 8k (I know he’s young, he builds wind turbines), i’d rather him save his money so that we can buy a house and live comfortably when the time comes.

    Oh, and another thing. My ring is diamond and white gold. I chose my ring and I didn’t feel any pressure to get a diamond ring because it’s the “norm”. I’m just really not a fan of coloured gemstones and yellow gold, especially not together lol. Besides, it has to match all my clothes haha.

  61. Oh my gosh people. It is so funny to read the debate on how much to spend on a ring! First of all, why is that it is hard to spend a fair amount of money on a nice ring-when you will wear this for the rest of your life and pass it down to your children? That is priceless to say the least. How much do we spend on a vacation that is over in a week, or a new car that is worth less as soon as you drive it off the lot, and how long does that car last? How much do you spend at starbucks in a month or two on coffee and or going out for drinks, dinner, movies, etc? In the end, it should be a joint decision as with everything in marriage, but seriously think of it as how much you love this person and what would make them happy, through all the ups and downs of marriage and through out a life time. By the way I recently read in parade that a baby born today until 18 yrs old cost an average of $500,000 to raise-should we than not have kids because they cost too much? Also, the housing market was once a good investment, but no more= my house is worthless than I paid for it 8 yrs ago, and my taxes which I think in IL are totally inflated and close to $9000 a yr for nothing. Yet having spend that amount on a ring for a lifetime according to all of you would be stupid, but we pay that yearly for in my opinion for nothing! And as far as weddings go, look at the money people spend on them for one day and it’s over-I hear the average is $20.000 plus these days! And life is about choices, but why is it so hard to spend a little more on a ring-than everything else in life?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Jane Dough brings up the always-controversial subject of engagement rings and has some wise and practical thoughts. You can read my opinion on diamonds here. In short, like everything else in relationships, it all boils down to communication! There is no right or wrong. Every couple should do what’s right for themselves. [...]

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