The Diamond Pro

Here’s How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

By Michael Fried

Scared of getting ripped off? Don’t want to waste your money? Confused by all the choices? Contact us.

Bottom Line Recommendation:

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

To ensure you get the best value and the most beauty for your diamond, purchase your engagement ring from a reputable vendor 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 pave setting or a 1.4 Carat Round Cut in a platinum halo setting at excellent prices.

For help in finding a beautiful ring or comparing two options, please reach out to our diamond experts. They’re always happy to assist our readers in any way they can.

Preparing for your proposal is an exciting time and you want a beautiful ring to make it all happen. 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.

We’ll walk you through:

  • Why certain rules (i.e. spending two month’s salary) should not guide your spending decision
  • A few things you should consider when setting your budget
  • How much engagement rings cost
  • Getting the best value for your budget

If you’d like personalized help at any time, please contact us.

Debunking the Two-Month Salary Rule

You may have heard that in order to determine how much to spend on an engagement ring, you need to look at how much money you make. This guideline, however, began as a crafty marketing initiative.

Diamond marketers, specifically De Beers, launched targeted ad campaigns—specifically one that suggests you should spend two month’s gross income on an engagement ring. This ad campaign was intended to increase the amount of money spent on a diamond, therefore increasing the company’s revenue. Their campaign—and the two-month rule—were based on nothing more than driving sales.

Many problems exist with the two-month rule beyond that it was started by marketers. Gross income doesn’t take into account your taxes and health care costs. It doesn’t factor in debt or student loans. Although it should go without saying, the size and price of a diamond doesn’t equate the amount of love you have for someone (you can also check what the average diamond size people purchase is).

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To determine how much you should personally spend on an engagement ring, several factors must be considered.

How to Determine Your Engagement Ring Budget

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 engagement 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.

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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.

Consider Your Financial Situation

Remember that you’re not just planning for a beautiful engagement, but a wedding 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 health care
  • 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 0.9 Carat Round Diamond in a vintage white gold setting or a 2.01 Carat Round Diamond in a white gold 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.

How Much Does an Engagement Ring Cost?

As expected, the prices for engagement rings differ dramatically. You can find a stunning 1 Carat Diamond Ring like this for $5,070 or a beautiful 3 Carat Diamond Ring like this for $25,995. According to recent surveys, the average amount spent on an engagement ring in the United States is approximately $5,500. This average can vary depending on where you live, as 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 others.

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

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 in estimating the cost of the engagement ring, try our Diamond Price Calculator.

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 engagement ring starts with finding an exceptional diamond vendor. 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 several diamond dealers. We have a consistent pulse on the companies you can trust.

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

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Brian Gavin offers super-ideal cuts with the “Brian Gavin Signature” Hearts & Arrows collection. They’re known for selling for 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.

James Allen

James Allen focuses on the customer experience and offering 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 & AGS). Check out our Blue Nile review.

Leibish & Co.

Leibish is our recommended vendor for gemstone engagement 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.

Finding the Perfect Ring: Getting the Best Value for Your Budget

Our goal is for you to find the most exceptional diamond engagement ring at a price that’s within your budget. 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


We strongly recommend only looking at diamonds with a GIA or AGS 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. Shape is usually decided based on personal preference.

Diamond Carat Weight

Carat weight is not the same as size. For example, a 1 Carat 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

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

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.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is at the point where it's almost the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Their customer experience is best in class, and they have recently upgraded their non-engagement jewelry inventory as well.
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

Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have the industry-leading largest available exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
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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