At Brinker’s Jewelers, we don’t believe there are any ‘rules’ when it comes to buying an engagement ring. Your budget should be unique to you, just as the ring is unique to your partner.
However, we do believe that taking your commitment to the next level should be one of the most exciting times of your life, not one of the most stressful. To ease your stress, we’ve compiled our favorite, most unbiased, honest tips to help you set an engagement ring budget that makes sense for you:
Tip #1: Establish Your Budget Before Anything Else
Your plan of action should always begin with a budget. It’s financially responsible and will help keep your expectations realistic while you’re browsing and will make many decisions much easier moving forward.
If you want to opt for a payment plan, figure out what kind of monthly payment you can afford for a time period of 6 to 12 months and add that to the down payment you have saved up. Knowing this number will help keep your budget in-check as you shop.
Tip #2: Set Your Priorities
After setting a budget, set your priorities — are you looking for a high-quality diamond? Are you leaning towards a simplistic metal band, or one embellished with diamonds? What about gold or silver? Once you know some of your priorities, a jeweler will help you explore the options within your price range and make smart compromises.
Making Smart Compromises:
- Quality over quantity. Put more of your money in the diamond instead of the mounting. We recommend buying a smaller diamond higher in quality over a larger diamond that has more flaws. Quality diamonds are rarer and more valuable —if you ever decide to upgrade in the future, the nicer diamond will always be worth more.
- Brand isn’t everything. If your budget is limited, we recommend buying a non-designer engagement ring, which tends to be less expensive than designer engagement rings.
- Choose a halo setting. Surrounding a center stone of lesser weight with several smaller diamonds creates a beautiful ring with a vintage look and if done correctly, makes the center stone appear larger!
- Buy a diamond just shy of whole carat weight. Diamonds often sell at premium prices at the full carat or half-carat marks — choosing a diamond just shy of those weights (for example, .9 carats instead of 1) can be easier on the wallet.
- Custom doesn’t mean expensive. If you can’t find the perfect ring in your price range, you can collaborate with a jeweler to create something completely unique for your soon-to-be fiance. Meet with one of our seven in-house jewelers for a stress-free custom experience, including a face-to-face consultation, an initial CAD design of your idea, and life-size wax replicas. Learn more about our custom process here.
Compromises like these can help you make the most of your budget. Keep in mind, you can always upgrade your engagement ring down the road as an anniversary gift or an unexpected just-because surprise.
Tip #3: Spend What Feels Comfortable
This is the most important tip. The one/two/three-month salary rule you’ve probably heard is based on gross income (not what you actually bring home) and doesn’t consider your current financial situation, or debt (if you have any). That rule was a marketing ploy invented by the world’s largest diamond producer in the 1940s and is unrealistic today.
If you think about it, three months salary is 25% of your earnings (a quarter!). On top of the wedding and honeymoon expenses you’re going to incur in the near future, do you want to be paying off your engagement ring, too?
According to The Knot’s annual Real Weddings Study, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2016 was $6,163. But ‘salary rules’ and average costs aside, it’s important to just remember that many spend more, and many spend less.
The takeaway: set a budget you’re comfortable with.
At Brinker’s, our professional jewelers will help you find (or create) the perfect ring to propose with, and go over payment options with you — helping you find the engagement ring that fits your needs, her desires, and your budget.