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The Average Cost of Engagement Rings and What’s Right for You

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What’s the average cost of an engagement ring? Is the rule one month’s salary or three? Does the price include the wedding band?

Engagement ring shopping can feel like quite an undertaking. You want to pick out the perfect ring for the love of your life, and it can be hard to know where to start when making such an important decision.

You’ve probably heard some sort of “rule” that dictates how much you’re supposed to spend on an engagement ring. It’s easy to feel pressured by these sorts of expectations, but ultimately, all that matters is how you and your bride-to-be feel about it. Choosing a ring is a deeply personal decision, and you should spend an amount with which you’re comfortable. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about average ring costs, or that you shouldn’t seek out some professional advice to help you make a decision.

Average Costs

In 2020, the national average cost of an engagement ring in the U.S. was $5,500, but the average also varies by what region of the country you’re in. In the Mid-Atlantic, the average jumps up to $7,600, while the Southeast has the lowest regional average at $5,250.

It’s probably no coincidence that $5,500 is also about the average price of a one-carat diamond ring. Which, you guessed it, is the average size of an engagement ring’s center stone in the United States.

In addition to region, average spending habits for engagement rings also vary by age and circumstances. Millennials tend to spend less than older and more established couples. People who are getting married for a second time are also more likely to opt for understated rings.

When you’re looking to buy an engagement ring, you should also think about whether or not the bride intends to wear a wedding band. The average cost of wedding bands for women is $1,100. Men’s bands are significantly less expensive, averaging $510.

Your Budget

The only rules about your personal engagement ring budget you should follow is that you should set one, and it should be realistic. Start the shopping process by establishing a budget that makes you feel good without jeopardizing your financial goals.

If you’re planning to marry in the near future, then you also need to think about financing the wedding. In 2021, the average wedding price tag was $22,500, and the numbers for 2020 and 2021 reflect significant decreases due to pandemic-related wedding woes. In 2019, the average cost was $28,000.

Unless it is important that the proposal come as a surprise, you may want to discuss wedding-related priorities with your bride-to-be. You can decide where to allocate your money together. 

In order to find the right ring, you should also set your priorities with regard to the jewelry itself. If you’re going with a classic diamond solitaire, ask yourself which of the four C’s is most important to you:

  • Cut
  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Carat

These factors will determine the price of your ring, so it’s important to know which ones you’re most willing to sacrifice. It may make sense to opt for a slightly smaller stone with a perfect cut and lots of sparkle. Quality matters more than size when it comes to the cost of the stone. whether or not a diamond will hold its value.

How to Stay Within Your Budget

Once you’ve calculated your budget, you need to stay within it. Of course, the stone is the centerpiece and most expensive part of a traditional engagement ring, but don’t forget to account for the following:

Setting 

The setting of a ring can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to its cost. Don’t pick out your stone without factoring in the rest of the ring. 

Sizing

There are different ways to go about getting your future bride’s ring size such as borrowing a ring to take to the jeweler with you or asking her ring size. If these aren’t options for you you may need to get the ring you pick out sized to fit. Sizing can cost as little as $50, but more complex designs may cost upward of $150.

Sales Tax

Most states have a sales tax between 4% and 7%. If the initial price is $5,500, a 7% sales tax adds $385 to the total. 

Customization

A custom engagement ring doesn’t have to mean a museum-quality showpiece. In fact, customization can actually help you to stay within your budget.

If you’re not seeing the right combination on the store floor, talk to your jeweler about price, stone, and setting. They may be able to come up with a ring that fits with both your dreams and your budget.

Other Factors

There are a number of other considerations that can affect the price of the engagement ring. It’s such an intensely personal item that it’s hard to set general rules around it. But here are a few questions you can ask yourself that can help with your decision.

To Diamond or not to Diamond?

Opt for alternative stones such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Other gemstones tend to be less expensive than diamonds, though there is a great range depending on stone quality and scarcity.

Non-solitaire rings have also grown in popularity. Your bride may prefer an infinity band or some other design. 

Start Small and Upgrade Later?

You may long to give your bride a gem that can signal passing planes. But that may not be a realistic goal for where you are today. 

Remember that you can upgrade the engagement ring or wedding bands later. Of course, you might want to replace them altogether, but you can also talk to your jeweler about choosing a setting that allows you to improve on the center stone at a later date.

What’s Their Style?

Are they a tomboy or a princess? A sleek executive or a bohemian beauty? This ring is a symbol of your love for them, not a symbol of your personal wealth. Don’t load a back-to-nature minimalist with an estate-worthy rock.

Make sure that the ring suits their tastes. Family members and friends are excellent resources for style input. Use them.

Pick a Partner You Trust

You did that when choosing whom to marry. Pick a reliable partner for the ring selection process as well. After all, quality jewelry that lasts a lifetime comes from a reputable jeweler that can certify what you are buying.

Brinker’s Jewelers brings the expertise and passion to the process that you deserve. Our engagement rings feature certified stones in the finest settings. They’re heirlooms-in-process, destined to be part of your family for generations to come.

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Evansville, IN 47715

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