If you’re planning on buying an engagement ring, you may be stressing over how much money you’re expected to spend.
There was once a time when the supposed tradition was to spend three months’ pay on an engagement ring. That may sound reasonable on the surface, but the reality isn’t quite so sweet. To put it in perspective, this rule would mean that someone with a $50,000 salary would spend over $12,000 on an engagement ring.
These days, the US average engagement ring cost is just over $5,000, but the overall spectrum is pretty broad. The key is buying a ring that is high in quality and meets the aesthetic desires of your partner, rather than trying to break the bank.
Why is the spectrum so broad? Let’s take a look at the different factors that can impact engagement ring prices so that you can make an informed decision beyond averages.
Diamonds and Other Gemstones
Naturally, one of the first things you’re going to think about is the gemstones you include in your engagement ring. These days, diamonds aren’t the only popular choice, but they’re still a frontrunner.
Choosing a diamond over another gemstone won’t be the only choice that drastically impacts cost. Even diamonds have a wide price range due to the 4 C’s, which we’ll discuss below, and the choice between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond, with the latter coming in at a lower price.
Other popular gemstones for engagement rings include sapphires, rubies, opals, emeralds, and more. Depending on the quality, these gemstones can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars and several thousand. You will also notice an increase in value if the ring contains multiple gemstones, i.e. a center ruby surrounded by diamonds.
The 4 C’s
It’s hard to understand how diamond engagement rings can cost anywhere between $500 and tens of thousands of dollars. The answer often lies in the 4 C’s, which apply to other natural gemstones and lab-grown diamonds, as well. When talking about the 4 C’s, we’re usually talking about the center stone, as this is the focal point of the engagement ring.
Let’s take a closer look at the 4 C’s.
Cut refers to the symmetry, facets, and reflective abilities of a diamond. The higher the quality of the cut, the more dazzling the ring is going to be. As you might expect, that also means that the price goes up in accordance with the quality of the cut.
When diamonds are mined and cut, they can undergo some wear and tear, which creates imperfections and dents or dings called inclusions. If you’re looking to save money, consider worrying less about clarity than the other C’s, particularly cut and color. Inclusions are microscopic, and you won’t notice them with the naked eye.
Color refers to the presence or lack of color, which occurs naturally as a diamond forms, that is visibly present. Some diamonds may have a yellow or cloudy appearance, which lowers their value and reduces their overall brilliance. The closer that a diamond is to “colorless,” which means clear and free of that yellow or cloudy haze, the rarer it is and, as a result, the more expensive it is.
Carat is the one “C” that most people are at least somewhat familiar with. The term “carat” is used to objectively measure the weight of a diamond, and the more carats there are, the bigger the diamond is. It is unsurprising, then, that more carats equal more value and a higher price tag.
So far, we’ve focused entirely on the gemstone you choose as the focal point of the ring. However, the gemstone isn’t the only thing that will impact value. The metal you choose for the band of your engagement ring will also affect engagement ring prices.
Gold is by far the most popular choice for engagement and wedding ring bands. When you go for gold, you get a wide array of hues to choose from, including yellow, rose, and white gold.
Believe it or not, it doesn’t make sense to up the carats when you’re talking about gold rings. Yes, 24-carat gold is higher in value, but 10-carat gold is much more durable, as pure gold is extremely soft and prone to scratching.
Silver is another popular choice and the most affordable. Sterling silver does require some upkeep, as it can scratch and tarnish over time, but when well-maintained, sterling silver offers a luxurious look without the luxurious price tag.
Some of the best engagement rings are customized to fit the exact desires of the person who is going to wear it. As we mentioned already, the goal is always to prioritize your partner’s desires, rather than going with what’s popular at the moment.
Many people assume that custom jewelry is going to be more expensive than pre-made rings. However, that is not always the case. Yes, you can design a $20,000 engagement ring, but you can also use your customization options to make budget-friendly choices, like going with a lower clarity level in exchange for a higher-quality cut.
Buying an Engagement Ring on a Budget Is Possible
When it comes to buying an engagement ring, don’t worry about what other people are paying. Yes, average prices hover around $5,000, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find or design the perfect ring at a different price point. Use this guide to understand what impacts engagement ring costs so that you can hit your ideal price range and give your partner the ring of their dreams.
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