• 11/20/2023

“A Diamond Is Forever” – What Should the Average Engagement Ring Cost? (2023)


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According to a study by Brides, the average American engagement ring cost $3,756 in 2020. Many couples spend less than this and many spend more. It all depends on your personal preferences as a couple and what you think an engagement ring should cost.

In the late 1940s, a De Beers diamond marketing campaign equated diamonds with faithful love. However, there are many other expenses that factor into the average cost of a wedding in 2023. Many people would now rather budget for a fun honeymoon, an expensive photographer or a down payment on a home. Here are five guidelines you can use to decide how much your engagement ring should cost. 

A woman with an engagement ring on hugs a man.

1. Consider Financial Goals

Before you start looking at rings, have a conversation with your significant other about your budget. Many couples combine finances after marriage, so this is a skill you need to develop anyway. Be honest about your concerns, boundaries and values. What are your financial priorities? 

Some couples skip the engagement ring altogether because it doesn’t align with their long-term goals. Others budget and save for an engagement ring after considering their expenses for the year. Whatever path you pursue, remember that every purchase you make should fit within your future financial goals. 

2. Discuss Your Preferences

This is also a good time to learn more about your significant other’s preferences. In America, wearing a large or rare type of diamond can be a status symbol. However, not every woman actually wants a large ring. Have a conversation to learn more about the style and size your significant other is interested in. 

Because everyone is unique, every couple handles engagement rings differently. Unless you have an honest conversation, you won’t really know what your significant other is expecting. For example, some couples like to go ring shopping together. Others prefer making the engagement ring a surprise – along with its cost. 

Three hands display three different engagement rings.

3. Research Ring Value

Diamonds are valued based on their cut, color, clarity and carat. These are known as the four C’s and can help you make an informed purchase. Carat refers to the size of the diamond – in general, larger diamonds cost more. However, larger diamonds with poor color or a simpler cut may cost less than fancy smaller diamonds. 

A 1-carat diamond, for example, can cost between $4,500 and $6,000. Depending on the band and other features, like surrounding encrusted stones or engravings, the total cost of the ring will be higher. When you increase the carat size, the price of a diamond can skyrocket. The cost of a 5-carat diamond can range from $50,000 to $145,000. Remember, bigger isn’t always better, especially if you’re on a budget.

The choice of metal for the ring also significantly influences the cost. Common options include platinum, white gold, yellow gold and rose gold, each with its own price range. Platinum is rarer than gold, making it one of the most previous metal options for an engagement ring, also making it the most expensive.

Before you go ring shopping, do your research and consider what matters to your significant other. In general, color and clarity are more important than carat. Your significant other may have a preference as to cut and some cuts are more expensive than others.

4. Consider an Alternative

Of course, you don’t have to go with a diamond. Many couples choose colored gemstones or diamond alternatives like moissanite. These rings are beautiful, unique and generally much less expensive than buying a diamond. If your significant other would like a colored gemstone, make sure you check its number on the Mohs hardness scale. 

Modern couples are also choosing vintage rings instead of buying new jewelry. You can use a family heirloom and even reset the stone if the setting has become too outdated. However, vintage style has a charm of its own that many couples appreciate. Although some vintage rings are inexpensive, you can also design an expensive ring with a vintage style.  

Two hands, one wearing an engagement ring.

5. Make a Meaningful Purchase

Ultimately, the cost of your engagement ring comes down to personal preference. It’s important to make sure you’re on the same page with your significant other before investing in this purchase. Whether you buy a ring that stretches your budget or reuse a vintage piece, make sure it’s meaningful to you as a couple. 

Think about your values and make a purchase that you can feel good about years from now. Be willing to compromise to suit your partner’s preferences, but avoid going into debt at all costs. Many couples start with a small ring and then upgrade it as their means increase. In a committed relationship, the cost of your engagement ring matters much less than the thought behind it. 

What Is the Average Cost of an Engagement Ring

According to a 2022 study conducted by The Knot, the average cost of an engagement ring is around $6,000 in the United States, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend that much on a ring. This price varies based on individual preferences, regional variations and financial circumstances.

For instance, the average engagement ring cost in Washington is a whopping $10,109 compared to $3,005 in South Dakota. California wasn’t far behind with an average of $9,482. These statistics brought the national average to $6,535 for an engagement ring.

Purchase Your Ideal Ring

The De Beers’ marketing campaign in the 1940s told couples that “a diamond is forever.” However, there is no correlation between the type of ring people buy and the success of their marriage. Your engagement ring is only a symbol of the intimate relationship and life you’re building together. 

Keep your values in mind as you shop for an engagement ring. Although the average ring costs several thousand dollars, a less expensive ring isn’t any less meaningful if you choose it together. Use these guidelines to get your significant other the ring of their dreams without blowing your long-term financial goals. 

Updated in November 2023

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