The question of how much to spend on an engagement ring has deep roots in tradition, handed down through generations. Yet, as we explore its origins, you might begin to wonder why this age-old guideline continues to endure in modern times.

How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost?

The three months salary Rule

Traditionally, advice handed down from fathers or grandfathers suggests budgeting two to three months' salary for an engagement ring. For example, if you earn $4,000 per month, this guideline would recommend spending between $8,000 and $12,000 on the ring. If you earn $10,000 per month, the expectation would be to spend $20,000 to $30,000.

The Problem With That

In earlier times, a part-time job could cover rent for a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, top universities charged significantly lower tuition fees, healthcare costs were more affordable, and major life events centered around planning receptions and starting families.

Interestingly, the tradition of spending two months' salary on an engagement ring originated from the advertising efforts of the leading diamond-selling company in the 1930s. During the Great Depression, the British diamond firm De Beers revived its business with a marketing campaign promoting a guideline of one month's salary for an engagement ring. This strategy proved remarkably successful: Initially, only 10% of engagement rings included diamonds, but by the end of the century, this figure had surged to 80%. Over time, the guideline expanded to two or even three months' salary.

Breaking Up with Tradition: Engagement Ring Cost & Budgeting Today

More and more, couples are choosing non-traditional paths. Your situation is unique, and your ring should reflect the life you've built together, rather than conforming to a strict guideline. (Discover tips on purchasing an engagement ring within a budget here.)

You might have different priorities for your future—whether it's buying a new home, paying off student loans, or saving for children. Perhaps, like many modern couples, you've explored the value of experiences over material possessions and are allocating more of your budget to travel or shared interests. This shift highlights how the approach to budgeting for engagement rings has evolved significantly compared to previous generations.

Shopping together for an engagement ring

Engagement ring shopping has transformed into a more collaborative experience than ever before. Couples are increasingly shopping together and sometimes even sharing the financial investment. Rachel Torgerson of Cosmopolitan shared her journey of co-purchasing her engagement ring with her fiancé, emphasizing how being involved in every decision enhanced her appreciation for the proposal's significance. "From saving up to comparing options, debating size versus quality, and making the final choice—it’s a thorough process with its highs and lows. Experiencing it firsthand was truly unforgettable," she reflected.

Browsing engagement rings online as a couple can deepen your connection. With Stienhardt's exquisite collection of handcrafted, ethically sourced rings, complemented by benefits like free shipping and returns, home preview replicas, and a lifetime warranty, you can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of making thoughtful decisions together.

Beauty on a Budget: Engagement Ring Tips

There are strategies to maximize your ring's value even if you're on a tight budget.

First, consider shopping online. Traditional jewelry stores often mark up diamond prices by 50% or more to cover overhead costs. As an online jeweler founded with direct connections to diamond sources, Stienhardt passes those savings on to you.

Second, think about choosing a preset diamond engagement ring. Preset rings offer a more affordable and time-saving option, as the diamond is already set, eliminating additional costs.

Third, seek expert advice on stretching your diamond budget. For instance, you might follow the recent trend of adding a trendy sapphire, inspired by celebrities like Lady Gaga and Meghan Markle. Three-stone and halo engagement ring styles can also create the illusion of a larger diamond.

Fourth, explore lab-grown diamonds as an alternative to natural diamonds. They are chemically identical but more affordable since they are created in a lab. Learn more about lab-grown diamonds in our article: Mined Diamond Alternatives.

Fifth, consider the rising popularity of moissanite in engagement rings. This beautiful gemstone offers an attractive alternative for those seeking affordability.

Stienhardt's expert gemologists are dedicated to helping you find the perfect ring for your life together. With their extensive experience in understanding couples' priorities and budgets, contact us now to discover the ideal ring for you.

Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds offer an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to natural diamonds. They are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds but come at a fraction of the cost, making it possible to purchase a larger, higher-quality stone within your budget.

Benefits of Preset Rings

Now that you've made the decision to propose, we're here to help you find the ideal ring swiftly and effortlessly. Our preset rings ensure you can impress her in as little as 12 days, perfect for urgent needs when waiting isn't an option. What you see is what you get, simplifying the decision-making process and ensuring you get a stylish piece you can trust.

How to Maximize Your Budget

Maximizing your budget while shopping for an engagement ring doesn't mean compromising on its look or feel.

Consider opting for less popular shapes, which offer uniqueness often seen on celebrities. Choosing a G color ensures a nearly colorless diamond without overspending, fulfilling both your dreams for the perfect engagement ring. Fluorescence, a natural diamond property, is typically inconspicuous to the naked eye, so there's no need to fret over it.

Exact carat weights aren't crucial. Purchasing just under a full carat can save you money while maintaining the diamond's appearance and sparkle. For example, selecting a 1.90-carat diamond instead of a 2.00-carat one can still delight her. Another budget-friendly tip is to stick with a classic design and avoid adding side stones for extra sparkle — one stone can shine brilliantly on its own!

Matching the Ring to a Wedding Band

Matching your wedding band to your engagement ring is a wonderful way to express your personal style. Planning ahead and envisioning how the rings will stack together on your finger is key.

At Stienhardt, we offer a matching wedding band for every engagement ring, making it easy to find the perfect pair. If you opt for some sparkle, we can match the diamond accents on the wedding band to those on your engagement ring. Simply search by engagement ring name or SKU stock number to view matching wedding bands on our site. Our team of gemologists is also available to assist you in finding the ideal match.

Our selection includes not only women's wedding bands but also bands for men, because matches are made here too.

You can stick with the same metal type as your engagement ring or get creative by mixing metals for a more modern look. Whether it's white gold with yellow gold or yellow gold with rose gold, the options are limited only by your imagination and personal preference.

Once you've decided on the look and metal, consider the type of wedding band you prefer. Do you want a plain band, or perhaps one with diamond accents? Some couples prefer a wedding band that sits flush against the engagement ring, while others prefer one that makes a statement on its own. A classic wedding band is ideal if you prefer no gap between the two rings, but options like eternity bands, channel-set bands, or plain bands are also available. Our gemologists can advise you on whether a ring will sit flush against your chosen engagement ring.

Also, consider the width of both rings to ensure they complement each other harmoniously. You wouldn't want one ring to overshadow the other.

The metal type and size of accent diamonds will influence the cost of your wedding ring. Generally, the cost of the wedding band will be approximate to that of the engagement ring minus the center diamond.

When it comes to matching your wedding ring and engagement ring, there are no strict rules. Whether you prefer a traditional match or something more unique, how you choose to showcase and wear your love is entirely up to you. We're here to assist you every step of the way, including customizations to meet your preferences. Each ring comes with a lifetime warranty and a certificate card, ensuring a stress-free shopping experience. We offer free resizing within 30 days of purchase and complimentary engraving to add a special touch.


Do sapphires hold their value over time?

Yes, sapphires do hold their value over time; just ensure to opt for a high-quality grade natural sapphire with an intense hue.

What is the value of a lab created sapphire?

A lab created sapphire will sell for a lower price compared to a natural sapphire, and usually costs approximately $40 per carat.