If you’ve ever thought about getting engaged at any point in your life, you’ve probably at least pondered how much you and your potential betrothed should be expected to spend on an engagement ring. While there is certainly no set-in-stone amount, there are so many different rules and expectations when it comes to the cost of the bling that it can be overwhelming, confusing and downright frustrating (especially for the person making the purchase). There are even online engagement-ring cost calculators that have been set up to help you navigate the process—but we also have some pretty solid answers to help you on your way.
While it’s always great to pore over the best celebrity engagement rings for inspiration, dropping millions of pounds isn’t exactly a reality for many of us. Fear not, though, as we’re here to help. We’ve compiled as many different engagement-ring price suggestions as we could and laid them all out for you so it’s easy to navigate and understand. We also got some up-to-date information from jeweller Michelle Oh, who spoke to us about the more modern rules. Both you and your significant other will thank us if and when it’s ever the time to bite the platinum, gold or silver bullet.
Keep scrolling for the seven rules on how much to spend on an engagement ring, and shop some of our favourite pieces.
Rule #1: Three Months' Salary
According to an expert-fuelled report on Brides.com, the purchaser should spend about three full months’ salary on the ring. This is more a rule of thumb, however, and if the person buying the ring is “heavily in debt or concerned about job security,” they might want to scale back a bit.
Getty Images; PICTURED: The Duchess of Cambridge's engagement ring
Rule #2: One Month's Salary
You may have heard the more prevalent rule of thumb that a person should spend about a months’ salary on the ring—and you have diamond manufacturer De Beers to thank for that little wisdom nugget. Back in America’s Great Depression, De Beers started running an ad campaign suggesting that men spend one months’ salary on the ring to save money, and the idea stuck.
Getty Images; PICTURED: Meghan Markle's engagement ring
Rule #3: Split the Difference
If three months seems like a stretch for your other half, but one month seems a little skimpy, there are some contemporary ways of thinking that suggest you compromise and spend two months’ salary on the rock. This can be a good option if you’re looking to spend a small fortune without potentially wrecking your finances.
Rule #4: Spend the Average Cost of a Ring
In 2016, the average amount spent on an engagement ring in the UK was £573. By 2020, the national average cost of an engagement ring rose to £1865. You always have the option of presenting your future spouse with this information and suggesting they spend the average amount, but you should keep in mind that it has nothing to do with their own personal financial standing.
Getty Images; PICTURED: Amal Clooney's engagement ring
Rule #5: Look at Ways to Save Money
There are some pretty savvy things you can do to make sure you get the most bang for your engagement-ring buck. Many would recommend shopping online (remember that at least you’ll find it easier to return something!), but there are also tricks such as opting for a lower-carat diamond (many stones look exactly the same, unless you’re an expert with a magnifying glass in hand) and deciding on a style that has a solitaire diamond rather than lots of little stones that add up.
If you’re concerned about authenticity online, aim to browse retailers that are trusted and well-known (such as Ernest Jones, for example) and look out for brands carrying IGI certificates, as they are a sure-fire way to know that something is legit. Find out more information on being a confident diamond buyer from the International Gemological Insitute.
Rule #6: Don’t Feel Restricted to Diamonds
Although diamonds continue to be a popular choice of stone for engagement rings, there are a plethora of precious gems you can consider that 1) could lower the price of your chosen engagement ring, and 2) make it even more personal for the recipient. "Spend whatever you are comfortable with, but make it personal and meaningful,” encourages jewellery designer and expert Niza Huang. “Using birthstones or engraving words or patterns that are special to you both will make any ring feel special. Reworking heirlooms is also a meaningful way to add sentimental value to the piece. Not only that but it’s sustainable and could also lower the cost.”
Getty Images; PICTURED: Kate Upton's engagement ring
Rule #7: Don’t Overlook Custom Designs
Although you might think a bespoke piece costs more, that isn’t always the case. Having more flexibility over cut, clarity, and metals used can help you to create the look of a ring you want, but in a tailored way. So, how much should you budget for a custom ring? “From a bespoke perspective, my suggestion would be to think about an amount your comfortable with and then have a few hundred pounds flexibility on your max price,” suggests expert Laura Vann, owner and founder of V by Laura Vann. "That way, the designer will try and achieve your piece within budget but it leaves a bit of wiggle room to upgrade should you want slightly bigger or better stones!”
Rule #8: Forget the Rules
In our minds—and we assume the minds of many cash-strapped UK millennials—the amount spent on an engagement ring should be 100% up to the person buying it. While you can, of course, adhere to the above rules if that's what you want, you can also take the advice of expert Michelle Oh, founder of Michelle Oh Jewellery, who says that ultimately, choosing a piece of jewellery, especially an engagement ring, is a very personal choice. She also said that the focus has very much shifted from one that was all about how much the ring cost to what the ring wearer will like—so in many ways, price doesn't matter as much as it used to.
Now keep scrolling to see some engagement rings we love.
SHOP THE BEST ENGAGEMENT RINGS