Thursday, February 19, 2009


This post was written by my friend who wishes to remain nameless so as to avoid any presence on the internet and stay under the Google radar. I begged asked him to write this post because I knew you all would have fantastic answers for him.

So Mandy recruited me to write a guest blog for her based on a question I asked her last week. Basically, it's a straightforward question that I'm learning can really provoke some insight into how an individual views marriage, relationships, and life in general. Basically, how much should an engagement ring cost?

Now, I didn't ask this question as personal advice but out of curiosity following a conversation with a male friend during Christmas. His girlfriend gave him a flat-out price tag as their relationship was getting more serious and they were considering moving in with each other. Her price tag? $5,000. Given his income and their geographic area, that's a bit high. Personally, I've always been of the opinion that you shouldn't pay that much for something unless it has an engine or a roof.

My friend was not happy about this pricetag. It sort of intrigued me that this his girlfriend (whom I have known for years and always respected a great deal) would just arbitrarily set a pricetag for her hand in marriage. The general rule of thumb that emerged was an engagement ring should cost two month's salary. That still strikes me as pretty high, especially since that be would a year of mortgage payments for me based on my current salary. Out of curiosity, I put together the following rigorously devised, highly scientific survey:

How much should an engagement ring cost?

a) Two full month's salary.

b) At least $5K.

c) I would love it regardless of the cost or quality.

d) Buy something cheap and spend the damn money on a trip to the Caribbean.

I think you can guess my answer. The first thing that I discovered is that most women get a detached, far-off look in their eyes when you ask them that question. If they get that look, you should probably brace yourself for an astronomical sum. The second thing I discovered is that most single men are terrified of this question. They will get a shifty look in their eyes and squirm like you just caught them cheating on their girlfriend. (Married guys will mumble "too much" and go about their business.)

So, unleash yourselves on Mandy's comments. How much should a ring cost? (And perhaps more importantly, why?)

Someone remind me not to ask Mandy any more questions. You'll have to ask her what her answer to the question was.


Bunny said...

i had always heard it was THREE months salary...not two.

either way, i think at least 5k (if the salary one is more, then go with that). i know it might seem a little ridiculous to spend that much on a ring, but hey, if i'm tying the knot with someone who eventually expects me to make him dinner every night and carry one or more children in my womb for nine months, i think it's worth it. plus, the ring i want is like 8k. come and go, rings are FOREVERRRRR.

sarah said...

I like the "two months salary" rule of thumb.
But in my case, I already know how much my ring will cost; because I want a very specific, custom-made ring (a half carat amethyst flanked by two smaller diamonds in white gold), I emailed a jeweller to see how much it would cost - about a months salary for my guy (1500$).

I'm half of the mind to say - it doesn't really matter about the cost, because its the sentiments behind the ring that matter. Who says that when your financial situation improves, you can't go get a better ring?
But the other half says - I'm wearing the damn thing forEVER, I better love it from the onset.

Um. Yeah. Not to sure that was helpful in any way...

(and strawberry, it USED to be three months salary; the 'two months' thing is the revised version :P)

Amanda said...

I see all sides, but to me, a diamond can always be upgraded. Is the size of the ring really going to make a better marriage? I'd hate to think that my husband felt pressured to have a certain amount of money just because that is what you are 'suppose' to do. Now that we are talking about upgrading mine, I'm not so sure I want to. I loved it 18 years ago and fall in love with it more every year.

My brother married a Texan and her requirement... 3 carat or bigger. That to me was just crazy!

Andy said...

This is something I honestly haven't ever thought of.

So, I did a little research, and I've found some prety lovely-looking (as in, MANY DIAMONDS) rings for 5K. I think that's a reasonable price.

Of course, if you're an executive who earns well, why shouldn't you spend a little bit more?

Ashley D said...

Like Strawberry, I'd always heard 3 months salary. But that's not the point.

I honestly don't care about the cost. If my future fiancee is a millionaire I really don't want a million dollar ring. My dream ring is less than one karat, so I think it's size that matters more than cost.

Anonymous said...

I can't actually say that I've thought of a specific price.

However, my ex husband bought my ring for a ridiculously low price on ebay ($200) and then proceeded to brag to everyone about how 'cheap' my ring was. Really made me feel 'worth it,' especially when it was gold and I the one request I made was that it NOT be gold. But hey 'it was on sale.'

I expect a ring that fits my personality, something that I will love and love to show off to people. I mean I will be wearing the thing for life (hopefully) so it should be something I absolutely love. The same goes for the guys ring.

Kim said...

I can honestly say it doesn't matter. My husband was in grad school when we got engaged. My engagement ring isn't huge - and he had to borrow the money from his father. I still love my ring to this day. I have since "upgraded" it with an anniversary band that we spent a pretty penny on - but we were at a point in our life where we could afford it.

I really don't understand women who put a dollar amount on it....and why would I want to start my marriage off in that much debt - $5,000 can feed a lot of orphans in Guatemala. ;)

chickbug said...

A ring is an investment. I appreciate that the girl is saying what she wants (it is a lot better then not saying, and being disappointed) but it's not just about what she wants...if the boy doesn't feel comfortable with that, they should discuss it and come to a compromise. If you can't compromise about the ring, you shouldn't be getting married. And, if they guy doesn't want to talk and just wants to do the "appropriate" thing....2-3 months salary.

Kylie said...

I don't think the price should matter but, we all know that some women will always have a "bigger-is-better" philosophy. Personally, I LOVE my ring because B and I picked it out together. The price didn't matter to us. It was what we liked.

You can't put a monetary value on a great marriage...

Kyla Bea said...

The two months salary thing gives me HIVES. You know what you can do with two months of salary? Pay off debt!! Buy a car!! Save for a trip!!

I think this is something you have to talk about with who you're with - not in terms of price, but in terms of size of the diamond. In my case, we had a vintage ring set in the family that was perfect and would have bought vintage had we not.

My set is from the 1920s, is almost a carat, with 13 little diamonds on the wedding band and on the E-ring, and it was free or would have cost about $3000 to buy vintage. Or you could burn $8 - 9k on buying it new.

I don't understand most girls on this issue though. The emphasis on new and expensive seems wasteful and superstitious at best, but I get that it's personal and there's a lot of money invested in selling that idea.

B said...

I pick D and spend the rest of the $$ on a trip.

Frankly - I HATE diamonds. Hate them. They are a marketing ploy that most Americans have bought into and they're the reasons rings are so ridiculously expensive.

It's not about the jewelry on the hand. The ring is meant to be symbolic and frankly? A white gold, silver or gold band should do.

Auburn Kat said...

This is a tough one! There are a lot of different variables, income level, personalities involved, etc. I think the most important thing is the thought behind someone, however, I don't feel that the guy should be extremely cheap about it. I have generally heard that it is three months salary.

Auburn Kat said...

OH and it terrifies me that if I ever get engaged that I might really dislike the ring he picks out because ultimately I want to be surprised by it and not pick it out myself..that is unless he proposes to me at a jewlery store! =)

Preachin Patrick said...

My ring cost my husband zero dollars. It is the ring that my grandmother wore. So obviously I am not all about spending tons of money on a ring. However, not everyone has a family ring and will therefore have to purchase one. I think that you should buy what you can afford. There is no sense going into debt over it. I would save up NO MORE than two months salary and then pay cash.

Katie said...

my boyfriend and i picked out a ring THREE YEARS AGO (and no, i am not engaged yet...), and i don't even want to know how much it costs. it's big. it's shiny. that was good enough.

and dear grandmother passed last fall. as my sister is already married, my mom passed down her war-era wedding set to me. the engagement ring is maybe a 1/2 carat total, and the wedding band is just plain jane gold. but it's gorgeous and i want nothing more than to get engaged/married with that set. i truly, honestly mean that. losing someone you love changes priorities, i think. i'd much rather share a wedding set with my granny than have a down-payment on my finger.

i have no idea what the bf has done with the ring, but i really hope he returned it and is using the money for a house!

Summer said...

Okay. My ring was $150. That's IT. And I ADORE IT. I'm with Deutlich - diamonds are NOT my thing. So I got cubic zirconia. It's so affordable that I don't really worry about losing it. Plus, if I keep away from overpriced "precious stones," I can have more than one!
And, like Kyla Bea, use that money wisely! Don't blow it on a stupid piece of jewelry. Lame. Go to the freakin' Caribbean!

Kat said...

I think that it's more the sentiment that counts. The ring that I want is about $3000 and that seems like a lot to me. My first car cost $3200 so it's like I would be wearing a car on my finger!

But I've searched and searched to try and find something else like it and I can't, it's so frustrating.

I think it's most important for the woman to LOVE her ring since she's going to wear it for the rest of her life. I don't really like the whole idea of "upgrading". I like the sentimental value in having the same ring your entire marriage.

Bayjb said...

Really great topic. Love it. This may sound really shallow, but in the city, it's a few months salary and honestly, anything less than a carat center stone is frowned upon. It's awful, I know.

As long as the girl is happy with the ring, it's all that matters. You can always get a "starter ring" and get a new stone/setting down the road.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I hate hate HATE this subject. Because you could spend next to nothing on a rock that's awful quality but large ... or spend a pretty penny on a much smaller rock that rocks out the GIA ratings (and yes, diamonds are rated!). And at the end of the day, the girl SHOULD be happy to fucking marry you. Period. I'm sorry, but if she isn't and if you're considering going into a ton of debt because of it, both of you need to readjust your materialistic expectations. (Of course, I say this sitting from the position of having one of the most beautiful rings in the world because I inherited the stone from my grandmother and my husband chose the setting).

Tiffany said...

i want a nice ring. but do i expect it? no. if it is possible then yes. if not, okay maybe later. i think it there has to be a bottom line maybe there are some other issues going on but if someone can afford a nice 5k ring, why not? 5k over many years becomes a cheap ring lol i want to know mandys answer!!

K said...

I think it should definitely depend on the couple. Hopefully they would talk about it beforehand and figure out where their priorities are, how much they want to spend, and hopefully not go into debt because of it. But that just should be a part of the finance talk a couple should have before getting engaged anyways.

Hopefully she'll really love the ring. But if finances just don't lend themselves to paying a lot, upgrade later. But honestly... its just a ring in the end. It's just a symbol of what the relationship is about. The relationship is the most important part, not the ring.

Jill said...

I have been checking in here (I know you think I feel off of the face of the Earth) to see the comments....

If you don't want to spend the 5K...go get a CZ or something and pass it off as the real

:-) I love you, Mandy... what do YOU think...

Essentially Me said...

5 thousand on a ring??? You've GOT to be kidding me??

Not for anything but the consolation prize for carrying your husband's children and having a FAMILY with him shouldn't be the ring. If that is how you see it, then perhaps you are not mature enough to be married.

Food for thought.

If a ring is going to break a bank, then it is not worth it. I'd rather have that money put into a house.

Megilon said... say I'm amazed at the need for bling is an understatement. I think that if the size of the ring or the cost of the ring is what does it for you then you need to look at your motivation for getting engaged. If the man that you love and adore gives you a ring with a chip of glass in it but gives it with his full heart that is worth more than money could possibly buy. And marriage is about your love and commitment to each other not the size of his bank account.

Unknown said...

I'm a little late to the game here. Sorry.

My personal belief is that it should depend entirely on your situation/the girl's taste and preferences and what you can reasonably afford.

If someone REALLY and truly wants to marry a man, she should be happy when he asks no matter what the ring looks like. And if getting something more expensive would mean putting him (and, by association) YOU into debt...don't friggin ask for it!

I don't really know what my ring cost...though it was likely in the $5k neighborhood. Its also a little under a carat. It doesn't matter to me because I adore it. and I adore JiT and he paid for it with cash which makes me love him even more. There's my personal take on the matter.

Unknown said...

I think this is a completely personal choice depending on the couple. I don't think 5K is a crazy amount to spend on a ring, but that completely depends on his salary and already existing debt. It does seem like a lot for the friend in question.

I also have a ring that cost less than 5k, and Nilsa is so correct. You can have a poor quality diamond in a generic setting or you can have a higher quality diamond in a more creative setting or in platinum rather than white gold, but it may appear to be a more inexpensive ring than the larger cheap diamond.

My ring is perfect for me, it is low profile which I like because I use my hands a lot, it is from a local jeweler that designs in house, so it is completely different than all the rings out there. It is a smaller high quality non-conflict diamond since I actually told my fiance NOT to buy a diamond ring.

Also, it was a complete surprise and he picked it out on his own and it was the ring I never even knew I wanted! I would have probably chosen a vintage ring had I been given the choice.