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Let’s get real, spending three months salary on an engagement ring isn’t the right choice for everyone. Don’t get caught up with preconceived rules that were developed in a much different time, in a much different economy. When considering a budget for an engagement ring, think about what you want to get out of the ring, rather than how much you’re “supposed” to spend.

As an engagement ring design studio, we work with all sorts of budgets, every day. In this article, you’ll learn where the 3 month salary came from, why we don’t agree with it, and how to get to the perfect number specifically for you.

The Origin of 3 Months Salary Rule

According to The Knot the true origins of this theory comes from a De Beers marketing campaign back in the 1930’s. Not only did they convince the world that diamonds are the ultimate symbol of love, they also informed the public opinion that a diamond’s cost is directly proportional to salary. Originally, they said that one month’s salary was the proper amount, but that’s gone up and up over the years; doubling to “two month’s salary” in the 1980’s… Most recently, the De Beers’ magical amount has gone up to three month’s salary.

But, as you may be thinking, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all guideline to how much you should spend on your engagement ring.

Should I Spend 3 Months Salary?

Three months salary looks very different for different people. Think about it. If you make $100,000 a year, you’re supposed to spend $25,000 on an engagement ring. If you make $200,000, the ring clocks in at $50,0000. If you’re a millionaire, $250,000 is the magic number.

With some reverse engineering, Beyonce’s estimated $5 million dollar rock would translate into Jay Z making $20 million per year, but Forbes says it’s more like double that, so if Jay Z didn’t even follow the 3 month rule (he went more like 1 ½ months), what should you do?

While this calculation may work for some people, it’s certainly not for everyone.

What you really need to figure out and determine:

  • Quality – How well the engagement ring is built and the quality of all materials, metal and stones determines cost. How long do you want this engagement ring to last, a few years or a lifetime? When you spend less on an engagement ring, you end up replacing it in a few years because of poor craftsmanship and/or the usage of stones that are OK for fashion jewelry, but not for a ring that gets worn 24/7. If you are OK getting a ring that may break after a year or two (and some people totally are, while they budget for other major life goals) then by all means, skimp on the budget. If you want to get one ring that’s high quality, that will last forever and get handed down in your family for years to come, you’re going to be spending about $9,000 and up.
  • Carats- The size of your center stone and the stone that you choose has a big effect of price. Most engagement rings have a 1 carat diamond center stone which typically ranges from $12,000 – $18,000 depending on the exact diamond and other design factors. The bigger the stone, the more diamond accents, and the complexity of design will up the total spend. Opting for a gemstone or repurposing an heirloom diamond can cut down on cost.
  • Design- The designs complexity affects the overall cost. If you want a showstopping, never-before-seen, jaw-dropping design, you’re going to pay for it. If you want a fairly simple design (like a solitaire on a plain band) you’ll spend less.
  • Your Goals –We see clients in all stages of life come into our studio. Some of our first time clients choose to scale back on what they spend on an engagement ring in order to focus on future goals like purchasing a house, traveling, the wedding, starting a family, finishing school, and a multitude of other, equally important goals. We also have many second marriages and middle aged couples who are focused on second homes, college aged kids, and more. Budget, goals, and lifestyle are different for everyone.
  • Her style – What will she be happy with? Because if you don’t hit it this time around, you will likely end up replacing it down the road. Some women want big and blingy, some women want simple and understated, and then there’s everything in between. Depending on her personal style, if she’s interested in very simple engagement rings, then it doesn’t make sense to stretch the budget for something she doesn’t even want. Be realistic with your budget and her expectations.

Here at Abby Sparks Jewelry, we’re dedicated to designing and making rings that fit with our client’s lifestyle and goals. For each engagement ring, we carefully consider and discuss the wants and needs of our clients and their budgets. In our custom design process we take the time to walk you through all of the options so that you aren’t purchasing jewelry blindly. No matter what concerns that you have within your custom engagement ring like design, rarity, ethics, etc we can consult with you on how to create a ring that you’ll love with a budget that you’ll have control over. Have questions? Give us a call, or book an appointment with us today.