Does the Engagement Ring Salary Rule Still Matter in 2023?

Keeping up with social customs can be challenging. Especially in the modern day when trends and norms appear to be ever evolving and changing. If you’re on the market for an engagement ring, then you’ve probably heard about the engagement ring salary rule.

This rule is a myth. Created in 1930 as a marketing campaign for De Beers’ diamonds, there is no actual set purchase requirement for rings. That said, people do tend to purchase engagement rings in the 2 – 3 months’ salary range, with an average cost of over $6,000. This is due to the materials, style, and stones that are selected.

You might be wondering why engagement rings still amount to 2 – 3 month’s of a person’s salary when the engagement ring salary rule is a myth.

You should know that the cost of a ring is determined by numerous factors (including the stone, quality, and materials). Depending upon your design, it can really add up! Keep reading to learn more about the history of this rule, engagement ring prices, and what percentage of your salary you can expect to spend.  

What is the Engagement Ring Salary Rule?

This wedding etiquette custom suggests that you should expect to pay 2 – 3 months’ salary when purchasing an engagement ring.

Beginning as a marketing campaign for De Beers in an attempt to sell more diamonds, this legend quickly grew into a popular trend from its conception in the 1930s to now in the modern day.

While the campaign suggests that a prospective spouse is worth at least 2 months of your salary, you should know that the actual price you will spend on an engagement ring is going to vary in a manner that is largely unrelated to your paychecks.

Number of Months

This custom dictates that you should expect to spend 2 – 3 months’ salary when purchasing an engagement ring.

The idea is that you are displaying your commitment to the marriage through such a major investment. While the number of months’ salary did not actually determine the price spent on engagement rings, it did create a popular demand for diamonds.

In fact, before this marketing campaign it was very rare for an engagement ring to have a diamond as its center focal piece. After the campaign, 80% of engagement bands featured the precious stone.

While the price you spend on an engagement ring does not actually have to be 2 – 3 months’ of your salary, it is true that your total may easily add up to this amount. We will explain this reasoning further along in the article, but you should know that the price of band materials, stones, and different cuts can quickly add up and easily amount to 2 months’ worth of paychecks.

Popularity in 2023

In 2023, this trend is still somewhat followed. While the actual price of the engagement ring can vary from person to person, the intent of the marketing campaign (to sell diamond rings) has been wildly successful.

Although modern rings feature a wide array of stones, the diamond has remained the most popular and classic display of marital love.

Knowing where the engagement ring salary custom originated, you may be wondering if it still holds up today and, if so, what you can expect to pay. Keep reading to learn more about the custom’s modern day popularity and how engagement ring prices are determined.

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

The amount that you will spend on an engagement ring will depend on quite a few factors including the band material, the stone, and the cut and design.

Before selecting what kind of style you would like in the engagement ring, you should have a rough idea of your budget as these purchases can really add up.

The average engagement ring price is set around $5,500, but prices often go as high as $10,000.

What Type of Band Should You Choose

It is important to select a high quality band material when making your purchase as you will want a ring that looks polished, stylish, and elegant in any setting.

Some of the materials to consider include gold, platinum, or a high quality metal compound.

Gold

Available in rose, white, and the classic yellow, the gold band is the most timeless and traditional band material.

Of course, due to the price of gold, these can also be some of the most expensive materials to opt for.

The price of your gold band will largely depend upon its karat weight. For instance, 24k is the purest possible gold and is reserved exclusively for the classic yellow gold (as it is the purest color).

Of course, 24k gold is too soft and malleable to be used in a piece of jewelry. For gold pieces, we recommend not exceeding 14k.

Yellow Gold

For the purest of the golds and the most timeless look, consider opting for the yellow gold band. Suitable for everyday wear, the 14k and 12k bands will offer a stunning contrast to your ring’s design.

Expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 for a simple band to well over $5,000 for more intricate settings.

White Gold

For a durable gold mixed with platinum, white gold offers a contemporary band for your style and money.

A typical white gold band will run anywhere from $1,370 to upwards of $5,500 depending upon the stones and the cut you select.

Platinum

Platinum bands are highly durable and a beautiful alternative to gold. While gold is the most popular band choice, platinum has risen in popularity since its discovery in the 1700s.

Measured in sterling count, a 900 sterling marker, means a band is made with 90% platinum.

You can expect to pay upwards of $6,000 for one of these high quality engagement bands.

Which Stone Should You Choose

Beyond the band’s materials, the stone you select will also play a major role in determining the price of your engagement ring.

The most popular stone is the diamond, but emeralds and birthstones have also risen in popularity over the years.

Diamond

Expect to pay around $3,500 dollars for a 14k yellow gold 1ct diamond ring. As diamonds continue to be the most popular stone, it can be quite pricy when using it in an engagement band.

To help offset the cost, you may want to consider a manufactured stone, such as Cubic Zirconia. A high quality cubic zirconia diamond starts at around $20 for 1ct. Much less than the price of $1,800 for a 1ct natural diamond.

Emeralds

Emerald engagement rings make a bold statement! Featuring a vibrant center stone, these stones are a beautiful alternative to diamonds and begin at around $2,800 for a 1ct 14k yellow gold ring.

Which Cut Should You Choose

While the stone and band materials will play the most significant roles in determining the price of your engagement ring, the cut you select will also matter.

The most popular cuts often lead to the highest prices with the princess cut costing at least 15% more than the less popular cushion shape.

In terms of pricing for each, you can expect to pay around $3,800 for a 14k yellow gold 1ct princess cut diamond.

For a cushion cut in the same materials, you should budget for $3,300.

Now that you know the different factors that go into determining the price of the engagement ring (from the materials, stones, and cuts), you may be wondering how much you should pay and whether you should aim for a price that meets the 2 – 3 months’ salary guideline.

Should You Pay 3 Months’ Salary for an Engagement Ring?

The decision on whether or not to pay 3 months’ salary for an engagement ring depends less upon the etiquette and more upon what kind of engagement ring you have selected.

For the highest quality materials, including 900 sterling platinum or 14k yellow gold, you can expect to pay the most money. If you add in expensive diamonds or emeralds, the price will rise accordingly.

If you are uncomfortable with such a large price tag, you should know that it is completely unnecessary to spend an entire 2 – 3 months’ salary on an engagement ring. You can easily purchase a beautiful piece for far less.

Consider opting for a lower quality, but more durable gold band (10k or 12k) and a synthetic stone to get a similar dazzling beauty without sacrificing several thousand dollars.

Remember, these rings should serve as a symbol of your love and not as a symbol of your bank account.

Final Thoughts

The etiquette of spending 2 – 3 months’ salary on an engagement ring is a highly personal one.

Whether you are uncomfortable spending such a large sum of money or are eager to display your love through a major investment, you should take the time to consider the style of the person who will be wearing the ring and what type of design will best suit their personality.

From here, you will have a better idea of the cut, material, and stone, as well as the rough amount you can expect to spend on the engagement ring.