4 Min Read | Updated November 30, 2023

Originally Published: February 14, 2022

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Thinking of taking that next big step? Here are some guidelines on how to shop for an engagement ring and how much you may need to spend.

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

This article contains general information and is not intended to provide information that is specific to American Express products and services. Similar products and services offered by different companies will have different features and you should always read about product details before acquiring any financial product.


The traditional rules about how much to spend on an engagement ring are becoming obsolete.

Making an individual statement with unique engagement rings is a growing trend.

Ring shopping tips to and strategies can help you get the most for your money.

Millions of millennials—and more mature couples, too—are asking questions like thesequestioning the traditional wedding industry standards, as changing generational attitudes ripple into engagement ring spending decisions. Many want their engagement rings to be much more personal than in the past—an extension of their personality rather than a cookie-cutter piece. As a result, the engagement ring purchase process is changing, starting with how much people are spending on engagement rings.

How Much Should an Engagement Ring Cost?

When you’re in the market for a ring, here are some things to consider:


  • How much you need to set aside for your wedding and honeymoon,
  • Where you live—prices can vary widely,
  • Your current and predicted income,
  • Your savings and your other expenses,
  • Your partner’s input—they may have their own ideas

Spending between one and three month’s’ salary for an engagement ring is a long-standing tradition. But millennials, generally saddled with student loan debt and high costs of living—and who may have waiteding longer to get married—have thrown out this old rule of thumb. Less than half of millennials spend two month’s’ salary.1 Instead, they often reallocate those funds into experiences, like the honeymoon or the wedding.


Today, the average cost of on an engagement ring is about $6,000, with about 33% of Americans spending between $1,000 and $4,000. And 8% of ring shoppers are spending under $1,000. That national average is influenced by many factors, including region—for example, couples in the Mid-Atlantic tend to spend more than the average (around $8,400).2 This tracks with a study that found New York City to boast the biggest average diamonds, at 1.45 and 1.29 carats, respectively.3


There’s no one-size-fits-all formula. How much you spend on an engagement ring is a very personal decision. Consider your current and predicted income, expenses, and savings, then establish a budget and stick to it. Don’t go into debt just to “keep up with the Joneses.” Of course, you’ll want to carefully consider input from your partner as well. For example, 54% of women say the ring style is the most important factor, not the price,4 however, this may not hold true for everyone.

How to Get the Best Engagement Ring for Your Money

To help you get the most for your money when buying an engagement ring, experts suggestkeep the following tips in mind:


  • Consider buying a loose diamond online and have a local jeweler set it.
  • Buy a fractionally undersized diamond (.95 carat rather than 1.0, for example)—you may save up 20 percent.5
  • Be open to alternative shapes and settings, which can make a splash without adding cost.
  • Focus on how a ring looks to the naked eye in sunlight. Ignore the jeweler’s loupe and jewelry store lighting.
  • Only buy diamonds with Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) grading to ensure you get what you pay for.

Trends Shaping Engagement Ring Spending

Engagement ring spending statistics reflect how both younger generations and older couples who are remarrying are changing the dynamic of buying engagement rings.


People are getting married later, with more life experience and a more developed identity. As a result, they want greater originality in what they purchase, how much they spend, and how they buy. These expressions of individuality have manifested in several trends: unusual stones, settings, colors, shapes and styles. More couples are opting for sapphire, emerald, moissanite or lab diamonds because they are unusual, affordable, and sometimes more socially responsible (not “blood diamonds”).


Only 70% of millennials stick with traditional diamonds, in contrast to 80% of couples in 1990.6,7 Older couples getting married for a second time are making a similar shift, seeking unique engagement rings that reflect their personalities.

How to Buy an Engagement Ring

The best way to buy an engagement ring is to be an informed purchaser. Whether you purchase online or at a brick-and-mortar store, if you’re opting for a diamond it’s important to do your research on the “four Cs”: Cut, Clarity, Color, Carat. And possibly on a fifth “C”—credit.


If you prefer to see and touch a purchase before pulling the trigger, the best way to buy may be from a:


  • National retailer
  • Private jeweler
  • Wholesaler
  • Trunk show
  • Your local diamond district. While New York’s may be most famous, many other American cities—like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Providence—have diamond districts of their own. 

But many believe the best way to buy an engagement ring is via online retailers, where the average cost of an engagement ring tends to be about 40% lower than at local jewelers. Many diamond websites allow users to search available stones based on their desired mix of the four Cs, and have setting-design features to help shoppers achieve the unique customized rings they seek. However, beware of bogus websites; reputable sites will be able to provide diamond certification which can be cross-checked with tools like Report Check from GIA. Reputable online jewelers will also insure your shipment and offer a customer-friendly return policy.

The “Fifth C”: Credit Card

Many agree that best way to pay for an engagement ring is with cash. Cash may provide more negotiating power with a certain jewelers and of course, allows you to sidestep any interest. But buying on credit does have it perks and doesn’t always have to mean paying interest on the balance. One payment option is a 0% APR credit card with an introductory promotional period that aligns with your ability to pay off the balance is another payment option. This scenario offers flexibility, gives you extra time to pay (as long as you meet the minimum payment each month), and the ability to pay extra whenever you can. As a bonus, taking this approach may also allow you to earn rewards or a welcome offer, depending on the card terms, since welcome offers typically require you to meet a short-term spending threshold.

FAQs on How Much You Should Spend on an Engagement Ring

What is the origin of the salary rule for engagement rings?
The old adage that you should spend three months’ salary on an engagement ring actually has its roots in advertising.8 It harkens back to the Great Depression, when diamond sales were down. A top diamond retailer launched a marketing campaign aimed at increasing sales. Needless to say, it worked. The allotment back then was one month’s salary, which increased to three over time.


How big should a diamond engagement ring be?

The size of a stone matters to some, but not everyone. According to at one survey, 86% of women consider the quality of a diamond to be more important than the size. In contrast, only 20% of men held this opinion.9


How can I pay less for my engagement ring?

Consider the smart shopping tips above and remember that lab-grown diamonds cost significantly less. A 1-carat lab diamond might cost an average of $1,800, while the same mined diamond may cost $5,000.10 

The Takeaway

The rules of engagement have changed: there’s a new focus on individuality and sentiment over price points. How much to spend on an engagement ring, and the best way to buy one, are highly personal decisions that are evolving—but being an informed buyer is truly timeless and always the best approach.

Kristina Russo

Kristina Russo is a CPA and MBA with over 20 years of business experience in firms of all sizes and across several industries, including media and publishing, entertainment, retail, and manufacturing.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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