How Much to Spend on Your Engagement Ring

When choosing an engagement ring, budget is usually top of mind. Here are some tips on understanding how much to spend to get what you want:

Setting boundaries

a) Understanding your partner's ring expectations

It’s difficult if not impossible to figure out how much to spend, when you have no idea about what kind of ring your partner wants. So, your first step is to identify what that dream ring looks like. For example, is it minimal and modern, or ornate with detail in every nook? Or perhaps your partner is into super unique, or art deco, or nature inspired designs? Hopefully, your partner has an Instagram or Pinterest account that may give you insight into his/her aesthetics. If so, take note of the color of the metal, approximate size and shape of the center stone, proportions, and any special element that stands out to you.  

But what if your partner has never talked about rings, nor do you have anyone close to your partner to give you feedback? Your best bet then is probably to do some shopping together, and have your partner try on different styles, metal color, center stone sizes and shape. Our engagement ring styles & settings guide is also a good starting point.

b) Establish a ballpark estimate of the ring's costs

Now that you have an idea of what your partner wants, it is time to figure out how much that ring will cost. While the center stone will be the biggest factor in the ring’s cost, a complicated design or setting, and additional stones will also factor into the cost.

Browse around online and see what a comparably sized and style of ring costs. If it’s difficult to find a similar ring online to compare costs, we suggest you discuss the cost with a jeweler that you like and trust, and then ask them to give you a quote on the intel that you’ve gathered from step one. Now repeat this process with a few other designers so that you have an idea for market pricing. Just one side note about finding a jeweler: make sure that your designer’s style is in line with what you are seeking. Browse their website to get a sense for what they’ve done in the past, and if their past work is not in line with what you want, you may not end up with the result that you seek even if this jeweler is amazing in every way.

c) How much are you comfortable spending?

This is a truly personal question, for which there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Our humble advice is to spend within your means, don’t go into debt, and decide on a dollar amount that you would be happy spending. However, everyone has different factors to consider, such as existing debt, other large upcoming financial purchases (such as a house or car), potential for income growth and job stability, and so on. If the ring is not a surprise, we suggest talking with your partner to determine what is the most important aspect of the ring that he or she wants and what her expectations are.

If your budget is over what you need to spend - congratulations! You can put the rest towards a new vacation. If this isn’t the case, then work with your jeweler to see how your cost can be lowered.

Understanding a ring's cost

Typically a ring’s cost is made up of:

a) the center stone
b) the setting, and
c) any side or accent stones (if any).

For a 1 carat solitaire (single stone) ring, typically, the center stone makes up about 85% of the cost, with the rest going to the setting. For a halo style ring, the center stone may make up about 70% of the cost, and the setting about 30% of the cost, and additional stones - depending on the size and shape, about $20 to several hundred dollars per setting.

Here are breakdowns of different, 1 carat ring styles:

  • Example: Halo style ring (sample prices only)
  • cost of 1 carat round natural diamond: $5,500
    cost of setting including side stones: $2,400
  • Example: Solitaire ring (sample prices only)
  • cost of 1 carat round natural diamond: $5,500
    cost of setting: $1,200

Tips on lowering the cost of a ring

a) Saving money with your center stone

If your dream ring exceeds your budget, you might have to decide on what aspects you're willing to sacrifice to meet your budget.

  • As mentioned, your center stone is the biggest cost component, and you can save money by going just under a weight class (ie. choose 0.90 carat rather than 1.00 carat).
  • Example: choosing a 0.90 carat round brilliant diamond vs a 1.00 carat round brilliant diamond would save you about 25%.
  • More information on choosing a diamond can be found at our diamond price guide. You can also get a sense of the cost of the diamond itself by playing with our loose diamond tool.
  • Another way to lower the diamond cost is by keeping an open mind about a lower diamond color, or considering a lab diamond which can save you 40% on average versus a mined diamond. If a diamond center stone is not desired, then there are many types of gemstones and range of budgets to choose from.

b) Saving money with your setting

  • Beyond the center stone, other ways to lower cost include simplifying the ring's setting or design, or using fewer accent or side stones. Details like milgrain and pavé add to the cost.
  • A complicated setting such as the one below, which is loaded with accent diamonds on all sides, will cost about $4,000.

Whereas a simpler, but similar setting like this costs about $1,400 less.

Have questions? We're happy to help.

Don't know where or how to start? Our guide will show you how to budget, hone in on a style, choose a stone and more.

Diamonds need not be complicated. Learn about the difference between lab and natural, cuts vs. shapes and how to choose the best diamond for your dream ring.

Colored gemstones can be one way to create a unique engagement ring. Learn the pros and cons of different gemstones.