April 20, 2024
Choosing the right engagement ring involves considering practical, ethical, and personal factors. This article offers practical guidelines for budgeting, ethical and sustainable options, personal stories and experiences, historical perspectives, creative proposal ideas, and advice on saving money and prioritizing your spending. By approaching engagement ring shopping with thoughtfulness and intentionality, you can find a meaningful and memorable symbol of your love and commitment.


One of the most common questions that couples face when planning to propose is how much to spend on an engagement ring. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, this article offers practical advice, ethical options, personal stories, historical perspectives, and creative ideas for anyone considering buying an engagement ring. Rather than feeling pressured to follow traditional rules or societal expectations, the focus of this article is on thoughtful, intentional, and creative ways to approach this milestone moment in a relationship.

Practical Guidelines Based on Income

One of the most popular guidelines for deciding how much to spend on an engagement ring is the “two-month rule,” which suggests that you spend two months’ salary on a ring. However, this guideline can be both arbitrary and impractical, especially if you’re just starting your career or have other financial obligations to consider.

A more reasonable approach might be to decide on a budget that feels comfortable for you based on your current income and expenses. Some experts suggest that you should spend no more than 1-2% of your gross annual income on an engagement ring. Others suggest setting a specific dollar amount that you can afford without going into debt or sacrificing your other financial goals.

For example, if you make $40,000 per year, you might want to allocate $400-$800 for an engagement ring. If you make $80,000 per year, you might consider a budget of $800-$1,600. Ultimately, the goal is to find a balance that works for you and your partner, considering your financial priorities, values, and future plans together.

Ethical and Sustainable Options

Another consideration when shopping for an engagement ring is the impact of traditional diamond mining on the environment and human rights. While diamonds have long been a symbol of love and commitment, the reality is that the diamond industry can be problematic and unethical, with a history of labor abuses, environmental damage, and conflict financing.

Thankfully, there are now alternative options for engagement rings that are both ethically and environmentally responsible. Lab-grown diamonds, for example, are created using advanced technology that replicates the natural process of diamond formation in a matter of weeks, rather than millions of years. Recycled metals, such as platinum and gold, are also available, reducing the need for new mining and energy-intensive extraction processes.

When shopping for an engagement ring, consider looking for suppliers that specialize in ethical and sustainable options, or ask your jeweler about their policies and certifications. By choosing an ethical and sustainable option, you can feel confident that your purchase aligns with your values and supports a responsible industry.

Personal Stories and Experiences

Choosing an engagement ring can be an emotional and overwhelming experience, but it can also be an opportunity for connecting with your partner and creating special memories together. One way to make the process more meaningful is to share personal stories and experiences related to the engagement ring, such as childhood dreams, family heirlooms, or shared interests.

You might also consider involving your partner in the ring-selection process, whether that means shopping together or discussing your preferences and priorities. By collaborating on this decision, you can ensure that the ring reflects both of your personalities and preferences, and reinforces your partnership and trust.

Historical Perspective

The tradition of proposing with a ring dates back to ancient Egypt, where rings were seen as symbols of eternity and commitment. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that diamond rings became a cultural phenomenon, thanks in part to a successful marketing campaign by De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company.

In fact, prior to the 1930s, it was more common for engagement rings to feature other gemstones, such as rubies, emeralds, or sapphires, rather than diamonds. It wasn’t until a De Beers ad campaign in the late 1940s that the idea that a diamond was the ultimate symbol of love and commitment took hold in popular culture.

Furthermore, the idea that a ring should cost two months’ salary is a relatively new concept, popularized in the 1980s as part of another De Beers marketing campaign based on the idea of the “a diamond is forever.” While the tradition of proposing with a ring can be romantic and meaningful, it’s also important to recognize that it’s a relatively recent cultural construct, and that there are no hard and fast rules that should dictate how much to spend on the ring.

Romantic Ways to Propose without a Ring

While tradition might suggest that a proposal requires a ring, the reality is that there are many romantic and meaningful ways to propose without overspending on a ring.

Some creative ideas include planning a surprise trip, creating a scavenger hunt, or writing a heartfelt letter or poem. You might also consider proposing with a temporary ring, such as a simple band or a ring made from a natural material like wood or seashells, and then choosing the permanent ring together later on.

Ultimately, the proposal is about the love and commitment that you share, and the ring is just one symbol of that love. However you choose to propose, make sure that it reflects your personality, your relationship, and your values.

How to Save Money on Engagement Rings

If you’re looking for ways to save money on an engagement ring, there are many practical tips and strategies that can help you get the most value for your budget.

One option is to consider buying a diamond online, where you can often find lower prices and a wider selection. Just make sure that you research the seller carefully, and that you understand the grading system for diamonds so that you can compare prices and quality accurately.

You might also consider shopping during sales, or looking for alternative gemstones that are both beautiful and less expensive than diamonds, such as moissanite or morganite.

Another option is to opt for a more simple and classic design, which can be both elegant and timeless. By avoiding trendy or elaborate designs, you can save money without sacrificing quality or style.

How to Prioritize Your Spending

Finally, it’s important to recognize that getting engaged is not just about the ring, but also about the financial and emotional commitment that you’re making to each other.

Before you start shopping for a ring, take some time to talk openly and honestly with your partner about your financial goals, priorities, and concerns. Create a budget together that reflects your shared values and future plans, and make sure that you’re comfortable with the amount that you’re spending on the ring.

Remember that the engagement ring is just one expense in a lifetime of shared expenses, and that financial planning and communication will be key to building a strong and healthy partnership.


Choosing an engagement ring can be a daunting and emotional experience, but it can also be an opportunity for growth, creativity, and intimacy. By approaching the process with thoughtfulness, intentionality, and ethical considerations, you can find a ring that reflects your personality, your values, and your shared love and commitment.

Ultimately, whether you decide to spend two months’ salary on a ring or adjust your budget based on your income and priorities, the most important thing is to communicate openly and honestly with your partner, and to create a proposal experience that is meaningful, romantic, and unforgettable.

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