If you're like most people, when you hear the words "engagement ring," you probably imagine a solid metal band featuring a single diamond. While this look may be the traditional one, there's really no such thing as the "standard" engagement ring anymore, which also means there's no standard when it comes to price. "Due to the variety of designs and sizes of the center stones, the cost of the ring can vary widely from a few hundred dollars all the way up to the millions," says Slisha Kankariya, founder of Four Mine, an online jewelry retailer specializing in engagement rings. "Typically, those getting engaged opt for a traditional engagement ring made of gold or platinum with a diamond center, and the average cost for this is roughly between $5,500 to $6,000 for a one carat diamond."
She also points out that variations in design can mean major fluctuations in cost. For example, choosing a platinum band will set you back more than a gold one would. Additionally, the shape, carat size, and quality of the diamond, including the stone's clarity and color, also impact the price.
According to a new TD Bank survey of over 1,700 U.S. adults, the average millennial couple (aged 18-34) spends about $3,000 on an engagement ring. This, of course, is an average, so don't let this number persuade you to spend more or less than you wanted to or can afford. Gemologist Grant Mobley stresses that the price you'll spend can vary greatly depending on what you choose, but that it's possible to find a diamond you'll love at any price point. "Natural diamonds are unique, no two are exactly alike, so the key is finding a diamond that speaks to you while staying in a budget that you are comfortable with," he says.
Still not sure how much you should spend on an engagement ring? These expert-stamped tips can help.
Consider your significant other's style.
In other words, does your partner prefer a more modern or traditional look? Kankariya suggests thinking about the vintage-inspired details or out-of-the box design elements your significant other likes in other aspects of her life. "This is a good starting point to determine how large the center stone should be and how detailed the design should be," she says. "By narrowing down which type of ring she might like, you will be able to sort through options faster."
Don't get stuck on old advice.
One old-school rule of thumb the pros say to skip? The idea that you should spend the equivalent to two month's salary on the engagement ring. There are a number of different factors that should be considered when setting a budget, and your salary is just one small piece of the picture. You should also consider your monthly expenses, whether or not you'll be contributing to the cost of the wedding, any debt you have, and your future savings goals. "If you have a lot of big expenses on the horizon, always make sure to think about these when budgeting the cost of the engagement ring," says Kankariya.
Factor in future upgrades.
If you already think the idea of upgrading the diamond or setting for a future anniversary is romantic, or else know she likes the look of a diamond wedding band, Kankariya suggests keeping these future costs —especially the short-term ones—in mind as you set your budget.