A Complete Guide to the Average Engagement Ring Cost

Have you reached a point in your life where you are starting to look for an engagement ring? While this is an incredibly exciting task, it’s also a big responsibility, and the pressure to get it right can sometimes be difficult to contend with.

Diamond engagement rings are an important investment. Determining average cost can help you in your search for the perfect one. Image credit: Blue Nile

 

Many people go into the search with ideas of buying the largest, sparkliest engagement ring, and some are hit with the unhappy reality of their budget being too small. This isn’t always the case though, and most times this will only happen if they either:

  • Don’t know where to look;
  • Haven’t done their research on how to save money;
  • Don’t know the average cost of an engagement ring and used that to begin their search.

If you were working with an unlimited budget, finding and purchasing an engagement ring would be a walk in the park. So when it comes to discovering the average engagement ring cost, what’s the answer? I’ve created this blog to help you get started on your way to finding the perfect engagement ring.

  • Analyzing Average Costs
  • Today’s Average Engagement Ring Cost
  • What Are the Most Popular Engagement Ring Styles?
  • Setting a Budget
  • How to Save Money on Engagement Rings

Analyzing Average Costs

Now, if you look online you’ll find multiple blog posts covering this, and they all seem to say different things, so I will try to distill everything that they’re saying. Overall, the first thing to remember is that:

There is no one universal average cost for engagement rings.

Now, it’s easy to say “Yes, there is—simply take all sale costs, add them, then divide by how many sales there are and you will get an average.” While that’s true, an average such as that actually doesn’t give us any useful information. For example, If I was to do this and the average cost turned out to be $4,500 for engagement rings in the US, and I then stated that as the final answer, someone may go out and realize that in their state, the average engagement ring cost is much higher. This brings me to my second piece of insight:

Average engagement ring cost changes with location and time.

According to Financial Samurai, the average cost of an engagement ring in California is $10,241. In Utah, it’s $3,518. According to Glamour, the average engagement ring cost in 2010 was $5,392. In 2020, that average cost had dropped to $3,756 (according to Brides). You also need to realize that the amount spent on engagement ring changes with the demographic of those who are buying. This brings me to my last bit of analysis:

Average spend differs based on generational lines.

Looking at how much people in the same age bracket as you can be rewarding, as it can help you to generalize the kind of costs you might find yourself incurring. For example, in 2021, Millennials spent $6,700 on average. In comparison, Gen Z spent $4,100.

The point of this is to state that simply sourcing a national average, or even a state average, isn’t the most fruitful use of your time. However, determining average engagement ring cost is important when trying to conceptualize a final budget, so it should be one of the first tasks you carry out.

Today’s Average Engagement Ring Cost

The average engagement ring cost in the United States is $6,350. As this is a US-wide average, the numbers can be a little altered by those rare purchases where more than $50,000 is spent. Plus, as we mentioned, average spend changes depending on where you live. The more expensive it is to live in a certain place (such as New York or Los Angeles), the more expensive you can expect an engagement ring to be. At the end of the day, remember this:

An engagement ring is not supposed to cost any one specific amount.

Prices change, locations change, and even the tastes of you or your partner change. The expectations you may have regarding an engagement ring will always be very different from another person.

One of the best things you can do to get a sense of the kinds of prices you might be paying for an engagement ring is by searching through the wares of reputable sellers, such as James Allen, Whiteflash, and Blue Nile.

Finding the Perfect Engagement Ring

There is a small number of diamond jewelry retailers that I will consistently recommend. I do this because they have proven themselves to be reliable, experienced, passionate, and trustworthy. Every time I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing or experiencing their services and products, I’ve been impressed. Their good work is consistent, and I would shop with them time and time again.

Whiteflash, Brilliant Earth, James Allen, and Blue Nile are some of the best retailers operating right now. With wide selections of jewelry, from necklaces to earrings to engagement rings, and with market-beating ranges of loose diamonds.

What Are the Most Popular Engagement Ring Styles?

Diamonds are, and always will be, the most popular adornment for engagement rings. They’ve an unbeatable quality to them—purity, grace, brilliance—all rolled into one. However, other stones are increasing in popularity, and it’s not uncommon to find three-stone rings with a center diamond flanked by two sapphires or emeralds.

In terms of diamond carat, around half of all engagement rings sold have a center diamond that ranges from one to two carats in weight. And, of course, Round Cut diamonds are still the most popular style of cut (even though the percentage of Round Cuts sold has been steadily decreasing). Oval Cut stones are the second-most popular center stone, representing 19% of all engagement ring purchases.

While the solitaire engagement ring (featuring only one center stone) was the most popular style for a long time, engagement rings with side accents—such as three-stone, halo, or pave—now make up just over half of all engagement rings sold.

The 18k White Gold Simon G. Caviar Three Stone Engagement Ring is a beautiful example of the kind of rings that are very popular today. Note the three-stone design being flanked with diamond melee—a diamond engagement ring such as this will be undeniably dazzling. Image credit: Whiteflash

Setting a Budget

Determining the average engagement ring cost in your area will help you to figure out your overal budget. There’s absolutely no point in plucking a random number from thin air, as you’ll find that it will never relate to the realities of today’s diamond & jewelry market. First of all, one thing I would advise is that:

Budget is completely subjective.

Not everyone has the same buying power, and not everyone has the same tastes or needs. Every consideration for a budget is multi-faceted, depending upon:

  • The carat weight you’re looking for;
  • The design;
  • The quality;
  • The choice of metal;
  • And several other things, such as stone cut, clarity, color, whether you buy in-person or online, the location you’re buying in, the designer you’ve chosen, and the retailer you’ve chosen.

It used to be very rare for an intended partner to contribute to this budget-setting, as a large part of the proposal is the surprise element. However, this does appear to be changing over time, as people are agreeing to wed early and then planning the financials later on. Sometimes it’s helpful to get another set of eyes on the budget-setting process, but if you’re keeping it a surprise, talk to a close friend or parent.

After this, there are several things to consider.

Ring Cost vs. Stone Cost

The center stone will always cost more than the ring itself, and this usually comes out around a 75/25 split of the total cost. You can find very good quality settings for around $1,500, which does free up a little more money to spend on a diamond.

Your Partner’s Desires

Your partner may have ideas on:

  • The shape of stone they want;
  • The color of ring;
  • The style of ring.

Being able to have an open conversation about their desires and expectations is important. If you’re unable to do this for fear of ruining the surprise, try and recruit a friend or family member to find out for you.

Your Financial Situation

Think about what you can afford, a number that fits comfortably within your income and expenses. It’s more than likely that you will have to save up, so determine how many months it will take to put a tidy sum away.

The best option is to be able to purchase a ring without financing options, which is a course of action I would not recommend, as this is essentially debt you owe that can accrue additional fees.

You should also take the cost of insuring the ring into consideration. This is a worthwhile investment due to the fact that buying an engagement ring is such a high-cost investment.

How to Save Money on Engagement Rings

Choose a Smaller Carat Size

Carat weight has one of the biggest impacts on cost. And the prices don’t increase in a linear fashion. Imagine you find a one-carat diamond that costs $2,500, you may expect a two-carat diamond of the same characteristics to cost double—this isn’t the case. You will probably find that these diamonds cost more than triple the price of a one-carat diamond.

Shop Online

In comparison to physical retail stores, online shops tend to be anywhere from 20% to 40% cheaper (depending on where you’re shopping). This is due to the fact that online shops operate with completely different, and usually less expensive, overheads than physical stores.

It’s also usually easier to compare prices between different online stores. In the past, I’ve been able to find a good quality diamond in one afternoon, simply by having multiple tabs with different offerings open.

While you will always have to do your research on where to shop online, and consult the kind of benefits you can gain from shopping with a specific online retailer (such as free shipping, trade-up guarantees, warranties etc.), it’s a very rewarding process. Online retailers usually dedicate part of their site to education, where first-time buyers can quickly increase their knowledge. Whiteflash has a really good example of this you can access.

In summary, there are several things you have to remember when determining average engagement ring cost:

  • There is no one universal average cost for engagement rings.
  • Average engagement ring cost changes with location and time.
  • Average spend differs based on generational lines.
  • An engagement ring is not supposed to cost any one specific amount.
  • Budget is completely subjective.
  • Shopping online can be cheaper.
  • Opt for diamond quality over carat weight.
  • Do your research before committing.

Purchasing a Diamond Online

As I’ve mentioned, one of the best ways to stay within budget is to buy online. There are countless online diamond and jewelry retailers operating today, so it can be hard to decide where to shop and, more importantly, who to trust.

Luckily for you, there are those of us who have been working within the diamond industry for several years and, through trial and error, have discovered which places are the best in the business, not just for overall quality, but for trustworthiness and customer service too.

I’ve whittled down all this information into one helpful and concise blog post, where you can see what I believe to be the best diamond jewelry retailers on the market today.

Find out where to buy diamonds and diamond jewelry online here.