How much should I spend on a diamond engagement ring?

This is probably the most common question I get asked.  Guys go crazy trying to figure out the budget they should be at when it comes to buying their fiancé a diamond engagement ring.  The general rule is approximately 2 to 3 months of your income.  But to be honest, this topic needs to be addressed way before your time comes to make a purchase of a diamond.

Your fiancé to be is the only person that could truly give you an idea of what you will need to spend on an engagement diamond ring.  Conversations of diamonds and preferences should have come about even before the thought of proposing.  You want to learn what her preferences are.  Is she the type that expects a big diamond on her finger?  If she is, and your budget is small, you should lower those expectations over time.  Let her know you’re not the millionaire she thinks you are.  It’s ok to mention that these are “rough” times for you and that you’re “just getting by.”  Comments like this should only be said when you’re certain the person you’re with, loves you.  Otherwise you might not be in a relationship for much longer.  Once you get her comfortable with the idea of a smaller diamond now you can feel a little more at ease knowing you brought her down from a 3 carat diamond to a 1 carat diamond.  With a one carat you can spend as little as $2,000 or as high at $15,000.  Quality plays an important part in determining the price of the diamond.  But now that you have an idea of what it costs you can plan ahead.

Save Save Save: Hopefully you’ve already started saving for your future, be it a first home purchase or the expenses of a wedding.  Either way you should start a separate account that does not dip into your usual savings.  Open a savings account where you can put away what money you can, to save for a diamond engagement ring.  This way when the time comes, and you’re ready to “pop the question” and propose, you will have saved an amount that would determine your budget.  Try to stick to this budget; people constantly get carried away once they start seeing diamonds.  Tell your jeweler, be it online or store, to only show you diamond rings within your budget.  Staying within your budget will make your life much easier.   For example try this eBay vendor and re-order the inventory list according to price once you’ve picked the size.  This way you can easily determine where you stand in terms of diamond color and diamond clarity.

Tricks of the trade: Let’s face it; most girls prefer their engagement ring to be made of white gold or platinum.  For the lucky few whose fiancé to be prefers yellow gold, be happy, be very happy.  When setting a diamond into yellow gold you have the option of choosing a lower diamond color which will be kinder on your wallet.  Feel free to choose a diamond in the H to K color range without worry about the diamond appearing yellow.  With the diamond surrounded with yellow gold, it should appear whiter than when you see the diamond loose.  Now your budget will allow you to pick a diamond low in color but high in clarity without sacrificing size.  Otherwise if you’re sticking to white gold, stay with a G color or higher and SI2 clarity and higher and you should find a diamond that’s nice and in your budget.

Upgrade:  Remember that your first diamond purchase doesn’t have to be your last!  Don’t get excited, I’m not talking about replacing your soon to be fiancé with a new one.  Feel comfortable enough to explain to your fiancé that although this diamond might not be as big as she expected, it’s the best you can do at this time.  Assure her that as time goes on and you both become more financially prosperous, you will upgrade her diamond to a bigger one.  Five and ten year anniversaries are known to be good times to upgrade her diamond engagement ring.  This way as your marriage grows, so does her appreciation for you when you replace her 1 carat diamond for a bigger one.  After all, diamonds don’t lose value when you buy them right.  So upgrading them should be simple and inexpensive when you can put your original investment into the bigger diamond.  Now don’t go crazy on the first upgrade and get her a 5 carat diamond, I don’t care that you won the lottery.  Give her a respectable upgrade which still allows room for the next upgrade.  Remember, after every upgrade, you’ve bought yourself some peace of mind (or rather peace and quiet).  So enjoy!