Most people have grown up hearing that a diamond engagement ring should cost three months’ salary. However, most are unable to meet that criteria cleverly marketed by De Beers. With the current economic situation and financial uncertainty these days, three months salary is too steep for most couples. Fortunately, there are ways to stretch the dollar further and still get a fantastic engagement ring to commemorate the beginning of a couple’s life together.

 

Is Three Weeks Salary The New Normal For A Solitaire Diamond Ring?

Recent research done in the engagement and jewelry insurance industry has found that the average cost of a diamond engagement ring is closer to three weeks salary–not the three months as previously suggested by the De Beers marketing executives. Two thirds of men surveyed spent one month or less of their salary on their fiance’s engagement ring, and one in eight men indicate they made this decision because they simply could not afford to spend three months’ salary on a ring.

It is surprising to note that many women are also happy to scale back in order to purchase a home, vehicle or a destination wedding. Not only are brides-to-be looking for ways to save on the wedding jewelry, they are finding ways to do a big wedding on an average budget.

It is not surprising, however, to find that the majority of the men surveyed were hesitant to provide the actual purchase price. Only 35% informed his fiance of the price of her engagement ring, with some inflating the cost. Less than half of women polled knew the price of their engagement ring.  The good news for men?  Many women in the survey indicated they did not mind the price and were more concerned with the sentimental value of the ring.

Why the Cost of a Solitaire Diamond Ring is Changing

There are a few things that are changing the costs in the jewelry industry, such as:

  • The economic downturn in the past several years has caused metal such as gold and platinum to increase in value. The higher the precious metal cost, the less the consumer has to spend on a diamond.
  • In the past decade, the price of gold has risen by a dramatic 511% and the price of diamonds rose 9% in 2011 and 44% in the past decade.
  • Rings are getting bigger and more ornate. Antique, vintage and micr0-pave rings are a hot item and require more labor and stones. As well, the average diamond carat weight of .50 carats from a decade or two ago has gone up significantly, with most women wanting at least a .75 carat and others preferring 1-2 carats.

How Can Big Savings on a Solitaire Diamond Ring Be Found?

The good news? A solitaire is usually the least expensive of all engagement rings and a few tricks of the trade that can help stretch the dollar are:
  • Opt for a lighter-weight, thinner band which uses less gold yet still gives the same overall effect.
  • Set the diamond in a high prong setting to make the stone really stand out.
  • Choose white or yellow gold instead of platinum. Palladium, a sister metal to platinum, is generally the same price as gold and never needs rhodium re-plating.
  • Check The Diamond Authority’s minimum recommendations for clarity, cut and color to make the savings really count when buying diamonds.
  • Go with a synthetic, lab created diamond. They generally cost about 30% less than a mined diamond and are 100% conflict and blood free.
  • Put a high-grade diamond simulant in the setting as a place holder until finances permit for a diamond.
  • Ask around both sides of the family for an heirloom, family diamond. If a loved one has passed on, chances are her rings were kept and would provide a wonderful, sentimental option.

 Images courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

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