How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Marriages around the world tend to differ greatly depending on where you are. From ceremonial dresses to traditional dances and songs, everybody has a different way of doing things. Perhaps then, the only thing this practice has in common is that it’s important. There are few cultures on Earth that view marriage as something trifling or trivial. In fact, for many of us, marriage is one of the most, if not the most important moments of our lives. It makes sense then, that some people are willing to spend a small fortune on their wedding day and on their prospective partners – and a good chunk of that goes directly into the wedding ring. But should it? Should we really be breaking the bank for a simple band of silver, gold and precious stones? And if not, how much should we be spending anyway? How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Generally speaking, most people estimate that a wedding ring should cost the equivalent of around two months of your gross salary. This is usually quite practical advice, as it ensures the buyer will not be spending far beyond his or her means when they purchase their ring.


In South Africa, this means that the average person spends around R20 000 on a wedding ring, although obviously there are a lot of malcontents who fall far outside this range. At the end of the day, it’s probably best to consider what’s important to you and your partner, while simultaneously ensuring that you don’t have to sell your entire estate just to buy a ring.

How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?
How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

How Much Should an Engagement Ring Be?

The thing about wedding rings is that they vary in price much more than most other products. As a result, it’s impossible to say exactly how much any one ring should be.

If you only want to spend a couple thousand rand on a ring, there’s nothing wrong with that and you’ll probably be able to find a whole host of dealers willing and able to fit your price range. However, others out there will be more than willing to pay top dollar for their wedding bands and could easily end up spending hundreds of thousands of rands on their own dream ring.

Once again, these items are very important to a lot of people, and you may feel yourself wanting to go a little bit overboard just this once, however, you should always try to be financially smart, and ensure that you’re making purchases that you can reasonably afford.   

What Time of Year is Best to Propose?

There’s no ‘best time to propose’, and individuals should always make the decision based on the independent factors in their own lives rather than looking for some kind of perfect season.

That said, the majority of proposals in South Africa tend to happen between November and February, most likely because this period overlaps with the holiday season and certain special events such as Valentine’s Day.

An important factor to consider when deciding when to propose is when you expect your wedding to be. Once you take the leap of proposing, people around you are going to start expecting invitations, and certain venues may be at their peak during specific parts of the year.

If, for example, your partner has always dreamt of an Autumn wedding, don’t make the mistake of proposing right at the tail end of the Summer as you might end up not leaving yourself enough time to get the wedding planning done.

How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Why are Engagement Rings so Expensive?

There are a lot of different variables that go into determining the price of an engagement ring, and it’s important to remember that not all of them are that expensive so long as you don’t get hung up on specific features.


Most of the time, rings are expensive because of the size, number and nature of the diamonds used.

A lot of people like to buy large diamonds with what is known as ‘flawless clarity’. These diamonds tend to look the best, but they’re also the most expensive. Additionally, most rings tend to have a collection of smaller, less impressive diamonds surrounding the main stone, which also pushes up the price.

Once you’ve picked out these main factors, you’ll also have to look at things like the material of the wedding band and the design charge of the jeweler. Of course, you can always avoid this final cost by buying a simpler ring or one made by a less renowned artisan, but again, most people choose to go over and above when it comes to purchases of this nature.

If you’re struggling with the idea of paying such a large amount for a wedding ring, it might be worth your while to consider that diamonds aren’t necessarily the only stones that can be used. Many people choose to use a less precious – yet equally beautiful – gemstone for their special day. This can really cut down the cost of the ring, and may even add a sense of individuality to the event.

What Percentage of Weddings Get Called Off?

Surprisingly (and rather sadly), a massive 20% of weddings get called off. This may not be so shocking when you realize that many people only get married about a year or so after their engagement, which means that there’s a whole lot of time left for things to go wrong in the interim. That said, the misfortune of others shouldn’t act as an obstacle to anyone else if they’re genuinely committed and sure of their decision.

If you’re worried about this sort of thing happening to you, it may help to communicate effectively with your partner to ensure that they’re in the same space as you. Don’t just spring the proposal on them without any thought, and make sure that you talk with them about things afterwards.

It’s also important to remember that weddings (and the run-up to weddings) are extremely stressful periods in people’s lives, and this anxiety can often lead to uncertainty and doubt over what the future holds.

With all that in mind, it’s also vital that you do not try and force someone into a marriage if it becomes clear that that’s not really what they want. It may feel like a massive betrayal and a waste of time, but calling off a wedding when things aren’t working out is absolutely preferable over soldiering on and getting hitched when you know it’s not going to end well.

What Happens to the Engagement Ring if the Wedding is Called Off?

Generally speaking, the acceptance of an engagement ring is seen as part of a person’s intention to marry. As such, breaking off the relationship before the wedding can take place will normally mean that the ring is returned to the person who bought it, as the initial commitment was not upheld.

That said, if the buyer of the ring calls off the wedding before it takes place without giving any good reasoning for their actions, the holder of the ring may be entitled to keep it anyway (along with all the presents). 

How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

In Conclusion – How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

If you’re thinking about tying the knot, it’s important to keep in mind that engagement rings don’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. There are a wide variety of rings out there for purchase – each with a different style and price tag attached.

Instead of spending all of their money on one giant diamond, most people like to limit themselves to spending around two months’ gross salary on the wedding ring itself. This choice usually gives the buyer a few different options to choose from, without bankrupting the couple before they even get married.

Of course, you may want to splurge a little bit when it comes to such an important purchase, but it’s always wise to stay within your means and buy something that you’re able to feasibly afford, rather than something that’s going to create more hardship and anxiety than joy.

If you’re trying to cut some of the costs of your wedding ring, it’s good to consider which factors contribute most to the overall price.

For instance, including many large, high-clarity diamonds on a custom ring may push the total up to beyond what you can afford. If this is the case, you may want to consider getting something smaller with lower clarity or shifting to a different gemstone altogether.

Many people are able to buy incredibly beautiful wedding rings at a fraction of the cost, simply because they decide on sapphires or emeralds instead of diamonds.

It’s also a good idea to communicate effectively with your potential partner before and during the engagement phase. Wedding planning can be an extremely stressful time, and not all couples can survive the wedding day itself if they don’t talk through their problems and fears from time to time.

Disclaimer Finance101: All of our posts are for research purposes only. Finance 101 aims to assist its readers with useful information on the laws of our country that can guide you to make financial decisions that will enable you to become more financially independent in the future. Although our posts cite the constitution in many instances, they are intended to assist readers who are looking to expand their knowledge of the law & finance-related queries. Should you require specific legal/financial advice we advise you to get in touch with a qualified financial expert.

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