Normally, when we talk about etiquette, it centers around a mix of formal and informal rules which dictate our behavior in a given situation. When shopping for an engagement ring, it’s a little bit different as the situation can shift one way or another depending on what happens at each stage of the process. Also, the etiquette isn’t necessarily observed according to the rules of the store you might be in, although that will be a consideration, but it’s more about the two of you, and how you decide the best way to move forward.
How Much Should You Pay…
The average diamond engagement ring used to cost a month’s salary according to De Beers, who just happen to be the biggest diamond dealer in the world, but that has now risen to an average of about $6,000. However, don’t feel you need to use this as a guide. After all, if the average is $6,000, then there are many engagement rings which cost a lot more, and as many which cost a lot less. The fact is, you need to be able to afford whichever ring you choose. Starting down the path of a life spent together is best done without the weight of debt hanging over you as a result of buying an engagement ring.
Choose a ring you like that is within your budget, there are plenty of great examples out there. At Estate Diamond Jewelry we have lots of vintage engagement rings that cost less than $6,000, and yet are spectacularly beautiful.
…And Who Should Pay It?
No to long ago, etiquette would have demanded that the prospective groom pay for the engagement ring, but we live in far more equitable, and even enlightened times. Now, it is as common for the cost of the engagement ring to be met by both parties. This doesn’t diminish the engagement in any way, and often leads to a fantastic ring shopping experience that enhances the relationship and affirms all you ever thought your engagement should be.
An added aspect of sharing the cost is that it may allow the budget to be stretched just a little. We wouldn’t necessarily advocate this as THE reason for splitting the cost of the ring, but it may provide a little flexibility if you’ve seen a ring that might otherwise be too much of a stretch.
Diamonds Are Forever
It’s true, they are, both physically and metaphorically, but that doesn’t mean they should be your only option when choosing an engagement ring. Diamonds as the go-to stone in engagement rings is a relatively new thing, dating back to the late 1940s when the phrase “A Diamond Is Forever” entered our buying conscience.
Rubies make for stunning engagement rings, as do emeralds and sapphires. They are often set with diamonds to make truly amazing pieces, but are amazing center stones in their own right. It can also mean getting a little more for your money if you shop smartly. It isn’t all about the cash though. When Prince William proposed to Kate he did so with a ring that had a sapphire as the center stone, with a pavé of diamonds around it. If it’s good enough for the future Queen of England, it’s good enough, period.
New or Estate?
It really doesn’t matter.
There are many great ring designers around at the moment, producing some amazing engagement rings, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook estate (pre-owned) or even vintage or antique rings. Estate rings, just because they have a history, shouldn’t be dismissed lightly. Many qualify as vintage or even antique and have come to market as a result of being auctioned by descendants of the original wearer, or for other straightforward reasons, rarely do high quality rings become available as a result of a broken engagement or other event. There’s no bad luck in a beautiful ring.
With vintage or antique engagement rings, you are getting a ring that has a real history, even though it may not be fully known. Put yourself in that situation, a hundred years ago, when the ring was first offered to a woman by a suitor who wished for her hand in marriage. There’s a certain romanticism in such things, and the beauty of antique diamond engagement rings, in particular, can be breathtaking.
So you see, etiquette – like nostalgia – isn’t what it used to be. The “rules” nowadays are much less rigid, and much more open to being adjusted to suit the couple involved and their unique circumstances.
The key is to enjoy choosing, buying and appreciating the engagement ring you finally choose. Hopefully, in another hundred years, one of your own descendants will be wearing it to signify their own engagement.
And who wouldn’t want that?