How Much Does an Engagement Ring Really Cost?

According to the age old rule, a man should spend three months of his salary on an engagement ring. That equates to a lot of dough, no matter what he earns. And while you, I mean he, surely wants the best bobble money can buy, is all that bling really worth the big bucks? To get to the bottom of what an engagement ring costs (or should cost), GalTime rounded up a team of expert jewelers to find out.

Average Ring Cost 

“The actual cost (of a ring) is pretty basic,” admits Adam Somer, President and CEO of So Bella Enterprises, Inc., who manages sales and distribution for custom designed products and fashion accessories.

Essentially, “you are paying gold or platinum price, plus usually 10 percent for gold or platinum loss, plus the diamond price, which is a fixed price that everyone in the industry knows and is listed on the Rappaport Report, plus labor.”

As a result, “the average engagement ring costs to make approximately $800 to $3,000, depending on the size of the center diamond,” Somer says, adding, “Retail-wise, take $800 and mark it up approximately four or so times and you have your retail price.”

Vivianne Ivanier, a private jeweler specializing in fully customized engagement rings, says that “prices average in the $10-25,000 range.”

But according to F. Phil Pratico III, Executive Vice President/G.G. (GIA), of Felice' Pasquale Fine Jewelry in Robbinsville, New Jersey, “The average price of engagement rings will certainly differ from one type of retailer to another.”

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Setting Costs 

Aside from the stone, one must also add in the cost of the setting.

“Your average setting, I would say, is probably around $1,500 today as a lot of clients are leaning more away from the classic solitaire—although it is always a popular choice—and choosing the more modern diamond halo types of settings. This can certainly change based on the specific client, as you will find some plain settings from $400 or so, and some extravagant ones that may cost as much as $6,000 to $7,000.”

Average Carat Size & Costs

“The center stone is always the biggest part of the ring price.” Ivanier says.

In general, the average diamond center stone is approximately 1 carat, Somer says.

“Looking at the price of diamonds today, I would say your average 1-carat round, brilliant cut diamond would go for $4,000-$7,000, depending on quality (meaning) cut, clarity, and color,” Pratico adds.

However, “my specific clientele is probably shopping for a little bigger in size compared to an overall average as I have more clients looking for 1.5-2.0 carat, round stones these days, which probably start around $12,000.”

Popular Styles & Trends

According to Somer, the solitaire is still the most popular style engagement ring, with the round brilliant cut diamond being the most popular center stone. 

Nowadays, “many clients also shop for alternative shapes, such as a cushion cut or princess cut, which are usually different in terms of price,” Pratico says. “For instance, a similar two carat cushion may cost a couple thousand dollars less.”

Ivanier adds, “Colored diamonds and gemstones are a trend I’m seeing a lot these days as well. Everyone always wants to be different, so using yellow diamonds is a perfect way to do that. The myth that yellow diamonds are so much more expensive than white diamonds is just that—a myth. Also, thank you Kate Middleton for making non-diamond engagement rings incorporating color cool again!”

When it comes to “actual ring styles, (there) is one trend that doesn’t seem to want to go away. Micro-pavé halos and shanks are just everywhere! It’s the ‘what is old is new again’ look that sprouted up about eight years ago and never seemed to die down. Ladies love the delicate antique look, and using halos around center stones quite simply is a great cheater’s method to make center stones look bigger.”

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Sentimental Value

Price aside, “couples are looking for something that speaks to them, that means something to them,” Somer says. “For instance, a ring with an intertwining shank (the sides of the ring) symbolizes a couple on their journey through life, as one.”

Kim Hobert, of Tampa, Florida, recently got married and knew she wanted a special ring to symbolize her relationship. “I liked the idea of our birthstones in it, and I wanted the wedding ring to nest. (My husband Ryan) teased me by saying he didn’t get it and that maybe we should wait or maybe we should just get a promise ring.”

But, while on a remote beach on the North Shore of Hawaii, Ryan popped the question. “He surprised me on the engagement with the most spectacular ring from Zales’ Vera Wang collection. (It has a) sapphire in it—his birthstone—so I never go anywhere without him! I love my ring, he did a great job!”

Ivanier said she has also noticed a “tendency men are having towards buying a stone and then creating the setting together (as a couple). It really alleviates the stress men feel of choosing their gal’s style while preserving the secret of the proposal and the price tag.”

Rising Costs

Like everything else, the cost of engagement rings continues to rise.

“Over the years, (the cost of) gold has shot up, so the price of rings has shot up accordingly,” Somer explains.

Pratico says the increase may also be due to the rising cost of diamonds. “As for the pricing trends on diamonds in general, it is sort of complex because prices may rise, decline, or remain stable based on certain qualities. But, as an overall, I would say the average diamond price probably fluctuates by roughly a 3-4 percent increase each year in many cases.”

This coupled with tough economic times, Ivanier says, “has forced gents with budgets to look for an insider, like me, who can access diamonds at below wholesale prices. Working with me isn’t a sacrifice in this instance, but rather an opportunity to make their money go further as savings on diamonds means extra money that can be put towards custom-designed and created settings.”

Ivanier says that even her clients with bigger budgets have been carefully evaluating how they spend their money.

“They come to me as the pull to super high-end shops whose prices have rent/advertising and branding built-in (and) don’t seem so alluring when funds are on the line. These clients may spend more than more money-conscious ring buyers, but they are looking at how to best spend their big budgets nonetheless.”

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