Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Engagement Ring costs?

We had a couple of friends staying with us this weekend. 30 year old single, professional women from the Bay Area. They have good jobs, fun, and did I say single?

Well the topic came up about how much to spend on engagement rings. And how DeBeers has bruted about the 3 month salary rule. That you need to spend 3 months of income to propose. This prompted my DH to laugh and say he got off easy because 3 months of graduate income was peanuts (and yes it was). I believe my ring was maybe $1500, but I picked it out and I couldn't believe he would spend that much! Yep my Mr. Scrimp! To blow $1500 was a ridiculous amout of money about 2 months of income at that time!

But now, these women were saying that they would accept any ring given to them at 30+. But the single 30 year old guys we went out with (we were all friends from college/graduate school), called them on it and said "NO WAY!" They say this policitally correct statement that they don't need a 1 carat diamond solitaire set in platinum now, to look good, but when it came down to it, would they really accept a cheaper ring?

I had to call them on it too. I don't believe any of my single girlfriends would accept a ring as inexpensive as my ring. I certainly would not. And BEFORE you launch into me I'll explain why.

Right now if I were single I would demand any man I marry to be financially responsible. He can have CC debt, but only if he's in the process of paying it off. He can have a car loan, but if he realizes the problem. If he's unwilling to pay off debt and take responsibility and change his ways, no way am I going to be involved with him. It's a deal breaker. I would expect that any man in his 30s be more responsible with his finances.

And I would understand that he can't buy me an expensive ring because he's paying off debt. But if he can't buy me a ring because he's blowing it on everything else, there are bigger problems. And that's the truth. I can understand him saying, "no ring because I have debt, am saving for a house DP." I'd be in heaven, but to tell me I need a 2 week vacation to bahamas? Or a leased BMW?

So I have trouble believing that women in their 30s would accept a very inexpensive engagement ring without good reason. And I have to side with the 30-something men that it's just BS. I will say that in your 20s, you're more flexible and probably more willing to overlook financial irresponsibility. That you are more likely to marry for passion/fun and not examine a person's financial decisions.

But me, Mrs. Save? Well if I couldn't find another Mr. Scrimp, I'd have to find at least a Mr. Save.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you and your friends have been unduly influenced by the DeBeers advertising. A large, expensive ring is not only a waste of money and unnecessary, it's also no guarantee that your marriage will be one of the 50% that don't end in divorce. Ask yourself, would you spend two months of your income on a boyfriend as an engagement present?


Living Almost Large said...

I hate to post this but yes, I do believe that marriages have a better chance of surviving. And so do people who do surveys. There appears to be a class difference appearing in divorces.


More education = less divorce. Also older when getting married = less divorce.

SJean said...

I have to agree. If he is going to cheap out for no reason, I would be a little annoyed. It shows priorities.

However, if my current bf spent little, I would accept it. In our 20s, he is a graduate student and is wise with money, and would not go into debt for a huge rock. Which i totally support

feministfinance said...

The Economist article is about demographics in marriage and divorce stats, not about whether an expensive engagement rings lead to a lasting and happy marriage.

I told Shiner I wouldn't accept a ring from him. The end. We didn't get engaged with a traditional proposal but after we decided to get married he wanted to buy me a ring, and I said I didn't want that. Caused some amount of heartache on both sides, that conversation. We compromised by both of us wearing my grandparents' wedding bands, which I inherited when they passed away several years ago. He got the physical marker that was important to him, and I got my concerns dealt with too. Much less spendy, much less status-y, much less ethically and environmentally suspect, much less sexist.

Living Almost Large said...

I got a ring I love which was not as expensive as I'm sure many have. But I love it. I am a huge fan of wearing what you like

And I'm an even bigger fan of savings. So I need the thought. If it goes to a house DP, so be it, that's what happened to us, rather than get married we bought a condo. BUT it's what it signifies. A guy blowing money left and right would bother me.

Dreamer said...

My fiance's ring cost a little over one month's salary. I know she would have accepted something more or less expensive. She was more excited and happy about me asking her to marry her then she was concerned with the ring. With that being said, I don't think if we were in our 30's she would expect a much more expensive ring. For some girls it's more important to be asked to be married to the right guy then they are worried about the size or price of thier ring. For me, those are the girls you want.

Anonymous said...

Dreamer, you are so right!! The diamond in my engagement ring is only 1/3 of a carat. We got married when I was 24 and he was 26, and our rings were all we could afford.

We've now been married for almost 30 years, and I love my ring as much today as the day we picked it out together. My husband's two older sisters, however, are both upgrading their wedding/engagement rings to ones that each have a much larger diamond surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds. I would never do such a thing. Yes, I like jewelry as much as the next woman, but the sentiment and memories behind my ring are worth more than my weight in diamonds and gold. My wedding and engagement rings are the ones blessed at our wedding. What could be better than that, and why on earth would I ever want something bigger?


Fabulously Broke said...

I think $1500-$2000 is more than enough to spend on a ring. I'm leaning more towards the $1500 range.

I don't expect a $10,000 ring like some friends of mine because I'd rather they save that for a downpayment on a home (like you said), or something more practical.

Anyway, it's the memories and the commitment that go into that ring, not so much the cost of the ring itself... although mine ended quite badly, I think I came out the better in the end, esp after reading that the higher the education and older the age, the higher the chance it has to survive...

Jim said...

I spent a month's salary on my wife's engagement ring. She got a 1 carat ring, half of which is the solitaire and the rest accents. Today's standards of 2-3 months salary seem beyond excessive to me. My friend who works at a bank got his fiancé a 6k custom made ring, and the engagement was broken off within a few months. Now this ring just sits in a drawer, meaningless. I think my wife likes fancy things but I don't think it is necessary to wear something near five figures on their hand. I think I would look at money a little closer if I had to do it all over again.

Anonymous said...

Got to agree with Barb to a point. I've seen too many women focus on the ring rather than the reason for the marriage. No, a guy shouldn't cheap out, but there are too many princesses.

Honestly, I've seen a wedding simply bring out the worst in people involved with the unrealistic demands on perfection and no investment in what a marriage is all about. And sometimes, it just isn't fun.


MEG said...

First of all you don't accept or refuse a ring. You accept or refuse the MAN offering you the ring. If I loved my BF and wanted to marry him I would NEVER reject the ring. How exactly do you do that anyway??? "Yes, I'll marry you! But first you must buy me a MUCH better ring than that." Ugh.

Secondly, it seems like you (and your friends) may be confusing cost with carat size. It is very very easy to buy a relativly cheap diamond for a couple thousand dollars that is large and attractive by shopping direcly from a dealer or wholesaler and sacrificing a bit on color/clarity. It's also easy to blow $50,000 on a tiny perfect diamond from Tiffany.

Third, how on earth are you going to know what the ring cost??? I will NOT go ring shopping with any BF, and I certainly won't be inquiring after the price of my ring during the proposal.

Even if the ring was truly awful (tiny, bad shape, whatever), then you can always just suggest an upgrade/addition for a future anniversary present.

DogAteMyFinances said...

Women judge each other on diamonds. It's sad but true. My engagement ring was a little over 2K, and it's not a diamond.

It's actually the first thing women notice. Why don't you have a diamond? Is that a vintage ring? Is that an engagement ring? Could you not afford a diamond?

Hard to operate outside the value system which, sadly, judges women by their rings.

Three months salary for me is a new car! I guess lots of these women have rings that expensive. What a waste...

Living Almost Large said...

I think people are forgetting also it depends on 3 months of salary. When $2000 is 3 months salary, it's crazy to think of buying a ring even that expensive.

But when you make $10k/month and won't spend $1k is that wrong?

To Dreamer, what was one months salary?

Barb, I love my ring too much to trade it in. I never bought a wedding ring, I didn't want to spend the money. But the engagement ring, I picked out. And it wasn't we said we were going shopping.

I happened to see it in the window and said that's something I'd like. Never imagined he'd buy it.

Nope, one of my friends her parents own a jewelry shop. 1 carat, princess cut in platinum (standard for many), costs aroubd $10k for a decent color and clarity.

Also you know what the ring's worth when you insure it. And it'd be crazy to not insure a ring. And I wouldn't return a ring just because it's small.

Mine is smaller than barbs (I think it's 1/4 carat), but it was the thought that he bought something I PICKED! He remembered! He went back and got what I liked, not what he thought I should have.

Also I wanted a non-diamond, but I was told that it would shatter because diamonds are stronger than normal. Since I am hard on the hands, I decided against it.

Foxie said...

Well, just reading this, I have to throw this out there: My engagement ring cost my husband around $600. Yup, $600, for 1/4 carat TOTAL weight. (It's comprised of multiple small diamonds.) And I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world. He thought it through and picked it out, no other ring is as special as this one is to me. It's not the most impressive thing in the world, but I have no problem showing it off when asked. The compromise was that he bought me a wedding band with diamonds in it, I believe the total of my rings is still under $1,000. =] (Oh, we never had a wedding either... Bought a car instead.)

Some girls wouldn't have ever forgiven a guy who would do that. Most guys are in awe that my husband got away with it. It really is awful that we put so much stock into one tiny possession.

Lulugal11 said...

I don't like jewelry (gasp!) and I especially don't like wearing rings. I did not want a diamond.....I wanted a ruby because my favorite color is red and that is my birthstone as well.

We are both dealing with college debt and agreed that the money was better spent on other things so I got a reasonable ring that I ADORE which just happens to NOT be a diamond.

I don't care what anyone says about diamonds....I wanted a ruby and got a ruby.

Anonymous said...

historically, an engagement ring symbolized a man's ability to support his family because, historically, the women did not work but stayed home and took care of the house and children. notice how keeping women at home has fallen by the wayside but the engagement ring hasn't? an engagement ring is a *huge* anachronism, but it hasn't died out yet because it benefits women (kind of how like most women still expect the man to pay on a first or all dates, even though women generally make as much as men these days). as a woman, if you're going to insist (whether spoken or just in your own mind) on an engagement ring to your satisfaction (or to have some input on the engagement ring), then you should be willing to stay at home and cater to your husband every need, in my opinion. it cuts both ways, and anyone who wants to have her cake and eat it too is plainly selfish. the only role a woman should play in the engagement ring process is to either accept the ring or not. however the woman comes to her decision is her perogative, but, if she decides not to marry a guy because the ring he got her was too small or not to her liking, then he got off lucky!

Anonymous said...

lulugal, I understand your feelings about wanting a ring set with a ruby. I really wanted an emerald engagement ring. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford a quality emerald and settled for an emerald-cut diamond. I'm glad that's what I got and have always loved my ring. Like most of you, I think the symbolismm of the ring is the most important thing.


Living Almost Large said...

Barb, emeralds shatter easily. My one concern about buying one, I wanted a square cut as well. I love it as my birthstone.

Plus well a nice emerald can be expensive.

NIUiceprincess said...

Living Almost Large, your ring cost just as much as mine and I love it. People that have seen it also give me compliments on it. A rock doesn't have to be big to be beautiful (mine was 3/4 carats), it's more in the cut and the quality.

We got our wedding bands in the Philippines...mine is white gold with little diamonds on the top (not all around), and cost a mere $300. I agree that the price or size of the ring doesn't guarantee a long and lasting marriage. My sister's friend bought a Tiffany ring for $5k for his gf (and the rock was TINY, you could hardly see it for the price)--what's worse is that the first thing he asked Tiffany was about financing. Apparently Tiffany doesn't do financing so he had to put it on credit card. Of course he's still paying for it up till today.

Anonymous said...

Living Almost Large- It sounds like the point you are making has little or nothing to do with a ring. You are basically saying that you would not agree to marry a guy in his 30s who doesn't have his finances in order to the extent that he practices good financial judgment. That sounds pretty reasonable to me. However, I find it hard to believe that you would even reach the stage where a potential boyfriend would be proposing to you (with a ring too small for your liking, in this example), if you knew he couldn't handle money and therefore would never marry him.
Thank you for your words of wisdom, Meg. From my perspective (as a young male), it is a major downer when women hold these high expectations on matters like a ring. When I propose, I plan to thoughtfully buy a nice ring which my girlfriend will enjoy, but it almost defeats the purpose of giving a ring of the point is just to meet expectations of a woman receiving the ring.
As others have noted, the whole giving of the ring is a little antiquated since women now have nearly all the opportunities to work outside the home that a man does. When discussing lack of fairness here with a female friend I asked her what it was that a man got at engagement when the woman got an expensive ring. "The woman" was the response. Read into that as you wish.

Tracy said...

Gosh, you big spenders! :) My engagement ring cost less than $400. I didn't want to get into any comparing the size of my ring with other people's rings, so I consciously chose one that I knew meant I'd always lose.

Plus I think sapphires are prettier than diamonds.

Anonymous said...

$1500's cheap? Holy crap. The budget for my fiance and I is more like $300. (It helps that I hate diamonds.)

Yes, part of it is he's a student. He's not going in debt, fortunately, but his income is very limited. But the greater part of it is simply that there are far more interesting things for him to spend his summer earnings on. I mean, which would you rather have--a $2000 piece of jewelry that will hopefully not slip off and go down the drain? Or a vacation, new furniture, or time in a recording studio? He'd rather prioritize the latter--and so would I.

We got engaged without a ring. We're only getting one 1.) because I do like shiny things and 2.) for the sake of family expectations/making our engagement public. Maybe that makes us cheap--but we're both cheap, so it's what works for us. :)

Anonymous said...

It IS about priorities. A useless bit of rock is a low priority. I've spied some lovely birthstone rings for around $30 bucks that would do me just fine. He'll probably go more expensive than that, but I'm hoping that the time when my sister's friend told us about her sister's ring and I literally shouted "I want that!" put a small hint into his brain.
I bear diamonds zero love.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog .wouldn't be able to give you any semblance of a quality analysis of the necklaces, pendants, rings, etc., that revolve above some appropriately colored background twenty-four hours a day in engagement pearl rings

Rochel Faltus said...

If I understand correctly, you are using the ability to buy a more expensive engagement ring as a gauge or an example of financial stability. I think that’s a fair point to make. Someone in their 30’s should in fact be responsible with their finances, and if they truly love the person enough, then they would go out of their way and either save up or use what money they have to buy a ring their girlfriend would want even if it IS a little pricy. There are legitimate reasons for not being able to buy a rather costly ring, but if the money is there, then there should be some consideration at the very least.