Engagement rings, often silver or gold bands adorned with one or multiple diamonds or other gemstones, are a longstanding cultural tradition for someone to give their significant other when proposing marriage.
Not only are engagement rings symbolic, but they are also big financial investments.
Engagement rings range from less than $1,000 to upwards of $20,000 and more.
They are so expensive because of the value of the diamond, value of gold, and level of customization.
There is a lot more that goes into the price of an engagement ring, so let’s take a look at ten reasons they might be so expensive.
Why Are Engagement Rings So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. The Carat Weight Of The Diamond
This is the principal reason engagement rings can be so expensive.
When selling diamonds, jewelers weigh the stone beforehand to see how many carats it weighs.
Each full carat adds a lot of value to the stone.
Most times, the diamond and the band use the same carat.
If they are varying carats, the one with more carats will wear the other one down.
One way people like to flash their engagement rings is with a heavy rock, but the heavier the diamond, the more expensive it will be.
2. The Size Of The Diamond
Big diamonds used to signify how much the man could afford, so naturally, big diamonds are more expensive.
The size of the diamond relates to how many carats it weighs, which increases the overall price of the stone.
In addition to their heaviness, it has become a status symbol to have a big diamond because the size of the diamond is supposed to be an indicator of wealth.
Jewelers know this and have jacked up the prices for bigger diamonds, knowing that men wanted to buy rings for their partners that showed they could financially take care of them.
3. The Number Of Stones Used
Engagement rings usually have one main precious stone and sometimes include other embellishments of precious stones.
The more stones used, depending on their size, quantity, and carat weights, can greatly increase the value of the engagement ring.
Adding more stones, of course, increases the total carats included in the ring.
Since jewelers price their diamonds based on how much they weigh, heavier rings will be worth more money.
It has become common for rings to have other stones on the side due to changes in design that stray from the traditional solitaire diamond in the center.
New designs lead to jeweler creativity, which often means more diamonds.
4. The Clarity And Brilliance Of The Diamond
Diamonds range in clarity, or how well you can see through the stone.
The top clarity grade for a diamond is flawless, followed by internally flawless.
This means that there are no discernible imperfections under 10X magnification on a microscope.
Many people like to go for flawless or internally flawless diamonds when picking out an engagement ring.
Flawless diamonds are worth a lot of money because they are much rarer than diamonds that have small imperfections.
The truth is that most of these imperfections are indiscernible to the human eye.
Still, clarity has become extremely important when pricing diamonds.
Another quality of diamonds is their brilliance, or how much they shine.
Diamonds with more brilliance are going to be more expensive.
Since many people like their engagement rings to sparkle, most options for diamonds on engagement rings have higher levels of brilliance.
5. The Material Of The Band
Most engagement bands are made of 10 to 18 karats white yellow or white gold.
Gold is a very expensive and valuable material that offers a lot of options when picking out jewelry.
One of the reasons gold is so expensive is all the options available when custom-creating jewelry, such as 18 karats or 14 karats.
A karat measures the purity of the gold.
Gold has always been one of the most valuable natural resources, that has historically played a huge role in wars, power, and wealth.
Therefore, it is no surprise that gold continues to be one of the priciest materials.
Since gold is the most common band option for engagement rings, it makes them much more expensive.
6. The Mounting Of The Ring
Mounting the ring, or attaching the stone to the band, is relatively expensive because of the arduous process involved.
Gold is a valuable but delicate material to work with and involves a lengthier process than other metals like stainless steel, tungsten, carbide, or cobalt.
The process of mounting an engagement ring is quite extensive.
There are different types of mounting that the jeweler needs to choose from after looking at the diamond (or whichever stone you choose to use) and trying to use the mounting to highlight that particular stone’s best qualities.
There are several elements to mounting including the attachment point (where the gemstone is attached to the band), the metal used for the mounting, and lighting.
The mounting that one chooses is extremely important because the amount of light able to reach the stone through the mounting will directly affect its appearance.
Higher quality mountings allow more light to reach the stone, so the mounting you choose will probably be more expensive if you want the diamond to be very noticeable.
7. The Jeweler’s Overhead Costs
When you pay for an engagement ring, much of the price goes towards the jeweler’s overhead costs such as labor, electricity, rent, materials, and more.
If you opt to visit an in-person jeweler instead of an online retailer, there is a good chance that the ring will be more expensive.
This is also because you are likely paying for a known jeweler’s good reputation and taste.
A lot of jewelers have signature styles and varying social statuses, so the brand name of your jeweler might also make a difference in the cost of the engagement ring.
Sometimes it is just this simple.
Engagement rings have a reputation for being expensive, so that’s what they are.
Diamonds are not worth as much as society makes them out to be.
It is simply because of this longstanding tradition of diamonds being almost unaffordably expensive that they are still sold at such exorbitant prices.
Diamonds are not rare materials at all and are thought to be some of the most common naturally occurring gemstones.
Part of the reason engagement rings are so expensive is the price of diamonds, which just proves the power of advertising.
There are a lot of sayings about diamonds, like “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” and “diamonds are forever,” making it seem like diamonds are the be-all, end-all for every engagement ring.
De Beers is the diamond company largely responsible for this brilliant marketing campaign that made a woman’s joy synonymous with her possession of diamonds.
Before World War II, only ten percent of engagement rings had diamonds in them.
It was De Beers’s 1948 marketing campaign that completely changed expectations for engagement rings.
Their campaign shamed men who could not afford expensive jewels, arguing that they would not be able to provide for their wives if they could not afford a single engagement ring.
As a diamond mining business, the company started promoting diamonds as essential to women’s fashion.
By advertising the value of diamonds to women and men, De Beers successfully made diamonds the focal point of the engagement tradition and were then able to greatly increase the prices of the stones.
Despite vast societal changes regarding marriage in the past few decades, marriage proposals have remained relatively traditional.
Engagements usually consist of one person getting on one knee, opening a jewelry box with a diamond ring inside, and asking the other person if they would like to get married.
Like the proposal itself, engagement rings are full of tradition.
One of these traditions is that engagement rings are extremely expensive.
One common belief is that an engagement ring should be worth two months of the buyer’s salary.
Diamond suppliers started this rule of thumb as a clever way to get customers to pay more for engagement rings.
An engagement ring was a gift that was supposed to ensure the bride’s financial future.
A big diamond ring showed that the groom had more money and probably a high social status as well.
Also, if the marriage did not work out for some reason, the bride would have some financial collateral.
This is hardly the case anymore because the resale value of diamonds is much less than their original value.
Diamonds can lose up to fifty percent of their value in a resell.
They are hardly a long-term financial investment, but rather a demonstration of love.
De Beers was also responsible for the expectation that diamond rings should be worth a lot of money.
The company argued that two months’ salary is a small price to pay for a love (and diamonds) that will last forever.
10. The Stone Itself
Diamonds are, of course, one of the most expensive jewels on the market.
They are some of the most durable stones on the planet and have a classic, elegant aesthetic that is simply unmatched by any other stone.
They are worth about $4,300 per carat.
You might notice that it is much more common for people to own diamonds than sapphires, rubies, or emeralds.
This is because diamonds are not actually rare at all.
Usually, the value of precious stones is determined by their rarity.
So many people think that diamonds must be extremely rare because they are one of the most expensive stones on the market.
The truth is that diamonds are among some of the most common gems.
Compared to other gemstones, diamonds might be the most common ones found in nature.
Diamonds are even found outside planet Earth, where stars are thought to collapse on themselves and form giant diamond crystals.
There is even a star outside of our galaxy that has crystallized into a giant diamond that is 2,500 miles in diameter and weighs ten trillion, trillion carats.
There is certainly no shortage of diamonds, though the price would make you think otherwise.
This does not mean that diamonds are undeserving of such a high value.
Diamonds are the hardest material found in nature, with a hardness of 10.
How To Save Money On An Engagement Ring
Almost half of all engagements happen between November and February.
If you are planning to propose to your partner next holiday season but want to do so on a budget, there are many ways that you can buy a beautiful engagement ring for a fraction of the price.
1. Consider Buying A Ring With A Different Gemstone
Considering the value of the diamond comprises a lot of the engagement ring’s cost, other gemstones are great alternatives.
Some ideas include a combination of your and your partner’s birthstones, sapphires, emeralds, or rubies.
These stones all make beautiful rings.
Even Kate Middleton had a sapphire engagement ring.
Sapphires come in multiple colors (not just blue), so there are plenty of options.
Diamonds have always been the tradition, but that is not to say they are the be-all, end-all for every engagement.
In fact, some other high-quality precious stones can cost more than a low-quality diamond.
It is quickly becoming fashionable to buy rings with other stones.
If you like the look of diamonds and want your ring to appear more traditional, you can also go for moissanite.
It is a lab-created stone that is created in a more environmentally-friendly fashion than diamond mining.
It is less than half the price of a diamond, is nearly as hard, and shines even brighter.
If you are looking for a more colorful ring, you can try a mixture of opal, amethyst, emerald, or garnet.
2. Buy A Diamond With Fewer Carats
Rings with a big diamond in the center will always be expensive.
Each full carat adds a lot to the value of the stone.
If you want to save a bit of money, you can ask for a diamond that is 1.8 carats instead of two.
There will likely be a significant price difference, according to Jerry Ehrenwald, the president and chief executive of the International Gemological Institute, which certifies diamonds.
For example, for two diamonds that are otherwise identical in color and clarity, a 0.9-carat diamond can cost 20 to 25% less than a one-carat diamond.
3. Don’t Add Side Stones
When purchasing an engagement ring, some people like to add side stones in addition to the main diamond in the middle.
If you want to cut down on costs, one option is to just include one main stone without the others on the side.
4. Sacrifice Clarity
Much of the clarity of diamonds is discerned under a microscope, which uses intense magnification to find imperfections invisible to the human eye.
If you want to buy a ring on a budget, you can sacrifice several levels of clarity before any diamond imperfections are visible to humans.
Some of the clarity levels you may want to consider are very very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2), very slightly included (VS1 and VS2), slightly included (SI1 and SI2), and included (I1, I2, and I3).
You can go down to VS1 and VS2 before anyone would be able to notice any imperfections in the diamond.
This will considerably bring down the cost of the ring.
If you do opt for a diamond with lower clarity, there are mounting options to make your gemstone look the best it can.
You can ask your jeweler about a closed mounting, which allows less light to reach the stone, which will keep its imperfections less visible.
5. Use A Different Material For The Band
If you want the look of the gold without the crazy high price, you can try to go with a platinum band.
Though platinum is more expensive than gold as a raw material, it less expensive when it comes to jewelry because of all of the options available with gold jewelry.
If you still want to use gold, though, you could use 14 karat gold instead of 18 karat gold.
This can reduce the price by up to twenty percent.
Though 18 karat gold is technically purer, that does not mean it is more durable or beautiful than 14 karat gold.
No one will notice the difference anyway.
6. Buy A custom Ring Online
Like a lot of items these days, you can find better prices by looking up what you want online.
This is because of all the low-cost options available to buyers, in addition to the fact that many engagement ring sellers are competing with each other to offer the lowest possible price.
You might miss out on some of the heart and personability that goes into getting an engagement ring from an in-person local jeweler, but you will likely get your engagement ring at a fraction of the price.
7. Look For Pre-Owned Diamonds
Diamonds lose more than half their value in a resale.
If you set on a diamond ring but cannot afford one from the jeweler, you can check out estate sales or resale websites for pre-loved diamond rings at a fraction of the cost.
If you do not want to use someone else’s used engagement ring, you can buy the ring and then use the stone to be custom-made into a different ring.
This will cut down the cost of the diamond, while you will still be able to have a unique engagement ring created especially for your partner.