Asking for someone’s hand in marriage is, arguably, one of the most significant expressions of commitment. However, so much pressure is put on the symbol of the commitment, that finding and purchasing the “perfect” ring can be very stressful. And, potentially, expensive.
The average engagement lasts 14 months, and there’s a lot to budget for during that time.
However, being able to decipher the myths from the reality will make your engagement ring shopping endeavor a lot smoother, allowing you to target your funds where it counts.
So, first thing’s first: let’s bust some very common engagement ring myths:
- 1. Diamonds are NOT historical symbols of marriage
- 2. An engagement ring is NOT an investment
- 3. You do NOT have to spend 2-3 month’s salary
- 4. The ring does NOT have to purchased from a major jewelry store
- 5. The size of the ring does NOT represent how much someone loves you
- 6. How does your partner feel about the whole wedding thing?
- 7. Pay attention and ask questions.
- 8. What’s in your bank account/savings right now?
- 9. Just because the money is there, doesn’t mean you have to spend it.
- 10. When do you want to pop the question?
- 11. Shop around
- 12. Purchasing should not be painful
1. Diamonds are NOT historical symbols of marriage
Think diamonds have a great historical and cultural significance? Think again. Diamonds did not become a girl’s best friend until the 1930’s. In short, the diamond engagement ring craze can be traced to the 1930-1940’s DeBeers marketing campaigns. That’s where the slogan, “Diamonds are Forever,” came from.
Actually, the first evidence of engagement rings can be traced to ancient Rome. The rings were made of either gold or iron.
2. An engagement ring is NOT an investment
Diamonds are not rare and do not increase in value. Also, diamonds are not guaranteed to resell. Just like everything else, diamonds go in and out of popularity.
3. You do NOT have to spend 2-3 month’s salary
Again, blame DeBeers. What started as a marketing campaign, the three-month salary myth stuck for over 60 years. It’s fantastic marketing, but it’s about time this engagement myth is put to bed for good.
4. The ring does NOT have to purchased from a major jewelry store
Just because you see a commercial for a jewelry store advertising engagement rings, does not mean you have to purchase it at specifically at a major jewelry store. There are many ways to purchase engagement rings. You can even visit your local jewelry district or opt to completely design the ring from scratch.
5. The size of the ring does NOT represent how much someone loves you
Seriously, if this issue comes up, you’re main issue is not the ring.
Now that’s out of the way, on to the fun part.
6. How does your partner feel about the whole wedding thing?
Not everyone spends their childhood dreaming of the perfect wedding, down to the most minute detail. When purchasing an engagement ring, truly take into consideration who you are buying it for instead of caving in to peer pressure and satisfying outdated so-called social standards.
Practical couples are eliminating the engagement ring all together and going straight for the wedding bands or band alternatives. Ever think about a tattoo wedding band?
7. Pay attention and ask questions.
Sixty percent of U.S. couples are not surprised at their engagement. Many couples are having the marriage talk ahead of time and knew that the engagement was just a matter of time and place.
If the marriage cards are already on the table, it’s perfectly fine to ask questions about ring size, style preferences and gemstones. Maybe you catch the better half peeking at a wedding blog or they watch one of those wedding reality shows? Sit back and take notes.
8. What’s in your bank account/savings right now?
When it comes any purchase, even an engagement ring, it all boils down to what you can afford. Take a look at your finances and be honest with yourself. Beginning this journey in a comfortable financial place will allow you you to proceed with little to no regrets.
If you already have savings in place, you’re ahead of the game. But don’t blow your entire savings on the ring purchase. Eliminating any safety net is a disaster waiting to happen.
Set a budget, set up automatic savings transfers with your bank and stick to your plan.
9. Just because the money is there, doesn’t mean you have to spend it.
Even if you have a checking and savings account that would make most envious, it does not give license to make a hurried and ill-advised purchase. Again, focus on the person you are purchasing for. A family heirloom may mean more than the biggest, shiniest rock Cartier has to offer.
10. When do you want to pop the question?
As soon as you set your budget, decide when you want to pop the question. Whether the ring will be $200 or $20,000, budgeting over time with a goal date in mind will keep you on track. Not to mention, a future date allows you to plan how grand or intimate you want the engagement setting to be.
11. Shop around
Along with the Internet came choices. Lots of them. And you will need to narrow down the field immediately. Conducting your research early will make this process a lot easier. Once you have a handful of rings to choose from, comparison shop.
If you are a couple on the offbeat path, Etsy and estate sales are great alternatives to traditional jewelry stores and major online merchants. You’re more likely to find unique and one of a kind piece at very affordable prices.
12. Purchasing should not be painful
The constant worry of whether you spent too much is a worry that’s easily avoidable. Shun misinformation and stick to a time frame and budget that works for you. Engagement is a happy occasion and should remain financial and emotional baggage free.
Destiny is a staff writer and social media manager for MyBankTracker.com. Her columns focus on money management and consumer spending.