So I’ve been in a serious relationship with my girlfriend for 11 months now and the big M word has been popping up for a while. That only means that I should’ve already considered to save up a considerable amount of money to purchase a diamond engagement ring.

So How Big Of A Diamond?

I’ve h eard so many times that the guy should invest 2-3 months of his salary for a diamond ring. Ok, my next question is…net or gross salary?? According to this one site,, it’s 2-months of gross salary, not net. They even have an online calculator on how much you should spend based on your salary. I don’t know how came up with this rule, but I think it’s kind of silly. If your salary is $1M, it’s hard to imagine buying a ring that costs almost $200K. In reality, American men in 2007 spent an average of $2,100 on engagement rings. If the formula holds true, average men in 2007 made only $12,600 annually. Seems kind of low.

Ring Shopping

In the old days, I’ve heard that men just went out of their way and bought an engagement ring without learning from her what kind of ring she desires.  I think this is a big mistake. If I’m going to spend a lot of money on the ring, I’m going to make certain that it’s exactly what she wants. It’s like buying a car. If I want to buy an SUV, why would I buy a 2-door coupe? Same goes for a ring. Why would I buy her a round-cut diamond if what she really want is a cushion-cut?

So my girlfriend and I decided to go look at rings and diamonds together. The first place we went to was Charleston Alexander, a huge diamond jeweler in  Bethesda, just outside of Washington, DC. The diamonds we looked at were 1.0 carat, 1.25 carat, and a 1.50 carat, priced at $6,000, $8,000, and $12,000 respectively. Let me remind you that this was just the diamond, without the setting band. That’s a different story for some other time. They were offering some discount so we received a bottom line price of $6,500 for the 1.25 carat diamond, which is something I can definitely afford.

After we left, we planned on visiting a few other stores just to see what kind of deals they will offer and then select the most comfortable and affordable place to make the purchase. After the initial visit, I think I have a pretty good idea on the price range I am looking to spend.

How To Budget For An Engagement Ring

I am currently 32 years old and luckily for me, I’ve been budgeting smart by setting aside a few dollars here and there for the course of many years just for this purpose. Even when I wasn’t involved in a relationship, I still deposited a few dollars every month into my ING Direct account. My goal was to have at least $5,000 in the account by the time I was ready to bend down on one knee. My plan was to use that money to help me avoid financing for the ring. I wanted to pay up front, probably with both my credit cards, Discover and Chase so I can at least receive some cash back rewards. I will just have to tap into my savings to pay the remainder of the difference if I spend over $5,000.