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The Right Ring for Your Budget

There are engagement ring options to fit any budget. It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s right for you and your bride-to-be.

“Spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring.” You’ve heard it, everyone has — and sometimes you’ll even hear it bumped up to three months. Some people think it’s an etiquette rule, and some may even believe it’s a law or something.

It’s not. It was a guideline developed on the heels of World War II by diamond giant De Beers’ advertising agency. It’s marketing — really impressive marketing. But it’s not a hard and fast rule.

You can get an absolutely stunning ring, one that will have lasting emotional and financial value, by making some easy trade-offs.

You need to look at your own budget — how much you can or want to spend — how important the engagement ring is to you and your bride-to-be. Diamond ads through the years also taught us that a diamond is forever, and that’s true. This engagement ring represents your love and your commitment to building a life together.

A little history lesson

That salary guideline, born in the late 1940s, doesn’t take into account how much life has changed for the couples it appeals to. Pretty much everything that was true then isn’t now. Think about it: people got married earlier in life and went right from living with their parents to living with their new spouses. Women looked at marriage as a time to stop working (if they were working before that). Men had the careers and were the breadwinners.

Now, the average age at marriage is higher. More people live on their own before they get married. Many couples live together before they decide to get married, and may already be splitting household expenses. So don’t feel like you have to follow somebody else’s idea of what you should spend. Unless you want to.

Setting a budget

It’s wise to set a budget before you head into a jewelry store. To avoid surprises, you can get an idea of what engagement rings cost by doing a little research on the Internet first. What might surprise you is how pictures on a website don’t do a diamond engagement ring — or color gemstone engagement ring — justice. The shimmer and spark as light hits the stone, the heft, the absolute tangible reality of holding a beautiful piece of fine jewelry might distract you. Stay strong, and keep your head about you.

In setting your budget, take into account what you and your future wife value. If you know she wants a big ring more than anything, do everything you can to make it happen. If you know you’d both rather afford to serve fine wine at your wedding reception, take off on an exotic honeymoon or move up to a larger home or apartment, then scale back. A bit.

Remember, the engagement ring is the first step toward your wedding and then your shared life together afterward. Talk about your priorities now.

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