Appropriate Amount to Spend on Engagement Ring as PE Associate?

Someone help me out with this please. I know the general rule of thumb is 3 months salary, but that feels outdated or at least geared more towards the guys making like 80k at their corporate role. I grew up squarely upper-middle class, and so did my girlfriend, so spending what the formula spits out (upwards of 40k) on a piece of jewelry just feels wrong. Of course the answer to this is not going to be the same for everyone, but curious what others in this industry/income bracket have spent or are planning to spend. For reference I am 26 and will have been dating for 3+ years by the time I'm planning to pop the question. Thanks in advance.

 

Friend bought his now wife a $20k ring and it already sorta looks borderline too much to me... Check out her existing bling, that can give you a sense of what she likes and go shopping. Definitely recommend diamond and again, be smart and look at whether she wears mostly white gold or yellow gold - big difference for the setting. 

 
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FWIW in a similar position as you but had been dating longer and got her a $20k one. You can get a decent sized ring for that if you go the lab grown route (hers is ~4 carat), probably looking at 2-2.5 for natural. Would do what makes most sense for your current savings level as well. That wasn't so big a number that would I'd be out on the streets if I got laid off the day after....

Really depends on what she's interested in. Would recommend seeing if she has a pinterest and see if she's favorited anything there or if she has a sister or close friend you can trust to get a sense for what she's imagining. Could also take her to a store for some other jewelry and when walking by the ring cabinet ask her if she thinks one is nice and she'll probably tell you what she doesn't like about it... The one I would've bought her if I didn't have some help was way different than the one she ended up getting. White gold vs. yellow gold band, diamond halo or not, etc. are all the fun little nuances you get to sort through now. Even the shape isn't as easy as it used to be when everything was just round. 

 
hiddih

Wow, good for you guys (honestly), but it's so interesting to see how different people's choices are. I'm in PE too but I can't ever imagine wanting my boyfriend to spend more than 1,000 on a ring

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"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

Don’t get suckered into buying an overpriced diamond. There are tons of other rocks you can buy that look just as nice if not better.

I spent $3,000. Wife agrees (or defers) that she’d rather me save and invest the savings, or use it for multiple vacations (which we did). Have 200k liquid for reference, so could definitely afford something more expensive but absolutely refuse to out of principle

 

Congrats to you! 

Ended up in the $20-$25k range - I probably ended up spending more than I was expecting to, it added up. Ended up with a pave platinum band that was custom made, and then the main diamond set on top. Unnecessary - but admittedly it turned out fantastic, and really made the whole thing come together. Carat wise, it's 1.5-2 - it's not huge, but looks great on her hand and fits in well in both professional and social settings. I'd spend it again happily. On the whole three month thing - someone gave me that advice and then added it was on GROSS salary which made me laugh hysterically... what a marketing campaign that has been. Find the number you are comfortable with, go right to the edge if not tip toeing over it slightly, then call it a day. 

On the diamond front - if I never see a 4 c's chart again, I'll die happy. I found the online places drove me crazy, and opted to work with someone who other friends of mine have used for years. Was it the best price - doubtful - I'd suspect I could have shaved off a grand or three if I bought online - but seeing different options in person, etc. was worth it to me and made me feel good about it. As I said - it wasn't an exercise in bargain shopping. I also opted for natural - no shame in doing lab grown, just our preference. 

My last advice is really think about what she wants, obviously, but how she will wear it and the settings you both are in. It's superficial, but it did matter to me that it was of enough quality it would stand up in a room full of finance professionals but not stand out egregiously. Overthinking - probably, but the last thing I want to do is have her feel uncomfortable wearing a 3 carat rock that looks huge on her (and... didn't want to spend that much!). 

 
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You people are ridiculous. A ring you will wear for 6 months max is not worth all that money. I mean, congrats to DeBeers and their marketing advisors successfully psyoping you into spending the lifetime earnings equivalent for a Chinese industrial worker on a tiny, nicely cut piece of literally one of the most abundant materials on the planet - that will only give your woman the wrong impression on what a relationship consists of.

And for all you guys coming around and comparing this to watches, a watch is mainly a piece of craft, a diamond is not. The craft in a watch is close to 100%, it being little more than a few pieces of steel, other metals, artificial rubies, and maybe gold/silver, while a diamond can be cut into a really good shape with a few punches at the right angles. That does not justify such a huge price tag, also considering that, again, it is literally one of the most abundant crystal formations on the fucking planet! Diamonds are not rare at all, and neither are gem-grade ones. Don't believe DeBeers. Buy a zirconia on a silver ring for $1k. It is more than enough for its purpose.

...and the Truth shall set you free
 
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BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔:

You people are ridiculous. A ring you will wear for 6 months max is not worth all that money. I mean, congrats to DeBeers and their marketing advisors successfully psyoping you into spending the lifetime earnings equivalent for a Chinese industrial worker on a tiny, nicely cut piece of literally one of the most abundant materials on the planet - that will only give your woman the wrong impression on what a relationship consists of.

And for all you guys coming around and comparing this to watches, a watch is mainly a piece of craft, a diamond is not. The craft in a watch is close to 100%, it being little more than a few pieces of steel, other metals, artificial rubies, and maybe gold/silver, while a diamond can be cut into a really good shape with a few punches at the right angles. That does not justify such a huge price tag, also considering that, again, it is literally one of the most abundant crystal formations on the fucking planet! Diamonds are not rare at all, and neither are gem-grade ones. Don't believe DeBeers. Buy a zirconia on a silver ring for $1k. It is more than enough for its purpose.

Can tell you aren’t married lmao

 

If you dont mind me asking, what country are you from, because it is surely not the US (I say this as Kahuna has a Hawaiian implication, but no way are you from the US). In the states at least, you wear your engagement ring for life. A wedding band is just that, a plain, typically gold, band that lays up right next to the engagement ring. Additionally, average engagement periods are now 12-24 months, pushed out by COVID as many venues are booked fully for the upcoming year. 

Next, for anyone in PE or making meaningful comp in finance, 20k is a drop in the bucket long term. The top 10-15% of finance professionals may spend that on a second car, on a single vacation, or a watch even. 20k is never breaking the bank, and is actually extremely reasonable. My friends in sales are dropping 35k on rings and they clear ~200k, what is achieved by some A1s...

Personally, I think it is all about alignment with your partner and what they want, but at the end of the day, to write off a 20k ring as an asinine purchase is absurd. That is less than the cost of 1 year of private school (middle / junior high, not even high school), and it is the ring your wife will wear for the rest of her life. 

Before you attack me for my own personal choices, I am not married or engaged, but completely understand the rationale of other posters. You are likely getting your upvotes from students, interns, and other folks with <2 years of FT experience, certainly not other PE Associates or more senior finance professionals. 

 

I am from Germany and happily admit to being a bit stingy, which I consider a virtue if applied in measures.

And yes, it may be that it is not a lot of money for someone like us, but it actually is in absolute terms, especially considering what you get for it - unrealistic expectations from your woman. A marriage is not luxury living, that I tried endlessly (and futilely) to explain to my now ex-girlfriend (cue the jokes), it is a business partnership where every Euro counts and every single resource has to be optimized in some way, otherwise you fall by the wayside. A ring that expensive would only be interesting if it delivers considerable (and I mean considerable) upsides, such as being so artistically unique that it increases the social status of our marriage, and even then I consider it poor taste to present my love for her and aesthetic judgement so boorishly to the world.

You are, of course, free to do whatever the fuck you want, but I am also free to mock you and all the others in this thread for falling to such an obvious psyop, upheld by egocentric women and Hollywood.

...and the Truth shall set you free
 

Yeah ditto to this. $50-100K+ amongst some of the richer circles where I grew up around would be 'average.' The people I grew up around from HS all spent probably around ~$10-20K, give or take $5K. None of them were making PE money though.

 

To be fair, if you go lab grown, you can easily imply the ring cost more than it did. A 4 carat lab grown may run you 20-25k, but a 3-4k organic will run you close to 80-150k depending on clarity, cut, etc. So long as you insure it and hold on to the GIA cert, no one in the world will be able to tell unless they look at the rock under a magnifying glass and look for the serial number to search online.  

I find these comments interesting as some of the most well off folks I know opted for <20k rings, and I am referring to people making PE-level comp while also coming from absurd amounts of family money (multiple generations generating 50m+ net worths). As you said though, it really depends on the social circles you run in. The friends of mine who spent the most often came from upper middle class backgrounds and thus felt the need to prove themselves. 

 

Genuine question - have you spoken to your partner about what kind of ring she'd want? It should NEVER be a surprise that you're gonna propose, so might as well ask her what she likes, no? My fiancee and I talked, she sent me a few pics of the one she loves, and we even went to a ring store to try it on and whatnot. All that happened a year before I proposed. I spent ~$5K and she is absolutely in love with it, as it's exactly what she wanted.

 

Buy a raw stone from the jewelry district and have them make the band. The things that make the rig really escalate in cost are not noticeable at all. Like literally not noticeable. For 15-25k you can get 1.5-2 carrots, which is still a very good sized rock. If you end up going to a jewelry store you're gonna pay up a ton, which in my view is not worth it. Its a commodity in the truest sense of the word. For example, the guy I went to just had a pricing grid based on various inputs from the 4 Cs. To each their own, but I personally, and neither would my wife, be comfortable with anything bigger than 2, regardless of cost. 

 

My goal is have girlfriend who would rather a $5k ring and spend the rest on travel than all on a ring so she can show it off to her social circles…seems like a waste to me. She can show off all the travel pics on instagram. At least I get to share in that enjoyment vs the momentary enjoyment of showing off the ring.

 

It really depends on the girl, and how important it is to her. Some girls truly don’t care, but most girls who grew up well to do or near a big city seem to care a lot.

I was making 300k a year at age 28 and got a 50k ring because she and her friends told me exactly what she wanted. I can’t remember the clarity or color or cut, but it was 3.71 carats.

Most of my friends in finance and medicine get a similar ring and I’ve seen some spent as little as 17.5k and as much as 75k. It’s really a function of your savings and what she wants. Obviously don’t jeopardize your savings but don’t also don’t be too cheap and make her engagement proposal feel cheap.

 

Yea, I think the girls strong preference and then your budget are clearly the most important factors.

Lots of people complaining it’s a waste, but if it’s a small price to your overall net worth, who cares.

And you can claim anything is a waste with that mindset. One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure. The same guy complaining a diamond is a waste of cash, might spend alot on a watch or a painting or a car. All things I think are a waste of money.

If you’re marrying a chick, I’m assuming she’s awesome in your eyes and you want her to be happy, so if that’s what she wants, just get it.

We have to operate under the assumption she’s awesome. I mean if you’re marrying a waitress or school teacher or fashion intern, and they want a big rock, than obviously that’s a no lol.

 

3 months is nonsense. That's a debeers marketing nonsense. You don't want to spend money meaninglessly. Instead figure out what sort of stone and ring design your gal wants. Then calibrate your selection based on what aspects she values.

I spoke to my fiancée to figure out what she cared about. In her case she wanted white and big as possible, with lots of shiny gleam. I have a cousin who is in the antique second hand diamond business. We spent six months finding the perfect stone. he got us a 1 carat E-color (very white) with a big face and a high taper. That means it's a very big bright diamond with a giant face with most of that 1 carat volume concentrated on the face area. There is a tiny flaw that is at the bottom it the taper but it's indistinguishable to the naked eye. I got our ring for $5k. We set it in a Tiffany style plain white gold ring so all the attention is on the stone. Small, simple, classic. My wife loved it from the moment she saw it and wars it still daily 14 years later. Don't fall for the marketing. Figure out what the girl really wants. Do the work. Oh and my wife is proud I got her what I want without blowing our money on nonsense. She appreciates the strong sense of responsibility.

 

I'm not going to tell you what kind of partner you should be looking for, but you should "know" what is comfortable for her. Requiring a 3-month salary ring would not be a good sign of a good person in my books...

I decided to go lab-grown because:

1) It was much cheaper, and I could get a much larger rock for < $5k, whereas to literally every other single person on the planet except for the two of us, it looks like I spent $20k. Isn't that a big part of it, showing it off?

2) She was very on board with lab grown vs. mined given the ethical and environmental implications of mined stones

I would also highly encourage if possible, to see the ring / stone in person. You might have a different opinion after the fact, because I was pretty sure I was going to go 2ct, but upon seeing it on my hand (and knowing how large her hands were in comparison), I thought it looked ridiculous even on my hand, let alone hers. I didn't want to do anything that made her uncomfortable with how it looked, how much I spent, or would draw unwanted attention. Settled on 1.7ct and it's big but not BLING big, very classy.

Your partner might have a particular ring in mind since childhood and has always wanted the Tiffany princess cut, but hey, if not, go lab grown and spend the other $15k on first class flights and a honeymoon. Everyone has different priorities.

EDIT: Forgot to mention this, but I would also look to purchase a ring that is just below the larger rounder number of carats, you can save some money. For example, a 1.5 ct ring or a 2ct ring commands a certain premium because it rolls of the tongue and people say it, but if you got a 1.47 ct or a 1.94 ct stone, you will save some money. And literally no one can tell the difference.

 

Yeah you win some you lose some. As long as the two of you are on the same page, and both of you are thinking clearly vs. stupid debeers marketing, all good.

 

I am popping the question in a few months too and have already agreed w my girl to get a moissanite ring for like ~$2k and use the money we saved on a badass honeymoon or down payment on a house. 

Yes, we are fortunate to make a lot of money but there is no reason to fall for the scam of diamond engagement rings. 

"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."
 

For good quality, you're looking at roughly 2 carat diamond + 1~5k in band

Good quality: Color (E, D); Clarity (VVS1 or higher); Cut (Ideal or higher) | check online for price by different qualities https://www.bluenile.com/ca/diamond-search

Age of marriage will make below classification different (older = bigger) but for ages (28 - 32):

Below 1 Carat is small

1 Carat or above is okay

2 Carat or above is big

3 Carat or above is really big

4 Carat or above is really obnoxious

My advice: stay somewhere between 1~2 Carats, try to get good quality (really matters), and find a band that your wife likes - go shopping for the band together (buy diamond first and propose, then go to a shop for a band) - Diamond prices fluctuate from time to time so don't focus on how much you spend, just get a good enough size and good quality.

For reference:

1.5 Carat, VVS1 Clarity, E Color, Ideal Cut will cost around 30K. (Tiffany's will have diamonds around this spec.)

 

This doesn't take into account diamond shape or hand size of the person wearing it. Pretty general assumptions that don't really make sense in today's market.

For instance a 2ct radiant cut will look small while a 2ct round will look normal. A 4ct radiant doesn't look obnoxious at all while a 4ct round would look huge. Additionally, quality is less important (assuming you meet a minimum threshold) and this ignores lab grown which will be less than half the price you noted.

 

I spent about $18k. I don’t see the value in diamonds and would have preferred to go the lab made route but for whatever reason my wife really wanted the real thing. I shopped around diamond dealers and avoided the big name brands like Tiffany’s that are overpriced. Actually got mine from a diamond dealer who’s a supplier to Tiffany. Anyway, if still felt like a lot of money but I still catch my wife looking at it and I hear her telling her friends how much she loves it.

The key isn’t necessarily price but making sure she gets what she wants. We went together to look at rings early in the process so I can get a sense of what she likes but the finer detailed I planned. I’ve heard from several of her friends who say “I love it because he got it, but I wish it was like X [whether type of stone, band thickness etc]” because the guys didn’t check at all what their girlfriends wanted - it’s expensive and hopefully for life so you should make sure it’s something she likes too.

 

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