weddings

'Two months pay': The engagement ring ‘rule’ we need to throw out the window post-COVID-19.

We’re standing in front of a jewellery store when I make the joke to my partner. 

"So are you going to spend two months’ salary on my engagement ring?" I ask with a smirk on my face, pointing to one of the bigger rings I can see in the display. 

"Yeah sure," he laughs back, asking me when I’d heard about this apparent ‘rule’.  

I couldn’t remember when or where this idea had been planted in my mind, but it’s one most of us have at least heard of. If you haven’t, it only takes a quick search for it to pop up at the top of Google. 

You should spend at least two months’ salary on the engagement ring. If, for example, you are making $60,000 per year, you should spend $10,000 on the engagement ring, a popup reads. 

Watch: Engagement ring trends through the decades, from the 1900s to now. Post continues below.


Video via: Mamamia.

Almost a year later, I don’t know how much my fiancé spent on my engagement ring but to me, it doesn’t really matter. My engagement ring symbolises so much more than the price tag that came attached to it. 

Of course, there aren’t necessarily any ‘rules’ around how much you should spend on an engagement ring. This is completely up to you and your partner and how much you can both afford and are willing to spend. 

But in a time of the coronavirus pandemic when the Australian economy has been hit hard and unemployment has increased, not only is this rule outdated, it’s one that could be financially irresponsible to follow and leave you in serious financial debt.

Speaking to Mamamia, Roy Cohen, a diamond expert from DCLA Diamond Exchange agrees. Not only does he believe this so-called rule is outdated, but he also labels it as complete ‘bull***t’. Excuse the French.  

"That’s all BS. That’s all marketing. Totally marketing," Cohen said in response to the rule. "Don’t go out of your comfort zone. It’s not an investment. It’s a symbol of your union, it’s a symbol of your marriage and your love."

And looking a little deeper, this concept of how much you should spend has no real basis in… well anything. It’s widely reported this idea was fabricated by diamond company DeBeers during a historic ad campaign in an attempt to get customers to spend more money on diamonds. 

It’s such an entrenched idea you still hear about it today in 2020. So well played? 

While the meaning and symbolism of an engagement ring have changed over time, traditionally, the purpose was to allow the woman to leave should something ‘go wrong’ in the relationship, according to Cohen. 

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“Obviously there’s a reason why people give diamonds as engagement rings or gifts. It’s because if the engagement does go wrong or if the marriage goes wrong, it’s an immediate source of funding for the woman,” he said. 

“So it does serve that purpose. I mean, there’s no getting around that. We’ve actually seen that happen.” 

Yet while a diamond is not really an investment, there are very few things you can actually purchase today that you will be able to get any value from in a few years’ time. 

“Not electronics, not fashion but diamonds and gold are something that do retain their value and it’s very easily turned into cash. That’s one of the reasons why they’re such a target for thieves,” Cohen explained. 

You’re Engaged! Now What? In this episode of Hitched we look at how to set yourself up for wedding planning success before you've even started. Post continues below. 

So if there are no real ‘rules’ around how much should be spent on an engagement ring, where exactly should you start? Cohen has a much more sensible way of exactly how you can work it out. 

“There’s a few things that we always advise people. Firstly, set your budget and kind of stick to your budget. That’s what you want to spend? Get the best value for the amount of money that you want to spend,” he advised. 

“There’s different horses for different courses. Some people will want size rather than colour and clarity. Other people will want best colour and clarity and they don’t mind about the size.” 

Once you have a basic understanding of what is important to you, Cohen advises on focusing on the ‘four Cs’ when shopping for an engagement ring: cut, colour, clarity and carat weight. Of these four, he believes the cut of the diamond is the most important. 

“For me, I always advise that the number one thing that you should be looking for in a diamond is your make or your cut because you can have the best quality but if it’s badly cut it’s not going to have the same life,” he explained. 

“If it’s a slightly lower colour and a lower purity but it’s unbelievably well cut, it’s going to look beautiful.” 

Next should be the colour of the diamond because when it comes to the clarity, most inclusions in a diamond can only be seen with a microscope and not the naked eye. 

“If the diamond is better than what’s called small inclusions which is ESI2, it should be non-eye visible. So spending money on anything cleaner than that is actually a waste of money to be honest,” he said.

“Then the balancing fact is the size of the diamond according to your budget. So cut, colour, clarity and then your carat weight according to your budget.” 

So there you have it, a new ‘rule’ for shopping for an engagement ring that will leave you loving what’s on your finger without breaking the bank. 

Valentina Todoroska is a freelance writer, editor and former primary school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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