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Looking for an Engagement Ring? What to Know About the Average Cost

written by: Jason C. Chavis•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 2/3/2012

Thinking about popping the question? You have to get the ring first! Find out how much you should spend on this important investment in your future.

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    Cost of Diamonds

    Engagement Ring 

    Before we begin talking about how much money to spend, you should first understand how the cost of a diamond greatly impacts the price. When a dealer first acquires a diamond, it is still within its raw uncut and unpolished form, resulting in the price being significantly lower than retail. However, these costs increase when the jeweler adds in the time to create the finished stone and the price of setting. How elaborate the metal band becomes in the finished piece also greatly weighs into the overall cost.

    Some couples may choose to purchase a loose diamond and pay to have it polished and set themselves. This can be a large price-saver in the long run, but also means that the process of completing the ring must usually be a joint effort between the partners since the opportunity is available for input from the recipient. People who wish to surprise their partner with an engagement ring may want to avoid this extra step. Another option includes buying eco-friendly engagement rings.

    Above right: Engagement Ring. (Supplied by Derek Ramsey at Wikimedia Commons; GNU Free Documentation License;

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    Things to Think About When Purchasing an Engagement Ring

    According to jewelers, there are four “Cs" to remember about purchasing rings: carat, clarity, cut and color.

    The overall weight of the diamond is referred to as carat. The average size of a diamond in an engagement ring is between .33 and .75 carats. It's important to remember that the price for the ring will increase dramatically as this size is increased. For example, a half carat diamond can be much cheaper than a .6 carat stone, despite the fact that the actual difference between the two is barely noticeable.

    Clarity is also a feature that comes with major price differences. The less flaws a particular stone has, the more expensive is becomes. Very few diamonds are without flaws, so even the most costly of stones generally has some sort of defect. This can be adjusted by professionals very easily by simply creating a proper setting which hides a flaw. Sometimes seeking out a stone with slight defects can be a major cost-saving measure.

    Prices also vary greatly depending on the intricacies of the cut in the diamond. Since the jewel is a crystalline composite, it is easier to cut the stone into either the emerald or princess cuts which make use of the natural formations. When a diamond is cut into a more elaborate shape, such as a heart or oval, it adds to the overall cost. Additionally, certain cuts are actually trademarked by jewelers, making the cost for these diamonds even more expensive.

    Finally, the color of the gem is one of the most prevalent of features that help to raise the average cost of a diamond engagement ring. Completely clear stones are nearly impossible to acquire, so science has found ways to adjust the color in the laboratory. People interested in saving some money when purchasing a ring may consider using platinum as a metal for the band as this offsets the slight color shades in a natural diamond. Gems are also available in a variety of shades such as blue or pink, but these add even higher costs to the overall piece.

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    Considerations to Remember

    While the average cost of an engagement ring is usually quoted as costing two months salary, it's important to remember that this figure is purely objective. There is no true standards involved in choosing an engagement ring and most marriage counselors recommend talking about the concept before purchasing one. According to experts, it's important to not go into debt over a piece of jewelry, even if it is something that ideally will be worn for the rest of the couple's lives.

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