How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

Engagement ring purchases are steeped in decades-long tradition that has dictated to society how much men should be spending. Often qualified as an investment equivalent to two to three months’ worth of a man’s salary, this can mean a hefty sum of money.

However, diamond shopping has entered a new era, one where the salary-related engagement ring price rule is no longer necessary to follow. With a plethora of diamond alternatives entering the market in recent years, there are more options than ever before, especially when it comes to price.

When embarking on the pursuit of finding the perfect diamond engagement ring for your significant other, you don’t need to succumb to the traditional costs in the market. Learn more about the factors that go into diamond prices, and all of the different options for engagement rings available to you today.

Valencia Princess Cut Engagement Ring from Diamond Nexus

Why Do Diamond Engagement Rings Cost so Much?

You can find the answer to why diamond jewelry and engagement rings are so expensive by examining history.
Betrothal rings have been used since Roman times, and engagement rings were actually mandated by Pope Inocentius III in the 1100s. However, diamonds weren’t a common part of the betrothal ritual until Archduke Maximillian of Austria supposedly commissioned the first diamond engagement ring for Mary of Burgundy in 1477, sparking a trend for royals.

Diamonds as part of the bridal trousseau became standard throughout Europe, but the common man still found diamonds far out of reach. That all changed in 1867 when substantial deposits of diamonds were discovered in South Africa and large scale mining was introduced.

By the mid-1880s, De Beers managed to bring all South African diamond mining under one umbrella and began marketing them to the average consumer as a high-end choice of setting for engagement rings.
Unfortunately for De Beers, the suddenly increased supply of diamonds meant a slow decrease in demand, and many jewelers began to offer colored gemstones as a “showier” alternative. Sapphire, emerald, and ruby engagement rings set in ornate metalwork began to supplant the large-cut diamond as the premier choice for jewelry, and by 1911, the diamond trade was in steep decline.

De Beers countered the downward trend by hiring an ad agency to promote diamond ring wearing among Hollywood starlets, and in 1947 N.W. Ayer coined the famous slogan, “Diamonds are forever.” The advertising campaign tied in with the idea that marriage should be forever, as well, and De Beers successfully rode the wave of diamond popularity to the top again, with their new tagline being considered one of the most effective advertising slogans ever conceived.

Since De Beers was the premier seller of mined diamonds, and demand was once again high, the cost of diamond engagement rings skyrocketed. A man’s social status – and supposed love for his betrothed – was gauged by how much her engagement ring cost him: the more he spent, the more certain the bride could be of his commitment (and the better bragging rights she had among her inner circle of friends).

Now in the 21st century, the monopoly of the market by a single diamond company has subsided. With the increase of competitive options comes the opportunity to consider different price alternatives too. Does your bride-to-be really need three months of your salary on her finger to be sure of your love? Or can you be smarter about finding beautiful diamond engagement rings?

Montreal Round Cut Engagement Ring from Diamond Nexus

Lab Created Diamond Alternatives – Comparing Cost to Quality

The answer to the question, “what is a lab created diamond?”, originates back quite a few decades. The first commercially successful synthesis of a diamond was introduced in 1955, but the stones created were small and only suitable for industrial use. High quality lab grown diamonds comparable to mined and cut stones weren’t successfully mass-produced until 1970, when cubic zirconia was popularized by Swarovski.

The introduction of less costly CZ “stones” to the market had the advantage of reviving the question “How much should a man spend on an engagement ring?” but the traditional diamond industry instantly fought back in an effort to discredit cubic zirconia, which isn’t as hard as mined diamonds and can show wear and tear over time. Meanwhile, the search for a lab grown diamond alternative that could meet the color, clarity, hardness, and cut standards when compared to mined diamonds continued.

Loose Round cut Nexus Diamond alternative

Perfecting the lab grown diamond process was necessary to create a simulant stone that met or exceeded the standards and quality of mined diamonds. Through a commitment to this effort, Diamond Nexus succeeded in achieving this goal. Our diamond simulants are in many ways superior to a mined diamond when it comes to brilliance and quality, but with an average cost of up to 80% less.

The question of how much to spend on an engagement ring is now back in play – why spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a natural diamond engagement ring when there’s a smarter, less expensive, and more ethical option?

Reasons to Choose a Lab Diamond

Engagement rings that feature exceptionally crafted, high-quality lab created diamond alternatives can deliver an equal or superior clarity and sparkle compared to traditional mined diamonds. These have been especially popular in engagement ring trends recently for a number of reasons. You can effectively overturn the engagement ring price rule and meet all of your fiancée’s expectations by buying a ring with a simulant stone that features the following qualities:

Unbeatable color. The highest quality lab created diamonds are rated “D” for color – meaning they are completely colorless, just as a high quality diamond should be. There’s no yellow tinge – just sparkling brilliance guaranteed to dazzle.

Unmatched clarity. Most mined diamonds will show at least one imperfection or flaw on close examination. In contrast, diamond alternatives grown in a lab under controlled conditions can be crafted to be internally flawless, leading to unmatched clarity and shine.

Impeccable cut. Many diamond simulant engagement settings are Ideal Cut for maximum brilliance and fire, delivering a sparkle that will match the one in her eyes when you get down on one knee to pop the question.

Absolute perfection. Your bride’s lab-created diamond alternative engagement ring will stand up to the closest scrutiny – it perfectly simulates the look, feel and performance of a comparable mined diamond at every carat size.

Heirloom quality. A major difference between a cubic zirconia and lab created diamond is that unlike CZ, a simulated diamond will stand the test of time, especially if it’s a Nexus Diamond™ alternative. Each stone is certified by AIG and guaranteed to stay perfect and beautiful forever – meaning it can be handed down from generation to generation.

Environmentally friendly. Since simulant diamonds are lab grown and not sourced from the earth, they are free from the environmental damage caused by traditional diamond mining methods.

Ethically pure. Unlike the “blood diamond” industry, lab grown diamonds are free from any taint of forced labor or industrial abuse because they are not mined.

On top of these qualities, when comparing lab diamonds vs. real diamonds, diamond simulants will bring both you and your fiancée incredible cost savings. A thousand dollars spent on a lab diamond alternative will bring you the same quality as the equivalent of spending up to five thousand on a mined diamond. A beautiful simulant stone can offer an affordable engagement ring that will impress everyone from in-laws to friends, without anyone having a clue it was less expensive. You don’t have to prove your love with an overly expensive diamond – show how much you care with a brilliant ring that matches all those qualities but doesn’t carry the same price tag.

Use Cost Savings Elsewhere

Still not sure whether or not an engagement ring with a lab created diamond is the right choice? It’s been shown that these stones simulate the beauty and quality of mined diamonds, so the only mental hurdle to overcome is that of the traditional mining industry’s reinforced ideas about how much an engagement ring should cost.

One of the major advantages of choosing an engagement ring with a lab created diamond is the opportunity to save money and use those extra funds in other ways.

Couple sitting while viewing a romantic sunset

The average cost of a traditional diamond engagement ring is between $5,000 and $10,000. What could you and your fiancée spend that money on that would be even more meaningful and help you prepare for a future together?


  • Make a partial down-payment on a car, house, or condominium.

  • Pay off any existing payments, like your credit card or student loan.

  • Start a retirement account – and add to it annually.

  • Plan adventures together – starting with the honeymoon.

  • Put the money away for growing your family.

There is really an abundance of options to which you could dedicate the cost savings made when purchasing a diamond alternative engagement ring. With prices at up to 80% of the cost of mined diamonds for Diamond Nexus alternative rings, your imagination can run wild with the possibilities available to you with those savings. By opting for a beautiful engagement ring that is also affordable, you can allocate resources where they will do the most for you and your new spouse.

Ask your Fiancée

A final thing to remember is that in the 21st century, a lot of engagement ring decisions are made together, in partnership. If conflicted about price, it can be helpful for you and your fiancée to work together so you’re on the same page about expectations.
In a recent survey, nearly 50% of women said they’d rather their fiancée didn’t buy them a ridiculously expensive engagement ring, citing things that could be done with the cash instead. Many more said that they’d actually be upset if their husband-to-be went into debt to buy them a costly engagement ring.

Bound to You Radiant Cut Bracelet and Round cut engagement ring in rose gold, featured on a couple holding hands.

Women today want to be in the know about their partner’s financial outlook, and would prefer to be part of a couple who have shared goals and values when it comes to responsibility for money. 75% of millennial couples say they talk at least once a week about their finances, and view large purchases as a decision that should be made together. So, when considering how much to spend on an engagement ring, you may want to discuss it with your fiancée so that expectations are the same and you can determine ways to save together for whatever decision you make.

The Brilliant Option from All Angles

The decision to explore diamond alternatives in the place of traditional mined diamonds can open up a world of possibilities. Since the cut and setting of a lab grown diamond can take so many forms and sizes, you won’t be wanting for choice when it comes to your loved one’s engagement ring.

From classic solitaire to three stone styles, and gorgeous round cut, princess cut, or emerald cut stones, diamond simulants provide a wealth of options for your engagement ring purchase. On top of that, white, yellow, and rose gold metal options can form a band that fits her finger exactly, and the size can be adjusted in the future if needed for an always perfect fit.

Four loose Nexus Diamond alternatives

Heirloom quality simulant stones, such as Nexus Diamond alternatives, ensure her ring can be appreciated by everyone for generations to come and can be handed down according to any family traditions, since it will always be as perfect as the day you purchased it. Its brilliance won’t dim, it will never chip or lose its shine, and the stone can be reset like any other diamond if changing styles or personal choice dictate so down the road.

You don’t have to choose between cost and quality. With a lab grown diamond engagement ring, you’ll be able to give her the ring she’s always wanted, with the quality and beauty she deserves, and at a price point you both approve of. Don’t fall victim to the hype of the traditional & expensive diamond market and the stereotypical engagement ring price rule. Instead of investing in the mining industry, invest in the future you both plan to share.

*Diamond Nexus strives to provide valuable information, while being clear and honest about products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab grown stone that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a mined diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining on our blog.

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