Iris + Mill

Engagement ring buying guide

Found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with? That's the hard part! At Iris + Mill, it's our mission to make the engagement ring buying journey the easy part. We've built an engagement buying guide to help you understand more about how much to spend on a ring, how to save for a ring, popular ring buying myths, and more.

Let's talk finances

How much should you spend on an engagement ring?

There are several factors to consider when deciding how much to spend on an engagement ring, so let’s first look the most recent average engagement ring cost data. According to a 2020 study conducted by The Knot, the average proposer spends approximately $5,500 on an engagement ring. While this typical price varies significantly based on where you live, it's useful to know how much most consumers spend before you start planning your own budget.

Factors that impact engagement ring cost

Before you start looking for engagement rings, it's a good idea to set a budget. This way, you won't be looking at rings that are outside (above OR below) your price range. But what exactly determines how much an engagement ring is worth? Let's look at some factors that affect engagement ring cost.

If you're looking for a diamond engagement ring (which a vast majority of people do), it's critical to understand the 4 C's—color, cut, clarity, and carat—which can all have a significant impact on a ring's price. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or The American Gem Society (AGS) are the largest institutions for diamond certification. The grades or certifications from the GIA or AGS play a large part in determining the quality and therefore the value of a diamond.


Diamond Carat Weight

Diamond carat is an often-misunderstood term. It refers to the weight of a diamond rather than its size. Another myth is that a bigger carat weight is always superior to a smaller carat weight. Bigger isn't always better! Carat weight has nothing to do with brilliance. A well-crafted cut produces beautiful glitter. In fact, a diamond with a high carat weight and a poor cut may appear smaller than a diamond with a lower carat weight and a very good cut.


Diamond Color

It's not the color of a diamond that makes it more valuable, but rather the lack of color. The higher the value and grade of a diamond, the more crystal-clear and colorless it is.


Diamond Cut

The cut, or shape, of a diamond can determine its price. Round diamonds, for example, require more labor to produce and hence cost more—but they are also the most popular cut!


Diamond Clarity

The assessment of minor defects on the surface and within the stone is known as diamond clarity. Surface imperfections are referred to as blemishes, whereas inside flaws are referred to as inclusions. In most circumstances, these have little effect on the beauty of a diamond because most inclusions are invisible to the naked eye. The fewer and smaller the inclusions within a diamond, the higher the clarity grade and the greater the price.


Engagement ring buying myths

Three Month's Salary Rule: The old adage that you should a set monthly salary number on an engagement ring is simply untrue (remember we already know the average engagement ring cost is around $5500). Budget based on you and your partner’s personal choice and financial means.

Sacrifice Quality Over Price: One of the biggest mistakes we see with engagement ring buyers is sacrificing quality over price. Stick to GIA or AGS certified diamonds from trusted retailers. Remember this too, bigger isn’t always better! A higher quality diamond is more important than size or weight.


How to save for an engagement ring

1. Set a Ring Budget: Getting engaged is a major life even, but it's critical to create a budget and determine how much money you can realistically set away (say bi-weekly or monthly) to purchase an engagement ring. Consider all monthly expenditures, including as rent, groceries, and bills, to determine how much money you'll have left over to lay aside comfortably. A ring saving hack is to open a separate savings account where a predetermined dollar amount is automatically deposited.

2. Utilize Financing (Carefully): Don’t have or want to utilize all of your cash reserves for your engagement ring purchase? There are a number of financing options available from credit cards to personal loans for ring buyers. It’s important to stay disciplined and understand the fees, rates, and payment terms that come with borrowing. Don’t let financing lead to spending more than what you can reasonably afford!

3. Find the Right Style: One of the greatest ways to maximize your engagement ring budget is to make sure you’re buying the right style for your partner! Surprises are great, but there’s no sense spending more on a ring if it doesn’t fit your loved one’s style. Talk to friends, family, and even your partner directly (but subtlety of course).

Bonus tip

When should you actually buy the engagement ring?

Our opinion? You shouldn’t wait until the last minute! (that’s for sure). Surveys have shown that a majority of engagement ring buyers start researching and shopping more than five months ahead of the proposal date (use this as a good rule of thumb).


As far as the actual purchase, that usually occurs within the final two months before the proposal date (roughly 70% of proposers followed this time frame). Now if you’re planning a surprise proposal, make sure you have a good hiding spot ahead of time!


How do you choose the right engagement ring metal?

The most common metals used in engagement rings (which are the metals we craft our rings with at Iris & Mill) are platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.


Like most considerations when looking at wedding or engagements rings, there’s no “right answer” when it comes to choosing the correct metal – style and personal preference should always be on the top of the list.

However, certain metals do have differentiating factors over others. For example:


Platinum is naturally hypoallergenic and is incredible durable with very little long-term maintenance, but it’s also the most expensive of the metals.


White gold is a lower cost alternative to platinum that still offers the lustrous silvery white appearance that many consumers prefer, but it is mixed with alloys and doesn’t offer the hypoallergenic appeal and low-maintenance durability (although 14k gold is still quite durable).

Best Sellers

Our favorite engagement ring picks for the season

Shop Now Shop Now