Fact or Myth: An Engagement Ring Should Cost 2 Month's Salary?

Author Lynelle Schmidt
Date Feb 15, 2021

Fact or Myth: An Engagement Ring Should Cost 2 Month's Salary

We know you've heard it before: the all-too-popular "two month's salary" rule when it comes to purchasing engagement rings. This rule suggests that men should spend the amount they make in two months on the engagement ring. It's a numbers game; one that reduces love to a strict and rigid dollar amount.

Engagement rings have been around for a long time, so it's not surprising that there are some benchmarks or unspoken rules that have been established related to the purchase over the years. But, are these rules all relevant? Are they outdated? Or are they even legitimate?

After over 135 years in the industry, we can tell you with confidence that the "two month's salary" rule is a myth. It's started as a marketing ploy that came from the iconic De Beers 1930s campaign to generate buzz around diamonds.

Sure this number can serve as a starting point for you and your S.O., but it doesn't need to be the end all be all rule that you end up following. There are many people who spend a lot more and a lot less than what equates to two month's salary. Let's dive into how this salary rule came about and explore some other ways you can set a budget for the ring that works for you:

History behind the "two month's salary" rule

In 1938, the diamond cartel De Beers created a revolutionary marketing campaign that forever changed people's perceptions of diamonds and engagement rings. Before this marketing campaign, the demand for diamonds was very low. It was the goal of De Beers to make diamonds favorable once again and the standard for all engagements.

By 1947, De Beers introduced the phrase, "A Diamond is Forever," and the demand for diamond rings skyrocketed. The De Beers campaign was wildly successful. By 1990, 80% of all engagement rings had diamonds.

It wasn't until the 1980s that De Beers introduced the "two month's salary" campaign. It made it seem as though a woman was worthy of two month's salary and purchasing an engagement ring was an "investment" in her. This particular campaign did so well that many people today still strongly believe and accept the two month's salary as the ultimate truth.

Other ways to set a ring budget

If you're curious about the two month's salary rule and are looking for an answer of how much to spend on the ring, there are a few other guidelines you can follow that you may consider to be more reasonable.

Setting the budget for your ring is a very personal decision. It will depend on your current financial situation, keeping in mind that a lot of expenses typically come along soon after getting engaged. Many jewelers offer financing options that allow you to put some money upfront and agree to pay monthly installments. You'll also want to map out your goals for the next few years. Do you plan on buying a house soon after getting married or starting a family? Some people will opt to spend less upfront for the engagement ring with the goal of upgrading the ring later in life.

If you're unsure where to even start coming up with a ring budget, a good benchmark to begin with is the national average spend which was $5,764 in 2017. From there, you can decide if you want to spend more or less depending on your personal goals and expectations. At many jewelers like Long's, you'd be able to find a beautiful engagement ring no matter the budget. We've seen absolutely stunning rings from our store that cost under $2,000 and ones that cost $50,000.

Both the national average and the two month's salary benchmark should simply be used as numbers to work off of. There is no right answer about how much you should spend. A good jeweler can help you find a stunning ring no matter your budget!

Engagement Rings - Browse the Collection