Why the Two-Month Rule Is Bunk

Author Allison
Date Feb 10, 2010

It's been said that a suitor should spend two months' salary on a diamond engagement ring for his love. This shouldn't be thought of as a hard-and-fast "rule," but it is helpful when it's time to talk about expectations and costs when shopping for a ring.

Do What Feels Right

Generally speaking, two months' salary is just a starting point of the discussion that should include your perceived budget, your comfort level, your sweetheart's tastes, your financial situation, and your future. But you should consider a lot more factors than simply dividing your annual salary by six and walking into a jewelry store to see what you can buy.

In general, you should spend only what you feel comfortable spending. Some people spend more than two months' salary and some people spend less. Comfort is the key. Ask yourself, "What am I comfortable paying?" Can you afford to spend a little more? Do you need to spend less? Above all, spend within your means.

Decide What's Important

Depending on your stage in life, two months' salary could give you a budget of anywhere between $2,000 and $30,000. But even if you fall on the low end of that scale, you can still afford a nice ring. Consider the 4Cs of any diamond -- cut, color, clarity, carat. Which ones are the most important to the person you're buying for? Rank them in order of importance and see what fits into your budget.

Talk to your jeweler openly and let him guide you in the right direction. He might be able to suggest something a bit larger that has a little less clarity or something smaller that is high quality -- there are a lot of characteristics to consider. And if he knows what's important to you, he can help you navigate through what's available that fits in your budget.

Stay Within Your Budget

Think about buying a car. If you're set on a BMW but only have $8,000 to spend, you're probably not going to end up happy. Sometimes it's important to adjust your expectations based on the reality of your situation. Would you rather have a rusting, beat-up BMW or a brand new Chevy Impala? Decide what's important and be realistic about what fits in your budget.

Remember, you can always trade in that Impala for a tricked out BMW later down the line, when your income increases. You can do the same with your ring. Don't get hung up on trying to buy the best diamond ring in the case -- buy the best diamond ring you can afford. This may mean getting a slightly smaller diamond but one with more fire or setting it in 18K White Gold as opposed to Platinum. It is a balancing act and there are ways to be savvy without spending more than your comfort level.

Over the years, you can always upgrade by adding stones or changing the setting.

Above All, Have Fun With It

Getting engaged is a special moment and should be fun. Don’t get hung up on mathematical equations to determine what you should spend, and don't spend so much that you are too far in the hole to build a new life together. Spend what you're comfortable spending and then go enjoy the moment.

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