How much does an
engagement ring cost?
Almost everyone who comes to us to begin their engagement ring journey wants to know: ‘how much should I expect to pay for an engagement ring?’
There’s no simple answer. But, we can help you explore how each element of a design effects engagement ring prices, how you can maximise your value for money, and give you an idea of how much other people spend on engagement rings.
So the question isn’t so much ‘how much should you be spending on an engagement ring?’. Instead, let’s ask ‘how much does an engagement ring cost? And how is it priced?’
Engagement ring price breakdown
To begin, these are all the factors that determine the cost of an engagement ring crossing the centre stone, the design, the materials and the setting style:
- Carat weight
- The grading of your diamond
- Natural vs lab grown diamonds
- Fancy shape centre gemstones
- Trilogies and side stones
- Different metals
- Platinum vs white gold
- Different band and setting styles
- Finishing touches
How we're tackling transparency in the jewelry industry
Fine jewelry is one of the most opaque products in the world. This isn’t by accident; opacity usually means retailers can unfairly price and make more margin.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of jewelry design, we want to be transparent with how we do things at Taylor & Hart. We take a novel approach to pricing and crafting jewelry in order to pass on savings to you. Read our transparency guide to ring pricing to understand why our business model is changing the jewelry industry for good.
Once you understand the supply chains and manufacturing processes that go into your ring, you’ll have more context when getting creative with your design ideas.
What's the average price of an engagement ring?
How much should you really spend on an engagement ring?
The ‘three months of your salary’ rule of yesteryear was created as part of a marketing campaign in the 50s and 60s. Dated and exclusionary, it’s not really legitimate advice for would-be proposers. What matters most is that you’ve found the love of your life; your ring should be a reflection of that bond, not an object that’s only about a price tag.
A diamond’s carat weight refers to the weight of the diamond, not its size. A one carat (1ct) diamond simply equates to 0.2 grams of diamond mass. This means two diamonds of the same carat weight can actually have very different size measurements and can appear larger or smaller depending on the shape and cut of the gemstone.
If you want our quick guide to diamond grading, appraisal, and pricing, read our Diamond Basics Guide.
To give you an insight into how a diamond’s carat weight affects its price, here is an average list of prices* for a traditional solitaire engagement ring with a round center diamond that has a clarity of SI1 and a color grade I, set in 18 carat white gold:
Among our customers, the overall average carat weight for a center diamond is 0.90ct. But this varies between diamond types. For a natural diamond, the average carat weight sold is 0.83ct. For a lab grown diamond, this average rises to 1.15ct.
While it has a nice ring to it, a 1 carat diamond is by no means the ‘right’ size diamond for your engagement ring. Because of their reputation, 1ct diamonds actually carry a price premium and cost disproportionately more than a diamond that’s only a little bit smaller or even a diamond that’s a bit larger.
The only person who should be deciding what the right size diamond is for your ring is you. So we say skip the hidden cost and choose either a 1.01ct or 0.90ct diamond instead.
In the case of a marginally smaller 0.90-0.95ct diamond, you probably won’t be able to tell the size difference, plus you can reallocate the savings to another aspect of your design, like side diamonds or pavé.
And sometimes with diamonds that are slightly (1.05-1.01ct), you’ll find that the price per carat works out to be less than on a 1ct diamond. This means you’ll be getting better value for money on a (marhinally) larger center diamond.
The grading of your diamond
Understanding the system of appraisal for grading a diamond’s quality is, frankly, a bit complicated. If you want a deep dive into all of the standards diamonds are graded on, you can read our Diamond Expert Guidance page. To get the details we find make the biggest impact on diamond cost vs. appearance, read below.
GIA Certification for natural diamonds
*Note that this section refers only to our stance on natural diamonds. For more information about our lab grown diamond certifications, click here.
Due to their exceptional reputation, we only offer natural diamonds that have been graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA is a non-profit organisation dedicated to producing consistent, accurate and unbiased diamond grading reports. Each stone is graded twice, by different graders, to ensure their findings are as accurate as possible.
If you look across the diamond market, it may seem that diamonds with GIA certificates are more expensive than comparable diamonds with no report or a report from a less reputable institution. But that’s not entirely true.
GIA graded natural diamonds are more expensive because the GIA has graded each diamond to a higher level of scrutiny than anywhere else. Other laboratories either do not inspect their diamonds thoroughly enough or produce a certificate that inflates the quality claims about a given diamond. For example, we’ve seen diamonds graded by non-GIA labs receive a report that claims the diamond is 1-2 color grades off what the GIA would give that diamond. So while someone might think they’re getting a deal on a D color diamond with a non-GIA certificate, they may just be overpaying for what’s actually a E or F color diamond.
You deserve the peace of mind that your natural diamond is the exact quality it’s claimed to be. This is why we’re confident that when a natural diamond is priced based on a GIA report, you’re getting the most honest and fair cost available on the market.
Cut grades are given only to round diamonds. A diamond’s cut refers to the balance of proportions achieved by the diamond cutter, not the diamond’s shape.
Ranging from excellent to poor, cut grade combines three different types of reflections: brilliance, fire, and scintillation. For the greatest brilliance and fire, we recommend (and typically only offer) ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’ cut grades for round diamonds.
The higher a diamond’s cut is graded, the higher the price of the diamond will be. But of all the different variables in a diamond’s quality, its cut is not a criteria to compromise on. The brilliance and sparkle of a diamond depends on the quality of its cut so we always recommend diamonds with an ‘excellent’ cut rating.
The chart below shows the high percentage of customers who opt for excellent cut diamonds.
Finding a diamond that's 'eye clean'
As diamonds form deep in the earth over millions of years, they develop natural birthmarks given to them by nearby minerals and elements. These irregularities and features are mostly only visible to a skilled grader under 10x magnification. Collectively they’re known as ‘clarity characteristics’ or ‘inclusions’.
To measure the presence and visibility of inclusions, each diamond is given a clarity grade. The higher the clarity grade (meaning the fewer inclusions, and therefore clearer the diamond is), the higher the price of the diamond will be.
Depending on the size, quantity, placement, tone or color of these characteristics, they may or may not be visible to the naked eye. This is one of the reasons why ‘flawless’ diamonds are so rare. But you don’t need to pay the premium for a categorically ‘flawless’ diamond in order to have a diamond that appears flawless to the naked eye.
To ensure the brilliance and fire that makes diamonds so enchanting, we offer ‘SI1’ clarity grades or higher. We usually recommend a VS1 or VS2 diamond. Each diamond is inspected to ensure that they are ‘eye-clean’, meaning that no inclusions are visible to the naked eye so that your diamond will achieve the greatest light performance and brightest sparkle.
What does eye-clean look like?
Swipe through the photos below to see how some inclusions on diamonds of the same quality grade look to the naked eye.
Clarity is one of the most fundamental features to consider when choosing a diamond, which is why our diamond experts inspect every diamond we offer to ensure they don’t have any visible clarity characteristics. It means that no matter the clarity grade you choose, you can rest assured your diamond won’t have any visible inclusions.
If you want a traditional white diamond, you have the option to go lower on color grade if your ring is made of yellow or rose gold. Due to the very slight yellow tint in diamonds graded as ‘near colorless’ (G-J), their color may be more apparent in a bright white metal, but would be masked when set against the warmer tones of yellow or rose gold.
This is not to say that ‘near colorless’ diamonds will have a visible tint when set in white metals. It simply means that you have the option to drop the color grade further than you might otherwise should your ring be cast in yellow or rose gold.
Natural vs lab grown
Lab grown diamonds are just that: diamonds that have been grown in a lab. Just like the naturally occurring diamonds we find in the earth, lab grown diamonds are crystals made from carbon and bear an identical crystal and molecular structure to their mined counterparts.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a lab grown diamond is that they’re more affordable. A 0.50ct lab grown diamond can cost approximately 40% less than a natural diamond of the same size and quality, while a 1ct lab grown diamond can be as much as 70% less than a natural counterpart. This can have a big effect on what you’re able to achieve with your lab grown diamond ring design while remaining within your price point.
We’re big fans of lab grown diamonds as they offer high quality diamonds without having to disturb the earth through mining. The production of these special gemstones is getting more eco-friendly each day, making them a perfect choice for anyone who wants a sustainable engagement ring. Read our full lab grown diamond guide here.
One thing to bear in mind however, is that lab grown diamonds are not expected to retain their market value in the future in the way a natural diamond might do. For many of us, purchasing a diamond is not only an emotional investment but a financial one.
A lab grown diamond’s lower price point gives customers access to larger diamonds, for less. But the customer should know that their lab grown diamond will not keep its intrinsic monetary value into the future. This is the most important statement I could make in comparing a lab grown diamond with a natural diamond.
The ring may one day be passed on as an heirloom, but the diamond set in it will not have held its value and may be worth very little. In comparison, a natural diamond has in the past and likely will continue to increase or at least hold its value into the future. This is because lab grown diamonds could be available in near-endless quantities, while natural diamonds, forged by the intense and never to be repeated conditions on Earth three billion years ago, are inherently scarce.
If the feeling of having a piece of jewellery that is valuable matters to you as much or more than simply having a larger diamond, then a natural diamond is a better option. If you think of your ring or jewellery piece as a fashion accessory, something that looks great but has little long-term monetary value, then perhaps a lab grown diamond is the right option for you.
Before choosing, just as you will think carefully about the design to make sure your partner loves the look of their ring, please consider how your partner will feel when they learn about the source of the diamond in their ring or jewellery piece. If you’re not sure, my suggestion is to go with a natural diamond.
Nikolay Piriankov, CEO
Alternatively, sapphires, rubies and emeralds are a popular choice for a unique engagement ring. They tend to carry a slightly lower price point, meaning you can allocate more of your budget towards a center stone with a higher carat weight or accent diamonds.
How to optimize for your budget
Fancy shape center gemstones
Did you know that differently shaped diamonds of the same carat weight are priced differently? Round diamonds carry a premium over other shapes such as a cushion, oval, or princess cut because the round cut requires a higher proportion of the rough diamond to be cut away during the cutting and polishing process.
Choosing a fancy shape will often provide you with better value than choosing the much sought-after round diamond. Elongated diamond shapes like the marquise, oval, or emerald cut can also appear visually larger despite being the same carat weight.
The chart below shows the prices of a one carat diamond in various shapes.
As an example, a 1ct G color VVS2 round diamond retails for around $9,200. A 1ct pear shape with the same quality grade retails for around $7,500. This demonstrates the potential savings you can find in an alternative diamond shape, not to mention the stunning results of having a unique diamond engagement ring.
A halo of diamonds or other precious stones surrounding your center stone is a great way to enhance the overall appearance of your ring. A halo engagement ring gives the illusion of the center stone being larger than it actually is, while also providing a dramatic cluster effect to your design.
Trilogies and side stones
A trilogy engagement ring, sometimes called a three stone engagement ring or trinity engagement ring, is a classic design style that features three diamonds or gemstones at its center. The three stones are said to symbolize your past, present, and future together as a couple.
Many people think that a trilogy is out of their price range because there are three stones, however the flanking stones will typically cost far less than the center stone. Generally speaking, the center stone will often be larger to signify the importance of the ‘present’ and will account for the majority of the carat weight in your ring. To optimize your trilogy ring within your budget, opt for smaller side stones and incorporate diamond pavé throughout your design.
Metal and setting
Platinum vs white gold
Platinum and 18k white gold share a similar bright white appearance. But there’s a crucial difference between these two precious metals.
To give white gold its sought after bright sheen, white gold engagement rings are plated with rhodium. With time, rhodium plating will wear away and needs to be replaced every 12-24 months to maintain its lustre and radiance. Platinum engagement rings, on the other hand, don’t require the same level of maintenance due to its natural white color. This means that although platinum is occasionally more expensive up-front, you save on maintenance costs down the road.
Different band and setting styles
The mount, or the metal of an engagement ring, can affect the overall price of your ring. If you’re looking for another way to flex your design according to your price point, consider going thinner on your band’s width or tapering the band at either side of the center stone to reduce the weight of your ring.
Metal value is charged in grams so naturally the heavier your design, the higher the price.
Each engagement ring can feature a number of finishing touches—a design element, small or large, that gives the final ‘look’ to your ring. These range from milgrain (small beading used to frame a ring’s design) to engraving or filigree metal cut outs.
These design elements will add to the overall cost of your design because they require more time and craftsmanship. However, these can be great ways to add detail to a design that features a single stone.
1. Choose a ring design from our collection
1. Choose a ring design from our collection
Fully custom rings carry a premium over our collection pieces because of the extra labor hours that go into designing, rendering, and crafting them. With over 250 different designs in our engagement ring collection, we’re confident you’ll find one that speaks to your unique love story.
2. Choose a lab grown diamond
Lab grown diamonds are physically and visually the same as their mined counterparts, but around 30-40% less expensive (although supply is more limited than natural mined diamonds).
3. Choose a G/H color and VS2 clarity
If you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, choose a G/H color and VS2 clarity. This combination looks stunning without carrying the premium of higher clarity and color grades.
4. Choose a ring setting with less side diamonds
Pavé and halo engagement rings have a higher price point than solitaires. Instead, you can add flair and detail using design elements like milgrain, engraving, filigree etc.
5. Choose a fancy shape diamond or gemstone
If the size of the center stone is important, choose a fancy shape diamond or gemstone instead of a round diamond. Fancy cut gemstones are priced lower than round brilliant diamonds, as are alternative gemstones.
Ultimately, there is no right answer for calculating what you should spend on an engagement ring. Dispel the myths and spend what you’re comfortable with, and best of all, get creative!
*The prices in this post are valid on the day of publication (January 2022) but prices may change and most often increase over time.