How much you should spend on an engagement ring, according to millennial women

Is buying an engagement ring worth going into debt over? 10 millennial women share their stories and the cost of their engagement rings.

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Winter is coming, which means it's time to dust off your parka, pull out your coziest socks, and prepare for cuffing season. Or for those already in committed 'ships, proposal season. According to Weddingwire.com, 40% of engagements take place between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day*—but we all know this time of year can be expensive as it is, and adding an engagement ring to the mix can throw a pretty big wrench into your end-of-year budget.

According to research conducted by online jewelry company Engage Studio, 51% of Americans believe you should spend less than $3,000 on an engagement ring, and 30% believe you should spend less than $1,000. So what's the magic number? Is the "3 months' salary" rule still a thing? Is buying a ring worth going into debt for?

We asked, and you answered. Ahead, 10 millennial women share the costs of their rings, and how much they think is the right amount to spend.

Name: Katie
Location: Nashville, TN
Salary: $68,000
Partner's Salary: $56,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $1,300
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"Less than $2,000. We ended up having a small wedding a few months ago, but even small weddings cost money. Now we're in the process of buying a house. I told my fiancé that I would much rather have him put money toward our house down payment than spend it on a piece of jewelry, so I chose a moissanite ring, and I was able to get the cut and size I wanted without spending too much.

"Don't get caught up in the hype around engagement rings—people will give you all kinds of advice: that you have to spend X amount on it because it's a symbol of your love. But at the end of the day, it's the marriage itself that's important, not the ring or the wedding."

Name: Chelsea
Location: Tampa, FL
Salary: $45,000
Partner's Salary: $60,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $70
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"Honestly, I want to believe that it's whatever both people agree on ahead of time, but I've seen people desire a ring that is so far beyond their means that they take out lines of credit and loans to afford it. That's just absurd! Start your lives together on the right financial foot and only get something that makes sense for where you are financially.

"For my now-husband and I, we're aggressively paying off student loan debt, so I proposed to him with a handcrafted wooden ring I got on Etsy for under $100. My wedding ring was $350 and made out of silver and moonstone. Don't fall for the 'diamonds are forever' nonsense. Eventually, you'll want something else or want to upgrade. Life is too short to being paying off engagement ring debt."

Name: Jessica
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $76,000
Partner's Salary: $109,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $12,500
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"It really does depend on the style of ring you want, what's important to you both, and what you are prepared to budget for, but I would say around $10,000 for a ring that you are having made custom. I didn't know cost until after my husband proposed, but he is amazing about saving and wanted the ring to match a picture I had shown him years ago."

Name: Aly
Location: St. Louis, MO
Salary: $55,000
Partner's Salary: $65,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $4,300
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"It should be proportional to your cash flow (not necessarily your income). We chose this amount to spend because we could pay the majority of it in cash on the spot. I have high debt from school, and we are trying to pay down debt while building savings, so it didn't make sense to spend a ton of money on a ring. And with a lot of jewelers offering 110% value toward an 'upgraded' center stone in the future, if you ever want to get a more valuable ring, you can."

Name: Amy
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $123,600
Partner's Salary: $165,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $700
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"At the time, my fiancé (now husband) and I were both grad students. I made $80,000 working full-time during grad school and my husband worked part-time and made about $30,000. I didn't have any loans, but my husband was going to be about $200,000 deep after graduating, and the ring just wasn't a priority, especially for me.

"He got a moissanite ring online and used a coupon to save an extra $100, which I'm all for. No one can tell the difference unless I tell them it's not a diamond. I've shared with some people though that it's a moissanite, and I've gotten some rude/strange reactions, even years later. Some outright said that I should ask for a better ring, or asked if deep down I really want a real diamond. We've been married for 4 years now, and I still have my ring, though I had it reset (which cost $200) on a different band that I'm very happy with. I could easily upgrade to a much pricier ring, but I choose not to—I've saved $100,000 over the last 3 years, and my husband is paying down his loans quickly."

Name: Chloe
Location: Colorado
Salary: $79,200
Partner's Salary: $80,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $2,300
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"I think between $1,000 and $5,000 is an appropriate amount. Anything under that, and the ring is probably not very high quality material and will need constant cleaning and repairing, which will make it just as expensive in the long run. Anything over that and you're just asking for it to get stolen. I am personally uncomfortable with having really valuable things on my person, so even the cost of my ring makes me feel weird."

Name: Margaret
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $110,000
Partner's Salary: $350,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $30,000 (I had no say on the budget—my husband purchased my ring based on some very loose design parameters I had set, but he went a carat over what I thought was reasonable (not complaining!) and spent more than I expected he would. Thinking about it now, 10% of his salary (he was making around $300,000 then) was definitely appropriate. But at the time, I couldn't fathom him spending more than $20,000 on a ring.)
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"The old '3 months' salary' rule of thumb is outdated and a bit unrealistic, in my opinion. I think anywhere between 8-15% of one's annual salary is appropriate."

Name: Cat
Location: North Carolina
Salary: $52,000
Partner's Salary: $55,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $500 for a ring from an estate jeweler
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"Enough to get something that both partners are satisfied with, but not an amount that would require going into debt or putting off other financial priorities. I believe strongly in deciding together what you as a couple can afford and actually want to spend. My partner and I could have afforded a more expensive ring (we budgeted $1,200), but we decided we'd rather put that money elsewhere when we found great options at an estate jeweler at a fraction of the cost of a more traditional ring."

Name: Becky
Location: Nashville, TN
Salary: $35,000
Partner's Salary: $37,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $500
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"To each their own, but our max for my ring was $500 (and we split the cost, at my request, because I wanted to get something nicer). For that amount I was able to get a beautiful ring from Etsy that's high quality enough to hopefully last a lifetime. I love my ring, but at the end of the day, it's just a piece of jewelry and we really need to use our money elsewhere."

Name: Heather
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $75,000
Partner's Salary: $30,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $450
What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?
"I think the whole idea of a big fancy engagement ring is wildly unnecessary. How much you love someone should not be tied to a piece of jewelry. All I wanted was a simple band to represent our commitment to one another. My husband bought me a rose gold band that is engraved with his fingerprint on the inside. I absolutely love it. Going into debt to start off your marriage makes no sense to me. My favorite part of my ring is watching people's reaction to it. They ask to see my finger and then spin the ring around my finger to try to find the stone. Then when they realize it's just a band, they awkwardly have to try to find something nice to say. HA! It's my favorite :)."

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Sources:
* Wedding Wire, 40% of engagements take place between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, October 24, 2018.
Article copyright 2018 by Refinery29. Reprinted from the November 14, 2018 issue with permission from Refinery29.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Investments cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
This reprint is supplied by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC.
The third-party provider of the reprint permission and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and are not legally affiliated.

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