Proposing? Don’t Go Broke on The Engagement Ring

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Big spending up front may not bode well for your future.

This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site

Katherine Schreiber, 26, has twice been engaged to the same man, and neither time involved an expensive trip to the jewelry store. The first time, in September 2013, her fiancé proposed with a ring that had been in his family. Schreiber says that though she’s never been much of a jewelry person, she dutifully wore the ring, “but I felt like the only reason I wore it was to show to other people.”

The engagement was called off when the couple had mutual doubts about their readiness for marriage, and then it was on again in May — and this time she proposed. In November, she had her fiancé’s initials tattooed on the ring finger of her left hand, and posted that on Facebook.

Most couples think “diamond” when they think of engagement rings, though that may be more because of good marketing than actual traditions. And yet it is, to some, a symbol of everlasting love; an engagement without a diamond ring seems unimaginable. According to, the average engagement ring cost $5,598 in 2013. The average wedding (including engagement ring) totaled $29,858.

But there’s another interesting statistic about the cost of engagement rings, this one from researchers at Emory University: Men who spent $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring were 30 percent more likely to get divorced than those who spent $500 to $2,000 (the odds of divorce for men spending less than $500 were also higher).

And lavish spending on a wedding was associated with a higher divorce rate as well. “We find that marriage duration is either not associated or inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony,” the authors wrote. (It’s worth noting that correlation is not the same as causation; nonetheless, inexpensive — but large — weddings and modestly priced rings correlate with more successful marriages.)

Clearly, spending major cash for a big rock won’t necessarily make the relationship more stable. But a lot of grooms-to-be feel pressured to give one, even if they can’t really afford it. We live in a world where, when a woman says she’s engaged, friends and co-workers take a quick look at her left hand. If you do not happen to have several thousand dollars lying around, and don’t want to go into debt for an engagement ring, what can you do?

We asked, and got some creative responses.

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