How Do You Shop For An Engagement Ring?

You want me to spend WHAT?!

How Do You Shop For An Engagement Ring?

Call me unromantic, but I’ve never really understood the point of a huge engagement ring: Who, exactly, is determining that I should spend 15% of our yearly income on a ring? And why? To prove how much money I make, or how valuable I’d be as a life mate? It strikes me as the precise opposite of love to declare it with something that can be pawned. And the diamond itself is a ridiculous thing: Why are they valuable? Simply because other people say so?


Okay! Now that I have that off my chest, I can write, with a somewhat clearer conscience, about this infographic, detailing the basics of buying an engagement ring. The entire enterprise is bullshit–but hey.


[Click to enlarge]

Maybe the two most ridiculous stats in this entire thing are that the average engagement ring costs $5,500 and the industry as a whole is growing at an 8.6% growth rate. Given that inflation these days is close to zero, that means that — despite all this dreadful economic news, despite the financial crisis, despite the calamitous debt levels carried by American households — we’re spending more and more on metal bands with shiny rocks attached to them. (Not to mention luxury goods.) And how is all this growth happening when marriage, as an institution, is becoming more and more irrelevant?!

Of course, income isn’t actually growing these days, so if the engagement ring industry is growing so fast, it makes sense that the rule of thumb for how much you spend on a ring must have changed a bit. Where you used to hear about two months’ salary all the time, now this infographic is saying it’s 1.5 months:



My bad: I just threw up in my mouth.

[Top image by I Love Butter]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.