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Engagement Rings: Expectations vs. Reality

Getting engaged is one area where modern life still holds a little room for magic. The proposal, the question, and of course, the ring — it’s all got a fairy-tale quality that can set up some big expectations for when it actually happens.

Of course, fantasy can be beautiful and meaningful — but how does it match up to real life? Modern Gents surveyed 1,000 women who have been engaged or are currently engaged to get their real thoughts on engagement rings. We learned some intriguing and illuminating information, so let’s dig in and get the full story.

Skip Ahead - Key Findings from our 2024 Engagement Ring Survey

Expectations Around the Cost of an Engagement Ring 

The Truth Behind Engagement Ring Cost Expectations

Some guys feel a lot of pressure when it comes to the price of a ring for their significant other. While it’s always important to take her feelings into account, our data suggests that many of these conscientious guys can relax a little. That’s because… 65% of women had no prior expectations for how much their engagement ring should cost.

Of course, that means almost 35% of women do expect their ring to cost a certain amount. But about how much is that? Of the women with cost expectations, 51% expected their ring to cost $5,000 or less. 30% expected between $5,000 and $10,000, while only about 19% expected a ring over $10,000.

In our survey, the expectations ended up matching the reality in many cases. 67% of engagement rings for women surveyed cost $5,000 or less. Approximately 21% of rings cost between $5,000 and $10,000, while about 12% cost over $10,000.

Do Women Want to be Surprised When They See Their Engagement Ring?

Look at just about any proposal picture, and you’ll see the look of surprise and delight on the future bride’s face. But should that surprise come from the ring itself? Or do modern couples prefer a more collaborative process, with the bride and groom exchanging ideas before settling on a ring?

Surprise or not

It turns out that most (but not all) couples still make the ring a surprise. Almost 60% of women surveyed said that they hadn’t exchanged any inspiration pictures or gone to a jewelry store as part of the ring selection process. 

That said, almost a third of women still said they picked it out themselves. So, if you know your sweetheart is particular about her jewelry and doesn’t mind breaking from tradition a little bit, going through the ring-shopping process together can be an enjoyable way to learn more about each other.

Fortunately, most women in our survey said their partner managed to find the perfect engagement ring. 76% of women surveyed said they were “very happy” with their engagement ring. A little under 17% described themselves as “somewhat happy,” and only 7% said they were “not happy.”

Did those who didn’t care for their ring tell their partners they were less than thrilled? Our research found a basically even split. 50.7% of women who were unhappy with their ring told their partner, while 49.3% didn’t. 

Does the Cost of an Engagement Ring Really Matter?

You’ve probably heard the saying that a man should spend two months of his salary on an engagement ring. It’s definitely an old-school tradition and a narrative that the diamond industry has been happy to push over the years.

how much does cost of engagement ring matter

According to our survey, more than three out of four women are ready to put the two-month-salary idea out to pasture—but for a minority of women, it still matters. 79% of women think a man should spend whatever he can afford on a ring and that the idea of two months’ salary is outdated. However, almost 21% said they still expected their partner to spend two months’ salary.

In the past, social norms have often pressured people into purchasing large and expensive rings with “real” diamonds (i.e., ones not made in a laboratory). Today, there are more options than ever for beautiful rings in every price range, diamond and otherwise. But are women still feeling the pressure from friends and family to have a big, pricey diamond to show around?

44% of women said they’d never felt pressure about their ring, and 54% said family and friends had never asked about cost or whether it was a real diamond. But 55% said they felt either “some pressure” or “a lot of pressure,” and around 45% said they had been asked about either the cost or the diamond.

So, while the pressure may be lessening, it’s certainly not always gone. Even so, a large majority of women said that the size and cost of their engagement ring were less important than saving for other big purchases. Almost 73% said they’d rather their partner bought an affordable ring if it meant saving money for something more important, such as a dream honeymoon or a down payment on a home.

In fact, when we surveyed women about what mattered most in a ring, size, and cost ranked far behind a more important factor:

Over 700 of the surveyed women said their partner's thought and effort in picking out a ring were the most important parts. Just over 150 said the size of the stone was most important, and only 127 ranked price as the top priority.

Real People, Real Jewelry, Real Love

Once upon a time, expectations and traditions about wedding rings were strict and fairly harsh. If you wanted fairy-tale true love, then there was only one kind of ring for you: a big, expensive diamond, often mined by forced labor in inhumane conditions.

Today, we’re breaking free of the spell. Affordable engagement rings are more popular than ever, with a brilliant array of styles and gemstone colors available to suit every love story. Whatever you’re looking for in an engagement ring, there are so many ways to live happily ever after. 


2024 Engagement Ring Survey - Key Findings:

We recently surveyed 1,000 women who have been engaged to understand their perspectives on modern vs traditional engagement ring trends. Here are some key insights:

  • Satisfaction with Engagement Rings: 76% of respondents reported being very happy with their engagement ring.
  • Honesty about Cost and Authenticity: 70% of respondents have never lied about the cost or authenticity of their engagement ring.
  • Views on the Two-Month Salary Tradition: 79% of respondents believe the tradition of a man spending two months of his salary on an engagement ring is outdated.
  • Engagement Ring Costs: Most respondents (67%) have engagement rings that cost $5,000 or less.
  • Preferences for Affordable Rings: 73% of respondents would not care if their partner bought them an affordable engagement ring if it meant saving money for a larger purchase.
  • No Plans for Upgrading: 75% of respondents say they will not upgrade their engagement ring at a later date because they love the ring as is.
  • Importance of Thought and Effort: Nearly 72% of respondents say that the thought and effort put into buying an engagement ring is more important than cost or size.

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