Are Diamond Engagement Rings Overrated - picture of woman's hand with diamond ring on ring finger

Are Diamond Engagement Rings Overrated?

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With our ten-year wedding anniversary coming up later this year, my husband has been feeling generous. For our anniversary gift, he said I could pick between a few amazing things – either a new, upgraded wedding ring or a trip anywhere in the world.

I think you know how that conversation went. I actually like my wedding ring just the way it is. Not only is it a beautiful two-tone ring with a center sapphire, but it also has sentimental value. Also, I was totally down for a trip somewhere, and ultimately decided to go to Italy. I’ll write about how we booked and paid for that trip with credit cards later, but you catch my drift. I didn’t want a new ring; I wanted to go to somewhere cool and make memories.

Are Diamond Engagement Rings Overrated?

I haven’t been shy about the fact that I’m not a huge jewelry person. In fact, I once wrote an article for a bigger site called, “Act Surprised: Your Diamond Ring Is Not an Investment.”

A few people in the comments were not impressed at all. Most people agreed with me, but others chastised me for my lack of education on matters such as “cut,“color,” and “clarity.” As they saw it, the reason I wasn’t into diamonds was because I didn’t understand them.

I guess they’re right. I don’t understand at all, nor do I want to. As I see it, words like “color” and “clarity” are terms created by an industry desperate to assign value to something found abundantly in nature – diamonds.

Well guess what, I could easily do the same thing with dirt found in my backyard.

“Hey guys, my dirt has tiny, unique microbes that are out-of-this-world amazing. It’s an XYZ-5 on the dirt quality scale. Super dense to the tune of LQBGTY 46. That means it costs twice as much. Sorry ’bout ya.”

Further, I could even make up crazy standards and convince you that they were real. Because, you know how it works – saying something in an authoritative voice for a few years is enough to make it law.

“From now on, the dirt you buy from me should cost an average of 4 months of your salary.”

Pssshhhttttt…..

You can listen to all the DeBeers talking points you want, but the fact is, I’m not buying it. Your diamond ring is only worth what someone else will pay for it. End of story. And unfortunately, that usually isn’t very much.

Now to the other side of the story.

Opposite Argument: You Aren’t Supposed to Sell Your Ring, Silly

No matter what, there’s one thing I can’t argue with – you aren’t supposed to sell your diamond engagement ring. You’re supposed to stay married, have babies, and live happily ever after in the suburbs. It’s hard to argue with the point that a diamond engagement ring is supposed to be forever. I know I’m getting buried with my ring.

When you look at it that way, the resale of your diamond ring shouldn’t matter so much. When you’re buying for life, you probably should get something high quality that you truly love – even if that means focusing on all those buzz words I like to make fun of.

And a lifetime is a long time. When you’re going to wear something on your hand until you’re 85, it can make sense to spend a little more to get something nice. I’m frugal as all get out, but even I can agree with that.

Getting a Good Deal on a Diamond Engagement Ring

I guess it all boils down to this: If you’re going to splurge on a diamond engagement ring, you should at least get the best deal you can. There’s no sense in overpaying for something when you can shop around and find it an a price you can truly afford.

Meanwhile, it’s also time to let go of the idea that an engagement ring should cost three month’s salary once and for all. How on Earth is that considered reasonable? A guy making $60,000 per year, for example, is expected to fork over $15,000 for a ring? Nope.

The truth is, you don’t have to spend anything near that. You can buy a used diamond ring at several online sites – or even on craigslist.org. If you think your fiance might frown on getting some divorcee’s ring (which is highly possible), you can also shop at a retailer that offers a warranty and fair return policy.

Are diamond engagement rings overrated? The truth is, it all depends on what you think – not what I think. Only you can decide. If you love jewelry and want a ring you’ll be happy to look at for the next 50 years, then perhaps it will be a good investment.

Personally, I would rather go to Italy.

Do you think diamond engagement rings are overrated? What is your engagement ring like?

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57 Comments

  1. Amen, sister! You aren’t supposed to sell them so why the heck does it matter? I don’t get the fascination with expensive jewelry and let’s not forget the general person you bump into will not be able to distinguish a fake from the real, very expensive thing!

    1. I wore a really huge fake diamond ring when I was pregnant and my fingers swelled, and I got tons of compliments on it! It was from Kohl’s!

  2. I love my ring- actually so much that I declined to get a wedding band to go along with it. Getting two rings seemed silly when I loved the first one so much! Our ten year anniversary is also coming up this summer. Given the choice, I’d MUCH rather go to Italy than get a new ring. However, with a 9 month old baby at home, I think it’s going to be a few more years before we start taking overseas trips again! Anyway, I think you made the right choice 🙂

    1. Hah. This conversation doesn’t happen in my household, because I made a deal with my wife about traveling abroad. Since we got married on 2/29 and I only have an anniversary every 4 years, I just take her on a trip for our anniversary. Next year will be our “second” anniversary and we are going to do Italy. The only part I am not looking forward to? Paying taxes on all the wine we will be bring back.

      1. Sorry I didn’t mean to reply to your comment. I just hit the wrong button >.<

    2. I don’t blame you for waiting to go overseas. My kids are 3 and 5, and really, they’re just not ready for long plane rides.

    1. It’s okay. I should really be immune to getting yelled at by now.

  3. I think you make a great point that a ring isn’t an investment in the traditional sense, but it can be an investment in your personal happiness. At the same time, I think it’s absurd to spend a ton of money on a piece of jewelry! I have my grandmother’s engagement ring, which I love, and I could care less what the clarity/quality of the diamond is. It’s just not something that matters to me. Plus, half the time I just wear my wedding band so that the diamond doesn’t get caught on anything!

    1. Congrats on 10 years of marriage! =)

      I’m pretty much in the same boat as Mrs Frugalwoods. My rings were actually free to us – heirlooms that originally belonged to Mr PoP’s great grandmother. And though I love the vintage setting and everything about the engagement ring, 90% of the time, I’m just wearing the simple gold band wedding ring since it’s tough to keep the vintage basket weave setting clean if I wear it all the time.

  4. I love my diamond rings, but I love them because my husband picked them out for me not because of the value. I think the two months salary thing is crazy. I once had someone tell me you should spend 5% of your house value on curtains and drapes. Of course, they were trying to sell me curtains.

    1. 5% of your house value on curtains? Oh boy- see what I mean? Say it like it’s a fact and people will believe it. My house is worth around $200,000- so I need 10K in curtains? NOPE!

  5. I would totally choose a trip too!!

    Not sure if you are going to northern Italy or not-
    Venice is *amazing* and one of my favorite places ever. But try not to go there late June-August, the canals supposedly smell by then (and there are more tourists). I’ve gone in early June and April, and it was perfect!

    1. We are going to Venice! It’s our last stop. We are flying into Rome and doing Rome, Sorrento, and seeing Pompeii – then Florence and Venice. Not much time for anything else. We are going at the end of October, so I’m really hoping the crows thin out by then.

  6. When I purchased my wife’s ring I never viewed it as an investment. I did my homework and found the best deal I could for the money I had. It’s real value is in what it represented and the sentimental value between us.

    1. Same here, although my ring is basically cracker jack box quality. I still love it though!

  7. My ring was very….inexpensive haha. We actually planned on upgrading once we had more money, but now that we do…I’m totally happy with my ring! It’s a gold band with a single round diamond, just like my mom has (which is why I wanted gold). I LOVE the sentimental value it holds and would MUCH rather go on a trip than get a new ring. I also read something a while back about why you should never “upgrade” your ring – because the ring signifies where you were at when you got married, rich or poor. It’s the first (and only) true symbol of your love and commitment. Why replace that?!

    1. That’s how I feel. We were poor when we got engaged. My husband was a student who was working in a pizza parlor. Love those memories and wouldn’t change a thing!

  8. When we married, I chose to use the money for an engagement ring to put toward the down payment on a house so all I had was an engraved gold band. I loved it and still do but always wanted a diamond. It took me 32 years but I eventually got the diamond and a couple of years later got an eternity band to go with it. I absolutely love it and it brings me pleasure every day. I will not be buried with the new set. That’s way too much money to put in the ground. It will eventually go to my son and if he wants it, he can give it to his wife or sell it . I do love fine jewelry and am becoming less and less excited about traveling so while I wouldn’t want a new wedding set, I’d take a great sapphire tennis bracelet. 😉

    1. My wedding ring is Sapphire. I really love it!
      Hey, if you love your rings and could afford them, that’s all that matters. We all value different things.

  9. We’re also celebrating our 10th anniversary this year!
    I love my ring, and I love diamonds, although don’t get me wrong I don’t own many. I just think they are pretty 🙂

  10. CharlesMakesCents says:

    Marie and I got engaged right out of college, when we were both super poor. I got her a nice set of white-gold rings (plus one for me) with a diamond for a little over $1,300. It’s not the biggest diamond in the world, but it reminds me of who we were when we got engaged, where we’ve come from. It’s a powerful symbol for me, and I’m glad I bought it.

    Would I buy ANOTHER diamond for any other jewelry purchase? Not a chance.

    Keep on saving,
    Charles

    1. I would maybe buy used. Huge markdown, and I don’t mind the divorce factor. Right now though, I’m happy with what I have.

  11. Even though I love jewelry, I’m not a fan of overpriced engagement rings and yes, I believe they are overrated. Marriage should be more about the commitment and sentimental value, not the value of the ring. And if you’re thinking about reselling your ring you probably shouldn’t be getting married anyway.

  12. My engagement ring came from JC Penny (Jim was in college and had no salary so even at 3x that, it’s not a large budget!). It was real and all, but probably not very high on the clarity, cut scale and only 10k gold. We thought we’d get another one later, but it really was never that important to me. For some reason, after 12 years of wearing the ring, I’ve started breaking out with anything that isn’t 14k gold and now I just wear my Grandma’s wedding band. I actually like it better because I have to wash my hands so much at work. It doesn’t get all grimy like the diamond. I probably will never replace the other ring. I’m like you and would rather go on a trip.

    1. You can have jewlery your’re allergic too “dipped” – the jewlery store has a coating they put on so you can still wear your old ring (my coworker became allergic to her gold band and does the dip thing).

    1. Hopefully your future woman has low expectations like I did!

  13. When and if I ever get engaged, the type of ring means very little to me. I’m not much of a jewelry person either. I did inherit my grandma’s wedding ring which is pretty and worth a lot, but I never wore it because it’s so big, so I ended up having it made into a necklace and only wear it on special occasions, and it makes me nervous having it sit around in my apartment, but it does have sentimental value to me.

    1. I would be nervous if I had expensive stuff too. If anyone ever breaks into my house, they will be highly disappointed.

  14. I think pretty much every cost involved with getting married is pretty outrageous. Obviously the industry knows that the mindset is “nothing too expensive for my darling” All that money can be used to put on a down payment on a house or something to set the marriage up financially.

    1. Yes, I agree. Expectations and costs are too high.

  15. I do think diamond rings are overrated…which is funny, because I have a pretty darn nice one. My hubby did an awesome job at designing my ring, and even got it at a drastic discount because he got it through our friend’s Mom who is a ring designer, so she passed her wholesale price down to us. I really love my ring, but I still wouldn’t have chosen to spend as much money on it as he did.

    Sometimes I feel like it’s a little too flashy considering how frugal the rest of my lifestyle is. I suppose the bonus is that I’ll never ever want to upgrade it; I would always choose traveling over jewelry though!

  16. The trouble with this issue is that just about any luxury can be seen as a waste of money. Do we need an HD t.v., or fancy countertops, or even a trip overseas on an airplane that spews out more pollutants en route than I would create in the remainder of the year?

    My luxuries almost always look ridiculous to someone…and my wife’s ring is probably in that boat, too.

    In the end, I feel like most of us are lucky enough to have some ‘wasteful’ spending on luxuries in our budget. For most of the people reading this blog (who likely are killing it financially), I figure whatever they want to blow their extra money on is kind of arbitrary.

    1. I don’t know- if I had the attitude that everything is arbitrary, then I wouldn’t have much left to write about. The fact is, most things I and other PF bloggers write about aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.

      1. I guess my point is that within the larger context of a savings rate (and maybe how much debt you have), the things we choose to spend on are interchangeable.

        If one family that has a 50% savings rate spends all their discretionary income on vacations, and another family with a 50% savings rate spends all their discretionary money on candy, they still reach financial independence at the same speed. We might think the candy’s a terrible decision, but the bottom line of our finances is ambivalent about the specific things we spent on.

        I hear you that we all need fodder for writing though. 🙂

  17. My wife enjoys more “basic” things, but she really likes the diamond ring I choose for her engagement ring. I think it’s mainly because she would NEVER spend money on jewelry like that. I think it’s important to only buy what you can afford. I’m just glad my wife isn’t one of those girls who NEEDS to have a bunch of expensive jewelry.

  18. My ring cost a pretty penny, and it brings me joy like 1500 times a day.. :-). Totally worth it to me, so l would say it’s not overated . Now, were it like those big ass behemoths that l see on actors etc, l would say they were too showy, but to each their own.

  19. I have a diamond engagement ring that my hubby got a great deal on; however, I do believe that diamonds are overrated. Last year I had multiple debates with a client of mine over how much he was going to spend on a ring for his girlfriend. I told him that if he was planning to build a future with this woman, he should preserve as much of his net worth as possible so that they actually have a nice start to their future rather than waste the money on a piece of jewelry.

  20. My wedding ring was $70 and from Wal Mart. Not the traditional diamond anything–just a pretty ring with some who-knows-what stones (most likely colored CZs). I love it … and I chose it. Funny thing is that I get compliments on it all the time. However, I also wear other rings on my wedding finger, and then it’ll become my “wedding ring of the day.” These rings, on average, cost $10-$40 dollars. I’m all about the pretty, just NOT all about the price. You can get really pretty rings for cheap that appear just like the real thing, though I’m not trying to fool anyone. But, like you, don’t believe my husband’s love must be spelled out in expensive diamonds and baubles.

  21. The whole idea that the engagement ring needs to be 2-3 months of your salary is just a stupid idea. Would you really want to wear something expensive on your finger and risk losing it? Why not use that money on a long-lasting experience instead?

  22. I sold my engagement ring after the divorce. The jeweler says she takes the ring apart, melts the gold and creates something new because people consider a ring from a failed union bad luck.

    Insisting on a big ring should be the man’s first warning sign that keeping up with the Jones is going to be a big part of his life.

  23. The Cheapster says:

    “Will you marry me?” should be replace with “I would like to commemorate my love for you by making the most socially irresponsible purchase of our lifetimes. I realize it is a certified Canadian diamond, but I’m smart enough to know that I’m still perpetuating a trend that is exploiting millions and literally killing thousands of people every year. I choose to ignore this because society tells me to. You’re welcome.”

    Seriously, I knew my wife was for me when she nearly killed me for mentioning a diamond.

    Also, when I went to a jeweler to buy an engagement ring he begrudgingly pointed me to the diamond ring section. When I told him I didn’t want a diamond his eyes lit up and we had a long conversation about the idiocy of diamonds.

  24. My grandpa was in the diamond business and subsidized the cost, which was awesome. Not sure if full price would have been worth it.

  25. I’m with you, I would pick the trip over a material item any day!

  26. Wow, resale value? That’s dark. I have a ring from my grandmother that I’ll probably never wear, even if I did get it resized, but I would need to be pretty hard up to sell it. If it turns out we can’t have kids, I’d give it to my cousin so one of her boys can use it.

    We went to a regular store, so we probably didn’t get the best price. But it wasn’t bad. My ring was around $800. His (if I was wearing the jewelry equivalent of a “Back off!” sign, so was he) was about $1,000. Those plus his wedding ring and my wedding band weren’t even a month’s salary — even though he was only making $30,000.

    My ring is unique, and I love it. I never understood why some people are okay with changing their rings. Not that I begrudge them. I just don’t get it.

    The diamond industry baffles me. Yeah, I like the shiny when the light catches my ring but… My favorite are the colored diamonds they’re hawking. If I wanted a blue jewel, I’d get a sapphire and pay significantly less.

  27. I think diamond rings are overrated and therefore overpriced. There’s no reason for anyone to spend thousands of dollars on a symbol — even though it does represent something very big and important. Personally, I really like when people have unique engagement rings with other types of stones and gems. Everyone is a little different, so I think it’s fitting that their rings should be too!

    (Full disclosure — I DO have a diamond engagement ring, BUT the only reason I have one is because the diamond came from my husband’s great-grandmother’s engagement ring. I’d prefer that any day over anything that could be bought in a store!)

  28. I adore my engagement ring! I hardly wear it though; it’s a princess cut and I worry about scratching my toddler with it.

    But I also love that we got it at a pawn shop. I have the info card that came with it for insurance; I know we paid about half of what it would have cost at a jewelry store! Someone else’s bad luck became my good luck! I would have been angry if my husband had paid full price.

  29. I definitely think they are overrated. While I love my ring, I wouldn’t have wanted anything more expensive than this because it is just a RING.

  30. Totally agree, Holly! I just do not understand coworkers who brag about how much their fiances (or now husbands) spent on their diamond rings. First of all, holy cow. That much?! Gah! Second of all, um… diamonds are boring. Sorry. Straight up… they’re a clear rock. CLEAR. What’s so special about that?

    I have an emerald (yes, with some little diamonds around it) engagement ring and I love it. Not only that, but it catches people’s eyes! No one expects a colored engagement ring! Also, much, much cheaper than a diamond engagement ring. Finally, conflict-free because it was lab created. Everything I wanted in my ring!

    But mostly… cheaper, lovely, and I’ll wear it til I die too 🙂 More people should consider colored rings – DeBeers shouldn’t dictate our style!

  31. catherine says:

    Totally overrated. Though I love my ring (three stone diamond) I would NOT have purchased it. I would gladly take a knock-off. I like the precious metal of the band as it is obviously more durable than a cheap metal but if it was me I would have purchased a while gold band with lab made diamonds for a fraction of the cost. For less than $200 you can have a gold an fake diamond ring that no one will know the difference!

  32. YES!!! Before we were engaged, I told my fiance that I don’t want him to spend a fortune on a ring. First of all, I’m not a “ring” person. Like you, I don’t care to understand cut, color, clarity, blahblahblah. I just wanted something simple that didn’t cost a fortune. In fact, I challenged him to spend LESS than a thousand dollars! Spoiler alert – he did.

  33. Miss kitty says:

    Diamonds, in my opinion, are overrated in that they’ve become cliché. Everyone has one. Not to mention how boring I find them. I mean wow you have a prism on your hand. Woooo. They only give off color in enough light. No thanks. My engagement ring is an oval sapphire with 3 small round pink sapphires on either side that coincidentally form hearts. Down the sides of the band are two rows of tiny diamond chips (24 total) just because it looked ridiculous as a plain white gold band. I should mention that there is a small gap between the rows that narrows as it gets closer to the bottom. (I’d post a picture of our creation but…oh and it’s the ONLY nice thing I own. (Roughly $1200) I won’t pay more than $40 for a pair of shoes and only buy shoes or clothes out of necessity. I will wear it until I die and am debating being buried with it or not simply because I might want to pass it down.)
    Anyway, years later I still get comments on it. “Stunning” “beautiful” “never seen anything like it” My response is always a very gracious thank you.
    My sister-in-law has been engaged twice and almost a third time. She’s not even 30 yet and has some issues to iron out but that’s not the point. All of hers have been big, gaudy diamond squares. Maybe they weren’t actually square cut…one mightve been rectangular…either way I find them heinous. Some people like that and that’s fine. I don’t.
    TL;DR…diamonds are boring and everyone has them

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