Buying the Engagement Ring Part 1: Justification

Before we got engaged a few weeks ago, my fiancee and I had been dating for almost 4 years. Future plans for us had been discussed many times over the course of our relationship, but our future was somewhat on hold given the career program I was in and the risk for several temporary assignments over the last 2 years.

At the beginning of this year I knew it was time to step up to the plate. Being the "cheap ass" or as I like to classify myself "the more conservative shopper", I had a really tough time with the decision to buy an engagement ring.

I went through a range of emotions in my thought process in deciding to make the purchase. I read stories of people spending as little as $300 to well over $10,000 on engagement rings. I went browsing with my girlfriend many times and cringe at each store visit because her eyes grew wider and wider, her expectations seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.

I realized this wasn't a purchase to be a "cheap ass" on and I wanted to do it right. However, I had this nagging voice in my head that kept reminding me of what this new commitment would bring on - a spouse whose expenses would now be shared, raising a family, a bigger house, family vacations, etc, etc. I toiled with this decision, I wanted to do it right, but I wanted to make sure we weren't going to be paying for this brief moment the rest of our lives.

Along the way I also had to justify to myself why I was going to spend this kind of money on a small piece of jewelry. I browsed through forums that had all kind of thoughts from the extremely practical "spend just a little (<$750) and if she loved you then she will be happy with anything because she knows you are thinking of your future together" to the opposite extreme "its best to get a much bigger [diamond] so you don't have to upgrade later in life".

In the end, one message resonated the best for me. I needed to look at this purchase as a sign of my commitment to our relationship. The sacrifice I endure by making a purchase that I can't justify is a way to show my fiancee that I am willing sacrifice as a sign of my commitment to her.

After receiving input about what my girlfriend liked, I ultimately decided my price range was $5,000 to $6,000. While it sickened my practical side at times to think of what practical things this money could provide - a beautiful international vacation, part of a down payment on a family home, a sizable retirement contribution, or a emergency fund for the future, I knew that this could buy a beautiful ring that my fiancee would treasure and would always be a symbol of my commitment to her.

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Comments (16)


DATE: 3:30 PM
Way to go!!! I went through the same process and experienced the same emotions you did when purchasing the ring. I knew (from my practical side) that there were a million other ways to use this amount of money. But ultimately you are showing your significant other how much they mean to you, how much you value this relationship, and how much you are willing to sacrifice because of the importantance and significance of this event.The ring I purchased fit right into the range of amounts that you spent on your ring. The way I see it --- is that if I am able to save up enough to make this purchase and if making the purchase will not put me into any kind of financial jeopardy, then chances are I will be just fine and will be able to save more again. It's been over one-year since I made the purchase of the engagement ring and about four months since the purchase of the wedding band -- watch out, don't forget to budget for a wedding band also (not as bad as engagement though). I have found that neither purchase has hurt my financial position -- in fact, I'm in a much better position now. Long story short (too late)....way to go on the purchase and many congratulations!!! You're savings ethic and planning skills are strong enough that you should be just fine.

DATE: 5:16 PM
I will pass on to you something that someone passed on to me and --I took to heart. Why not buy/create a ring that will have real meaning to you and your fiance? Why not create a ring that has your birth stones in it? I had created a ring with my wife's and my birthstone and she loves it. Was it less expensive than a diamond ring you bet!Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.David

DATE: 5:18 PM
See, this is why marriage will ruin you =) I've always said that if you want to be very wealthy, do not get married. Unfortunatley, those of us that want a wife and children, don't have a choice. So, being older than I imagine you are, being a huge fan of yours from your site, and being like-minded, let me share some thoughts with you to help you:1) First, justify it anyway you want, it's bs- this is money for a rock. 2) Do NOT tell her how you get anything cheaper that I will share with you. To the woman, this piece of rock is her inner being, she will compare it to others, it will define who she is LOL and how much her husband loves her.3) First, start with the mother and father and see if they are going to "insist" that you use a prior piece of jewelry, you may be able to save substantial money and abide by their wishes at the same time. You can choose your own setting.4) MANY people who had a ring, sell it on Ebay. The woman will HATE this, but the fact is, you will pay a fraction of the cost of retail. Buy it locally or even fly out to buy it, dont have them mail it. Meet them at a jewelry store if you need to see it under the scope.5) Look in the local paper- same thing, people selling very high end jewelry for 50%- NOT dealers..but indivduals. Most women despise the idea that someone owned the rock first, so you cannot tell them.6) And Im joking here, but offer her the 6k dollar ring or a 500k dollar vacation. When she chooses the vacation, you say GREAT, Ill invest this and we will go in 40 years! hehe.From Clarkhoward.com:Old poll v. new pollClark is stunned by the results of his weekly poll. The question was whether a cubic zirconia would be just as nice as getting a real diamond for an engagement ring. About 38 percent said a CZ or diamond look-alike would be fine, while 44 percent wanted a real diamond. About 18 percent hadn’t made up their minds. So, you’ve got to really know what your future spouse wants. It wasn’t so divided when it came to a less expensive or borrowed dress. Many more women said they wouldn’t mind that.Lastly, I want you to remember that Warren Buffet still lives in the same house from the 50s....just because you can afford something more, doesn't mean you will and end up poor. Better to spend far less and stay wealthy. The ring really doesnt mean less if its smaller.

DATE: 5:36 PM
Bad choice.Look, you can't tell the difference between a real diamond and a good fake. Only an expert can. Which means, practically speaking, that there is no difference. You being suckered by the marketers.I second the idea of making your own ring; that's what we did. We went to a local jewelry store in the area and worked with them on a custom design. Ended up being like $300 per ring I think. We used a star sappire instead of a diamond (and yes, it's fake too :-)Another tip. When you start looking at pearl strands, investigate Majorica pearls. They're made in Spain and are also fake, but again, you have to be pretty expert to tell the difference. Many very famous personalities wear them (nice real ones can be +15k, the Majorica run around $150-200).

DATE: 6:17 PM
Why not buy an asset, like a house first to pay for the ring? Then you have the asset and then ring? (such as an investment prop to pull $ out of, or that throws off cash flow each month) Why does it have to be either or? She she have a nice ring. You should not have to throw away your money. You should both win.

DATE: 8:09 PM
Did you consider shopping at bluenile.com I received my engagement ring a few months ago from there and it was a fraction of the cost compared to retailers.Keep it in mind for any anniversary gifts.

DATE: 8:47 PM
Hey there 2m, only you know what the right decision is for you, and what your fiancee would really like. Some women are good with just a band, and others really do expect a diamond. I blogged about this a few days ago, and I think it sounds like you know your fiancee really well and that you want to do right by her. Alot of women do like the diamond, and that's because of socialization and the very successful job of DeBeers and others. But I congratulate you on being so aware of what your fiancee wants, and wanting to do right by her. Congratulations!!!

DATE: 12:48 AM
It's funny to see such an honest analysis (or more accurately, justification) of your decision to buy a diamond ring for your fiancee. It proves that De Beers marketing still works.I'm sure you know that diamonds (compressed carbon) are not particularly rare in nature, right? But De Beers restricts how many can be brought to market, creating continual appearance of scarcity (not unlike OPEC). They are a cartel.For the relatively cheap stone you are looking at, should you need/desire in the future to sell your diamond, the odds are, if you are lucky, that you will never get more than 50% of what you paid for it.While diamonds look good new, most woman don't take good care to keep them sparkling after the first few months. So they often look dull and ugly on most woman that still wear them. Also, a lot of woman don't want to attract undue attention from potential thieves, rapists and so forth, so it is not uncommon to find that big diamond in a safe, only taken out to wear on special occasions. "Synthetic" large carat diamonds are being made and are readily available these days. There are absolutely no differences between true synthetic diamonds and nature made ones in terms of hardness, brilliance, etc. What can be different are trace impurity markers and the lack of fractures and such internally. Synthetics cost something like $5/carat to make. But the jewelers who market them often sell them at near mined stones prices. Why? Because De Beers has done such a good marketing/indoctrination job, that they can get away with this. Greed is eternal, right?Save yourself a lot of money and buy a simple gold wedding band. If your fiancee MUST have a real diamond, buy a real synthetic one. Or capitulate to the marketing and go buy a mined diamond. Help support managed artificial scarcity, environmental damage and some degree of slave labor.Some links you should read:http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/SavingandDebt/P97816.asphttp://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/diamond_pr.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_diamondhttp://www.fguide.org/Bulletin/conflictdiamonds.htmhttp://www.fnewsmagazine.com/2004-apr/current/2004-apr/pages/p14.htmlIf your fiancee can't understand the above, then maybe you have the wrong girl?

DATE: 8:59 AM
Ouch! A bit brutal don't you think?I personally agree - I would never buy a diamond for me. However my fiancee has a different mindset and I want to support that. What good is money if you can't do things for the people you care about with it?

DATE: 9:05 AM
http://usacerteddiamonds.com/Check them out for the stone. That's where I got mine and it was cheaper than any other online / local store...plus don't have to pay taxes.

DATE: 9:52 AM
$2M,Let's get straight to the point here.There is absolutely no economic justification for the purchase. It is ONLY for the relationship.In my limited experience an engagement ring dances heavily with emotions, commitment, etc....For the first year or so your woman will wear the ring and compare it to all others. After that she will quietly and personally compare it to others for a long time.How deeply buried in the subconscious (along with barby dolls) is the expectation of a lovely brillian sparkling diamond ring. This same fairy tale irrationality falls into the expensive wedding syndrome.I would ask one's fiancee what she would want to spend on a wedding. Maybe even ask her if she would like to spend less for a larger ring -- after she names the wedding budget. You need some constraints here.Also, although $1M's thoughts are - hmm how do I put it - I don't like hiding information from my wife - I think he's exactly on the ball - diamond prices are artificially inflated. If you can buy a good used one directly another owne, I would buy the stone and have it reseated in a custom band with some additional decoration - such as birth stones, bagettes, etc.... But if you took that approach you couldn't tell your wife.After four or five years she'll look at her ring and enjoy it, but it will be less important. However, if the ring is "cheap ass" - you'll spend more on your wedding, hear about it whenever she's upset with you and eventually receive a request for an "upgrade".I've never heard non-technical woman give a damn about technology until they could use it for their own decoration.Regards,makingourwayPS Another way to look at it is this - it's the only decoration she would wear day in / day out. All other decorations, such as clothing and other jewelry change. If you were it all the time it should be nice.

DATE: 12:22 AM
Ouch! A bit brutal don't you think?I personally agree - I would never buy a diamond for me. However my fiancee has a different mindset and I want to support that. What good is money if you can't do things for the people you care about with it?Unfortunately, reality is often brutal. That is why so many people hide from it. Or to quote Robin Williams form the long ago TV show Mork & Mindy - "Reality, what a concept!"Nothing that I said is incorrect. or untrue. I was married years ago and went through the same thing. I brought the 8k (in 1982 $$) 1.5 carat diamond. It was good for a few months. She kept it clean and like golum, she worshipped it. Of course, there were the subtle hand flashes when other woman were around (look what I have, I'm better or equal to you, my man has more money than yours, etc...). Then she began to neglect to clean it regularly and soon it became just another pretty (but dull) trinket. She eventually chose to put it in storage because she was worried about her safety and it would also catch on clothes and things. When we eventually divorced, I wound up with the ring which I sold for 3k.The "mindset" of your fiancee is one of social and marketing indoctrination. She and others like her are just followers, looking for some bling to flash others with. And you are buying into it with your own justification, whether you realize it or not. Basically, she is saying if you buy me this or that pretty or expensive thing, it will make me happier and I will be a better companion for you. I guess it works for those older guys with their younger trophy wives, so maybe it will work for you [shrug].Given your financial pragmatism, I guess I expected different from you. People who are impressed with money or expensive things are unlikely to change. You CAN make people appear to be happier by buying them things that they claim bring them happiness. But this usually turns into a losing proposition. Like blackmail, the demands continue to escalate.Whatever happens, I wish you luck and a good life.

DATE: 8:51 AM
I think it's too brutal as well. Do you really want "keeping" your money to be the MOST important thing in your life; or just one of the important things in your life? If so, I think at that point your goal to to keep your money is controlling you versus you controlling your money. If keeping your money always takes priority over everything, including the relationships in your life, then you're not effectively using the money you have saved for the life you wanted be able to have in the first place.

DATE: 6:15 PM
8:51 anon, there's clearly a middle ground that you're overlooking. Sure, there are more important things than hording money, but I also think it's ridiculous to pay $250 for jeans because of marketing. That doesn't make me a miser.If keeping your money always takes priority over everything, including the relationships in your life, then you're not effectively using the money you have saved for the life you wanted be able to have in the first place.Saying that not buying the ring would affect the relationship sort of implies 2mil's fiance is with him for a big ring. Talk about brutal!

DATE: 6:25 PM
I am not sure I agree with buying a diamond being a sign of commitment. There are a lot more ways of showing commitment after you marry, like taking washing the dishes and helping in the kitchen! A lot of women would much rather spend money on electronic gadgets these days rather than jewellery. But it will take time for such attitudes to settle in when our movies and advertisements have been flooded with "A diamond is forever".Anyways, you can save money to pay for the diamond in the long run by buying the Kirkland or Walmart brand of detergent instead of Tide for less than half the price with the results being about the same!

You men seem to forget that a diamond is first and foremost chosen because of its hardness and durability. We wear this ring everyday, and it sticks out. I received a cubic zirkonia as an engagement ring because of the finances. I didn't really care, since I'm from Europe and they don't do angagement rings there. But after a few years, it has tons and tons of scratches on it. Not very pretty! So it's better to invest in something that is real and that stays with you for the rest of your life, if you expect to stay married for that long, that is!

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