Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so what does that make an engagement ring? There are many misconceptions about engagement rings, so it’s hard to know what budget to set for your perfect ring.

However, there is no one size fits all answer to that question. Our experts Jennifer Gandia and Taylor Lanore helped us set an estimated budget, exposed common wedding ring myths and gave away some easy ways to work with your ring budget.

Jennifer Gandia is a jeweler and owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers in NYCTaylor Lanore is the former PR director and diamond consultant for Ring Concierge, which customizes bridal jewelry

Myths about engagement ring prices

(1) You have to spend three months’ salary on your ring

This rule is the most common and old-fashioned myth in the engagement ring world according to Lanore – and we’re glad about that. There’s no such thing as a simple math trick to determine how much your ring should cost. Engagement rings work with any budget!

(2) Diamonds are cheaper online

Lanore told us it’s actually a lot riskier to shop for your diamond ring online because of the many low-quality options that aren’t obvious to the untrained eye. Going straight to the professional is her number one recommendation. “It’s best to consult pros for your needs”, according to her. “There are a lot of tricks to know for each diamond cut and shape – it’s a science, after all. I highly recommend contacting a diamond consultant to assist in center stone selection.” Experts like jewelers can help you work with the “four C’s” to determine what the best possible ring could be for your budget. Remote companies also exist, so you don’t always have to find a local diamond consultant!

Average cost of an engagement ring

In 2020, couples spent an average of $3,756 on their engagement ring according to Brides’ American Wedding Study, which is less than the $7,829 average in 2018. Lanore says this all depends on someone’s financial situation. “Spend whatever you’re comfortable with – there’s no reason to go into debt”, she says. “It also depends on your partner’s preferences. If they want something very minimal, it’s hard to spend a lot. But if they want a big stone, it’s still very doable. There are ways to accomplish any look for any budget.” Ring prices are going to vary widely due to a few factors: size and quality of the center gemstone, details like the band, type of metal – even factors like a popular brand.

What is too much too spend?

There isn’t really a standard price for buying an engagement ring, so you might wonder if your partner will be tempted to go overboard. Try to mention it casually by making up a story about engagement rings like, “My friend was telling me about how her husband spent way too much on her engagement ring, so they couldn’t have a bigger budget for the wedding. Some people are going a little crazy these days, I don’t think anyone should spend more than […$] on a ring, don’t you?”

Tip for future brides You can pass your concern on to your partner’s friends and family, who can pass the message. At the end of the day, some people just really want to go above the budget, which is totally find as long as they have the means for it.

How to spend less on your dream ring

If you want to stay within your budget, there are a few engagement ring shopping tricks you can use to still propose to your partner with the ring of their dreams.

(1) Manipulate the “four C’s”

Working on the lower end of the clarity and color can cut a lot of your ring costs – especially when diamonds are brilliant-cut – without decreasing in quality. “As long as you can’t see inclusions to the naked eye, you’re in great shape”, says Lanore. “Contrary to popular belief, clarity is independent of anything else and doesn’t affect the brilliance of the stone”. According to her, the diamond color is “purely personal preference”, but “if size is your biggest interest, consider working lower here if you’re working with a budget.”

(2) Think about your setting

Keep in mind that certain settings can be expensive, no matter how in love you are with Meghan Markle’s three-stone engagement ring. However, you can get the same effect if you focus most of your budget on the center stone, rather than on the setting. You might want to consider a classic solitaire setting so the center stone appears bigger.

(3) Ditch the diamond

You can save lots of money when you opt for another gem as your ring’s center stone. Diamonds are the most expensive of all center stones, so you might want to consider a white sapphire, which is, according to Gandia “hard enough to withstand daily wear and has similar color as a diamond. Other traditionally popular gemstones are blue sapphires, rubies and emeralds. Truly rare and high-quality stones can sometimes cost more.” Green tourmaline, peachy-pink morganite and ice blue aquamarine are three other center stones that are getting more popular every day. “These are all great options for clients looking for a lowered-price alternative to a diamond that will still really shine”, Gandia says.

(4) Go for an antique look

“Antique diamonds are truly magical for hiding color, and face up 2-3 colors whiter than their grade indicates”, according to Lanore. “There’s a real romance with these diamonds.” So to get the best buy for your money, Lanore recommends paying close attention to your partner’s personal style or possible hints. “What I’ve noticed when a partner doesn’t request a specific design, a lot of people tend to pick a round brilliant diamond, which is the most expensive per carat because of their difficulty to cut”, says Lanore. In short, definitely make sure to put your own preferences aside to get the best possible engagement ring for your partner. They will be wearing it every day after all.