8 Brides-To-Be Share REAL Engagement Rings & Costs

Many aspects about getting married have evolved with time: Taking your other half's last name is no longer a required ritual, eloping is becoming more popular, and heck, you can even get hitched without a plan. That said, one key element of the wedding industrial complex has remained strong for the most part: For many couples, marriage proposals still involve getting down on one knee with an engagement ring.

It's not uncommon for brides-to-be to keep a Pinterest board of their dream bling (and boyfriends to secretly follow those accounts for hints). The internet has made it a piece of cake for soon-to-be-wedding couples to source inspiration — and receive feedback on their decisions. And now, a new startup has launched as a Pinterest-like platform exclusively for engagement ring photos. Sparkly is like a never-ending digital scrapbook packed with photos of real, recently-engaged women sharing photos of their rings. Users can browse through a multitude options and find results by criteria, such as cut, size, and karats. There's even a commenting function should you have more detailed questions about the rings.

Everyone has different opinions about how much engagement rings should cost — and how involved the other partner should be in the selection process. Since it's such a personal decision where inspiration plays a huge role, we've tapped to eight women who uploaded snapshots of their rings on the platform to share the story behind their jewelry pieces.

Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Lindsay Adkinson

Tell us about your ring.

"My ring came from Eidel Precious, a jeweler on Etsy. It's a 14K rose gold, oval halo engagement ring."

Do you know how much your ring cost?

"I don't not know the exact price, and there is no way my fiancé would tell me. It would be hard to find the exact value, since it was a custom order. However, similar rings on her Etsy shop range between $3,000 to $6,000."

Who picked out the ring?

"I didn't technically pick the ring, but I did give him plenty of hints! I had the exact ring pinned all over my Pinterest, and might have texted it to him about it."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"I definitely knew the type of ring I wanted and was pretty straightforward about it. I think it's okay to be upfront if you know what you like.

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"The engagement was a huge surprise to me, and we hadn't discussed much of a budget beforehand. I do know that he picked up a lot of extra shifts in the last few months, so I would say that he saved up for some time."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"Engagements and marriage are not about the ring, its about the two people. The ring is wonderful, of course, but if we couldn't afford a ring, I would have said yes to a ring pop. It's best to not get caught up in what other people have and focus on what ring would work best for your own personal preferences, lifestyle, budget."
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Jazmin Hicks

Tell us about your ring.

My ring is a custom version of the Minimalist Ring from Bliss Lau, a New York-based designer. It's platinum and the diamond is just over 1 karat. The setting is one of the most unique that I've ever seen: She takes a lot of inspiration from architecture."

Do you know how much your ring costs?

"I don't know the total price of my engagement ring, and honestly, I wouldn't want to know!"

Who picked out the ring?

"I had fallen in love with Bliss' designs online and followed her for nearly 9 months prior to the proposal. I showed my fiancé her work and we both really liked it. We picked out the diamond separately from the online retailer Blue Nile. My fiancé then sent the diamond to Bliss and she designed the specifications of the ring to fit the dimensions of the diamond he had purchased. The original Minimalist Ring had a lot more pave stones than mine does, because we really wanted something even more simple. I wanted the focus to be on the beautiful diamond, not on the stones or materials around it."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"It was actually really important to my fiancé that I had a say in the design of the ring. He kept me involved and asked me when I didn't want to know any more. Bliss sent us a sketch of two options for the design, and after I saw that in January, I didn't hear of anything else until he popped the question in April. I loved that even though I had an idea of what the ring would look like, I never saw the finished product prior to the proposal, so I was still surprised to see it."

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"My fiancé had just finished medical school about a year prior to proposing, so we had made a conscious decision to wait until he was actually making money to get engaged. With the loan burden that medical students carry, we didn't want him to take out a loan for my ring too."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"I don't think that engagement rings have to be expensive: I have friends who have opals and other stones as their main stone and have no diamonds. I personally really wanted a diamond, but it was important to both of us that it came from a region that was conflict-free. I wear my engagement ring every day, except when we travel for long periods of time. I bought a travel ring that has very simple pave diamonds to wear when we're traveling on sale for under $60 from the online retailer Carrie Elizabeth. It's fun to wear it every once in a while because it's gold and my engagement ring is platinum."
Franzi Lopez-Trompczynski

Tell us about your ring.

"My ring was purchased from the online retailer Blue Nile. It is a 1-karat diamond with split shank and halo in 14K white gold."

Do you know how much your ring costs?

"I don't know the exact cost of my ring because the design was a complete surprise!"

Who picked out the ring?

"My partner, Arlene, picked out the ring on her own, three months before asking me to be her fiancée. She chose the carat, cut, and style of the ring completely on her own. She wanted me to have something timeless with a vintage feel. She shopped around for vintage rings first, but couldn’t find anything with a quality stone, which was super important to her."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"I didn’t mind not having an opinion during the design process. I absolutely love my ring and I think it’s beautiful. I'm the type of person who enjoys surprises."

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"Arlene had a budget of around $10,000 and wanted to stay under if possible. She set aside money for the engagement ring and saved for three months prior to looking."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"This was more important to my partner, who purchased the ring: Arlene was concerned with the quality and clarity of the stone more than the karat or cost. It was also super important to her to make sure it had a good setting, since you really get what you pay for. She also wanted to make sure the diamond was covered by the dealer for any future stone resetting or breakage."
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Julianne Rigsby

Tell us about your ring.

"My ring was custom made by Jean-Jacques Mamie, a fine jewelry designer in Dana Point, CA. The band is yellow gold and the setting is white gold. The center stone is 2.0 karats, with about 0.7 karats in the halo. It's a graduated halo to give my round center stone an oval look on my finger I would have been over the moon with 1.0 karat, but I have to say that 2.0 karats looks beautiful!"

Do you know how much your ring cost?

"My fiancé did not tell me how much my ring cost."

Who picked out the ring?

"My mother and fiancé worked with the designer on the choice. My fiancé knew I wanted both yellow and gold, and besides that, he just told my mom to have them make something I would love. My mom has a strong understanding of my preferences."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"I didn't know exactly when my fiancé was going to propose, but I knew he was the one. I did let him know that when the time comes, just go to my mom. My mom knew exactly what I wanted, and I think it took a lot of pressure off my fiancé. I wanted the proposal to be a surprise, but I also feel that everyone's engagement ring should match their personal style."

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"I don't think my fiancé, Tommy, had a set budget for my ring. A couple months before he proposed, he actually bought us our dream home to start a family. I thought it would have set back a ring purchase, but he ended up having another savings account for my ring."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"I don't think an engagement ring should put your fiancé in extreme debt. Everyone has their own magic number of what they can afford."
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Denisse Garcia

Tell us about your ring.

"My ring is a round solitaire, 14K white gold ring. It has a 1.25 karat diamond with VS2 clarity. It was purchased at Robbins Brothers."

Do you know how much your ring cost?

"My fiancé gave me the papers for my ring and it was $48 short of $10,000."

Who picked out the ring?

"I had no idea he was proposing, so he did the picking all on his own — with a little help from my best friend and my Pinterest board. He messaged my best friend so she could send him pictures of rings I had pinned. He picked the perfect ring for me."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"I didn't know it was happening, but we had talked about how I wanted a solitaire ring with a simple band. He went out a little and got me a band with small diamonds, but it was perfect. I would have loved any design, but I'm so glad he went to my best friend to get screenshots from my Pinterest board."

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"I am sure he had a budget but he's never spoken to me about it, and I had no clue it would happen. He never talked about it to me about the budget and I never asked."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"I don't think a ring has to be expensive. What matters is the thought and the fact he wants to take a huge step forward and marry me."
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Alexandra Pappas

Tell us about the ring.

"The band is white gold, four-prong setting, brilliant cut at 0.75 karats VVS1. The only flaw is in the cut and can only be seen with a 30x microscope.

The ring came from Atlas, a jeweler in San Francisco. My partner picked the diamond separate from the setting it was in."

Do you know how much your ring cost?

"I don't know how much he paid for it, but I know it appraised for around $8,000. His grandmother unfortunately passed away right before we got engaged, and he wanted to spend some of the money she left for him on my ring."

Who picked out the ring?

"I knew I wanted something simple: A round diamond with a plain skinny band. We went into Tiffany & Co. on a weekend trip, and he said, 'Oh, let’s go over here and look at engagement rings.' That was the only time we looked at rings. I ruled out any shape other round almost immediately, but pretty much left the rest to him."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"It was important to me that I had a say: I didn’t want to be too picky, but I also wanted to love it, because I’d be wearing it forever. I wanted the engagement to be a surprise but I didn’t want the ring design to come out of left field. I like a more simple engagement ring, and you can always add more unique bands throughout the years."

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"We never talked about the price, althoughI knew I didn’t want us to be paying off the ring. I had no idea how much a ring costs before we started looking. We were going to start sharing our money soon, and I don't want all of our hard earned savings to go to this one thing on my hand."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"I don’t think a ring has to be expensive, especially if you and your partner can’t afford it. The karat didn’t matter much to me, I told him I wanted quality over quantity."
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Vanessa de Leon

Tell us about your ring.

"My ring is a 14K rose gold and diamond ring with an Art Deco design. The center diamond is 0.70 carats, surrounded by round and tapered baguette cut diamonds for a total of 1.75 carats. The ring designer is Heidi Gibson."

Do you know how much your ring costs?

"I don’t know the exact price tag — It seems rude of me to ask my fiancé what he paid. I do know the appraised value, though!"

Who picked out the ring?

"I stumbled upon the ring designer’s Instagram page a couple of years ago and thought her vintage-inspired designs were beautiful. I showed him a photo and we both thought it made for quite a statement piece. I shared it with my best friend and told her to save it for future, in case he ever asked."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"The person proposing will likely spend a good amount of time designing the ring with a jeweler, spending the money, and planning for the big surprise, so I was okay knowing that my fiancé might want a say on what it would actually look like. I didn’t feel the need to be super involved the entire time and dictate exactly what I wanted, but I chose to show photo inspiration and vocalize what mattered most to me (it had to be rose gold!)"

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"There wasn’t a designated budget for the ring but we agreed that it had to be sensible. He’s amazing at saving, but I didn’t want him to blow it all off on one piece of jewelry. "
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
Diana Moke

Tell us about your ring.

"It's a beautiful 1.76-karat, brilliant cut diamond set in a platinum cathedral setting, with hearts and arrows. It has a gold cathedral band, with pave diamonds on the side of the diamond, but not along the back. The ring itself is from Vatché."

Do you know how much your ring costs?

"I'd rather not say."

Who picked out the ring?

"I went to a jeweler with my friend to see what kind of stones and cut I liked, but my fiancé picked out the actual ring itself."

How much did the design of an engagement ring matter to you?

"Given that it's such a big purchase and something I plan to wear forever, I did want to have at least some say in what ring characteristics I liked and didn't like. But overall, there's also something to be said about not knowing exactly what you're getting to keep it a surprise. I didn't want to know exactly what he picked out until he proposed."

Did you ever discuss budgeting for an engagement ring with your partner?

"I'd rather not say."

Do you think engagement rings have to be expensive?

"To me, the price of the ring or the number of karats aren't the end-all-be-all. But since it represents something so special, the selecting of the ring should take some thought and planning. Regardless of what someone spends on the ring, it should be full of sentimental value."
Photo: Courtesy of Sparkly.
A screen grab of Sparkly's interface. Users can find engagement ring photos others have shared on the platform by filtering the cut, style, ring size, or karats.
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