Once upon a time, in a more prosperous era, it was normal to shell out two to three months' pay on an engagement ring. While the well-heeled among us may still adhere to this tradition, thankfully the norms are changing when it comes to marriage and its associated costs.
Already, there are signs that brides-to-be are spending less on wedding dresses than they once were, and many millennials are ditching diamond rings in favour of more affordable (and interesting) coloured stones.
Now, we’re getting a clearer picture of exactly how much money Brits now spend on their wedding and engagement rings. Couples in the UK are spending almost a fifth less (19%) on engagement rings than they did five to 10 years ago, according to new data from jewellery insurer Protect Your Bubble. Spending on wedding rings has fallen by 6% over the same period.
The average spend on an engagement ring over the past five years was £1,080 – still a small fortune, but thankfully less than the £1,333 spent five to 10 years ago. Meanwhile, the average couple spent £1,363 on a wedding ring in the past five years, down from £1,449 five to 10 years ago. (Fingers crossed they're putting the saving behind the wedding reception bar!)
The number of couples spending less than £500 on both kinds of rings has also shot up in recent times, according to the research, with 18% more couples buying engagement rings for this amount and 8% more shelling out this sum on wedding rings in the last five years.
What's more, nearly half (47%) of the 1,235 adults surveyed said their wedding or engagement ring had cost less than three weeks’ salary, while a cool 13% chose rings worth less than one week’s wage. (The old rule about spending three months' salary on an engagement ring was just a marketing ploy, after all.)
Surprisingly, among those surveyed it was millennials who spent the most on their rings, with the average 16-24-year-old spending £1,473 on an engagement ring and £2,827 on a wedding ring over the last decade, compared with the £691 spent by 45-54-year-olds on wedding bands.
Londoners spent the most on their wedding rings over the last decade (£2,778), while Northern Irish couples shelled out the most on their engagement rings (£1,722). Scottish couples, meanwhile, were the most prudent, spending an average of just £563 and £862 on their wedding and engagement rings.
While rings are still generally considered once-in-a-lifetime purchases, it seems couples are waking up to the fact that getting our hands on a special ring doesn’t have to mean blowing a huge chunk of our salaries.
As the trend for coloured stones shows, finding the perfect ring is about so much more than blowing an “acceptable” amount of cash. Many couples enjoy ring-hunting together and share in the satisfaction of finding a piece that embodies their unique love story.
“It’s always worthwhile shopping around for rings – even if you’re looking for something in a more modest price range – as cost doesn’t always equal quality,” said Rob Basinger, head of UK at Protect Your Bubble.
“You can save hundreds of pounds by shopping online and spending time looking at what is on the market, or going to an independent expert who can offer guidance and advice to help you pick the right ring for your budget.”
It’s worth purchasing insurance even if your ring is at the more affordable end of the scale, Basinger added (although the choice is of course yours to make). “Engagement and wedding rings are one of the most precious pieces of jewellery you’ll ever own, so keeping both insured is key to avoiding potential upset later down the line.”