9 Women On Why They Decided To Pay For Their Engagement Rings

Buying an engagement ring is often the first big financial decision a couple makes together. These days, it's pretty typical for couples to shop for rings well ahead of the proposal with the proposee choosing the ring and knowing the cost. But who should pay for that ring? Tradition stands that it's the man who pays and does the proposing (of course, this goes out the window in same-sex relationships), but as more women out-earn their partners, it seems only natural that they would chip in (or completely cover the cost) to get the ring of their dreams.
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In November, we asked 10 women how much they think engagement rings should cost. This month, Refinery29 interviewed 9 women who decided to pay for all, or part, of their engagement ring. We wanted to hear more about the cost, the potentially awkward conversations they had with their partners, and how they really felt about flipping tradition on its head. "I was thrilled you asked this question," said one woman who took the survey. "I always thought my fiancé and I were in the minority."
1 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $10,000

Name: Stephanie
Age: 25
Location: Austin, TX
Salary: $110,000 + bonus
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $10,000

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"Yes! My fiancé, then boyfriend, is a grad school student and is currently not earning any income. We knew we wanted to get engaged after five years of dating, but he didn’t have the means to get me the ring we had both discussed. Cue many hard conversations! I work full-time and work very hard to earn what I do. I paid for the entire ring with part of my last bonus, and I couldn’t be happier with this decision. I was able to demonstrate my commitment to our relationship, and he was able to fulfill his desire to propose. Win-win!"

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"To be frank, the initial conversation was hard. As you can imagine, we had many opportunities to succumb to social pressures around gender norms and who should purchase the ring. At times it felt like we would never get engaged, because A) he would not have income until he started working full time and B) he wasn’t going to be working full-time for at least two years. We set up some early parameters: He wants to pay me back in full; he wanted me to pick out the ring, but I couldn't see it or know when the proposal was; and he would be available to consult but give me full reign over the decision. I found working together on buying the ring to be far more informative and confirmatory on how we communicate and make important financial decisions. And that he is the right partner for me — for life!"
2 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $535

Name: Kate
Age: 28
Location: Berkeley, CA
Salary: $73,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $535

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"I paid for all of it. I proposed to my husband with a watch, but wanted a ring to wear as well. I know my style much better than he does and found one I loved on Etsy."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"He was not involved. He knew I wanted to pick and buy my own/propose to him (his watch was a surprise). We did talk about what it would cost, though we hadn't combined finances so I definitely felt like I could spent whatever I wanted without feeling guilty."
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3 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $20,000

Name: Elizabeth
Age: 27
Location: New York City
Salary: $60,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $20,000

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"I paid for a third of my engagement ring. I am a jewelry person: I never step outside without at least three rings, a bracelet, necklace, and a watch on. I felt that for a ring I was going to wear every day, I wanted something outside the budget my boyfriend set, so I contributed the rest of the amount."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"Once we started talking about next steps of getting engaged, we got talking about what our budget would be and what we felt comfortable spending, as well as a timeline. My fiancé told me his budget, and I started looking at rings that fit the budget. After a cursory glance, I felt that the items in our budget were all good options, but I was going to wear this ring for the rest of my life and if I added in money as well then I would be happier with the final product. My fiancé felt that this was both a lifetime piece of jewelry and a lifetime commitment so he was not bothered that I wanted to add money to the budget, and he also wanted me to love what I was going to wear every day."
4 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $5,200

Name: Megan
Age: 30
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $130,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $5,200

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"I paid for my ring in full."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"My husband asked me to marry him over dinner one night, with the intention of going ring shopping with me the next day. At the time, he had just made the down payment on a house (where we now live), which, when combined with the closing costs, had emptied his savings. I, on the other hand, had just received a large raise and had plenty of wiggle room in my budget, so I offered to buy the ring. He wanted to contribute, but I told him to pay for my wedding band instead (since that could be purchased later). Paying for my own ring allowed me to get exactly what I wanted without worrying about hurting my fiancé's finances (which would soon be my finances, too!)."
5 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $3,000

Name: Nicole
Age: 29
Location: California
Salary: $112,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $3,000

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"The majority of it. We got engaged and married before the ring was paid off. When we merged our bank accounts after the wedding there was a balance. I was in charge of bills and made the majority of the money so I just paid off the balance."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"We did not have a conversation. I didn’t know the proposal was coming, but I had been trying on countless rings and hated all of them. I told this to my partner, and thought maybe I wasn’t a ring person. I don’t wear any jewelry at all. When he proposed and I saw the ring, I instantly LOVED it. Turns out, it was only 0.5-carat diamond, and I was trying on 1 carat and above, which is why I was hating all the rings. In this situation, bigger was not better."
6 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $9,500

Name: Megan
Age: 28
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Salary: $85,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $9,500

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"My partner asked if he could borrow money from me as a loan to pay for part of the ring. I loaned him $6,000, but he has been paying me back each month in $300 installments. This made more financial sense than him taking out a third-party loan because he doesn’t have to pay interest. Also, I’m a good saver and was able to loan him the money without it making a huge dent in my finances."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"When we started looking for rings, and I started to see the ballpark range of the cost I knew my partner didn’t have enough in savings to cover the whole amount. As we were discussing our budget for the ring, I offered to let him borrow money. After he did research on taking out a loan he realized the interest rates were ridiculous. Then he asked if he could take me up on my offer. He is very old school in the sense that he didn’t want me outright contributing to the ring and wanted to pay me back in full.

"The ring shopping experience was actually pretty fun, and I think necessary. When we first went shopping I had no idea what style of ring I wanted. We also learned pretty quickly that the most expensive cut of diamond is a round cut, so that factored into what diamond cut we ended up getting. Overall, I’m glad we went shopping together because we both were able to get a better understanding of the styles we liked. And, the ring he ended up buying is beautiful, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better."
7 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $900

Name: Marion
Age: 28
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $100,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $900

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"I paid for all of it, as my now husband was a grad student not making much money."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"We bought a ring much the same way as most couples do. We went shopping together a few times and picked one out. I did end up getting a moissanite ring to save some money as I also wasn’t making much at the time, but we wanted to get engaged anyway. The major difference was I knew exactly when the ring was purchased. We never really had a conversation about who was paying. It was understood from the beginning that I’d be covering it, much like I covered a lot of our living expenses during the years he was in grad school."
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8 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $3,999

Name: Hollie
Age: 26
Location: Birmingham, England
Salary: $62,500 after tax
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $3,999

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"All of it. My fiancée had just started her own business, I had just received a promotion with a decent pay rise. I wanted the money she would have spent on a ring to go back into her business. I view our money as just that, our money. Why take money that could really help her business when I can cover the cost?"

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"I knew she wanted to propose and was having a difficult time deciding on a ring, so I suggested we go look at rings together as the timing would still be a surprise. It didn’t matter to me if I had looked at the ring already. Once we had seen some options (and prices!), I told her all my reasons for wanting to pay for my own ring and eventually she agreed. I do think it was easier for her to agree to as we share all other expenses, and if something we want/want to do (i.e a big holiday) is out of her budget then I pay.
9 of 10

Cost Of Engagement Ring: $2,000

Name: Laura
Age: 41
Location: Westfield, MA
Salary: $36,000
Cost Of Engagement Ring: $2,000

Did you pay for part of your engagement ring?

"My husband and I split the cost of my ring. Neither of us made much money at the time, and I fell in love with it. We didn’t want to wait forever for him to save up, so we split the cost."

What was that initial conversation like, and what was the process of ring-buying with your partner?

"It was fine. We shopped for the ring together and decided to share the expense. We paid for the wedding together and have shared expenses ever since we moved in together."
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