THE PRICE OF COMMITMENT Well, the saying is true: Money CAN buy you love! Okay… maybe not, but it can (at least) buy you a generous diamond ring that comes with an even more generous promise. Thinking of putting a ring on it but don’t know just how generous you have to be? Look no further. We’ve put together the 411 on what to keep in mind when buying an engagement ring. Engagement rings originate all the way back to Roman times, perhaps even further. What many people are unaware of, though, is that the concept of the diamond was actually a marketing scheme from the 1930’s by De Beer’s, who controlled the diamond industry at the time. Not much later, in the 1980s, De Beer’s also decided that the purchase should be worth two months’ salary. A diamond is a forceful symbol. They are known to be one of the hardest and strongest metals known to man. Similar looking gemstones, such as moissanite and cubic zirconia are synthetic and have much shorter lifespans. Purchasing an engagement ring signifies your confidence that you will be married to your partner for (hopefully) ever. Martin Rapaport, publisher of the Rapaport Diamond Index, recently said, “We sell the idea behind diamonds.” An engagement sets the tone for the marriage. By trying to save money on a cheaper route, you just might insinuate something about your relationship, too. One thing is for sure: the prices of diamonds are increasing every year. So, how do you know the right amount to spend once you find “the one”? Engagement rings come with expectations- both financially and emotionally. “It does set a certain tone about whether a woman’s expectations will be met by her husband or not,” said Julie Albright, a sociologist and marriage and family therapist at the University of Southern California. The Knot’s 2017 annual Real Weddings Study reported that the average amount spent on an engagement ring last year was $5,764. For big-spenders that number went up to $13,933! In 2012 alone, Americans spent nearly $11 billion on diamond engagement and wedding jewelry, according to The New York Times. So, what’s the magic number anyway? What constitutes as a big diamond? “People aren’t specifically going by the ‘one month’s salary’ rule anymore, but it can sometimes happen coincidentally that that’s what they end up spending,” Sarah Behar, diamond and social media advisor at Lauren B Jewelry in New York City noted. Well, take a breath because you might not have to part with three months’ worth of your salary. There is something for every budget, no matter how small or how big it is. You might be surprised at how big a diamond can look in person. “Although we often find that a woman may know what a certain diamond size ‘sounds’ like, she doesn’t always know what it looks like,” said Krista Beermann, Director of Merchandising of Hearts on Fire. There are dozens of factors that determine what someone would constitute as a ‘big’ diamond, such as: The composition, finger and hand size, and even the shape or cut of the diamond. The carat weight is not the only factor that affects how large the stone appears. Diamonds with the same carat weight can look like two totally different sizes, depending on the depth or shape of their cut. Diamonds with shallow cuts appear much larger, but have a deficit in its sparkle and depth. These lesser-quality diamonds receive poor cut grades and are worth less. “On average, a two-carat is definitely a head turner, and overall women perceive this to be a big look!” — Krista Beermann, merchandiser at Hearts on Fire. It’s time to get smart and do your research. When shopping on name-brand websites such as Tiffany or Cartier, you can be sure that jewelry prices will be at least 40 to 50% more than average brick and mortar retailers, according to David Wu, a luxury goods and beauty analyst at the Telsey Advisory Group in New York. It is also possible to find a ring with a significant discount at a reputable online diamond retailer. Budgeting is something that many people continuously struggle with. According to the New York Times, retail analysts say that more people are beginning to use the credit programs offered by some of the largest national jewelry chains in order to pay for engagement rings. This seems to be an irresponsible luxury, during a time of a tough job market, rising housing costs, and an overwhelming number of student debts. On the contrary, this may be your only option. But hey, that’s just the price of commitment.