These days with social media pictures everywhere, there’s more pressure than ever to buy the perfect diamond ring for your future fiancée. Did you know, though, that diamond rings have only been an engagement staple since the 1930’s?
While engagement and wedding rings have been around for much longer, it was only when De Beers launched a major advertising campaign in 1938 when they began to rise to popularity. De Beers later came up with the famous slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever,” in 1947 which helped diamond rings quickly become commonplace. Before the ad campaign you were more likely to see a bride wearing a sapphire or a different gemstone rather than a diamond because diamonds were considered relatively low-brow and even old-fashioned.
The marketing campaign behind diamonds also created the now common thought that to-be grooms must spend at least two months’ salary on an engagement ring. For many people, that’s a ridiculous amount of money to spend on anything, let alone jewelry!
It’s amazing to me to look back and realize exactly how effective a marketing campaign was at reshaping people’s image and budget for a stone. While a diamond might be forever, I would argue that so is granite, and it’s considerably cheaper.
What’s really important with purchasing an engagement ring is finding a ring that match’s your fiancée’s personal style. Whether it’s getting her a diamond, sapphire or a granite ring, the trick is to first do your homework, and know exactly what you’re looking to buy.
Once you know the direction you’re headed, then it’s time to put a budget to it. While De Beers and Madison Ave. execs will push you to spend two month’s salary, remember that that’s coming from a marketer, and not someone trying to help you get to retirement sooner. Instead, talk with your fiancée or at least think independently about what you think is a realistic and comfortable amount to spend.
If you’re paying for the wedding, thinking about buying a home, or have other looming financial obligations, you don’t want to spend all your savings on one piece of jewelry. Remember you can always upgrade your lady’s ring as an anniversary or holiday gift at a later time. The ring itself won’t be what causes your fiancée to say “yes or no” when you pop the question.
Many rings cost just as much as a car, and you wouldn’t go car shopping without having done your research. If you’re feeling like bucking the De Beer’s standard, and buying something other than a diamond engagement ring, then you need to do some research online for ideas on the price ranges associated with your options.
If you do decide to go in the newly traditional direction of a diamond engagement ring, be sure to learn about the four C’s; cut, carat, color and clarity. You can prioritize the four C’s to actually give you more flexibility when choosing your diamond. For example, if you’re looking to get the biggest carat possible, you might give a lower priority to the clarity to free up some of your budget for a larger rock.
You should not feel obligated to purchase a diamond or to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. These “traditions” were made up by an advertising agency in the 1940s. However, when you’re going to make a large purchase on any kind of engagement ring, you should first do your research and also set a budget. There are several online articles and tools (such as Price Scope) that you can use when researching engagement rings. I would suggest going to www.yourwela.com and reading some of the articles that we’ve put together on engagement rings, and setting up a savings goal to track when you’re ready to make that big purchase. Congratulations on taking this big life step!