General Info, Wedding Tips

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring in NZ?

It’s two month’s salary, right? Actually, it’s whatever you want it to be, and there’s no right or wrong.

(5 minutes to read)

In the 1930’s, De Beers Diamonds held the world monopoly for diamond supply. But the business was struggling due to the poor economy. So, they launched a campaign; diamonds are the everlasting symbol of love, and you need to spend a month’s salary on a ring to really show your future wife you love her. In the 1980’s, they realised one month’s salary wasn’t enough for their bank account, and they launched a new campaign, saying you should spend two months salary.

It’s all a giant, capitalistic, con.

Why are diamonds so special?

Sorry to say, diamonds aren’t that unique or special. While they are very strong, emeralds, rubies and sapphires are all rarer than diamonds and not much softer. This idea of specialness is due to De Beers, who although they only sell 35% of the world’s diamonds now, still control the market. That advertising campaign in the 1930’s has a lot to answer for; backed up by Marilyn Munroe, of course.

The other thing about diamonds is that there is no way of knowing if they are truly conflict free. The Kimberley process is the name given to diamonds sourced ethically, but adherence to the extensive requirements is largely self-policing; there are no guarantees. In New Zealand, only conflict-free diamonds are allowed to be sold, but the controls for that process overseas can’t be 100% assured.

How much do Kiwis spend on an engagement ring?

The average engagement ring cost in NZ is about $3500. This varies wildly according to income and what the bride-to-be wants, but there’s nothing like Mariah Carey’s $10 million rock (which she quietly re-sold in 2017 for only $2.1 million).

If you’re unsure about how much to spend, make it about what your future bride wants, not spending to a limit set 90 years ago. And certainly, don’t go into debt for a ring; their resale value (if it ever gets to that) is only between 10 and 20% of their original value.

Popular engagement ring styles in NZ

Kiwi women have never been ordinary or content to follow trends. Many women have spurned diamonds altogether and are choosing deep blue sapphires (think Kate Middleton), vibrant rubies, or coloured diamonds. When choosing diamonds or other gemstones, there are a few basics to understand first.

The four C’s: Diamonds have four ratings; cut, clarity, carat and colour.

  • Clarity refers to occlusions; tiny imperfections that you can’t see with the naked eye.
  • Carat is the size.
  • Colour refers to the naturally-occurring colours present in diamonds, everything from pink, to yellow, to grey, to black.
  • Cut refers to how the stone is shaped.

Diamond cuts: There are a number of gemstone cuts to consider.

Brilliant: This is the traditional round diamond. It is cut in a way that it has 58 different facets; it sparkles and reflects light beautifully.

Emerald: With 49 facets, the emerald cut is less sparkly, but the cut itself is incredibly stylish, in a rectangle shape.

Princess cut: With less facets, the princess cut sparkles less than a brilliant cut, but the square, simple cut means this gemstone cut is favoured by many women who love simplicity.

There are also cushion, oval, heart, radiant, marquise, pear and asscher cut.

Should you choose the ring without your fiancée?

While in romantic movies men somehow successfully choose the perfect ring for their future wife, in real life it’s becoming less common. More and more couples are shopping together, choosing the adornment the woman will wear for the rest of her life. It’s also common for the bride’s best friend to be used by the groom as a ring-picker, or for the bride to send a romantic email, listing styles she prefers, links to acceptable designs, and what she definitely doesn’t want.

While maybe not a fairy-tale proposal like in every movie ever, it means she gets what she wants, and you know she’ll love wearing it. Forever.

There are a lot of expectations about engagement rings

The minute an engagement is announced, those Instagram pics of the ring, on a perfectly manicured hand, are almost a requirement now. When a woman announces her engagement in person, her left hand will be grabbed and the ring analysed with a practiced, precision glance.

Those celebrities with massive $1 million + rings don’t help either; somehow, we’ve gotten caught up that more money = more love. And that’s simply not true. Young people are catching on and increasingly flicking off these expectations; it’s better for your bank (hello future house deposit or world travel) and a far more down to earth approach- we are Kiwis, after all.

Quick guide how to buy an engagement ring in NZ

  1. You know your future wife. If she (and you) wants a big surprise, then go shopping without her, or with her best friend or Mum. If she wants to be a part of the process, it’s time for a practical conversation about expectations.
  2. Decide on a budget. Don’t go into debt for this; plan for yourselves what you want.
  3. Decide on ring details. Consider metal types (gold, silver, platinum), the type of gem you want, and the cut. We are no longer constrained to the standards of 90 years ago; choose what suits the bride-to-be.
  4. What’s the wedding ring going to be? Will it slide neatly next to the engagement ring, or does it need to be a special shape?
  5. Go shopping. This could be a custom ring, or a trip to the local mall and perusing their stock. Don’t be tempted to shop outside your budget, or to compromise on ethical standards. Every time she looks at her finger, it’s a reminder.

One final point; studies how shown that marriage duration is inversely related to how much spent on the engagement ring and the wedding ceremony; the more you spend, the higher the chance of divorce. So the Beatles were right; money can’t buy you love.

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