The Wedding Economy

Meghan Markle's ring is worth $350,000—here’s how much Americans think you should spend on an engagement ring

When Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle, the one-of-a-kind ring drew much attention.

Partly for its sentimental value — two diamonds from Princess Diana's personal collection flank the 5-carat center stone — and partly because, although no one can be certain, experts estimate the ring to be worth as much as $350,000.

That's a far cry from how much ordinary Americans spend on engagement rings.

On average, Americans say you should spend around $2,000 on a ring, according to TD Bank's 2017 "Love & Money Survey." However, 10 percent of survey respondents believe a ring isn't necessary at all.

Conventional wisdom dictates that you should fork over one to three months' salary on an engagement ring, but the trend has fallen out of style in recent years. After all, it did start as a campaign by diamond retailers to improve sales.

Meghan Markle attends an Anzac Day Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on April 25, 2018 in London, England.
Max Mumby | Indigo | Getty Images
Meghan Markle attends an Anzac Day Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on April 25, 2018 in London, England.

At the end of the day, the amount spent is arbitrary.

What really matters, experts say, is that couples see eye to eye. "If each partner's expectations aren't met or communicated to each other, frustration and disappointment can result that will eat away at the happiness in the relationship," Terri Orbuch, also known as The Love Doctor, tells TD Bank.

Many young couples these days choose not to purchase a diamond at all. Although millennials spent $26 billion on the stones in 2015 alone, more than any other single generation, according to the De Beers Annual Diamond Insight Report, they approach both money and marriage differently, and it's affecting their spending habits.

For one, millennials aren't getting married as early as previous generations. Many millennials are choosing not to get married at all.

Among those who do plan to say "I do," many opt for nontraditional stones, such as sapphires or rubies, to signify commitment. Those can stand out more and can also serve as a way for consumers to rebel against what some see as the diamond industry's heavy-handed marketing tactics.

Many millennials also simply have other priorities. As they increasingly value experiences over things, young couples might choose to put their money toward a wedding or honeymoon than blow the budget on one ring.

This is an updated version of a previously published article.

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