How much should you spend on an engagement ring?

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Engagement season is well and truly upon us, when grooms-to-be will be thinking about popping the question.

Buying an engagement ring will be one of the most important purchases they make in their lifetime, but how much should they really spend on a ring?

Typically they say you should spend two months' salary... But remember this was a clever marketing ploy. In the thirties De Beers jewellers suggested men should spend a single month's salary. In the eighties, this increased to two months.

We spoke to a range of jewellery experts who have all concluded that there really is no short answer to how much you should spend, but they do have some advice for grooms-to-be... And some tips for how you can get more for less.

"This is always a tricky question to answer," said Guy Burton, director of Hancocks London. "My answer is always the same: pay with what you are comfortable to pay. Research is obviously vital to get a feel for the prices of things so that a realistic view can be taken."

David Allen, creative director at 77 Diamonds, agreed, saying: "There is much speculation over the money people should spend on their sparkle but it should always be a value that is comfortable for the individual that is buying.

"A glorified marketing campaign once suggested that one should spend two month's salary on their engagement ring, but in today's world this just isn't always feasible. Industry research suggests the average engagement ring in the UK costs approximately £1,800... But with rings on the high street starting at £500 and rings from high-end jewellers stretching into the millions there is something for everyone."

David advises: "Set yourself a budget range that you are comfortable with and then look for something that falls within it. You don't have to break the bank to get something beautiful."

Those wanting to get more buck for their money should look at online stores, which offer better value as their operational costs are lower, he added.

In terms of the actual diamond, a diamond's colour is graded D to Z, with D being the whitest.

"Stick to D to G and you won't notice the difference visually, but you will notice the dent in your saving," said David. "The same goes for clarity – a flawless diamond would be wonderful, but unless you've got a magnifying glass, you can go FIVE grades lower without seeing a difference (to VS2)."

And while brides-to-be may want a round number such as a one carat ring, a 0.9 carat is actually 40 per cent cheaper! Visually, there's hardly any difference, but it will bring the price down considerably.

To get the best value for size, consider a halo ring design. The halo means the overall ring looks bigger but the size of the centre stone remains the same, and therefore doesn't increase the price.

Karra Wilmot, Diamond, Gemmology and Precious Articles Specialist at H&T Pawnbrokers, agreed, saying: "Although round is the most popular cut, fancy shapes like pear, heart, oval and emerald can be up to 25 per cent cheaper."

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