The Groom and The Bling

Does bigger really mean better when it comes to buying a ring for the bride? Figuring that out can be a stressful, high-stakes pursuit.

Marriage is intended to be a lifetime commitment (for better or for worse), so you want a strong starting point that not only fits your budget but also fulfills unforeseen expectations.

You may have asked your family, friends, jewelers, and even perused the Internet only to find out that there are "rules of engagement" for buying an engagement ring. Some of which can be eye-popping and jaw-dropping:

The Two Months Salary Rule:

This rule stipulates that the groom should spend at least 2 months salary on the engagement ring. If, for example, the groom earns $60,000 per year, $10,000 should be spent on a wedding engagement ring.

The Age Rule:

The groom must buy a quality ring whose size is equivalent to the age of the bride. For example, if the groom proposes to a 30-year-old bride, a 3.0-carat diamond engagement ring should be purchased. As of the writing of this article, Google suggests a starting price in excess of $20,000.

A groom with a small budget can try one of those online engagement ring budget calculators that suggest how much to spend on the brides' engagement ring. These calculators tend to generate a projected budget based on data from the diamond market. Obviously, the total budget is not a definitive scientific amount, but rather a ball-park figure.

Doing a little homework, you will find that average cost of a 1.5-carat engagement ring is about $5,000—but how much you choose to spend is a matter of personal preference, comfort level and where you’re at financially. Ask yourself: How much can I afford to spend considering my savings, income, and expenses?

Huge bling or tiny bling, here's your checklist before you relinquish your dividends:

DON’T: Rush the shopping process
Start researching engagement rings at least six months before you pop the question.

DO: Look for clues
If your partner wears mostly silver-toned jewelry, a white gold or platinum ring might be best.

DO: Know the right size
Make sure you know your partners' ring size. Don't guess. “Borrow” a piece of jewelry. If they already wear a ring on their ring finger (even if it's on the right hand), you can use that as a guide.

DO: Finish your homework first
If you don't know the four C's (color, cut, clarity, carat) of buying a diamond ring. It's time you learned before embarrassment strikes home.

In the end, it's not the size of the ring that counts. When it comes to an engagement ring, the beauty is in the details. We know that choosing “the ring” is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. However, the choice you make should reflect your fiancée’s personal style as well as your commitment to each other without sacrificing your financial stability.