Blog Cover Photo for How much should you spend on an engagement ring in NZ?

How much should you spend on an engagement ring in NZ?

March 9, 2022 • 8 min read • #budgeting


When you start shopping for engagement rings you will inevitably hear that you need to spend over 3 months of your salary on an engagement ring. This number comes from a very successful DeBeers marketing campaign.

But, this isn’t true. You don’t need to spend that much. Your budget depends on what you feel comfortable with and your partner’s expectations.


What is the average amount people pay for an engagement ring in NZ?

The average amount paid in 2011 was around $3,500. In 2022 we are seeing that creep up to around $5,500. We attribute this increase to three reasons:

  1. Kiwis are more educated about diamonds (and their alternatives);
  2. People are more conscious about the decisions they make;
  3. More people are invested in designing their own engagement ring.

But that doesn’t mean that you should spend the same. Your budget should depend on your life stage, financial situation and partner’s expectations. You should also take into consideration what you care about and the values you want to take into your marriage.

If you are struggling to make a decision, instead ask yourself:

  • What do you and your partner stand for?
  • Can your jeweller work with your budget?
  • Can your jeweller maintain a quality finish?

For example, if you both care about the environment, then you can consider choosing a lab grown stone or picking a jeweller that is climate-positive like Four Words.


What do most people talk about when you show them an engagement ring?

After the proposal, the ring-bearer will want to show friends and family their engagement ring. No one will ask how much the ring costs. But they will ask about the following things:

  • The center stone – what type of stone is it?
  • The size of the center stone – how many carats is it?
  • The shine of the center stone.
  • If it is sustainably sourced.
  • The design of the ring – how did you get the ring made?

All four of these factors determine someone’s perception of a ring. But a bigger center stone doesn’t mean better. Sometimes a center stone (usually a diamond) can be too big and uncomfortable for the ring-bearer.

The answer to many of these questions depends on the size of the ring-bearers hand, their style, other rings that they may wear and their culture.


What determines the price of an engagement ring?

The center stone

The biggest factor of an engagement ring is the center stone.

Diamonds are typically the most expensive gemstone. And within diamonds, there are many variables that determine their price — the 4Cs. These are colour, clarity, cut and carat.

Other gemstones to consider are sapphires, emeralds, rubies and aquamarines. Each of these gemstones has its own qualities that impact the price. To learn more about these gemstones check out this article here.

The center stone is incredibly important to get right when buying an engagement ring. Be sure to get exactly what your partner wants – even if your proposal is a surprise. Working with a jeweller you’re comfortable with makes this easy. They can help secure a center piece which looks classy and not tacky.

The size of the center stone

Surprisingly, colour, clarity and cut have a bigger impact on price, than the size of a diamond. The better these qualities are, the more expensive the diamond is. This is because a diamond’s brilliance is more important than its size.

For example, it is possible to get a one carat diamond for less than $2,500. But the diamond will be dull and lifeless. It will look cloudy and more like a moonstone than a diamond.

For this price range, a better option would be choosing a moissanite engagement ring. They look like a diamond but costs significantly less.

Furthermore, in some cultures, smaller and more sparkly diamonds are more highly prized than bigger diamonds. In France, women prefer small diamonds sized at around 0.3 to 0.4 carats; or coloured gemstones.

The shine of the center stone

If you have decided on a diamond, colour, cut and clarity determine the shine of a diamond. In jewellery speak, this is called the diamond’s brilliance.

Diamonds have a very particular type of brilliance where it doesn’t bend light in a way that creates a rainbow effect. It is easy to tell if a center piece is not diamond if it does create a rainbow effect.

For other gemstones, especially coloured gemstones such as sapphires and rubies, the intent is to have deep bold colours. The shine is less important.

A high quality jeweller will ensure whatever option you pick will look stunning. The last thing you want is to cut corner, or a bit of inexperience when producing your center stone.

The right jeweller is more important with gemstones than diamonds. The reason is many jewellers cut gemstones the same way as diamonds. But this can make them appear dull and hazy.

A sustainably sourced engagement ring

Sustainability is now a hot topic in all consumer purchases. And frankly, the mined diamond industry doesn’t have a great reputation. Mined diamonds are notorious for being destructive environmentally and socially.

Lab grown diamonds & gemstones are one of the rare things which are more sustainable and better priced than their mined alternatives. They are exactly the same as their mined equivalent right down to the atom — except are much better for the environment and 100% ethical.

Compared to mined gemstones, lab grown gemstones are seven times more carbon friendly. But this doesn’t mean that it is carbon neutral.

It is for this reason that at Four Words, we offer more than just offset our carbon. We are climate positive. This means that for any engagement ring created from Four Words, we offset five times the amount of our total supply chain. Typically it costs 8kgs of carbon for the whole process. We offset 40kgs of carbon.

The design of the ring

This is one of the most important parts of what couples and other people care about. The design of the ring. It can communicate so much. This includes:

  • Your values.
  • Your taste.
  • Your uniqueness.
  • A place or time.
  • Your culture.
  • Your history.

The design of a ring can communicate much more than the center stone itself. And the worst thing about buying from a jeweller who has stock is that you may end up getting the same ring as a friend! At Four Words we don’t hold stock. Each ring that we make is bespoke.

When you get a bespoke engagement ring you get to tell your story. You can talk about how the design was inspired by your values, your taste, your sense of style or your culture and traditions. The engagement ring is a piece of jewellery that people wear for the rest of their life.

At Four Words we appreciate that this can take more than one go. For this reason the design process with Four Words is free. Typically this can cost up to $1000 on its own. We have also written a guide on how to design a custom engagement ring and some of the designs you can consider too.


So how much should you spend?

So how much should you spend on an engagement ring in New Zealand? As much as you and your partner are comfortable with.

Remember, not every engagement ring needs to be a diamond ring. There are other options. And if it is a diamond ring, make sure you consider what is most important to you. Your budget will depend on your life stage, your finances and your values.

It is common for us at Four Words to see people spend as little as $2000 for a custom engagement ring, all the way up to $20,000. But beauty in the eye of the beholder, and every piece that we make holds a story. There isn’t a price that you can put on a piece that holds so much meaning. And we are proud to say that exclusively help you to do that.

Diamond Illustration

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