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How much to pay for an engagement ring as a physician

Discussion in 'Finance and Investment' started by pike73, Oct 14, 2016.

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  1. pike73

    pike73 New Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 28, 2002
    I was asking for some advice about buying an engagement ring as an attending physician. I make around $200,000-$250,000 a year. I know that there are general pricing guidelines but I didn't know what other physicians are spending on engagement ring. It would seem that spending 2-3 months salary can be excessive. On the other hand, there are certain expectations being a physician. I know that the cost of ring should not be the most important aspect. I know that figuring the right amount to spend on an engagement ring involves a number of factors. I have looked at different surveys but wanted to get information more specific to my case.
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  3. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    The "2 months' salary" thing is pure marketing. There was no way I was going to buy a $60k ring for my wife - she wouldn't let me. I think the 2 month thing is aimed for people who make $50k/year - working men, those with jobs.

    One consideration is a manufactured diamond. They're the real thing, cutting glass and all, and you can get 2.6 carats for $8k. The price goes up the bigger you get (industrial ones that are a speck for abrasives are really cheap), and it is just not possible to make a diamond larger than 10 carat.

    I got my wife a diamond wedding band. It does both jobs, and she was deliriously happy with it.
  4. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2013
    4th Dimension
    Just get something that looks nice, don't buy the marketing hype.
  5. InvestingDoc


    Jul 5, 2016

    Ask her what her expectations are, communication is always best. If you cant be this blunt then try to find a way around it. Everyone has different priorities and to some women the ring is very important. To others a beach house, McMansion, trips around the world, or new fancy BMW are important. See where you and her are on this issue as she might prefer the money to be spent elsewhere or she might want a large ring.

    As long as you budget appropriately you can make it happen, meaning a 10k plus dollar ring. Look online, I bought my s/o ring from and loved their customer service. I got about 30% more than a brick and mortar and could literally view the diamond I was buying on their website. I ended up spending about $8-9k on her ring. Many of my friends thought this was insane but shes a marriage and family therapist and to her its important. She drives a 12 year old car, has no luxury purses or other items and lives quit frugally so in the end it ended up not bothering me that she wanted a "nice" ring. Just because someone else is spending crazy cash or not doesn't mean its the right decision for you two.
    DokterMom and Promethean like this.
  6. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Agree with ID. Before buying anything, you need to talk to your girlfriend and find out what *she* wants. Speaking as a woman, the most important thing to me in an engagement ring would be to have it be the one that is in line with *my* values and preferences. I'm cheap and sentimental, so my personal preference would be to use a family heirloom ring that I already have and not have my fiancé spend anything except to get this ring, which was designed and crafted by my jeweler great-grandfather, resized to fit my ring finger. Likewise, you should do whatever your girlfriend wants in terms of selecting the ring, since she will (hopefully!) be spending the next half century or more wearing her ring every day, and associating it with you and your marriage.

    Congrats on your upcoming engagement, BTW. :)
    DokterMom likes this.
  7. Promethean

    Promethean Syncretist 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2014
    Western PA
    I would be sick to my stomach if someone bought me a ring that cost as much as a older used car, let alone one that could serve as a down payment on a house. The liability of wearing that much concentrated wealth and the knowledge that the money could have been used in 10,000 better ways would eat at me.

    Not everyone feels like me. You know your loved one. Does she have an eye for expensive things? Does she like to show off when she has something new and fancy? Or is she thrifty and modest? Would she, like me, be embarrassed to have something extravagant on her hand at all times? If you don't want to sit her down and talk about it, or take her ring shopping to see what she wants, then base your shopping on how she interacts with money on an everyday basis.

    The ring does not define your love. The amount you spend doesn't equal how important she is to you. If you love each other, the cost and quality of the ring shouldn't mean very much at all.
  8. RangerBob

    RangerBob Not a real ranger... 5+ Year Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Like the others say, it really depends on your fiance's (soon-to-be) preference. My wife didn't want a huge rock, and she wanted something "cute" and sentimental. I gave her my grandmother's ring--my grandfather bought it on a Navy/machinist salary, and is quite modest. It's likely one of the smallest diamonds for a physician's wife--I'm sure in part because advertising is so successful these days that now not only do men feel they have to buy a diamond engagement ring, but that it has to be a huge rock.

    If your girlfriend wants the big rock and that would mean a lot to you to give that to her, then you should go with that and spend as much as you want on the ring. Just ignore all those guidelines--you can spend more or less if you want. Fortunately for me, my wife wanted something sweet and practical, and I was a medical student at the time with no money, so everything worked out perfect for us.
  9. mvenus929

    mvenus929 10+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2006
    In line with what others have said... one of my best friends just got married, and her engagement ring was actually a sapphire ring, and it worked well for her. Don't make the assumption that she has to have a giant diamond on her finger, unless she has already indicated as such. Like others, I would feel super self conscious about wearing a multi-thousand dollar ring, but the most expensive piece of jewelry I currently own is a sapphire ring my mom got in a going out of business sale like 20 years ago. It cost a couple hundred dollars. And I get so nervous about losing it that I've only worn it a handful of times.
  10. sazerac

    sazerac rye sense of humor 5+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2012
    Definitely find out what she wants. I splurged a little, spending about 1 month of your salary on a ring that was exactly what she wanted. Years later, she still tells me about once a month how much she appreciates it, and how pretty it is. That's a lot better than hearing once a month how disappointed she is!

    Diamonds are easy to price online these days, and the jewelers know it, so you'll wind up negotiating the parts (gold) and labor involved in the ring instead.

    DokterMom likes this.
  11. ThoracicGuy

    ThoracicGuy 2+ Year Member

    Jun 11, 2013
    I got a 0.93 carat ring (gia cert) with wedding band for around $7k online. They even offered a 12 month no interest payment plan.
    tartesos likes this.
  12. TexasPhysician

    TexasPhysician SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    Sep 1, 2008
    I'm a big fan of the Millionaire Next Door. Research shows that the typical millionaire only spends about $3000-5000 on an engagement ring including "upgraded" ones.

    I spent $0 as my grandmother left me her ring upon her death. I chose an excellent woman, and had that ring not been good enough for her, I would have known that I chose the wrong woman.
    tartesos and PistolPete like this.
  13. Seona

    Seona Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    I would have been horrified if my husband spent any more than $2000. No way I'd want to wear something that expensive. We put 20% down payment on a house instead!
  14. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    I spent a lot of money on my wife's ring -- more than most BMW's and Mercedes. She didn't ask for it, but she totally fell in love with it when she saw it. She gets comments on it all the time, and she is still wowed by it 6 years later.

    My philosophy was that the ring is hers for life. You can replace it or get a bigger one later, but it won't be "the ring" you proposed with. I could afford it, so I spent it. Haven't regretted it one bit. Harry Winston 2.6 carat.
  15. EM_Rebuilder

    EM_Rebuilder Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    Call me cheap, well because I sort of am, and that goes along with our personalities.

    I turned to Craigslist and watched over a general part of the country for over a year. Looked at a couple, just couldn't find the right 'deal'. Then I found it, met a guy at an undisclosed jewelry place to him, had it tested as authentic and evaluated, then we traveled together to a second opinion jewelry store. I paid a lot for the diamond, but it was 50% at least from anything I could find. 2.5 carats. Then got it mounted in a new mount that she liked. Lots of comments. She feels embarrassed sometimes with it as it is certainly showy when we don't tend to be, but she's happy, and she loves the story behind it more than anything....

    The bang for the buck in diamonds is cut, get one that is excellent as it reflects the best. Clarity changes prices quickly and unless your an expert, your not going to see differences. Same thing on colors. Once you reach a threshold, unless you are comparing side by side, they all look the same, and sometimes a little color in some settings look attractive.

    And the two month thing is marketing.

    Good luck.
    DokterMom likes this.
  16. FrugalMuscle


    Jan 10, 2017
    Ring cost = (Salary/200) + ($10 * Years in relationship)
  17. Promethean

    Promethean Syncretist 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2014
    Western PA
    So, for someone making 50k, you are talking about $250 plus a few small bills. At 200k, you get up to $1000, again, plus a rounding error.

    Now, I'm not saying that is too little to pay. But I find your formula to be excessively precise over too picayune a sum. I predict disaster unless your intended is a perfect match for you in terms of both miserliness and accountancy.

    I think what gets me about this is the "$10 x years in relationship." If one simply must reduce a year of commitment and shared life to a monetary figure, must the wound be salted with a figure that won't buy a very impressive bag of charcoal, let alone an upgrade of gemstone. How much better a ring can you really get for $10 more, at any salary level?
  18. Mman

    Mman Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    My salary at the time I got engaged was about what yours is and I spent about $15K on the ring. I felt that was more than enough to get a very nice ring that stands out, but not so much as to be obscenely expensive.
  19. Smart Money MD

    Smart Money MD 2+ Year Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    As an aside, a giant rock may not necessarily be aesthetically pleasing on more petite hands. That might be one argument against spending a ton on an engagement ring. Likewise, if your future wife is a surgeon, you might also consider that there might be a higher chance she'd lose the ring at work! ;-)
  20. FrugalMuscle


    Jan 10, 2017
    It was a joke. But I do think our society should tone down this association between carats and love. Honestly, it shouldn't matter what size your diamond is and it shouldn't be representative of your commitment to one another.
    smq123 and Promethean like this.
  21. Promethean

    Promethean Syncretist 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2014
    Western PA
    Fair enough.

    My rings are inked on. They don't get lost, don't pose a pathogen transmission risk, don't need to come off when I scrub, and can't be removed to pretend that I'm not thoroughly spoken for. Almost no one has ever given me any guff over having tattooed rings, especially not when I explain it that way.

    I've never understood the obsession with fancy bits of carbon crystals. Yeah, they are kinda pretty, but not tens of thousands of dollars pretty. Especially after I found out that DeBeers basically has warehouses full of the darned things, that they have artificially inflated the prices, and that they are just trickling them out into the market at a rate that keeps their profits high. If someone needs to buy me something expensive as a token of love, I'd rather have something truly timeless and of lasting value, like an experience or an education or real estate. If anyone needs to know where to mail the tickets / tuition funds / deeds, just PM me. =)
    abolt18 likes this.
  22. Raryn

    Raryn Infernal Internist / Enigmatic Endocrinologist 7+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2008
    I got engaged as a resident and probably overspent (~$8k for the diamond and ~$4k for a custom setting with hand-filigreed elements we helped design), but I figure (hope) I'll only be doing this once, and wanted a unique ring that she could wear forever (no upgrades for us). It was close to the 2.5 months salary mark at the time, but at this point (as a fellow) for me would be something like 7 or 8 moonlighting shifts, much less an attending. Not chump change, but worth it IMO. (And was more driven by me than by her. She'd have been fine with something cheaper, but I was happy getting her something nice)
    sunshinefl likes this.
  23. Stroganoff

    Stroganoff Eat me. 10+ Year Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Rocket Scientist
    NSFW (Language)

    Most of us have heard about the DeBeers marketing thing, but this adds more context. And entertainment.
    Neuronix and mostwanted like this.
  24. Student Loan Planner

    Student Loan Planner

    Dec 13, 2016
    My fiancee is an attending doc, and we picked out a nice ring custom designed from Etsy and it cost us $600. I'd suggest asking what she likes and talk about setting a budget so you can spend on the wedding, a house together, cars, fun honeymoon, etc. Most women will opt for something in the middle of the list like <$5k. If she really wants a good ring then <$10k is great too
  25. powermd

    powermd Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    I was a resident at the time I got engaged, but utterly refused to buy in to the wedding-industrial complex dogma. I found a jeweler that could make a nice copy of the basic Tiffany crown setting in white gold, and put a 2.5 ct moissanite stone in the center. The whole thing cost around $2K, but looked amazing. It took a while for my fiance to figure out I didn't buy a ring costing tens of thousands of dollars. She was annoyed, but understood it made zero sense to go deep into debt over a ring. By that point she had gotten used to it and just resigned to eventually swap it out for comparably large and real (but flawed) diamond she got from her mother.

    We've been together for more than 10 years now and the ring has long since been forgotten. We don't even wear wedding bands. Our twin girls turned out to be the only jewels that matter.
    beestrng and smq123 like this.
  26. Saddleshoes

    Saddleshoes 10+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2007
    To the OP...

    Sorry I can't help you.
    My wife was an ex-diamond smuggler and I was a gold scrapper with jewelry making skills. Between the two of us we came up with something that worked out fine for very little cash outlay.
    tartesos likes this.
  27. DokterMom

    DokterMom 2+ Year Member

    Mar 1, 2013
    That's pretty much what we did -- If you're patient and keep your eyes open, you can find some amazing deals for half the price you'd pay retail. I absolutely love my larger stone but could never have felt comfortable spending what it would have cost retail. Also, the poster who noted that cut is key is absolutely on target!
  28. FistLength

    FistLength 5+ Year Member

    Apr 11, 2012
    As cheap as possible without looking like a scrooge. Ring is not a proxy for love or commitment.

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