Once upon a time it was widely believed that a suitor was only truly committed to their future spouse if they spent the equivalent of three months’ salary on their engagement ring. Thankfully, romance is rarely measured in such numerical terms today, alleviating the strain on the engagement ring shopper’s purse strings.
Here at Lebrusan Studio, we offer a broad range of price points, encouraging our clients to make choices not shaped by society’s expectations, but creative vision and heart. This blog post explores our three key price brackets and their scope for design and ethical materials, helping you to decide how much you should spend on your partner’s engagement ring.
To contextualise the current landscape for engagement ring shopping, it’s worth glancing back at the years that preceded it and the customs we have – fortunately - left behind.
The ‘three months’ salary rule’ can be traced back to the 1930s, when diamond industry players were struggling to make sales during the Great Depression, which imposed significant financial strain on US citizens. In a bid to drive the sale of diamond engagement rings at a time when cardinal gemstones like rubies or sapphires were more widely favoured, De Beers launched an advertising campaign claiming that the diamond engagement ring was the ultimate symbol of love, and the most respectable means of attaining one was to commit one month’s salary to its purchase. According to the American Gem Society, this campaign increased diamond sales by 50% in just three years.
By the 1980s, with roughly 80% of engagement rings now incorporating diamonds, De Beers saw an opportunity to accelerate momentum, cleverly pitching a diamond engagement ring as the only way to make two months’ salary last forever. “She already knows you love her,” they remarked. “Now everyone else will too.”
This one-month’s-salary hike was only pushed to markets in the US and Europe, however. In Japan, De Beers had already begun suggesting that the beginning of forever was in fact worth three months’ salary. This salary rule has been dubbed ‘a stroke of genius,’ entwining western values with the Japanese sense of honour. Today, Japan remains one of the world’s leading markets for diamonds, the three months’ salary rule having stuck fast.
Only you may decide how much you are comfortable spending on your partner’s engagement ring. This budget should be carefully defined by factors personal to you; from your income to your financial commitments, future plans, design and material preferences, partner’s feelings and personal sense of style, and ultimate sense of what an engagement ring is worth to you both.
You might find the average engagement ring spend in your country an insightful place to start. For example, in 2023, the average engagement ring cost somewhere between £2,000 and £2,500. Of course, this figure is in no way reflective of your personal financial standing, but understanding the ‘going rate’ may manage your expectations as you begin seeking a jeweller whose offering aligns with your budget.
Lebrusan Studio is an independent lifestyle business for whom ethical sourcing and quality are the utmost priorities. Our prices are an honest reflection of the specialist craftspeople we employ, the charitable causes we choose to invest our money in and our made-to-order manufacturing system. Our jewellery is crafted exclusively in the UK, from independent Hatton Garden workshops that we visit in person on a weekly basis. Every piece is branded with the special 'Created in the UK' hallmark to corroborate this. We pay premiums to operate in this way, which means we might not always be able to compete with high street jewellers on price but can assure that every single engagement ring – even our most affordable – is an encapsulation of beautiful ethics, exquisite craftsmanship and a whole lot of love.
Here at Lebrusan Studio, our engagement rings start at £1,200, with our spinel-set Fancy Hera ring.
Some of our least costly engagement rings are those set with coloured gemstones like sapphires and rubies, which tend to be significantly cheaper than diamonds of the same size, despite being equally as precious and virtually as resilient. Offering serious bang for buck, these cardinal gemstones are a savvier pick than a diamond for anyone seeking the largest central stone they can possibly acquire. £2,870, for example, could buy you a Fancy Athena engagement ring set with an oval-cut central sapphire as large as 1ct.
And if colour isn’t your bag, this advice still applies to you, thanks to the white sapphire. Though white sapphires have a much lower refractive index than their intensely brilliant diamond friends, their toughness and colourless hue make them a great substitute, with their comparative affordability making large sizes and fancy cuts far more feasible. If you're willing to forfeit a little sparkle for the sake of a big presence, drop us a line to discuss the availability of fair-traded white sapphires.
There are plenty of smaller diamonds available within this price range, too; a solitaire design like our quintessential Engraved in My Heart or iconic Athena engagement ring may be set with a 0.4ct recycled diamond for £2,730.
If typical 'perfection' is not of great importance to you, exploring options that are traditionally less ‘desirable’ than the colourless and crystal-clear standard of excellence is also an opportunity to optimise your budget. Though graded low on the clarity front, diamonds that are heavily included – like salt and pepper diamonds - possess character that can’t be emulated, and are often fascinating in appearance. Meanwhile, diamonds with tinges of yellow and brown might be graded within the K-I colour range instead of the more lucrative D-F range, but are gorgeously complimentary of warm skin tones and yellow or rose-coloured metals.
At Lebrusan Studio, the mid-range £3,000 - £5,000 bracket tends to encompass central diamonds of roughly 0.5ct – 0.6ct. At the lower end of the range, for example, is our Athena Grande solitaire engagement ring, which starts at £3,530 when set with a 0.5ct reclaimed diamond.
If you’re keen to achieve the maximum sparkle your budget allows, you’ll find it useful to learn that carat weight is more affordably attained via lots of small diamonds than the concentrated brilliance of one large solitaire diamond.
For example, encircling a central diamond in a halo setting not only maximises its appearance; it’s a budget-conscious opportunity to cram more diamond into the picture. See also: studding your band with small grain-set or micro-set diamonds.
For just an extra £150, our Athena Grande can be upgraded to a Stella variation, which features three small brilliant-cut diamonds embedded carefully into each shoulder. Meanwhile, our Cybele design’s oval-cut centrepiece and micro-set band entail roughly 0.61ct of diamond for beneath the £4,000 mark.
At the higher end of our engagement ring price range, you’ll find big diamonds. Our Athena Grande is designed to hold a diamond as large as 1.5ct, whilst our timeless Artisan engagement rings start at £14,600, their price tags not only reflective of their noteworthy stature but the fascinating provenance of their Fairmined Ecological Gold and artisanal Ocean Diamonds.
Carrying the heaviest load is our Harmonia trilogy engagement ring, crowned with a breath-taking emerald-cut centrepiece and trillion-cut side diamonds, weighing roughly 1.7ct in all.
Of course, this price bracket enables plenty of freedom when designing a bespoke engagement ring, whether your budget is allocated primarily to a substantial central stone, story-telling artisanal materials, or an intricate design which requires the knack of a specialist craftsperson.
The word ‘compromise’ is often associated with the notion of being sold short, but remaining open to alternatives is actually a savvy way to attain the engagement ring of your dreams without overshooting your budget.
In the context of ethical engagement rings, a diamond’s provenance is generally the fifth contributing factor to its price (after colour, cut, clarity, and carat weight). For example, a 0.8ct diamond of traceable Canadian origin costs around 15% more than a recycled diamond of exactly the same weight and quality. If the visual impact of your diamond takes priority over its youth and traceability, choosing a recycled stone is a clever way to nab more carats for your coins.
Love, Arabel & Team