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How to Budget for an Engagement Ring: A Comprehensive Guide for South Africans

how to budget for an engagement ring

Determining how much to spend on an engagement ring can be a daunting task. This guide is designed to help you navigate the complexities of setting a realistic budget for an engagement ring, taking into account various factors such as gemstone types, metal choices, and ethical considerations.

The Psychology of Budgeting

When setting a budget for an engagement ring, it’s not just about the numbers. You’ll need to navigate societal expectations and emotional factors. Whether you’re considering a traditional diamond, lab-grown diamonds, or alternatives like Moissanite, it’s crucial to align your budget with your actual financial situation.

The 3-Month Salary Myth

The old rule of thumb—spending three months of your salary on a ring—may not be practical for everyone. In South Africa, this guideline is increasingly being questioned, especially with more budget-friendly options like lab-grown diamonds and Moissanite available.

Budgeting for Different Life Stages

Your financial situation can vary depending on your life stage. Younger couples might lean towards more budget-friendly options like lab-grown diamonds or Moissanite, which offer a similar brilliance to natural diamonds but at a fraction of the cost.

Metal Choices and Their Impact on Budget

The type of metal you choose for the ring setting can significantly affect the overall cost. Platinum is generally the most expensive, followed by gold, while silver is usually the most budget-friendly option.

Hidden Costs to Consider

Additional costs like insurance, resizing, and customisation can add up. Factor these into your overall budget, regardless of whether you’re considering a diamond, a gemstone, or a Moissanite ring in South Africa.

Financing Options and Their Pitfalls

Various financing options exist but tread carefully. While loans or payment plans can make the ring more affordable upfront, interest rates can significantly inflate the overall cost.

Ethical Budgeting: What Are Your Options?

If ethical sourcing is a priority, consider lab-grown diamonds or Moissanite, which are becoming popular in South Africa as ethical and budget-friendly alternatives.

Lab-Grown vs. Natural Diamonds: A Budget Perspective

Lab-grown diamonds can be 20-40% less expensive than natural diamonds, offering a budget-friendly yet equally brilliant alternative. This choice can significantly impact your budget and is worth considering.

Investment Perspective: Is It a Factor?

Some people view engagement rings as an investment. If this is a consideration for you, focus on options that are likely to hold their value over time.

Regional and Cultural Differences in South Africa

In South Africa, the budget for an engagement ring can be influenced not just by economic conditions but also by diverse cultural practices and traditions. For instance, in some cultures, engagement rings might be integrated into broader customs like lobola (bride price), affecting how much is allocated specifically for the ring. Additionally, local preferences for certain types of gemstones or metals could influence costs. Understanding these cultural nuances can help you set a more contextually appropriate budget.

DIY Budgeting Tools to Help You

Consider using budget calculators or financial planning apps to help set a realistic budget. These tools can provide a clearer picture of what you can afford, taking into account your income, expenses, and other financial commitments.


Setting a budget for an engagement ring is a complex task that involves various considerations, from the type of gemstone and metal to societal expectations and hidden costs. By taking all these factors into account, you’ll be better equipped to set a budget that’s both financially sound and emotionally satisfying.

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