Modern Engagement Ring Etiquette Rules You Need to Know

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This comprehensive guide to engagement ring etiquette will help you make a thoughtful and meaningful proposal. It covers everything from selecting the right style and budget for the wedding ring. By following these dos and don’ts, you can demonstrate respect for your partner’s preferences and cultural traditions and create an unforgettable proposal. So, let’s check with Viva Wedding Photography!

7 Etiquette for engagement rings in modern life

1. Communicate the preferences directly to your partner.

For years, there has been a common misconception that you cannot directly communicate your desired engagement ring to your partner. Many people have instead resorted to subtle hints, hoping their partner would pick up on their preferences. This could include dropping hints during a movie or TV show or casually commenting about other people’s rings. However, this approach is often ineffective and can lead to disappointment.

Modern etiquette for engagement rings
Contemporary engagement ring rule – Photo by: Aurupt Jewellers

Effective communication is essential for a happy and successful marriage, and it should begin before you even say, “I do.” If you have strong feelings about the type of engagement ring you want, it’s considered good engagement ring etiquette to communicate those preferences directly to your partner.

After all, the ring will constantly symbolize your commitment and a cherished possession you’ll wear for the rest of your life. By being honest and upfront about your desires, you can ensure that your partner selects a ring that perfectly matches your style and brings you joy every time you wear it.

2. Shopping together to choose your engagement ring.

Many believe trying on engagement rings before getting engaged is bad luck, but this is a myth.

Engagement Ring Shopping Etiquette
Engagement ring etiquette rules for ring shopping – Photo by: iStock

Shopping for an engagement ring with your partner is a great way to ensure you both find the perfect one. Experts even recommend trying on rings together before the proposal. Doing so lets you determine your preferred engagement ring designs and ensure the ring fits comfortably. Therefore, rather than adhering to outdated engagement ring shopping etiquette, couples should feel free to shop for rings together and create a memorable experience.

3. Both partners can contribute to the engagement ring bill.

The 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study by The Knot states that the recent national average cost of an engagement ring is about $5,500. That said, the study also revealed that a quarter of the participants spent $1,000 to $3,000, highlighting the individuality and personal nature of engagement ring purchases. Generally, the cost of an engagement ring may be a significant financial burden, especially when it is solely the responsibility of one partner.

Engagement ring etiquette for splitting cost
Engagement ring rules cost about payment – Photo by: Opal & Onyx Photography.

While it is still common for the groom to pay for the engagement ring, many couples now opt for a more collaborative approach. This can involve the recipient selecting and paying for the ring or both partners contributing to the cost to ensure they get the ring of their dreams.

Ultimately, the decision of who pays for the ring and how much each partner contributes should be based on their circumstances and preferences, as well as their mutual respect and understanding of each other’s financial situation.

4. Purchase the engagement ring and wedding band simultaneously.

If you’re following traditional engagement ring etiquette, you might think shopping for wedding bands comes after the romantic proposal during the wedding planning process. However, things have changed significantly.

Engagement ring shopping etiquette
Engagement ring shopping etiquette – Photo by: Soha Diamond Co.

Many couples now shop for both engagement rings and wedding bands at the same time. Doing so can be a great opportunity to create a cohesive and personalized look, as you can consider how the two pieces will complement each other in design, materials, and gemstones.

For instance, you may choose a wedding band with diamonds or other precious stones that enhance the beauty of the center stone in your engagement ring. Alternatively, you might opt for a wedding band with a unique texture or pattern that adds interest and contrast to the simplicity of your engagement ring.

5. The engagement doesn’t have to be completely unexpected.

Movies and TV shows often depict on-screen engagements as complete surprises, leading us to believe that the best proposals come out of nowhere. The element of surprise can indeed make the moment even more special. However, this doesn’t mean that an engagement must be completely unexpected.

More couples prefer to have a conversation beforehand about the possibility of getting engaged or even going to the perfect ring shopping together. Ultimately, the best way to propose is the most meaningful and authentic to the couple’s relationship, whether it involves a surprise element or not.

Engagement Ring Etiquette: communication with your partner
Engagement Ring Etiquette – Photo by: Brides

It’s totally fine to let your partner know that a proposal might be coming, especially if you’ve talked about your perfect ring preferences or have had important conversations about your future together. Experts suggest having these discussions beforehand to ensure you’re both on the same page and ready for marriage.

By openly communicating your expectations and intentions, you can help your partner feel more comfortable and confident about getting engaged. It also lets you understand what you want from your relationship and future together. So, while the element of surprise can be sweet, it’s crucial to prioritize the most important and meaningful things for the future life of you two together.

6. Buy the ring that aligns with your budget.

If you’ve researched engagement ring rules cost, you may have heard of the “three months’ salary rule,” which suggests that the purchaser should spend three months’ worth of their income on the ring.

However, you may not know that this was originally a marketing campaign during The Great Depression to increase diamond sales during tough economic times. The “rule” started as a suggestion to spend one month’s salary on a ring, then increased to two, and eventually three.

There's no strict engagement ring rule about the ring's price
Etiquette for engagement rings prices are not set in stone – Photo by: Masina Diamonds

Despite the popularity of the “three months’ salary” rule, the most crucial aspect of engagement ring etiquette is prioritizing your budget. Spending an amount that fits within your financial means is crucial, rather than breaking the bank and incurring unnecessary debt. Starting your married life on the right financial footing is more important than adhering to any arbitrary rule.

7. Anyone can propose.

Engagements have traditionally been viewed from a heterosexual perspective, with the expectation that the man proposes to the woman.

etiquette for engagement rings: joint proposals
Engagement ring rule related to who should propose – Photo by: The Knot

With changing times, it has become more common for women to propose to their partners, and same-sex couples proposing has also gained prominence. As society progresses, it’s becoming clear that fitting relationships into any predetermined mold no longer makes sense. In 2024, love is love, and everyone should be free to express it in whatever feels right.

>>> For more information, check out What Hand Does the Engagement Ring Go On (Best Guide 2024)

Engagement ring etiquette rules when problems occurred

While a proposal followed by a wedding ring is the ideal scenario, the reality isn’t usually so simple. Learn how to deal with the most typical difficulties when they emerge so that you can deal with them effectively.

Broken engagements.

Etiquette for engagement rings when the relationship ends
Etiquette for engagement rings when the relationship ends – Photo by: HuffPost

In certain states, laws stipulate that the ring must be returned as it is considered a gift. It is widely accepted among other states that if a man ends the engagement, the woman has the right to retain the ring. In other states, engagement rings are commonly seen as unconditional gifts that the bride is entitled to keep, regardless of the circumstances.

If the ring is an heirloom, there may be ethical considerations surrounding its return, irrespective of legal obligations. Typically, it is an appropriate engagement ring rule for the woman to offer to return the ring following a broken engagement, while the man has the option to decline it.

Don’t like your ring.

Everything you need to know about engagement ring etiquette
Engagement ring etiquette rules when you don’t like your ring- Photo by: Brides

It can be quite challenging if you have no say in the style of your ring, especially if your fiancé has put a lot of effort into choosing it or if it holds sentimental value as a family heirloom. In order to prevent hurt feelings and underlying resentments, a golden etiquette for engagement rings is to be honest and openly communicate about the situation. Make it clear that you are not questioning the heart behind the present but that the style does not suit you.

There are a couple of options you can consider regarding the ring. One possibility is to restyle it by keeping the stone but changing the band and setting. Alternatively, you may prefer to return the ring and choose a more suitable one together.

The dos and don’ts of engagement ring etiquette

When selecting a ring, consider your partner’s taste and preferences.Solely decide on the ring and don’t care about your partner’s preferences.
Establish a budget that is reasonable for you and stick to it.Go into debt to buy an engagement ring.
Ensure you obtain the appropriate ring size to prevent any resizing difficulties laterSkip the ring altogether (as it’s still an important symbol of commitment).
Keep the Four Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) when assessing diamond quality.Forget to insure the ring to protect your investment.
If you require assistance, openly ask for help from a jeweler or a trustworthy friend.Hesitate seeking help or openly talking about your preference.

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Engagement ring etiquette is important in the engagement and proposal processes. So, following these guidelines, couples may ensure their proposal is a memorable and significant experience for both partners. Finally, Viva Wedding Photography hopes you will have the sweetest proposal for your partner.

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