How We Saved $1,753 on Engagement and Wedding Rings

Despite our differences, I’m generally happy with my marriage to Mr. FAF. He’s a good husband, father, and friend.

The one thing that keeps bothering me about our marriage is the $2,350 engagement ring Mr. FAF got me.

I know the unspoken rule in the dating/marriage world is that the value of the ring should be at least three times the guy’s monthly salary. I think it’s a bit too excessive and unnecessary.

A friend of mine once told me that was the bar she had set for her then boyfriend (now fiance). She wouldn’t accept a proposal with an engagement ring less than three times his (lawyer) monthly salary.

My engagement ring

When Mr. FAF broached the topic of marriage to me, he said he would get me a $5,000 ring because that was what I deserved.

Back then Mr. FAF was (and still is) a poor grad student, so I was touched when I heard that.

But the frugal side of me woke up from fantasy one day. I told him I’d be happy with a $500 ring, and I meant it.

I had never really fancied a ring with a big diamond. I thought we should save the money for a house, a car, or our babies if we got married. After all, we were just two poor grad students. I didn’t need to impress anyone.

Mr. FAF wouldn’t agree since it’d make him look cheap. He compared a $500 ring to a piece of glass, which I of course disagreed with.

We eventually agreed on $2,500. It was still too expensive for my taste. To me, it was just equivalent to buying something that had no practical use or wouldn’t yield any investment return. But we needed a compromise.

I was doing some research online, looking at sites such as Jared and Kay, and I was totally aghast at the prices. That’s when my best friend told me she had gotten her ring from Costco for a much cheaper price.

I was surprised and immediately hooked. I thought Costco was mainly for wholesale meat and vegetables. They have nice jewelry as well? Apparently, Costco rings can cost as much as $40,000.

I searched for more info online. In 2013, Good Morning America assessed a Tiffany ring and a Costco ring to compare their real value. They found that the $16,600 Tiffany cut was appraised at $10,500, whereas the $6,600 Costco ring was priced 17 percent lower than its appraised value of $8,000.

Over all, the Tiffany brand name added significantly to the high price. The only downside about Costco is that they don’t resize ring for free, but Tiffany does.

Armed with the finding, I told Mr. FAF to get me a ring from Costco. He of course wasn’t thrilled and was skeptical. But I showed him the study and said I’d be more than happy with a Costco ring, so he gave in.

Mr. FAF got me a $2,350 ring which was evaluated at $3,850 by an expert. It came with a certificate for insurance. I later paid $120 for resizing.

Savings = $3,850 – $2,350 – $120 = $1,380

My engagement and wedding rings

After I announced our engagement, questions came pouring in asking for photos of the ring and about how Mr. FAF proposed. I had a lot of fun showing my friends what Mr. FAF had given me.

When people asked where the ring came from, I told them the truth: it came from Costco. The ring was on display among all the fruit, pork, yogurt, and hot dogs. People always gave me a quizzical look when I told them that.

It was a bit awkward, but part of me was happy we didn’t spend a markup price for a big brand name like Kay or Tiffany.

After a month or so, the euphoria died down. No one asked about the ring anymore. It was forgotten or seen without much interest by other people. It was just a ring.

Wedding rings

I thought it would be enough formality for a marriage until people kept asking me where my wedding band was after we got married. And I had to admit I decided to buy wedding bands for Mr. FAF and myself just to avoid that question.

I started looking online and ended up on Amazon where I got a $265 titanium ring for myself for just $25 and a $145 ring for Mr. FAF for $12. Mr. FAF told me he’d be happy with a $1 ring, but I couldn’t find anything that’d fit him for less than $12 back then.

Both prices included shipping and handling. The reason they were cheaper on Amazon is because the prices didn’t include store rent and salesperson’s hourly wages and commissions.

Savings = ($265 + $145) – ($25 + $12) = $373

TOTAL SAVED = $1,380 + $373 = $1,753

After I started wearing the wedding band, people stopped asking me about it. I carried on my normal life. I was married. But there was no more interest or confusion about my engagement or marital status.

Conclusion

Instead of paying $4,260 for engagement and wedding rings, we paid only $2,507 (saving $1,753). I know the value of the rings, especially the engagement ring, must have depreciated substantially over these years, which still pains me to think about.

Part of me is happy we had the ring shopping experience. But now I just want to sell the engagement ring. I will still keep the wedding band in case people wonder if I’m married or not. It’s also nice to have some proof of our marriage.

But the $2,350 proof of engagement, in my opinion, was a bad investment. The only enjoyment I got from it was when I showed it off to my family and friends. Now no one even cares or asks about it.

I’ve looked up websites where I can sell the ring and even got a quote for it. But Mr. FAF insists that I keep it. He said we can keep it as an heirloom for our offspring or sell it when we’re in extreme financial difficulty (i.e. bankruptcy). Not wanting to upset him, I agreed.

If I could go back in time to talk to my unmarried self, I’d tell her not to buy such an expensive item to mark our commitment. This is something I will definitely tell my future daughter.

Sometimes I wonder if it’d be weird if I had asked Mr. FAF to transfer $2,500 to my bank account as a proposal instead. This might sound like he used money to buy my ‘Yes,’ but at least we could still have our cash in the bank and invest it in something with a high rate of return later on.

Oh well, it’s too late now. I guess the best thing I can do at the moment is enjoy our marriage and avoid similar purchases in the future. But I can tell you one thing: societal pressure to spend is real!

 

Related:

How Frugality Brought Us Together As A Couple

The Pros And Cons Of Our Long-distance Marriage

The Costs Of Marital Conflict

The Free Article That Helped Our Marriage

 



42 thoughts on “How We Saved $1,753 on Engagement and Wedding Rings”

    • Totally agreed! I think the engagement ring was the first and will be the last piece of expensive jewelry I will ever buy in my life. @_@ I wouldn’t mind having another one if I won it in a free game though. 😀

  • This is awesome! Mr. AR and I definitely went the cheaper route too 🙂 His ring was maybe $100 on eBay (?) and my engagement ring has an orange sapphire instead of a diamond in the middle, so it was significantly less expensive! Almost 4 years into marriage and I have no regrets with our “budget” rings. There are so many more important things in life!

    PS- your rings are beautiful!

    • Aww thank you, Mrs. Adventure Rich! Mr. FAF and I have been married for almost 4 years too! Reading about your “budget” rings made me happy. That’s exactly what I had in mind before Mr. FAF and I tied the knot! ^.^

  • That whole 3 month salary thing is just a marketing tactic anyways – a very persuasive one, but I think a lot of folks nowadays are wising up and realizing that expensive ring and expensive wedding does not necessarily equal happy marriage. It sounds like you two compromised and did what was best for you, and that’s really what is most important. Of course it’s challenging because of the social expectations, but gossip eventually moves on. Costco once boasted a $1 Million diamond ring at one time – I believe the CEO of the company bought one for his fiance or something like that. Their jewelry is gorgeous either way – and hey, if you don’t like it, can’t you return it? I thought they used to have a very generous return policy 😀 btw, add me to the growing list of folks who saved on their wedding rings – spent around $3k for all of the wedding rings. I chose to do a colored gemstone as well. Saved our money instead for a fun honeymoon 🙂

    • I heard about the $1M ring as well. The CEO had such a great marketing strategy! Costco allows you to return the ring within one year, but it has to be in the original condition (i.e. no resizing). I resized mine.

      Speaking of honeymoon, we did a road trip with 2 friends to Orlando and had a blast! I think we spent around 1k (tickets to Universal Studio and such were expensive). I can vaguely remember what we did there @_@ I just remember I really liked the turkey legs at the park :”>

  • I agree engagement rings might not be a good investment. But, sometimes it’s important to enjoy these moments without worrying about the money, unless you’re completely broke.

    • Great point! I did enjoy having the rings for a while. But you’re right. Sometimes we just need to enjoy life a little bit 😉

  • Nice job with Costco! I’m not a big fan of that store, but that purchase is great.
    Heh heh, I’ll share my frugal story here too.
    I just got a job when Mrs. RB40 went off on her Peace Corp. assignment for 2 years. She came up to visit and I got her a tiny engagement ring. We didn’t have any money so it was way cheap. Forgot what I paid, but it was under $1,000. She doesn’t like flashy rings so it was perfect for her.
    A few years later, we got married and got generic gold bands. Now, we don’t even wear them. It’s just a lot more comfortable especially at the gym. We don’t care what other people think. Nobody ever said anything anyway. 🙂

    • That’s a great story, Joe! It’s amazing how you two can be on the same page about what’s important to you and your marriage. Sometimes I also want to take the rings off and put them away. But then I’m afraid I might lose them somewhere or that someone might break into the house and steal them @_@. First world problem. *sigh*

  • I think Mr. FAF is right about keeping the ring as an heirloom. But I totally understand why it feels like a bad investment. I hope you don’t let it color your feelings too much. The ring, as with almost anything, only has as much value as someone puts into it. Maybe you could have done something with a bigger ROI than a ring, but that money has already been spent. Enjoy it for what it is.

    • Thank you, Jax! You made me feel so much better about the ring. You’re right. It’s too late to think about how I could have done with the money instead, so I’ll just move on and enjoy the ring and our marriage 😉

      • When I get married, my engagement and wedding ring will be my grandmother’s. My older sister used the stone for her first wedding (and got divorced) so she doesn’t want it anymore. I’ll have to get it in a new setting because I wouldn’t want to wear the wedding ring from my sister’s failed marriage… Though I have no qualms about using the stone! A setting should be under 1k. The diamond is worth 5k so it will be a big savings!

        Just think of the cost saving you will be passing down later! Even your son can use it, and then you can get the cheap ring you always wanted without anyone hounding you about it. My mom offered me her ring if I wanted it, then the ring would be totally free since the center stone could just be put back on (it was in her ring and she took it out and replaced it with a ruby to give to my sister. She always wanted a colored gemstone but it was cheaper to use the family stone at the time).

  • The diamond engagement ring was such a great marketing ploy by De Beers. The tradition has been around for less than a century but sadly has spread from America to other cultures. At first it was one months salary, then two, and then three. And is it gross or net salary?? Of course I did get a diamond engagement ring because that’s just what everyone did. I didn’t know any better. I bought it through a friend who worked in the diamond business so I thought I was getting a decent deal. I did get a certificate saying it was valued more than I paid. However, I’m sure if we were to sell it (we wouldn’t), we definitely wouldn’t get that amount. I read on a different blog where the bride to be got a moissanite gem instead which looks very much like a diamond…is not fake (like a cubic zirconia) but is much more affordable. If I could go back in time…and if my wife to be approved, I would do that. Too bad there’s so much pressure to spend so much on engagement rings…and then on weddings! All that money would be better off if you could use it as a down payment on a house or something like that.

    • I know! Social pressure is real and sometimes overpowering! @_@ I also saw the video about the marketing ploy by De Beers when they wanted people to buy more diamonds from them. I thought they were so cunning. The sad thing is the strategy has been working for decades!

      At least you got a deal from a good friend, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad markup price. But don’t feel too bad about it. We all learn new things every day. For me, at least now I know what it’s like to wear a diamond (which is pretty underwhelming to say the least -_-).

  • Wow! Luckily you weren’t too heavily influenced by Asian parents in the ring-buying process. My in-laws pretty much planned our entire wedding in Korea. I had approximately $15,000 in savings–I don’t really remember anymore–that was depleted to help pay for my wife’s 1carat diamond ring, 1cart necklace, other jewelry, and our wedding. I never asked how much everything cost, but it was probably over $30,000!

    I would have been perfectly content to spend little on the wedding and invest the rest, but my wife and her parents wouldn’t even entertain that thought (so I never brought it up). Oh well, at least her parents helped to pay for our wedding. Such is life!

    • My in-laws and my parents planned our weddings in Asia too! We had 2 weddings: 1 in China and 1 in Vietnam. By the time we were done, I just wished I would never have to get married again @_@. My mother-in-law also wanted to buy jewelry for me, but I told her it wasn’t necessary since I don’t wear jewelry.

      I’m sorry to hear that the wedding depleted your savings >_<. But at least you gained a wife and a new set of parents afterwards, so maybe it was put to good use after all. Our parents got red envelopes (with money in them) from the guests, so that helped offset the costs. Not sure if people give money as gifts in Korea too.

  • My wife and I celebrated 39 years of marriage three weeks ago. Your post reminded me that she was doing some filing recently and came across the receipt for my ring and it was $71. Her’s was the same plain gold band. No engagement ring at all. Of course times were different in the Jurassic age when we were married but I always appreciated her practical take on money which was similar to mine. Now we are FIRE and there aren’t many things out of our price range but we still live frugally… Still are in love…. Still very happy!

    • Hi Steve, happy anniversary! I wish we all were as simple and practical as you and your wife were back then. I think it would alleviate a lot of the financial stress that many young couples have. After all, people get married to live happily for years to come, not just to show off the shiny rings. But I guess there are a lot of things that we’re unfortunately told to do to conform to social norms. -_-

      I’m glad to hear that you and your wife are now FIRE and live happily and frugally. Thanks for sharing your great story! 🙂

  • Great post! I’ve always found the process for pricing diamonds to be interesting. Generally speaking, the naked eye isn’t going to know the difference between VVS1 and say SI2 clarity or between a D and a J color. However, the price points are exponentially different. I held a $28,000 diamond and a $5,000 diamond in my hand and literally saw no difference. What’s the point?

  • I don’t know if you or Mr. FAF experienced this while shopping for your engagement ring but I remember when I was shopping one for my wife all the jewelry stores kept on telling me about the 4 Cs: cut, clarity, color. and carat. I guess that was their selling point to factor in when buying an engagement ring. Both of us bought into it and looked for one that had adequate quality for those 4Cs. But one evening after a few months of shopping and failed expectations for the right quality of the 4Cs and price my wife just wanted to find one she liked and did not factor in the quality of the ring and within a few hours she found one online for like around $200 and didn’t look back. She is happy with hers and I am too. I got my wedding band on eBay for around $20 and got a backup for like $10 and both bands are still in great condition.
    Just like you said society pressures us to splurge to certain items and engagement/wedding rings are no exception. The best way to avoid this pressure is to ignore it and enjoy the things that you like whether its $1000 or $1

    • I remember reading about the 4Cs online but didn’t give it much thought. We went to a few stores (2-3), and I tried on a couple of rings but couldn’t take the prices. I think the salespeople also knew we weren’t too interested, so they weren’t too aggressive about marketing to us. I honestly can’t tell the difference between two diamonds except that one is bigger than the other. I’m not sure if I can even tell if a diamond is real or not @_@.

      It’s great you two got such good deals for the rings. Your wife seems very practical. I wish Mr. FAF had listened to me and spent less than $500 on the ring. I will need to make sure to talk to my future daughter about this topic when the time is right!

  • Nice job saving money on your engagement and wedding rings!

    I did not go on the cheap for my fiancee’s engagement ring. I ended up spending about 1 month’s gross salary. However, I just made the expense part of my budget and saved over several months.

    I will definitely get our wedding bands on the cheap though. Everyone wants Platinum, but I also want to get Titanium. It is super strong and cheap. Plus it will match my fiancee’s white gold ring, I think (I’m color blind so maybe not?)

    • Congratulations on the engagement! It’s great you budgeted for the ring. I think as long as it makes both of you happy and if you have budgeted for it, it should be fine. ^.^

  • Your hubby is lucky that you’re not the type to DEMAND a blinging ring! Neither did my wife. Which I was super grateful for. But people around us spend their life savings on their rings. It’s nuts. Like ~$15K is the norm around here on a diamond engagement ring. Sounds crazy to me. It’s a keeping up with the jones’ type mentality.

    • Thank you, Tim! I literally just sent Mr. FAF your comment so he knows he’s lucky 😀 My friend’s fiance is from CA, and she said engagement rings are super important there. I can’t bear the thought of spending so much money on just a ring. It makes me wanna cry inside -_-

    • Oh wow it’s great to have such a wonderful gift from his mom! $15 sounds like a good deal for a wedding band to me. And the most important thing is both you and your husband like it. 🙂

  • Everyone has their own ideas about it, but I find the whole thing pointless – no one should have to spend money to show their “love”. The commercial world makes too many things about money. Instead of a big ring, how about spending quality time with the spouse after marriage? Or doing the dishes once in awhile? That’s what love is to me.

    I got my wife a nice ring on Etsy – not cheap, but also not crazy expensive. And like you said, no one really asks her about it now. So I think it was a good decision.

    • Woo I like the idea of doing the dishes once in a while, or maybe every day? 😀 I didn’t know they had engagement rings on Etsy too! I’m glad you got your wife something both of you like and agreed one. That’s one of the best part about being happily married! ^.^

      • The good thing about Etsy is you can also get something custom. That’s what my sister did for her 2nd marriage. It makes sense to spend some money on the design – you are going to wear it every day for the rest of your life so it’s important to get something you love. My sister got the diamond one and an exact replica that has a fake gemstone. She’s a nurse so she wanted something she can wear to work and take on/off as needed and not worry about losing. Smart!

  • I did not know about the Tiffany vs Costco comparison! That’s pretty suprising. I don’t know if I would ever buy a ring willingly because I don’t like wearing accessories (also I lose things a lot.)

    Jared’s grandpa lost his ring fishing in the ocean. It just flung off his finger and dropped into the ocean. Grandma was very angry hahaha.

    • I wish Mr. FAF and I hadn’t fallen into the expensive ring trap *tears* -_-

      So sorry to hear about Jared’s grandpa’s mishap. I hope grandma got over it fast. I don’t think I’d be happy either heheh.

  • Speaking of Asian weddings, did you receive a bunch of gold jewelries as well? I’m not a jewelry person, the only thing I wear is my wedding band and occasionally earrings so the holes don’t close (it has happened to me before). Anyways, I have gold rings and bracelets and I have no idea what to do with them.

    • Haha I did! I got some from my mom, my grandma, and my husband’s side of the family. I don’t wear them ever, so I gave some back to my mom and my grandma. I told them to keep the jewelry for me. I put the rest (not much) away. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever wear them. @_@

  • Awesome story!!! My wife and I bought a loose diamond and then had it placed on the ring to save a couple of $$$. I can’t remember why we didn’t look at Costco. It was probably because I was in love and didn’t think to compare. Anyway great find and sounds like you saved some big time $$$.

    • Thank you, Mr. MSM! Many people don’t think about Costco when it comes to jewelry. We tend to be blind-folded when we’re in love, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it 😉

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