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Why Are American Engagement Rings So Big?

Why Are American Engagement Rings So Big?

Engagement rings and weddings are a huge thing in America. You can’t hear about a proposal without immediately finding out how big the engagement ring is.

Moreover, if it’s a celebrity engagement, you won’t hear anything other in the news than how massive and expensive the ring was.

It’s believed that an engagement ring’s size equals the love the proposer has for the proposed. This belief is so embedded in the US that many spend all their savings and even go in depth just to buy a big engagement ring.

Engagements and weddings are about love and not money. So, what leads a whole nation to the belief that the more you spend on an engagement ring, the greater your love?

In this article, we’ll talk about why American engagement rings are so big, what’s the average cost for an engagement ring, and whether a bigger one is better.

A Brief History Of Engagement Rings

It’s speculated that the use of engagement rings dates back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. However, there’s no hard evidence that can support this claim.

What we do know is that engagement rings were a thing in Ancient Rome, but not in the romantic sense we know today.

In Ancient Rome, engagement rings were a form of a legal contract. They served to show that a woman is no longer owned by her father but by her husband from whom she received the ring. Moreover, it also meant she was off the market.

Usually, men from the upper class gave their wives two rings, an iron one to wear at home and a gold one to wear outside to display wealth.

Since then, the engagement ring has remained a status symbol and wealth. But, this isn’t the only custom we adapted from the ancient Romans.

Wearing an engagement ring on the fourth finger also began in Ancient Rome. The Romans believed a vein directly connects the hearth to the fourth finger. It was later proved that this wasn’t the case, but the custom survived, and the fourth finger is still considered the ring finger.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe continued with the tradition of engagement rings. However, they were no longer a symbol of ownership but a promise to get married.

Diamond Engagement Rings

The first proposal with a diamond ring was in the 15th century when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy.

This engagement started a new trend in Europe, where diamond rings became immensely popular among the upper class.

Back then, diamonds were still extremely rare because they were mined only in India. The price of diamonds dropped in the 18th century with the discovery of mines in Brazil and South Africa. Even middle-class couples could afford diamond engagement rings at that point.

The price of diamond engagement rings stayed relatively low until their value was artificially increased in the 19th century.

Related Read: Price Of Diamonds Over The Last 50 Years: How Did It Change?

Why Are Diamond Engagement Rings So Expensive?

In the US, diamond engagement rings are almost a must. You may get away with a diamond pendant or bracelet, but nothing seals a relationship better than an engagement ring with a big fat diamond.

Big engagement rings have become the norm thanks to social media, influencers, and marketing. By looking at celebrities, friends, and family getting engaged with big fat rings, you can’t help but want one yourself.

This tradition is so embedded in America’s culture that others may look down on your relationship if it isn’t crowned with a big engagement ring. The pressure from others may be so high that some decide to loan money just to ice out their beloved’s finger.

There are even unwritten rules about engagement rings that dictate how much one should spend.

A good example is that the engagement ring should cost at least as much as a two-month salary. This is a ridiculous amount of money regardless of how much one earns.

Jewelers know how popular engagement rings are and that most won’t spare a penny to buy one. That’s why they can raise the prices without worrying about no one buying the rings. Even if an engagement ring doesn’t sell immediately, they will easily sell it by making a small sale.

Because of the high demand, it’s easy for jewelers to make a profit. Some large retailers can sell diamond engagement rings with a markup of a whopping 1000%. That’s because they have an established presence on the market, and people are ready to pay for the diamond engagement ring and its brand.

However, diamonds weren’t always so expensive. We can thank the De Beers Corporation and their marketing campaigns for today’s high prices of diamonds.

The Most Successful Marketing Campaign In History

Until the 20th century, diamonds were as popular as any other precious stone. Only a small percentage of engagement rings were crowned with diamonds.

However, that all changed with an extensive marketing campaign launched by the De Beers Corporation during the economic slump in America.

If the name De Beers doesn’t ring a bell for you, one of their slogans definitely will. “A diamond is forever“, and “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” are slogans from their marketing campaign.

They commissioned Hollywood actresses to wear jewelry crowned with big diamonds in their movies. If you have ever watched an old Hollywood movie, you know how much jewelry the actresses have.

Lana Turner, Marlyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn are only a few Hollywood stars hired to promote diamonds.

These movies clearly sent the Americans a message: Diamonds are a must. Women were made to think that diamonds showed how much a man loved them. On the other hand, diamond engagement rings represented a display of wealth for men.

The De Beers marketing campaign was so successful that the percentage of diamond engagement rings in the US skyrocketed from 10% to a whopping 80% during the 90s.

Today, there are still marketing campaigns that focus on keeping diamonds popular. Moreover, celebrities and influencers are showing off their big diamonds more than ever, thanks to social media.

Around three-quarters of Americans can’t imagine a proper proposal without a big engagement ring. This is especially true among the upper class because we’re encouraged to think wealth equals a big engagement ring.

Is Bigger Better? Why Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better

If you like it you should put a ring on it, but how big should it be?

While many think bigger is better, it isn’t always the case. Many consider small engagement rings more desirable, elegant, and sophisticated than large stones. A large diamond ring could be regarded as too chunky and tacky to be worn daily.

On the other hand, others are of a different opinion. The whole big engagement ring thing may have started as a marketing campaign, but now it’s the norm. Some just don’t want to stand out, so they follow what’s accepted and desirable by society.

Both viewpoints are valid. It comes down to the opinion of you and your partner. When the topic of engagement rings and weddings comes up while talking to your partner, make sure to pick up the hints.

Most will mention what they like and what not. Moreover, they might reveal some details about how they imagine their engagement rings, so make sure you always listen carefully.

What Is The Average Carat Size For A Diamond Engagement Ring?

The average engagement ring size in the US is around 1 carat. The US has the largest engagement rings in the world. Europe’s average engagement ring size is around 0.5 ct, meaning Americans buy twice as big rings.

The average carat size of diamond engagement rings changes the older the couple is. Young couples aren’t usually wealthy enough to afford large rings, so they settle for 0.5-1 ct rings.

However, older couples have better-paying jobs and can mostly afford bigger rings. In most cases, they buy engagement rings sized anywhere between 1ct to 2.4ct.

What Is Considered A Big Engagement Ring?

While most people worldwide consider the average one-carat American engagement ring big, Americans disagree. In America, an engagement ring is considered big when it’s above 2 carats.

Related Read:

Are Smaller Diamonds Better For Engagement Rings?

Whether a smaller diamond ring is the better choice depends on your partner and your financial situation.

The engagement ring situation in America is quite different from the rest of the world. While a small ring would be considered elegant, minimalistic, and modest in Europe, it could break your partner’s heart in America.

If your partner isn’t a fan of big engagement rings or diamonds, you shouldn’t propose with one. It may be the norm to do it, but your partner may be happier with a 0.5-carat ring or another gemstone like an emerald or ruby.

Moreover, a smaller one will do the job perfectly if you can’t financially handle a big engagement ring. Many couples start with a small engagement ring that they later upgrade with a new setting or a larger stone.

So, don’t break your bank for an engagement ring if you know you can’t recover from it. If your partner truly loves you, a 0.25-carat ring will have the same value as a 2-carat one.

Where It’s Best To Buy Big Engagement Rings?

Online shopping has become the better alternative to in-store shopping in the past three years. Online shops have taken multi-tasking to the next level. You can eat, clean, relax, and even take a bath while browsing for the stuff you need.

Diamonds are no different. Most retailers have online shops now, so you can easily order an engagement ring to come to your door. They even have options where you can custom design your ring.

Moreover, online retailers usually charge less than physical stores. That’s because they have fewer expenses to cover, meaning they still make a profit while keeping the markup on diamonds relatively low.

So, an online retailer is the best choice if you want a big fat engagement ring and avoid the wedding tax.

Learn More: Which Brand Is The Best For A Diamond Ring?

Can You Make A Diamond Look Bigger?

If you badly want a big ring but can’t afford it, don’t worry. There are ways to make a small carat ring appear larger than it is.

You can easily make a diamond look bigger by choosing the right setting and cut. The best settings to make an engagement look bigger are:

Combined with the right cut, these settings will emphasize the diamond and make it look much larger. Here are the best cuts to make the engagement ring appear bigger:

If you think these cuts aren’t the best for an engagement ring, you can always go for a classical round shaped diamond. A setting with a thin band and fewer prongs can still make it look bigger than it is.

Related Read: Do Diamonds Look Bigger Once Set?


When thinking about how couples in America seal their relationship, you can help but wonder why are American engagement rings so big.

It has much to do with large marketing campaigns which convinced so many people that diamond engagement rings are necessary. Some even consider big rings a tradition that should be passed down from generation to generation.

No matter on which side you are, the fact is that America loves big engagement rings. Even though it can be said that big diamond rings are only a scam, now they really are a symbol of love and a successful relationship.

While shopping for an engagement ring, try to avoid the wedding tax as much as possible. Online shopping may be the best way, but make sure you buy from a trusted online retailer.

We hope you found this article interesting and that you learned everything you wanted to know about America’s big engagement rings.