They say you can't put a price on love, but you can certainly put a price on engagement rings—or some would say.
Some love stories end before they can reach the altar due to the complicated ring etiquette issues. Case in point: the viral couple who has since been the talk of the town because of a P299 engagement ring bought from an e-commerce site.
The issue first came to light when an anonymous sender asked for advice online regarding her boyfriend of eight years, who gave her a ring that was not up to her standard.
The sender quickly got her wish fulfilled, as the post has since sparked heated debates online, with some defending the P299 ring as they put more importance on a relationship's "emotional foundations," and others criticizing the low price and regarding it as a sign of a person's financial capability.
To give some clarity on the matter, PhilSTAR L!fe asked jewelers how much Filipinos usually spend on engagement rings, as well as some tips that couples can keep in mind in choosing the ring that suits their taste and budget.
How much bling on the ring
First things first, there's no right or wrong amount when it comes to engagement rings. It ultimately depends on the budget. But, finding one that has good quality and is within your budget is not impossible.
Niña Cuenca, co-owner of homegrown fine jewelry brand Atelier818, told L!fe that an average Filipino spends about P35,000 to P100,000 on engagement rings, depending on carat sizes and their appearance, fluorescence, and the diamond's origin.
She stressed that choosing quality engagement rings is a "smart and practical" thing to do as they are considered an investment.
"Since jewelry is considered an investment, some people really take the time to research qualities that make a piece greatly appreciated over time. In the same way, art connoisseurs collect art, jewelry is also a work of art," she said.
For Papat Aquino-Fider, co-owner of luxury jewelry manufacturer Tessera, one should budget one to three months’ worth of salary to invest in a good quality diamond engagement ring. "Diamonds are an investment and a better way to start a solid relationship with your fiancé," she emphasized.
Knowing that its value can leave others biting their lip in hesitation, Fider advised against judging people as materialistic for wanting a higher-quality ring.
"Certain characteristics of a ring are esteemed for a variety of reasons, including sentimental value, craftsmanship, and durability," she said.
"It's crucial to avoid making sweeping judgments about individuals based solely on their choices in jewelry. Different people attach various meanings to possessions, and what might seem materialistic to one person could hold deep personal significance to another," she added.
How to get the right ring
While there's no denying the lavish price of an engagement ring, not everyone can whip out thousands and millions of cash to give their partners the jewelry of their dreams. So what should one keep in mind when trying to find affordable rings without compromising their quality and maybe disappointing your partner?
- Consult. According to Cuenca, "Don’t be afraid to consult. There is always a way to design and work with any budget. Seasoned jewelers are experts at giving you design options and alternatives, and managing expectations based on costs."
- Ask for alternatives. "We have ring-setting innovations that can make a diamond look bigger than its actual size. Other alternatives are less popular cuts such as rose cut—this is a diamond that’s cut flat at the bottom, with a faceted domed top. This is a lower-priced option compared to the widely popular brilliant cut," Cuenca continued.
- Remember the four Cs. When searching for a natural diamond engagement ring, an easy method to help couples are keeping in mind the four Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight. Fider recommended that you should make sure that the diamond has a certificate from a respected gemological lab and has the right shape, setting, and size suitable to your partner's taste. "It's important that the diamonds are ethically sourced and conflict-free. In the end, the best natural diamond engagement ring is a mix of quality, style, and choices that are important to you and show your love," she said.
Some would say that communicating with your partners is key to getting the right ring, but Fider warned that this can be a "delicate dance" as practicality should not be overlooked in favor of the element of surprise.
"It is entirely reasonable for couples to discuss ring preferences and styles ahead of time. This ensures that the ring matches the recipient's preferences and avoid potential mismatches," she said.
"Allowing for an element of surprise, such as the particular circumstance or time of the proposal, can help to preserve the wonderful moment while ensuring the ring becomes a treasured symbol of love," she added.
Cuenca, meanwhile, suggested being discreet and taking a mental note of everything, as well as seeking help from close friends and family.
The next best ring
Even though engagement rings serve as a lavish symbol of your love, the lack of which won't impede you from taking your special someone to the altar.
"The decision to have or not have an engagement ring is entirely personal, and what matters most is that it expresses the couple's mutual understanding and commitment to one another," Fider said.
Cuenca shared the same sentiment, saying, "Each couple is unique, each one entitled to a proposal that best captures their love story, with or without a ring."
Instead of engagement rings, some couples opt for more low-cost jewelry or something that has an even more sentimental value to them. These can be necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings, lockets, and anything you and your partner desire.
If you still want to keep things traditional and push for a ring, then you may be able to keep it within the budget by looking into gemstones other than the highly popular and highly expensive diamond.
Of course, you must still ensure that the stone fits your partner's preference. If they're in love with the color purple, then a beautifully designed amethyst ring may be a better choice instead of an opal.
Repurposing an old engagement can also help lower your expenses. According to Cuenca, a quote is usually given after the ring is evaluated and a design is finalized, since it factors in the length of labor based on the complexities of the new design, as well as additional materials to be provided, like gold, diamonds, and gemstones.
In the end, each couple has the freedom to choose how they should go about with their happily ever after.