Dear Dave: My girlfriend and I have been dating for about three years, and we're talking about getting married. I have some money saved up and would like to buy her a nice engagement ring. Do you have any guidelines on how much to spend on something like this?
If you're working a good, steady, full-time job, I think a good rule of thumb for engagement rings is one month's pay. Some jewelry stores will tell you two or even three months' pay, but that's just too much. Lots of people get engaged or married with cheaper rings, and the relationship and the jewelry last just fine.
Trust me, there's absolutely no statistical correlation between the price of the ring and the length of the marriage.
Jewelry stores have huge mark-ups on diamonds. You want someone who's a diamond broker, or even a high-end pawn shop. You can save literally 50 percent buying from places like these. But in either case, you need to look around and find someone you can trust because if you're like me, you're probably not a diamond expert.
Remember, too, that diamonds are not an investment. In two decades, I've never seen the diamonds I've given my wife go up in value. And the whole "diamonds are a girl's best friend" slogan is just a bunch of advertising hype. Don't fall for that stuff, either.
Be smart and buy smart, Dustin. It's a great feeling to give the lady of your life a big sparkling rock, but you don't have to break the bank to do it.