The pandemic has been rough, but it hasn't stopped couples from splurging on a sparkler.

By Maggie Seaver
January 07, 2021
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A glance at couples' engagement ring spending habits last year reveals two things. One, yes, quality engagement rings remain very expensive. But two? They're not quite as pricey as they've been in years past. Hot off the presses, The Knot 2020 Jewelry & Engagement Study—a survey of more than 5,000 individuals who got engaged between April and November 2020—found that the average cost of an engagement ring is currently $5,500. That's an eye-popping price tag to be sure, but it's undeniably a shade lower compared to $5,900, The Knot's reported average ring cost from 2019. Even still, the marginal $400 drop suggests that even during a novel pandemic, hopeful ring shoppers continue to pull out the big guns to buy their spouse-to-be the perfect engagement ring.

One thing the pandemic did inevitably change was the actual ring-shopping experience. According to The Knot insights, the coronavirus forced hopeful shoppers to go digital for processes often (and preferably) done in person, such as ring research, contacting jewelers, jeweler consultations, and even making a purchase (the survey found nearly one-third of engagement rings were purchased online in 2020).

So what's that hefty ring budget going toward? The most popular ring styles from last year include some beautiful styles: round was the preferred center stone cut (followed by princess cut and ovals); and white gold was the ring setting material of choice (followed by yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum). As for size? The most coveted carat weight, on average, for a center stone was 1.3 carats. And diamonds remain couples' first-choice for an engagement ring stone, according to WeddingWire's 2020 Newlywed Report. (While these were the top choices last year, we'll be interested to see if ring shoppers next year adhere to these forecasted  2021 engagement ring trends).

You may have noticed that the carat weight above isn't outrageously large, but the thing about diamonds is that the largest (or technically heaviest) rock isn't always the most expensive. The diamond with the highest clarity (the true mark of quality) will often be the most valuable, which will ultimately hike up the retail price. (Read up on the 4C's of diamonds every savvy jewelry shopper should know.)