Brilliant Earth’s survey shows diamond size isn’t everything.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated June 13, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

Everyone’s idea of the perfect engagement ring looks different—whether it’s a giant round-cut solitaire, colored gemstone, minimal eternity band, or no ring at all. But there are some engagement ring trends and traditions we see pop up time and again, no matter what our individual preferences are. Jewelry company Brilliant Earth surveyed 1,500 adults to uncover consumers’ current engagement ring preferences and expectations, and while some findings aren’t particularly shocking (diamonds are still going strong), a few of them might take you by surprise.

On the whole, nearly 75 percent of participants believe a ring should always accompany a proposal, and more than 50 percent say the ring should always feature a diamond. Of those apathetic to the allure of diamonds, 20 percent want a colored gemstone, 10 percent would be fine with a diamond look-alike (like moissanite), and 6 percent could do without a center stone. But even though the largest percentage of respondents were dead set on diamonds, it's interesting to note that the split between those who prefer diamonds and those who don't was still 50/50—even if team non-diamond varied in their preferred ring alternatives.

Okay, so we know diamonds are still the fan favorite—but what matters most when it comes to a diamond ring’s features? The bigger the better? The stone’s quality? The largest number of survey takers (34 percent) agreed ring design was their top priority, followed by diamond quality and characteristics (29 percent). On the flip side, diamond size polled extremely low on the list, with only about 8 percent naming it the most important factor. It turns out a diamond's quality and uniqueness carries more weight than, well, its weight.

In fact, the majority of participants (40 percent) said the ideal diamond weight (or size) for an engagement ring lies between ½ and 1 carat. Sure, any diamond is a luxury, but knowing more than 50 percent prefer a 1-carat diamond or smaller—and only 2 percent prefer a 3-carat diamond or larger—probably helps relieve some general anxiety around engagement ring expectations.

Speaking of engagement ring anxiety, we'd be remiss not to mention money. When asked how much someone should spend on an engagement ring, more than 60 percent of respondents replied no more than $2,500. For reference, only 47 percent said the same back in 2015, which means expectations for diamond ring spend seems to be calming down. This could be due to the fact that many couples today would rather spend their money elsewhere—nearly 44 percent would shell out for a luxe honeymoon, compared to 25 percent who'd do the same for their (or their partner's) dream engagement.