LIVING

Engagement Rings: Should A Man Spend More Than $2,000 On Bling?

09/06/2011 06:50 EDT | Updated 11/06/2011 05:12 EST
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What price would you put on true love? Apparently it's not worth as much these days: Recent surveys have shown guys are now spending far less money on engagement rings than they did in the past. While the old standard was to spend around three months pay on a rock for your lady, a survey by home insurance company LV has found these days, most guys are spending less than a month's earnings.

More specifically, guys are now spending around $2,000 on engagement rings, as opposed to $8,000 before. (Which seems a tad ridiculous when you consider the history behind engagement ring marketing: since DeBeers coined the phrase "A Diamond Is Forever" in 1939, 80 per cent of women in North America now sport diamond engagement rings. Prior to the ad's appearance, men would traditionally give women fur coats, automobiles or rubies as an engagement gift.)

But don't give your guy a hard time about being a cheapskate. Given the current economic climate, he's certainly not the only one who's spending less on bling. "It's not surprising to see men tightening their belts in these tough economic times," John O'Roarke, the managing director of LV, tells the Daily Mail. "Regardless of how much a ring is worth, it is still a treasured possession." Hey, even Prince William gave his bride a second-hand ring.

In fact, it's not just the diamond industry that's taking a hit during this recession -- the whole institution of marriage is suffering. According to recent reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, marriage rates are at an all-time low and it's largely believed that financial insecurity is one of the top reasons. These days, only 52 per cent of Americans are married, compared to 57 per cent in 2000.

People are also choosing to wait longer to get married. Since 1970, the median age to get married for the first time has risen by six years for both men and women. And a 2010 study showed a record number of young couples aged 25 to 34 are postponing or even cancelling wedding plans indefinitely. "The economy is obviously hitting couples pretty hard and making them more risk averse," W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, tells iVillage.

Already-married folk aren't faring well through the recession either -- a study from the University of Virginia reported 29 per cent of couples claimed the financial climate had put extra stress on their marriage, with couples lacking a college degree being the hardest hit by the recession. It's interesting to note, however, divorce rates have actually declined during the recession. Either financial stress makes relationships stronger or it's just too expensive to get divorced.

Does the fact our marriage habits as a society depend so much on finances seem troubling to you? Is this an indication that marriage has become little more than an expensive spectacle that may not even work out? Let us know what you think.

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