Blame De Beers. In 1938, the jewelry giant launched the first initiative for engagement rings, which painted the sparkling stunners as status symbols and must-haves. It was also De Beers that set the standard for how much to spend on an engagement ring: two months’ worth of the would-be groom’s salary.
Fast-forward eight decades, and the diamond engagement ring is still the standard. I’d say that was some extremely effective marketing, wouldn’t you? Because while diamonds are expensive, they aren’t rare. In fact, according to the International Gem Society, diamonds are the most common of all gemstones. Considering markup is routinely 20% to 100% of wholesale value, there’s just no reason they should be as costly as they are.