Lawyers love detailed instructions and examples, even in their love lives. They want to know if they’ll be able to find a romance at their high-ranking law schools, and they’re obsessed with Legal Eagle Wedding Watches, if only as confirmation that some day they too will be happily married.
What these inquisitive lawyers all seem to forget, though, is that the prelude to the perfect marriage is the perfect engagement ring.
But how much should you be spending on one?
Here’s a reader email we recently received about this very question, and she’s dying to know the answer:
What should a first-year Biglaw associate drop on an engagement ring? My friends are all over the board. Most of us have some debt from school, and wearing an obnoxious ring isn’t very modest. At the same time, you do feel pressure to keep up appearances, especially since your family likely thinks he’s loaded because of the occupational prestige.
You guys know everything, so please help me out.
Seeing as most recent law school graduates have some very tricky debt situations, this is a difficult question. According to De Beers, the world’s leading diamond company, it’s considered optimal to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. In the case of a first-year Biglaw associate making a market salary ($160,000 a year before taxes, excluding any stub bonuses), the optimal engagement ring should cost just a shade over $25,000. Now, if that amount sounds ridiculous to you, it’s because it is.
Let’s make this situation more realistic. If you’re a first-year Biglaw associate making a market salary, but you’ve also got six figures of law school debt under your belt, perhaps it would be wiser to consider your financial straits first before your materialistic need to impress your significant other or their parents.
We asked our Twitter followers about this, and they were split. Some were traditional and advised that first-year Biglaw associates follow the De Beers logic, while others were more concerned about debt.
— Jenny Teague (@JennyTeague1) July 21, 2014
Well @stacizaretsky how deep in debt? Big, flawless, man-made diamond set in platinum ($3K); save rest for downpayment or debt reduction.
— D. Casey Flaherty (@DCaseyFlaherty) July 21, 2014
Someone else emailed us privately and told us to use the Engagement Ring Calculator, a tool that measures how much you should spend on a ring based on a couple’s yearly income, level of education, overall debt, overall attractiveness, and whether your significant other is good in bed. Lovely. Using an attractive Biglaw couple that was maxed out on debt, rented instead of owned, had a great sex life, and fought very infrequently, we were told that an engagement ring should cost $29,760.68. Ouch.
At the end of the day, it isn’t necessary to flaunt your Biglaw bucks to buy the perfect engagement ring. This isn’t a purchase that requires you to break the bank. Buying an engagement ring should be about love, and not about money. You can easily find one that’s reasonably affordable for your means that will suit your significant other’s style. Either way, the person who receives the ring will be very happy.
We’ll turn this important question over to our readers. Please tell us what you think in our poll.