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Pricey Diamonds Might Not Be a Girl’s Best Friend

Author Nicholas Derenzo

factA great poet once wrote: “If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it.” But a recent study out of Atlanta’s Emory University suggests that, if you really like it, you might want to think twice about how much you spend on that token of your commitment. In their just-published study, “‘A Diamond Is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales,” economists Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon surveyed 3,000 once- or still-married couples in the U.S. on wide-ranging relationship topics. Their findings? Don’t follow that old two-month’s-salary rule when it comes to shopping around for engagement rings. In fact, the duo discovered that couples who spend $2,000 to $4,000 on a ring were 1.3 times likelier to get divorced than those who spent $500 to $2,000—a somewhat troubling statistic considering that the 2013 national average, according to TheKnot.com, was $5,598. (Rings that cost less than $500, it turns out, also increased the chances of divorce.) Similar patterns hold for the cost of the wedding ceremony itself. Couples who spend more than $20,000, well below TheKnot.com’s 2013 national average of $29,858, face a divorce rate three and a half times as high as those who spend between $5,000 and $10,000. So think long and hard before sending save-the-dates to those out-of-town fourth cousins and second-tier office friends cluttering up your invite list and upping the bottom line.

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