In Love? Budget Two Months' Salary to Seal the Deal

Americans needed to work fewer hours the past five years to afford a diamond

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Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

With the summer wedding season in full swing, the most important prop — a diamond ring — is top-of-mind for couples planning to tie the knot.

But before popping the question, one important consideration is the cost.

A one-carat diamond cost the equivalent of eight weeks' salary, or about $7,300, for the average American worker as of last month. If that seems exorbitant, times have been worse: The number of hours of work it takes to afford the luxury good has trended downward in recent years and has fallen by almost half since 2011. 

Bloomberg constructed the statistic by comparing the price of a one-carat diamond against the average hourly wage for an American over about a 34-hour workweek — the mean office time for U.S. employees.

“If you’re looking at a traditional ring, the stone is going to be the most expensive part,” said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, executive editor of the wedding website TheKnot.com.

Engagements rings are the pulse of the diamond industry, and marriage trends are a long-term factor driving prices of the gem, according to an industry report from consulting firm Bain & Co. in Boston. The challenges facing the sector include changing views in Europe, Japan and the U.S. — where diamonds are being seen as less of a status symbol. It's hard to know what the next wave of consumers will make of them, according to the Bain & Co. report.

The future of the industry will depend on couples-to-be, who seem to be eschewing the wedding traditions of their parents for something more unique.

Now, lovebirds, take a deeper breath: The ring is probably only a fraction of the cost of your big day. The average investment for a wedding in the U.S. is at a record high of $32,641, according to a 2015 survey of 18,000 couples by TheKnot.com.

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