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Princess Diana's diamonds still UK No. 1

‘The Diana Effect’ is still inspiring the nation 40 years on, with the majority of engaged couples opting for a diamond and sapphire combination for their engagement rings

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  • 8 in 10 couples go for diamond and sapphire combination engagement rings

  • Despite the Diana obsession, 6 in 10 don’t know the cut of their partner’s stone

  • The UK average spend on engagement rings up by 12% to £7,056

  • money.co.uk’s Engagement Ring Calculator helps shoppers decide how much they can afford to spend on a ring

Diamond and sapphire engagement rings are the first choice for engaged couples in the UK, emulating the 12-carat band worn first by Diana, Princess of Wales back in 1981.

More than eight in 10 (82%) lovers who opt for a combination-stone ring will choose the diamond and sapphire pairing made popular by Princess Diana 40 years ago, according to new research from money.co.uk,

Given the high cost of purchasing engagement rings, money.co.uk launched an interactive Engagement Ring Cost Calculator to help couples gain a better understanding of how much they can afford to spend based on their income, spending habits and family circumstances.  

Money.co.uk first created an engagement ring guide last year after news that Brexit caused 20% of people to either delay purchase of their engagement ring or reduce the spend on engagement rings.

This year, COVID-19 has had a similar effect, with just under 1 in 5 (18%) saying that the pandemic has caused them to either delay purchase or forced them to spend less on engagement rings. 

Although diamonds and sapphires are the most popular combination of stones, the single most popular gem remains the diamond, which has actually increased in popularity by almost 20% in 2021. 

This year, 68% of people are picking diamonds over other stones such as rubies, emeralds or amethysts, compared to 50% in 2020.

When it comes to style, ‘The Solitaire’ is the most popular cut of engagement ring, chosen by 31% of people – followed by ‘The Three Stone’ and ‘The Cluster’, both at 17%. 

Despite their popularity, diamonds clearly aren’t for every age group. Only half of 16-24s pick diamonds for their engagement rings, compared to 75% of over 55s. 

And most Brits are in the dark about their partner’s ring preferences. Some 72% say they have no idea what their significant other’s ring size is.

Regionally, it seems engagement ring preferences can be hugely varied. 

In Scotland, diamond engagement rings are most popular, with 77% and 81% of people choosing them in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. 

What’s more, ‘The Solitaire’ style – though popular in England, Wales and Scotland – is not the top choice in Northern Ireland. Just 19% of people have ‘The Solitaire’ regionally, with 36% opting for ‘The Three Stone’ style instead.  

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said: There’s an old saying that the cost of an engagement ring should equal three month’s salary, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“We love tradition in the UK, illustrated by the fact that a Diana-style ring is still the most popular, 40 years after it first made its public debut. 

“However, regardless of the type of ring you choose, whether it’s a princess-inspired sapphire or a simple gold band, you need to have an understanding of your expenditure and personal situation before you make a decision about how much to spend. 

“That’s where our engagement ring cost calculator comes in handy – it gives people guidance on what they should be looking at spending according to their personal circumstances.” 

When it comes to taking the plunge and actually purchasing engagement rings, ring shoppers stick to old habits, with an overwhelming 8 in 10 buying their rings in a physical store, either a high street shop (43%) or an independent jeweller (37%). 

Of those that don’t, around one in 20 people have their rings passed down from a family member, and just 7% purchase them online. 

The research from money.co.uk crucially reveals that the average spend in the UK on engagement rings is currently up by 12% compared to last year, from £6,300 to £7,056. 

That cost is reflected in the fact that 6 in 10 have to save up for their ring and, just as was the case in 2020, a further 20% will use a credit card to manage the cost.

Although the amount of people taking out a loan to cover the cost is fairly low nationally (4%), the number of 16-24 year olds who need to borrow from their parents in order to purchase an engagement ring is almost triple (11%). 

Most Popular Cut

  • The Solitaire (31%) 

  • The Three Stone (17%) 

  • The Cluster (17%)

Most Popular Stones

  • Diamond (68%) 

  • Sapphire (14%) 

  • Ruby (6%) 

Most Popular Metals 

  • Gold (48%) 

  • White Gold (23%)

  • Platinum (12%) 

East of England

  • The Solitaire – 30%

  • The Three-stone – 21%

  • The Cluster – 13%

Greater London

  • The Solitaire – 24%

  • The Three-stone – 13%

  • The Cluster – 10%

East Midlands

  • The Solitaire – 28%

  • The Three-stone – 17%

  • The Cluster – 17%

West Midlands

  • The Solitaire – 30%

  • The Three-stone – 17%

  • The Cluster – 17%

North East

  • The Solitaire – 36%

  • The Cluster – 24%

  • The Three-stone – 12%

North West

  • The Solitaire – 35%

  • The Cluster – 17%

  • The Three-stone – 15%

Northern Ireland

  • The Three-stone – 36%

  • The Solitaire – 19%

  • The Cluster – 19%


  • The Solitaire – 30%

  • The Three-stone – 21%

  • The Cluster – 15%

South East

  • The Solitaire – 35%

  • The Cluster – 15%

  • The Three-stone – 14%

South West

  • The Solitaire – 30%

  • The Cluster – 18%

  • The Three-stone – 17%


  • The Solitaire – 33%

  • The Cluster – 20%

  • The Three-stone – 16%

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • The Solitaire – 27%

  • The Cluster – 22%

  • The Three-stone – 15%


For all media enquiries please contact press@money.co.uk 

Notes to editors 

Findings were based on a survey of 2,000 married and engaged respondents in January 2021

About money.co.uk

Money.co.uk is one of the UK’s leading comparison websites for financial services. We help consumers compare mortgages, loans, credit cards, bank accounts and insurance from more than 600 providers.

Money.co.uk is fully authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is owned by RVU, which also owns uSwitch.com and Bankrate.

Our spokespeople

Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Salman left the world of journalism and moved to the UK to pursue a passion for personal finance and a desire to help people make informed financial decisions.

Read Salman Haqqi's articles and guides
Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

Read Joel Kempson's articles and guides

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.