When it comes to picking the perfect engagement ring, men are spending more time, more effort and more money than ever before, according to a national survey conducted by The Knot.
The average groom-to-be spent an all-time high of $5,978 on an engagement ring in 2015, up from $5,403 in 2013 and $5,095 in 2011.
These men also did an impressive amount of legwork before committing to a purchase. On average, they invested 4.8 months in research and 3.6 months in sourcing the perfect engagement ring. They visited five retailers and scrutinized at least 25 rings before purchasing "the one."
According the study, diamonds are still the #1 engagement ring stone choice, with 63% receiving a white diamond center stone with side stones and/or accents, and 21% receiving a white diamond solitaire. However, 8% reported receiving a colored gemstone engagement ring, up from 6% in 2013.
The trendiest engagement ring setting is, by far, the halo, which tripled from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015. The most popular diamond cut is round (49%), followed by princess (22%) and cushion (6%). Interestingly, 33% of brides said they'd prefer a different shape stone than the traditional (and most popular) round shape.
The survey also reveals that men favor quality over quantity. Eighty-five percent of men would rather buy a smaller, better-quality diamond than a larger stone of lesser quality, and 57% of brides admit that they'd rather have a smaller, better quality diamond than a larger stone of lesser quality.
The Knot's 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study is the largest of its kind and includes survey results from more than 12,000 U.S. brides and 1,200 U.S. grooms engaged or recently married from 2014 to early 2015.
Another key finding from the survey is that future brides are taking a more active role in the engagement process, especially when it comes to selecting the ring.
Sixty-seven percent of brides reported they they began researching rings before getting engaged, using their mobile devices to browse ring styles (43%), sharing ring ideas with their fiancé (35%) and researching ring designers or retailers (29%).
Eight out of 10 men said their partner dropped hints. Of that group, 51% of women pointed out styles while shopping, 36% revealed outright what they wanted and 11% left ads or pictures of engagement rings laying around.
In a surprising note, Kellie Gould, editor-in-chief of The Knot, reported that brides are no longer in the dark about the value of their engagement rings. Thirty-four percent of brides were aware of exactly how much their fiancé paid and another 34% knew the approximate cost.
Image: Couple via BigstockPhoto.com; Bridal jewelry courtesy of Stuller.