Human Nature

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 329–333 | Cite as

Amounts Spent on Engagement Rings Reflect Aspects of Male and Female Mate Quality

  • Lee CronkEmail author
  • Bria Dunham


Previous research has shown that the qualities of nuptial gifts among nonhumans and marriage-related property transfers in human societies such as bridewealth and dowry covary with aspects of mate quality. This article explores this issue for another type of marriage-related property transfer: engagement rings. We obtained data on engagement ring costs and other variables through a mail survey sent to recently married individuals living in the American Midwest. This article focuses on survey responses regarding rings that were purchased by men acting alone and using only their own funds who then presented the rings while making surprise proposals of marriage (n = 127). Men marrying younger women spent more on rings, as did men who earned more money and whose fiancées earned more money. These findings suggest that the amounts spent on engagement rings, like bridewealth and dowry payments in other societies, reflect aspects of both male and female mate quality.


Courtship Mating Engagement rings Marriage Nuptial gifts Marriage transactions 



Funding for this project was provided by the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Center for Human Evolutionary StudiesRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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