One article quoted academics in Virginia as saying "Marriage is becoming a distinctive social institution marking middle-class status."
Honestly, I'm not sure if I agree with that and it's worth noting that there was another article a couple of years later saying that middle classes were 'turning away from marriage'.
Whatever, the truth of those studies, I do think it's true that the cost of getting engaged stops some people from proposing. Raising £1000 just isn't achievable for some people - I know I'd have struggled to find that amount of money when I was in my early 20s when I was earning a pittance and living away from home for the first time.
So, what if you can only afford an engagement ring costing £100? What can you actually get for your money.
The bad news is that you won't be able to afford a high quality, decent sized, brand new diamond ring. Although, I suspect that is stating the obvious somewhat.
However, a budget of £100 does give (at least) four options:
1. Buy a second hand diamond engagement ring
The depreciation is worse than a sports car, as a percentage of its original cost.
For example, I've found several diamond rings with a high street value of about £500 which have gone for £100 on eBay.
If you're patient, you might even find one from a big name jeweller (Ernest Jones, H Samuel etc) which hasn't even been worn.
Etsy is also worth a look for preloved rings.
2. Buy a tiny diamond
In reality, the diamond would be tiny.
We found a diamond ring with a 0.10 carat for £95 on Amazon. Generally I advise people to look for a diamond of at least 0.25 carat, but if your potential spouse likes dainty jewellery then it's an option.
I'd avoid this option if your girlfriend has massive hands...
3. Buy a 'faux' diamond
Diamond Style or Tru Diamonds are good places to start. Tru Diamonds reckon that their £100 simulated diamonds would cost £8500 if they were the real thing.
It's up to you whether you tell your girlfriend that it's not real...
4. Don't buy a diamond ring
Lots of people don't choose diamond rings at all. Historically they never did, until a diamond company carried out one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.
You can get Blue sapphire, Green emerald or Red ruby rings for well under £100.
Good luck, I hope she says yes...