Two Months’ Salary

Prints on Hahnemühle paper, 2 sets of 20 8” x 10” prints
In May of 2006, a female Sunday Morning reporter went out on the streets of New York City to ask passers-by what they thought about her ¾ carat diamond solitaire engagement ring. “It says that he tried his best… but that it wasn’t good enough,” said one lady. “Well, its fine… for a friendship ring,” replied another. Another bystander replied that “you need a magnifying glass to see it.”

The diamond engagement ring has evolved from a luxury item mostly purchased by the wealthy to a must have for any bride-to-be. In 1947, DeBeers began a marketing campaign to increase diamond sales, hoping to cash in on a growing post-war economy. Jewelers began using the guideline of two months’ salary as a standard. This campaign has been so successful that we now, as a society in general, equate an individual’s personal worth and love for their future spouse with the size of a shiny rock. For many, size matters.

If you visit, you will find a ring budget tool that determines what you should spend. It divides your annual salary by 6 to come up with the “standard” two month guideline. Using this equation, along with the most recent average salary data gathered from the US Dept. of Labor and, I created a list of average salaries for a range of occupations. Images of rings were allocated to each occupation by price. There are 20 separate prints, each representing a specific occupation with 9 rings that, according to the jewelry industry, are the standard for that particular occupation’s salary.