So I have decided to ask my girlfriend to marry me (don't worry we have already talked about it), but I have never made a major jewelry purchase before. I have been told by some people to avoid major retail jewelers and find a small private jeweler, however no one seems to have suggestions when I ask them. My question is..other than by word of mouth, how would I find a reputable jeweler that would give me a good product at a reasonable price? I was told to avoid chain jewelers because they always charge way more than everyone else.
Also, my mom gave me a diamond necklace as a way to basically give me a diamond to use for this ring. She said that if anything else they can buy the necklace off of me for the gold and the diamonds in it if the large diamond wouldn't work for a ring (I would like to use it as kind of a family heirloom sort of thing). Any advice on selling jewelry or making sure they can use the diamond?
I am very paranoid about making sure I get the right ring and any advice/help is appreciated.
Lisa: Poor predicatble Bart, always picks rock Bart: Good ole rock, nothing beats that
If you're hung up on the whole blood diamond thing, OR you are just frugal, and want to save some coin, visit www.diamondnexus.com Lab created diamonds, VERY beautiful designs and NOBODY your wife meets will have one like it.
I am not a big fan of the "surprise a woman with a stupidly expensive piece of jewelry she is obligated to wear for the rest of her life" thing. She might be. I only can speak for myself.
If you are going to have one made it would be good to know her wishes about jewelry. I dislike diamonds and can't stand stones that sit above the band (makes it hard to use my pockets). I also didn't want a lot of money spent on a ring that we could use for more useful things. If Aaron had surprised me with your typical diamond engagement ring, he would have permenant scars (your girlfriend is probably much nicer than me). You could try doing this as a "what if" thing or getting her to point out the ugly jewelry items which will then lead her to telling you what things she does like. This will give you a better idea of what to tell a jeweler when you do find one.
Ask friends, family, coworkers, check yelp, google custom jewelry wedding for your area. Look at etsy. The most cost-effective or the particular style best suited to her might not be a local jeweler. I highly recommend looking at a wide variety of stuff (etsy especially has some amazing custom work in a vast variety of metals and stones)
If you've already discussed this, it may be appropriate to have her input. It is a lot LOT easier to pick out a perfect ring for her, with her help.
You could still surprise her with the question and play it as, "I kept putting this off until I found the perfect ring, but I realized I already had the perfect woman and we could find it together"
If this is inappropriate advice for your situation, disregard and listen to everyone else instead :)
My wife and I went to a few local jewelers just to see how they treated us. The first place showed us a ring that was $18,000. She liked it until she realized that she was missing a 0. For $1,800, it would have been a really nice ring. Anyway, when $18K was out of our budget, we were no longer worth the salesman's time.
The next place we went to was a smaller shop and there's only one jeweler there who makes everything. He spent a lot of time with us and we came up with custom designs. My wife has a yellow sapphire instead of a diamond, and the engagement ring and wedding band interlock. My ring is square and heavy, and if I turn it on the diagonal, I bet it would double as brass knux in a pinch.
So if you want to drive to Regina, Canada, I know a good guy.
And I agree with Lise - I had no intentions of this being any kind of surprise. I'm not dropping wedding ring-level money on something she might hate. I know a guy who bought his fiancée a ring and she exchanged it for one she liked better. He tried to not let on, but his feelings were really hurt.
My wife got the plastic ring from a Cracker Jacks box for the initial proposal and then we picked out the ring together. Don't spend too much money, either.
Once again, I have blown away my signature's tags and it's up to CRZ to fix them before the entire board disappears. I don't know I continue have to have this green background if I'm not going to properly mantain it!
Originally posted by piemanMy wife got the plastic ring from a Cracker Jacks box for the initial proposal and then we picked out the ring together. Don't spend too much money, either.
For once, i agree with my cheap-ass brother. theremin's idea is pretty good, too. I was wearing my ring for two weeks before my wife was. We went to a local store (two of my friends worked there), and got a pretty good deal, but they had to ship hers in. They actually had one that fit me that we both loved. We both got to pick out rings that we both liked and to this day, still don't regret it.
When it came to me wearing my ring before the wedidng, I told friends and family: "Why should SHE be the only one to wear her ring before hand? Fuck that. I'm wearing mine, too." and my wife was TOTALLY cool with that and almost everyone agreed, too. Even my Mom, who is very old school, thought it was cool.
S'funny I came upon this thread cuz actually have to bring our rings in today to get them cleaned to keep our warranty up to date. Once every six months and it's all good. Don't forget that, either!
Everybody here is absolutely right: Don't buy the ring without her unless you know what she likes. I surprised my wife with the ring, but I know her style and the kinds of things she would want to wear.
As for where to get the ring, nobody's mentioned a pawn shop yet. It might seem odd to a lot of people, and not particularly romantic, but you learn the real value of a diamond ring when you get it secondhand. You really shouldn't be paying much more over the value of the setting, as the stone is fundamentally valueless outside of a retail store. I genuinely recommend pawn shops for all jewelry purchases.
Things to look for in a ring: Don't listen to what the seller says about the cut. Cut fashions come and go, and change every couple of years. Think about both what you think is pretty and what your fiance will think. Bigger isn't always better; big stones are impressive, but not really very practical for people who work with their hands or wear gloves a lot. I tend to look more for sparkle in a diamond (it is, after all, just a shiny rock), so color and cut are more important to me. Definitely look at the ring itself, and think about if your fiance likes thicker or thinner bands, and if she might want some filigree work on the setting, or if she prefers a cleaner look.
If you're curious, I got the wife a vintage ring with three mine-cut diamonds, which is a slightly imperfect cut that catches the light better.
If you're already leaning away from the big retail stuff, depending on your (soon-to-be-)betrothed's taste, you might consider finding a local artisan and having something custom done,.
In most markets there are generally two kinds of folks doing this: goldsmiths/jewelers who do very commercial work but on a different level from the mass-produced retail stuff, and those who tend to steer a course off the beaten path of the traditional.
The former are the type you go to when you want a ring people will talk about in the society pages: huge rocks, dramatic settings, all platinum, etc. Not to say they can't do an affordable piece that's a little different from what you'll find at the mall (often via a commercial design that they perform "tweaks" to), but in order to get something truly special from them you're most likely looking at serious coin.
The latter probably may not have any name recognition where you live; they might not even have a storefront (finding them may mean going through friends, checking out local art markets, or reaching out to the local artisan community). But these are the folks who can design and make a ring to suit the person who's going to be wearing it. Oftentimes, if you're on a tight budget, you can find a person fitting this description who's just getting set up themselves after graduating from art school and discover a mutually advantageous situation. But finding someone who will take a little bit of time to get to know their client and try to match their aesthetic to the personality of the client usually leads to a much more personal end product.
As for working with what you have, it can significantly cut costs on a custom piece if you've got workable materials. It sounds, though, like you may have doubts about the suitability of the diamond in the the necklace for a ring. If the diamond is in good shape and it's just not a cut you'd normally see in a ring (like a teardrop), it might be worth having it re-cut. But if it's at all worn, cracked, or flawed, you'd be better leaving it (and probably the whole necklace) as it is and taking its value in cash or trade. Same with the necklace: if it's gold and less than 14K, nobody will be willing to rework it, so you're either trying to get value for the necklace as a piece or value for the metal as scrap.
Two things I should be honest about: 1) I did not get my wife an engagement ring. 2) My wife is a (currently non-practicing) jeweller/metalsmith who fits the "artier/less traditional goldsmith" description. She has designed and made (or had made from her designs) quite a few engagement rings and wedding bands for friends, acquaintances, and referrals. She's big on non-traditional materials (our wedding bands are gold and stainless steel; my buddy's that she did is gold and platinum). If you are interested in getting custom work done but have questions I would be more than willing to pose any questions you were to ask here or by PM to her about what to look for in a potential jeweller and whether what you're looking for is best sourced from a retail chain, a commercial goldsmith, or an artisan goldsmith.
When I bought my wife her engagement ring, I had ideas. She had a tendency to check out jewellery stores whenever we went shopping, so I took mental notes in what to look for. Turns out, what I picked out was perfect.
Our wedding rings... They were a mutual decision, and they are perfect.
Good luck with the asking, and enjoy the planning. Our wedding was last weekend, and man, was it fun!
First rule of ring buying, no matter if it is from a chain or from a local, is never pay the sticker. As a former jeweler, the mark-up is huge. Think somewhere around 70% and you'll be in the ballpark. Make a reasonable offer on a ring you like, and go from there. Jewelery is a haggle-friendly business. Depending on how badly the manager wants/needs the sale, they will work with you. Never be afraid to walk out. If you walk out, go back a week later and ask them if they're willing to work with you yet. If not, rinse and repeat. Eventually you will either find what you want somewhere else, or they will work with you. When they give you the line of shit about you buying a memory and that you can't put a price on love/the look on your wife's face when she sees the ring, tell them that you can and here it is. If they're not willing to provide the keepsake of your love, there are plenty of other dealers who are.
Cut doesn't matter except for personal preference. If you wife likes a solitaire cut, by all means get one. They will tell you that Round/Brilliant is the most classic of cuts and gives off the most "fire". Again, bullshit. All diamonds shine and the example they show you will most likely be a flawless D or E while the solitaire will be a VS2 L.
Color goes on a scale from clear to yellow. Clear being the most expensive, yellow being the least. For the money, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a K and an D, especially if the clarity of the diamond is good.
Clarity is how many inclusions or flaws you can see in the diamond. Some are visible with just your eye, some need either a loupe or a gemscope. The more that can be seen with the least use of magnifiers, the less expensive the diamond. Personally, VS2 is my cutoff for clarity. Still nice but not bank-breaking. For example, a K VVS1 would be a very nice diamond and should come in at a reasonable cost as long as you're not getting her some huge carat rock.
Best of luck, and don't fall for the games. They prey on the emotion of the event as well as the fact that you're a man and the stereotype is that men hate shopping for jewelery/don't know what they're doing. Learn about what you're buying, don't pay sticker, and don't be afraid to walk away and return again once you feel comfortable. Congratulations.
As Stefonics noted, the "Four C's" of diamonds are worth researching. If you've been to a jeweler already, you've probably heard about these.
I was thinking: "if I go cheap on the diamond, she won't be able to tell", but she would've. For the actual ring, I went based off of a picture she gave me, which was good for about 90% of the selection process. The actual diamond took me about 3 or 4 visits to the jeweler to decide.
The big thing that saved me some expense was that I found a diamond that had a higher rating, but only one minor flaw. The flaw was "prongable", meaning it could be covered with one of the ring's prongs.
A friend went with www.bluenile.com to find a more affordable diamond, then had the whole thing produced locally.
You should also consider jewelry insurance after your purchase. Depending on your state, most places will run you about 70-90 bucks for a year or two of coverage. Be sure that the policy covers loss.
Originally posted by dWsYou should also consider jewelry insurance after your purchase. Depending on your state, most places will run you about 70-90 bucks for a year or two of coverage. Be sure that the policy covers loss.
Absolutely. Most retail chains offer their version of insurance, but it's more of a racket than useful. In NY, Homeowners and Renters policies cover the damage done from covered perils as well as theft, but not loss. Also, those policies have pre-built limits of value for jewelery. If you lose the ring, believe it to be stolen but are unable to prove it, or if the ring is valued more than what your policy covers, you would be shit out of luck. Go to your current insurance company and ask them to write up a personal articles floater. As dWs said, they are cheap. My company's least expensive policy is $60 per year for all perils, including loss and theft, for the value of the ring.
Often, if I give directions somewhere, and I realize afterward that they're wrong...I feel really bad, but there's nothing I can do about it. I can only hope that those who asked will find someone else to point them in the right direction.