I like it. I want to put a ring on it. Halp.
August 19, 2010 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I need help finding where to buy a sapphire engagement ring!

My girlfriend and I have been together for five years, recently bought a house together, and have decided we're ready to take the legal plunge. Awesome, right? Yes. Except, I don't know where to start looking for an engagement ring. I've looked into local jewelers but none of them really had anything that fit what I was looking for, namely:

-Sapphire (my girl adores blue!)
-Really trying to stay around $500, but I can stretch to $1k if I need to.
-Reputable online dealers (only because my local jewelers haven't been a lick of help. Disappointing.)

So, hivemind, can you help make my search any easier? What buzzwords should I ignore from dealers? What do I look for in a sapphire? Why can't this be easier?
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Etsy? I've heard of several people finding good jewelers on there.
posted by miratime at 7:38 PM on August 19, 2010

Awesome! I have a sapphire ring for my engagement ring, and one with sapphires and diamonds for the band, in part because it's my birthstone and in part for the price considerations. Both rings came from Ben Bridges, and though we went to an actual store, I liked them enough I thought I'd recommend them. They also have a nice selection for under $1K, and were really helpful when I had an accident with my ring and needed the center stone put back in.

As an extra note, a lot of rings with sapphires also have diamond chips or diamonds on them as well, so the size of the diamonds might up your price. If that is a deal breaker, look for rings with smaller or fewer diamonds on the band.

Memail me if you'd like more details about my rings, and good luck!
posted by questionsandanchors at 7:44 PM on August 19, 2010

My engagement ring is from Heart of Water on Etsy. I definitely recommend her. She doesn't have any sapphire rings right now, but if you like her designs she does custom work. The designer is named Sally, and she's wonderful. Her work is gorgeous, and I liked being able to support an individual artist and get something one of a kind.
posted by apricot at 7:54 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yay! I have a sapphire engagement ring! You don't say where you are, but if you're willing to travel or work over the phone/via email/via fax, I highly recommend our jeweler in DC - I. Gorman. They are family owned and completely awesome. Although, I'm not sure you'll find something for $500 there, they're a bit pricey, but the level of service you'll get from them is completely worth it.

If you don't go that route, when I was doing my own research, I heard really good things about The Natural Sapphire Company, and got a lot of good advice from the Pricescope forums (there's one for colored gems). Those may help you, too.
posted by echo0720 at 8:00 PM on August 19, 2010

When the Lady Fresh and I were about to get engaged, we spent a day trolling the mall and the local (Denver's Cherry Creek) jewelry stores, looking for ring styles. She knew she wanted a sapphire, but we needed to find the right style first. Once we found the ring, in a non-mall jeweler, we then talked about getting the right stone for the ring. The jeweler was able to take an existing ring she liked w/ a diamond in it and replace it w/ the sapphire of our choosing. The process took awhile, as the sapphires to choose from had to be ordered, but we ended up w/ a ring and stone we both loved. The resulting cost of the ring was much less than if we had left the diamond in there instead of sapphire.

So, don't limit your search to sapphire rings. Look for rings first, then ask the jeweler to get a variety of sapphire stones that can go in that ring.
posted by dr. fresh at 8:07 PM on August 19, 2010

Brilliant Earth is probably the most ethical and environmentally friendly jeweler you could find, and has a lot of nice modern styles, with wedding rings to match.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:13 PM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I highly recommend Beyond the Rockz on Etsy. I got a pearl ring from them; it was one of their standard designs, but they do awesome customs work as well. Nice folks, too.
posted by supercres at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2010

Similar story. Knew she wanted a sapphire, found a non-mall jeweler who got a variety of similarly-sized stones in the shape I wanted. Picked one out based mostly on color, then chose a fairly standard band from a catalog. They built the setting for it, which took a while, and small diamonds in the band do raise the price, but the result was personal and beautiful. We got a green sapphire, but like all sapphires, you want to make sure the stones aren't heated or treated in any way to "enhance" the color. They should be able to tell you where the stone was found (which is kind of cool all by itself) and provide a certificate of authenticity. Getting your wife-to-be a ring while not funding a private war in Africa is a good thing.
posted by fishpatrol at 8:23 PM on August 19, 2010

There was a similar AskMe late last year with a phenomenal answer by Peagood.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:26 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wonderful experience with Green Karat: greenkarat.com

We bought our wedding bands from them and they're a great company.

Ooh, check out the Blue Norther.
posted by Neofelis at 8:41 PM on August 19, 2010

If you have the time, look at antique rings, even look at auction gallery sales. There are many of these online and if you find something with an estimate in your range, you can ask the gallery to send you condition reports and help you make arrangements for them to enter bids for you up to the limit you set. They should explain all fees and terms. Smallish antique stones in beautiful mountings can often be had for bargain prices. It is only spectacular items that run up astronomical bids. You can find auctions here and you can follow some auctions here.

Often an auction catalog will be online at the particular gallery's website well in advance. You can find all the information you need to bid there. Sotheby's and other famous houses make the news, but a world of very good antiques move through smaller, lesser known houses. In an enterprise like this, the one requirement is that you assure yourself of the good reputation of the dealer whether a gallery or a shop, because you are not an expert and must rely on their integrity. A good small antique piece also will tend to hold its value. A large part of the price at a retail store is profit. At an auction, everybody gets the same chance to get a good price and having a staff member bid for you makes sure you don't go over your budget.
posted by Anitanola at 8:41 PM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Couple more Etsy shops you can look at: Garnet Girl Designs and kateszabone both have some pretty spectacular and affordable stuff, and I think they do custom work as well.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:21 PM on August 19, 2010

My favorite jeweler is McFarland Designs. The Etsy shop only has a few things for sale at a time, but she does loads of custom work - look at the Flickr album to get more ideas about what she makes.
posted by eleyna at 10:30 PM on August 19, 2010

Bonus! She just got a shipment of sapphires.
posted by eleyna at 10:33 PM on August 19, 2010

I just favorited Anitanola's comment re: auction houses. My partner got my (sapphire engagement/wedding) ring at an estate auction and I've gotten a number of compliments on how unique it is and how beautiful the stone is over the years, including from the jeweler who appraised/resized it.
posted by lilnublet at 10:36 PM on August 19, 2010

Check out Sapphire Gallery in Philipsburg, MT. I've been to their physical store -- they have nice rings (verified by my girlfriend). They ship too.
posted by fleeba at 12:30 AM on August 20, 2010

Nthing the natural sapphire company linked above.
posted by saradarlin at 2:54 AM on August 20, 2010

I made this anon to begin with but what the hey, but my girlfriend has never been on Metafilter and I doubt she would start now.

You guys are all awesome, thank you so much. The Etsy recommendations are fantastic for two reasons: More reasonable prices than big companies, and a custom ring? Epic. I can't believe I never thought of Etsy.

Also, it's great to hear from so many girls that love their sapphire rings, it makes me more comfortable with shrugging the tradition of a diamond. Thanks you, guys.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:39 AM on August 20, 2010

Wish I knew where you're located--if you're reading this, and want MeMail me with a clarification about where you are, I'd be happy to post your location without outing you.

My wife's engagement ring is also a sapphire! We had an awesome experience with Clay Pot in Brooklyn. They have a bunch of really cool work by a number of local artists (with 'local' spanning much of the northeast), and a gemologist on staff who will let you poke around in their stock of stones. After picking a ring we liked, we spent an hour or so looking at stones, before settling on a fantastically pretty green Montana sapphire. We ended up with a big green sapphire flanked by a few smaller white sapphires, which is a really nice effect. The stone itself was shockingly inexpensive (little over a carat, something like $300), so if you find a setting that won't break the bank, you can easily come in under your budget. Clay Pot will work with you remotely, but I'm not sure I'd recommend going through the whole process sight unseen--we picked out the setting we thought we wanted and then took a weekend trip to NYC to make sure, and ended up going with a totally different ring after seeing them all in person.

As an added bonus, the designer we ended up using lives in my aunt (and jessamyn!)'s home town in Vermont, and was a very fun curmudgeonly (I mean that in a totally non-snarky way--I loved talking with the guy) ex-engineer who sent us his own set of ring sizers because he didn't like the variance in most other jewelers' sizers.
posted by Mayor West at 4:43 AM on August 20, 2010

Now, don't forget to come back & update this thread once you choose something and let us all see it. (Makes a heart happy to see things like this.)
posted by eleyna at 8:39 AM on August 20, 2010

Sorry, meant to add I'm in central NJ. I'm not opposed to driving a few hours but it has to be somewhere I can get to and from within 8 hours so I can go while she's at work.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:01 AM on August 20, 2010

I bought my wife a sapphire engagement ring and she absolutely loves it. I went to Tiffany & Co. and bought this ring.
posted by chevyvan at 9:04 AM on August 20, 2010

I had a ring custom designed by a jeweler I found on Etsy. Used a Montana sapphire. It took a while to get it right, but everyone loves the ring. Found here:http://www.etsy.com/transaction/28990283
posted by craven_morhead at 10:16 AM on August 20, 2010

Okay guys, I'm curious (if we can get peagood in here it'd be great):

I'm poking through Etsy listings and there are loads of neat rings that are in the $100-$200 range. Why is this? Are they using faux-sapphires or just sapphires of low quality? Is it because it is a lab-created sapphire? Is there something bad about that? So many unanswered questions!

For instance, this one. It stood out because my girlfriend has mentioned that she'd like a claddagh before, so why is it only $90?

peagood's advice from the other thread was great, "move yourself out of the stress of the doing and into the joy of the done." I'm trying, man. I'm trying.
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:29 PM on August 20, 2010

Oh. Sterling silver. That's probably why.
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:51 PM on August 20, 2010

The metal is definitely going to be a part of it, but the kind of sapphire you decide on is also going to play a part. Unlike diamonds, lab-created sapphires are very cheaply and easily made, so it's fairly trivial to get a cheap, but still very nice, gem-quality sapphire, but for many people, it's not "real" unless it comes out of the ground, and you'll pay a premium for that, and it does take more effort to mine a natural sapphire, especially one that is ethically sourced.

I know that for a lot of the Etsy jewelers, changing metals and stones is pretty common for custom work and generally not a big deal, but not every jeweler will work with every metal, so just make sure to check with them first if you know there's a particular metal you want.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:36 PM on August 20, 2010

And note that, as far as non microscopic properties go, lab created sapphires are identical to the ones that come out of the ground. They're usually cheaper though. It may be worth talking to your lady about whether she cares about the destinction or not.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:13 PM on August 20, 2010

The Colored Gemstone forum on pricescope.com is your friend! The posters are gemstone aficionados and are passionate about consumer education. They know everything there is to know about sapphires AND vendors. You'll find posts about almost all of the vendors listed here, including those on etsy and ebay. Get thee to PriceScope!

But here's some consideration to get you started:
-What size? Sapphires are a little bit heavier than diamonds (so to speak), so a 1 carat diamond will be somewhat bigger than a 1 carat sapphire.
-What color? Sapphires come in every color. When they are red, we call them rubies. In your price range, depending on size, you might want to go for a light blue OR other colored (purple, yellow, pink, green) stone. PLEASE avoid DARK blue stones like the ones you find in mall store.
-You might also consider a spinel, a precious gem that is hard enough for a ring (only diamonds, sapphires/rubies, chrysoberyls/alexandrites, and spinels) really are. Spinels also come in all colors and are sparklier, often very beautiful, and-- as they are undermarketed-- little bit cheaper than sapphires.
-You might consider Montana Sapphires. They are mined in the USA (Montana, obviously), aren't too expensive, and are usually, like, a green-blue color.
-Look for precision cut stones. In your price range, you're not going to find "excellent" color, but you can get excellent cutting in a pretty-but-not-cornflower-blue color.
-Stay away from diffused or otherwise treated stones. IMO, heated stones are fine.

If *I* were going for a $500 (let's just say "under $1000) ring, I'd do (this is probably what PS will tell you, too):
-I'm not seeing a lot on their websites right now, but for gems, go-tos would be: precisiongem.com, finewatergems.com, actones.com, mastercutgem.com, bobkast.com, customgemstones.com, torraca.net, wildfishgems.com, whitesgems.com, mineralminers.com, gemshoppe.com, customgemstones.com. You can also contact them about custom cuts or what stock they have no on their websites. There is also an ebay seller with stores odysseygems, gemburionline, and couple others that is a PS favorite. Make sure you post anything you're considering on PS to get honest feedback.
-Once I had a gem, I'd get a custom setting from bario-neal.com or Heart of Water, Julia Kay Taylor, or another etsy vendor or get Michael E to set it in a simple stock setting from Stuller.
posted by lalalana at 7:23 PM on August 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

also, osirisgems.com.
posted by lalalana at 10:46 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

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