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April 23, 2005 12:58 PM   Subscribe

What's some good advice to follow for purchasing engagement rings on eBay?

My fiancee and I have had it with trying to find an engagement ring she likes at brick & mortar stores. However, we've found a good deal of possibilities on eBay. I'm naturally wary of spending thousands of dollars sight unseen. THerefore, I'm limiting myself to looking at vendors with exceptional feedback ratings (the powersellers) and a policy that allows for a no-quesitons-asked return within a certian number of days. What else should I be on the lookout for?

PS> I know that GIA or AGL ceritifcation would be great, but a lot of these jewlers don't offer them for engagement rings (but then again, neither did Mondera). How worried should I be about this? What are the alternatives?

PPS> Bonus points if anyone knows what a "GHI Certification" is.
posted by thewittyname to Shopping (5 answers total)
This Is Not What You Asked, But:

If you're not comfortable with eBay and can't find anything locally, consider having one made to your own design. I did that for Nyxie's ring and we were both thrilled with the results, and it wasn't any more expensive than if we'd bought the same ring. (So much of the price is in the stones anyhow.)

GHI sounds more like a color range rather than a certification to me.
posted by mendel at 3:13 PM on April 23, 2005

My wife is a fledgling jeweller, so I second mendel's suggestion. Advantages - you get exactly what you want, and the creator is local, so exchanging money for goods is straightforward. Also, being able to buy the stone you want and then designing around it is much better than trying to find a ring that has both a desired stone and a desired design. Finally - the ring is created for the exact size of your fiancee's finger.

If you do buy through eBay, for such an expensive item, I would definitely suggest some sort of escrow service.

P.S. I agree that GHI seems to describe that it is 'certified' ( by whom?) to be a diamond in that color range (I assume you are buying a diamond - not stated anywhere in your question, but that's what the vast majority of engagement rings are these days).
posted by birdsquared at 6:41 PM on April 23, 2005

Not specifically about engagement rings on eBay, but this thread on general buying tips is worth perusing.
posted by fionab at 7:12 PM on April 23, 2005

My first piece of advice would be absolutely not to buy a diamond (separately or in a ring) from a jewelers without a GIA or AGL certificate. When I bought my wife’s ring every reputable jeweler we visited offered a GIA certificate. Though the true value of diamonds is questionable (in the mind of many) this at least provides an evaluation based on a standard system of measurement.
If you decide to have a ring made, consider buying the stone at an antique store. Many antique stores have estate jewelry which is significantly cheaper than buying from a jewelers. My wife and I had found a setting we liked at an antique store on Charles St. in Boston, but did not want the stone that was in it. The store owner (a friend) contacted me when another store (also on Charles St.) acquired a suitable diamond. The diamond was beautiful and the store had a GIA certification performed.
Oddly enough in the end we wound up buying from a jewelers in San Diego while on a business trip. They happened to have just the thing we wanted. I add this because I wanted to note that we had much better experiences overall ring shopping for ‘new’ rings in the San Diego (and Santa Barbara) area than in Boston and New York, in both customer service and prices.
posted by evilelf at 12:20 PM on April 25, 2005

Do you have a jewelry district in your area? My husband bought my ring from a diamond wholesaler that a friend recommended. The wholesaler supplied the diamond and was able to purchase the setting from Sholdt Design at near wholesale. In the end, the ring cost about 2/3 of its appraised value.

I've also known folks who buy from wholesaler but have the ring billed and mailed to a friend or relative out-of-state so they can avoid sales tax, which is about 9% here.

I've heard varying things about non-certified stones. I remember an investigative piece a few years ago that found some undocumented stones were injected with glass filler to hide cracks or irradiated.

In the end, though, you have to decide how much flaws you can't see bug you. Diamonds aren't much of an investment, so it may be fine just to get the nicest looking one you can at the best price, paperwork be damned.
posted by Sully6 at 6:19 PM on April 26, 2005

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