Engagement Ring
July 18, 2011 8:17 PM   Subscribe

What are some hints on purchasing a diamond engagement ring? Any good sites you would recommend? I have roughly $5000 for diamond and setting and would like to do some research to find a special ring for my lady.... I live in upstate New York, any good jewelers to recommend?
posted by Direwolf to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total)
"upstate NY" is a really big place. That said, I like Schooley's, on the Commons in Ithaca. Simple lines, knowledgeable people, family shop.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:24 PM on July 18, 2011

Diamond engagement rings are a notoriously poor purchase, from a financial perspective. But if you're looking for a deal, on-line, and don't mind some prior possible karma on the ring, in exchange for a good price, and maybe a bigger stone than you could otherwise afford, check I Do, Now I Don't.
posted by paulsc at 8:37 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe buy *lostatsea*'s?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:45 PM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Resources I found useful:
Truth about Diamonds

Don't be afraid of buying online, but only buy from a merchant that will send the diamond to an independent appraiser prior to purchase. Look up information on AGL, GIA, EGL, and other certification labs (the former two are generally thought to be superior, and will command a higher price). You will pay more at a brick & mortar store vs. online, but you should always negotiate to bring the price closer to what you'd get online.
posted by Behemoth at 8:49 PM on July 18, 2011

Vintage rings are beautiful, often a lot cheaper, and feel way more unique. You don't have to get a diamond - other stones (her birthstone?) can be more affordable and more beautiful. Have a look in her jewelry box if you can - take photos of what she already has, and then go over them with a fashionable friend and ask them to help you narrow down her style - chunky quirky, slender and elegant etc. Then you can go look at online vintage or independent jewelers and choose something with more meaning than a plain diamond solitaire. One way might be to ask her to help you choose a ring from Etsy.com for a sister/mother/female relative, and gauge her taste from what she likes.

The only exception is if she is price conscious, in which case your best bet is a pawnshop or second-hand engagement rings. Get them appraised, get the maximum carat for your dollar (don't do imitation or machine if she would be upset if she found out, because inevitably, she will) and a very simple setting.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:10 PM on July 18, 2011

I was prepared to lay out $4,000 when I was getting engaged, so we went together looking at different styles so I could find out what she liked and what her ring size was.
Then I went shopping on my own, and lucked out in finding a local jewelry shop that had a nice vintage platinum ring with an "old mine cut" and saving a bundle, I mean paying small fraction. IT is every bit as nice as the new full-price ones. The wife loves the vintage ring and we are both happy to have saved money. Although I must admit that it wasn't until months later that I had the courage to tell her the exact amount I paid for it. The only disadvantage is that the color of the old platinum does not match the new platinum for the wedding band. I've never has a second-opinion appraisal done on it.

More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_cut
posted by markhu at 9:56 PM on July 18, 2011

If you're going to spend that kind of money, find out what she wants. Unless the surprise and having the ring when you pop the question is really important to her then let her pick. In particular find out if diamonds are something she wants. I'm getting to design my own ring and get exactly what I want for < $600. (no diamonds - IMO they're boring and overpriced - sapphires are almost as hard and come in a huge range of pretty colours)
posted by missmagenta at 11:40 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I clicked here so I could say what missmagenta said. Diamonds are very much not one-size-fits-all - she may very well want something flashy and encrusted with stones, or anything more than a solitaire might be too much. Sometimes even that's too much. I did a spur-of-the-moment proposal so we went shopping for the ring together, and the "perfect" gem ended up being a $25 topaz.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:12 AM on July 19, 2011

posted by polyglot at 5:56 AM on July 19, 2011

I had a great experience buying online from Whiteflash.
posted by Perplexity at 6:10 AM on July 19, 2011

I agree with the anti-diamond sentiment. However, if that's what the lady wants, then I've had good experiences Blue Nile. You can also look into pearl or other precious stones. A friend of mine has a pearl engagement ring that is exquisite!
posted by jadegenie at 7:09 AM on July 19, 2011

BlueNile has some of the best prices and great customer service. If you decide not to order from them, you can at least get an idea of what you might like and about how much you should pay for it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:09 AM on July 19, 2011

If you do get the ring without her knowing, find a way to measure a ring that she already wears on her ring finger for sizing purposes. You can trace the inside on a piece of paper, or put it on a fatter finger on your hand and mark exactly how far the ring goes onto your finger.

Also, if you must buy the ring without any input from your future fiancee, you should probably ask the store about their return/exchange policy. The ring I was given when my fiance proposed was so very much not ME, that after several weeks of wearing it I broke down crying and told him I loved him but I hated the ring. It constantly caught on things, it hurt my finger, I couldn't sleep with it on, etc. He very graciously had me point out rings that I did like (MUCH lower profile!) online, and then replaced the ring with one I absolutely love. He even borrowed a beautiful antique ring with a lot of sentimental value from his mom, for me to wear during the week or so while they were making my new ring. I still don't know whether he was able to return the original setting and purchase a new one, or whether he had to sell back the metal in the setting to the jewelry store to fund the new ring (we kept the same stone), but it would be nice to know in advance what your options are in case you guess wrong.
posted by vytae at 8:32 AM on July 19, 2011

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