Getting a deal on an engagement ring
July 26, 2012 2:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy an engagement ring. Where can I get a solid deal on one these days?

I helped a friend get a ring off ebay about 5 years ago. Purchased from a seller with 15,000+ feedback. He paid $3,000 and it was appraised at $11,500. I realize appraisal has little to do with retail price, but the appraiser was dumb struck by the purchase price.

Is ebay still a good spot? If so, any particular sellers?

If not, can you recommend any other avenues for purchasing one?

I read this thread, but it was more about style and cut. Also, I'm looking to spend about 1/10th of the $25,000 mentioned in the link.

PS Yes, I want to get a standard diamond engagement ring. No, I don't want to hear why it is so horrible for people and how diamonds are artificially scarce.
posted by lattiboy to Shopping (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Some of my friends have been doing extensive research and recommend as a really great resource in shopping for engagement rings. While the site itself looks a bit sketch, he seems very responsive to questions and rates different sellers/retailers. Good luck!
posted by sums at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2012

Blue Nile. Amazon. Ebay may also be fine if you are comfortable with an individual seller.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:10 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought my wife's engagement ring on Amazon a few years ago, and it was a good experience. We also spent less than $1k on it, intentionally, as we valued only the symbolism; it's a real, relatively high-quality, but small diamond.
posted by ellF at 3:17 PM on July 26, 2012 used to have good prices and are legit. Whatever you do, don't buy from a mall jewelry store. They overprice overgraded diamonds, so you get shafted twice in one transaction.
posted by cnc at 3:34 PM on July 26, 2012

I got my wife's at Blue Nile, but it wasn't necessarily a "good deal." You can choose the exact diamond you put in the setting, so you can sort of use that as your price guide.
posted by SNWidget at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2012

What's your location? I can recommend an independent jeweler in Manchester, NH, who re-sets stones he buys back from other customers and estates.
posted by lily_bart at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2012

Pricescope is a search engine that indexes loose diamond offerings from various online resellers. Many will also sell you a setting, but for some you'll have to take it to a local jeweler. The prices will be better than brick & mortar stores, but you probably won't do as well as Ebay.
posted by Behemoth at 4:28 PM on July 26, 2012

Look for an estate jeweler's in your area. Old diamonds have interesting cuts and settings you don't see anymore, they cost less, and they don't have the political baggage of new diamonds. Look for something Art Deco-- they're super sparkly.
posted by nonasuch at 4:31 PM on July 26, 2012

In 2005 I bought my wife's ring from Fay Cullen:

Prices were reasonable and they had a lot of designs that we liked.
posted by vansly at 4:34 PM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: The best deals on the most beautiful jewelry that I've ever seen have been at antique stores. You can get honestly stunning estate sets for what seems like an absolute pittance. Plus, if you have issues with the ethics of the diamond industry, this way you're not buying a new diamond.

On preview, what nonasuch said.
posted by KathrynT at 4:41 PM on July 26, 2012

eBay continues to be a solid option, BUT: you want
- Seller to have at least 99% positive feedback. (Almost no one leaves negative feedback. 97% positive is something like bottom 10th percentile.)
- PayPal Seller Protection. It's free if you use PayPal to pay. Very, very pro-buyer. (Sometimes to the frustration of sellers.)

Personally, I'd also lean toward pre-owned from individuals because those seem to be better deals than jewelers who just happen to sell on eBay, but each has their merits. (E.g., individuals tend to have crappy photos.)

Disclosure: I work for an eBay Inc owned company.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 10:37 PM on July 26, 2012

nthing antique stores/estate sales for the reasons given above, but mainly for the variety of choice and uniqueness (you should particularly look for designs where the band encases more of the stone (and a lot of early 20th c/deco pieces are like this...usually with elaborate latticework in the setting) as opposed to more contemporary designs with a thin band and a honking big stone hanging off the side...they're a lot more practical as they tend not to snag on every. goddamn. thing.), lower cost, and also the ethics (i know you don't want to hear it, but the way most diamonds are sourced these days goes well beyond 'horrible for people' really don't want mojo that bad (literally) on your hands)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:10 AM on July 27, 2012

Definitely check out the forums of The diamond geeks there know how to get a good deal.
posted by lalalana at 7:13 PM on July 27, 2012

Best answer: But wanted to add:
The "4 Cs" (clarity, color, cut, carat) are important, but not always equally so. Cut is really the most important. A well-cut stone always looks bigger and brighter. For color, it is difficult for most people to tell the difference visually between a D (colorless) and a lower colored stone, especially if it is well-cut, and some people even like a little "warmth" in their diamond. The same goes for clarity: Unless you are looking under a loop, an IF (internally flawless) stone looks no different than a VVS2 (very very slightly included 2) stone. The thing is, not all stones of the same clarity grade are created equal. Some SI1 (Slightly Included 1) have visible inclusions, others have inclusions that impact the grade but are hidden away in a corner that would definitely be masked by the setting. The best deals, then, are often very, very well cut, with a color in the H-I range and "eye clean" clarity in at like a VS2. Look for things at the "top" of their rating-- hidden inclusions and the like that keep the rating (and price) down but aren't noticeable. Similarly, stones just under 1 carat are often quite a bit cheaper than those that a make a full carat.
posted by lalalana at 7:27 PM on July 27, 2012

Response by poster: Follow up:

I ended up getting a gorgeous art deco ring from the 1930s (with emeralds and a diamond center stone!) for not very much money on good ol' ebay. The suggestions here are nice, but buying a used ring is just SO MUCH more affordable I can't imagine doing anything else.

I saw a lot of 1ct solitaire rings with VS-SI and F-H color for around $1000-1200. That's compared to $3000-5000 retail.

Basically, engagement rings are a giant fucking scam if you don't do some homework.
posted by lattiboy at 11:47 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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