Need engagement ring advice for best quality / value combination.
December 26, 2003 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Need engagement ring advice. [more inside]
posted by PrinceValium to Shopping (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
RUN.
posted by adampsyche at 10:01 AM on December 26, 2003


(just kidding, I couldn't resist)
posted by adampsyche at 10:01 AM on December 26, 2003


What types of places should I shop at for the best quality/value combination? I have heard not to shop at the mall and instead to look at the more independent shops or wholesalers. Does anyone have good tips on how to go about doing this and avoid getting taken for a ride?

It's also important to us to look for "cruelty-free" diamonds, apart from the DeBeers monopoly.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:01 AM on December 26, 2003


Also, if anyone has a good experience with specific stores in the corridor between the NYC and Boston metros, I'd be gratified to hear your stories.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2003


I got Hers at Blue Nile. Had a relatively good experience, as far as that can go. If you live in a town or city with a jewelry district, check there at some of the shops.
posted by adampsyche at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2003



It's also important to us to look for "cruelty-free" diamonds, apart from the DeBeers monopoly.


Are those new man made diamonds featured in Wired recently available yet? I bet you could get a giant stone for less, and it would be cooler cause it would be both high tech, and have no cruel history.

My wife is not a fan of gemstones, so we skipped engagement rings entirely and bought our bands on the internet. I did consider getting an iron ring made that I would allow to become rusty before I gave it too her, like a little slave collar. I was talked out of it.
posted by thirteen at 10:18 AM on December 26, 2003


Why not consider something a bit nontraditional? Whenever I get a replacement ring (lost my diamond) I'd love to have a sapphire or emerald.

You mean someone besides DeBeers does diamonds? Do share who. I'd be interested in that myself.
posted by konolia at 10:23 AM on December 26, 2003


If you can get to NYC, Fortunoff on Fifth Avenue is very reputable and reasonably priced. The salespeople are knowledgeable and friendly, and the store has been in business for years.
posted by astruc at 10:43 AM on December 26, 2003


Oh, and congratulations!
posted by astruc at 10:43 AM on December 26, 2003


Please, please do not buy DeBeers diamonds. A moment's worth of googling will tell why.

There are alternatives. Canada, f'rinstance, has some mighty fine diamonds. A bit of googling will lead you to the various resellers. Of note is that our diamond mines are under significant control by the Inuit, who are making damn sure that the northern ecology is as little damaged as possible and that the employment standards are fair.

All that said, I think non-traditional is better. Do a bit of googling and you can come up with some wonderful titanium rings. I love these.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 AM on December 26, 2003


I second Fortunoff, but they might not know where the stones came from...A bunch of people I know went to Clay Pot, which handmakes them, in Brooklyn. Or there's Michael C. Fina (also on 5th--originally famous for being a off-price registry china place) has rings and bands now too--they'll probably have better prices than Fortunoff...mazel tov!!!
posted by amberglow at 11:02 AM on December 26, 2003


IMHO, diamonds look shitty. When We got engaged I took my wife to a small jewelers in Stevenage (of all places). All of their stuff was made on the premises or short run stuff brought in from their favourite litt;e craftsmen.

I got her a rather impressive Sapphire white gold ring of which there are only four in the country for under $400.
posted by twine42 at 11:51 AM on December 26, 2003


I tried to talk my wife out of this silliness but she was just getting depressed by friends and co-workers asking to see her non-existent diamond. Finally gave in, because her happiness is what's important to me, but only a very tiny stone which, fortunately, she loves. Fucking DeBeers and their marketing a55wipes, they've brainwashed America!
posted by billsaysthis at 11:59 AM on December 26, 2003


Sorry, I realize that last bit was unresponsive, just had an urgent need to vent. Fortunoff's is a decent shop.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:00 PM on December 26, 2003


i just got engaged about 2 weeks ago, so i understand your confusion. it's a time consuming process (and should be) but take your time, visit different shops (chain store and otherwise) to get an idea of what's available and ask lots of questions (they'll gladly talk your ear off with information) and just study up as much as you can about the origin of particular retailer's diamonds, the 4Cs and all that.

oh, and congrats on your upcoming engagement. I wish you many happy years together! :)
posted by jerseygirl at 12:03 PM on December 26, 2003


"Do a bit of googling and you can come up with some wonderful titanium rings. I love these."

You may wish to avoid titanium alloys for safety reasons.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:55 PM on December 26, 2003


My husband's family does all their jewelry shopping at the Diamond District in NYC.
posted by Ruki at 1:07 PM on December 26, 2003


Consider asking her to shop with you, or check thoroughly to see what she'd like. The markup on jewelry is huge. I suspect there's room to negotiate, although I have no facts to support that. You might get the best deal in New York in the diamond district.

The jewelry marketeers invented a standard that says you are supposed to spend x number of months pay on the ring. I recommend resisting that and deciding what you can really afford. I'm definitely with the non-traditional group, although emeralds are more expensive than diamonds.
posted by theora55 at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2003


Be careful when choosing gemstones for a ring - not all of them are really suitable for a ring that is meant to be worn constantly and last a lifetime. Emeralds may not be a good idea - they can crack in hot dishwater. Opals and pearls are also too soft for rings.

I would also recommend that you don't spend a lot on a diamond. The bottom is going to fall out of the diamond market very soon because they can now make diamonds in a lab that are indistinguishable from mined diamonds - as discussed here. Not that you would plan to sell it, but I don't think it's a great idea to pay $4,000 or so for something that will be worth $200 in five years time.
posted by orange swan at 1:57 PM on December 26, 2003


or, you could get a vintage/2nd hand diamond--Tiffany's has them (and often they're excellent quality)
posted by amberglow at 2:13 PM on December 26, 2003


Study up on the 4 C's
Find somewhere online that gives pricing information (1, 2) so you can figure out what is generally in your price range
Unless she has a freakish desire for a huge rock (some do), err on the side of quality over size (anything much over a carat looks rather ostentatious)
Don't get an emerald cut. They are very non-sparkly
Only go to places that have been specifically recommended to you (I would recommend David S. Diamonds in NYC. Also, Barmakian which has locations in Boston and NH. I believe that Blue Nile is a reputable Web vendor. Tiffany's is waaay overpriced). There are some shysters out there.
posted by sad_otter at 2:43 PM on December 26, 2003


How about a ruby? The red stone of the goddess Freja (Love etc). Get a heart shaped one and you'll be sure to gain an aaaaaaw approval rating, you romantic sucka. ;) G'luck!
posted by dabitch at 3:02 PM on December 26, 2003


You could ask around discretely for any family heirlooms that might suit the job, and get the stones reset. That way you escape 'carat envy syndrome,' and get something more meaningful. I think "It was my grandmother's" sounds at least as good to the co-workers as "It's 1.3 carats." You can save a bunch of money, and be romantic as well as practical about it.
posted by carter at 4:23 PM on December 26, 2003


P.S. We did this at a local independent jewellers, he was pretty nice, advised us to only pay what we had saved and not to put anything on plastic. So we just payed for the gold. The ring looks great!
posted by carter at 4:26 PM on December 26, 2003


Congratulations on the engagement!

My recommendations:

- Google for '"Four Cs" "engagement ring"' Read several different websites. Make yourself as close to an expert as you can get on diamonds. Here's a start.

- Jewelry folks are often *brilliant* salespeople. They can wrap you around their little finger without you ever knowing it. Go in knowing exactly what you're looking for, and stick to your guns. Let them give you information, but don't let them sell you on something.

- Don't buy the ring on your first trip. Go to multiple jewelers. Talk to as many people as you can. When you think you've found "the one," sleep on it before purchasing it.

- Get a round brilliant cut. If a girl's going to be wearing something every day for the rest of her life, conservative and traditional is almost always the best bet.

- Get a simple ring. The ring should be primarily a frame for the diamond, so find one that complements the diamond rather than deemphasizing it. A solitaire setting, like a round brilliant cut, is a safe, flexible choice. (It's common these days to let a woman pick her own wedding band, and a simple engagement setting gives her more options when that time comes.)

- Don't break the bank, and avoid putting it on credit. A money-savvy husband is generally worth far more than a slightly larger rock.

- One last tip: Avoid plastic. You're probably in debt (most of us are when we get married these days), and if you're going to start a family, the needle on your debt-o-meter needs to start moving the other direction.

Good luck!
posted by oissubke at 7:30 PM on December 26, 2003 [1 favorite]


Hey all,
Thanks for the great comments. We will be checking out David S. next as they have some Canadian diamonds in stock.

We know exactly what we are looking for - conservative and simple is the way to go. The lady at the store we went to yesterday told her she was low-maintenance. :)
posted by PrinceValium at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2003


I believe the Cdn diamonds all have a polar bear etched into them. Ask to see it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:04 AM on December 27, 2003


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