How To Buy A Diamond Engagement Ring
Having sold diamond engagement rings for over three decades, I have come away from those experiences with a good idea about the best way consumers should go about that process. It can be an intimidating and stressful undertaking. You’ve just decided to make this lifetime commitment to the person you love. Now you’re faced with purchasing an expensive piece of jewelry to represent that commitment and you know so little about the product or how to purchase it.
Deep breaths…it does not have to be so difficult! Today people seem to go in one of two directions for their search and purchase: Some use the internet to educate themselves about diamonds, get an idea about grading criteria and designs and select the ring, while others choose to seek out a jeweler through recommendations, social media or review sites to have a more personalized experience. Either route can work, depending on your personality and expectations.
What does your future fiancée like?
I advise all prospective buyers to first get some idea of what type of engagement ring their future fiancée might enjoy. Do they like round diamonds or some other shape? Do they like solitaire designs or rings that have some side diamonds as well? What color metal appeals to them? Family members and friends are a great source for this information. Maybe your future fiancée has looked at engagement rings in stores or online and has saved some images that were appealing. Maybe they want to be part of the selection process, or maybe they would rather be totally surprised by your efforts. As there is no single route for everyone, getting as much of this information as possible will help establish the framework for your search.
Finding the right jeweler
I am a strong advocate for the personal in-store experience for many reasons. A face-to-face meeting has many advantages, the primary being the human aspect. Trust your instincts! You can tell early on when looking in someone’s eyes if they have your best interests in mind or if they just want to sell you something. Find a jeweler that wants to facilitate you in purchasing the product you envision at a price point that fits your needs.
The information that can be gathered in person is invaluable. Consumers have incorrectly been led to believe that the online experience will yield the most competitive pricing. A good independent jeweler can match online pricing and provide follow-up services that you won’t find on the web.
Relative to the process, once some parameters are in place for general designs and budget, there are a few guidelines to follow that are fundamental to making the right decision. First and foremost, select your diamond loose. A diamond mounted in a ring is ready to go, but often incentivizes the seller to push that finished product, even if it does not exactly fit your needs.
Understand the differences in diamond quality
A loose diamond can be examined on its own merit, while multiple diamonds can be examined side-by-side to explore the differences. I recommend buying diamonds that come with independent trade lab reports. It is common practice for most sellers of diamonds to have their stones go through trade labs – G.I.A. and E.G.L. are two such examples – for grading. Of course, there is some subjectivity in diamond grading between labs, so it is always best to build trust with your seller. I, myself, was trained by G.I.A. to grade diamonds and always look at the trade reports to verify the grade. I like to confirm with my customers whether or not I agree with the grade and always try to represent the diamond they are choosing in the most correct way.
Be sure to ask questions! If the seller is unwilling to answer, that should be a major red flag.
Don’t forget about the wedding ring
Another very important part of choosing the right engagement ring is to look past the design of the primary ring and ask the seller about the wedding band that will eventually be put next to it. A lot of buyers make the mistake of overlooking the band. The engagement ring will only be worn alone for a relatively short period of time. For the remainder of its life it will be worn next to a wedding band. Make sure a future wedding band will be available, find out what it will cost and get a feel for how it will look next to the engagement ring. Will adding a band break your budget? Does the band detract from or enhance the primary ring? This is critical information relative to the long-term enjoyment of the set.
Ask your seller about the quality and workmanship of the setting that the main diamond is going to sit in. People commonly obsess about quality issues of the main diamond, but never ask the same questions about the smaller secondary diamonds that are part of many engagement ring designs. Small diamonds are cut, faceted and graded the same way their bigger brothers are. If your main diamond is of a different grade, you may notice aesthetic differences. Make sure you understand all aspects of what you are buying.
Know and understand your options
Finally, be sure to ask about the differences in metal choices for your ring. 10, 14, or 18kt Gold? White, yellow, rose, or possibly a mix? Platinum, maybe Palladium? There are advantages and disadvantages for all these choices, both in terms of price and long-term durability and need for repair. For example, white gold rings have a surface plating of rhodium that gives it a whiter appearance, but also needs to be maintained for best appearance and may need to be reapplied periodically. Again, ask questions!
Shopping for and purchasing the perfect engagement ring for the love of your life should be an enjoyable experience. If it feels stressful, evaluate your process. It’s never too late to put yourself on a better path!
About the author:
Jon Migdow has over 30 years of experience in the jewelry business. His store, TDC Jewelry, has been serving customers across Chicagoland since 1984 and recently moved to a new location in Deer Park, IL.