Tuesday, 29 July 2014

How To Buy a Diamond Ring (Part 1)

Buying a diamond ring is an interesting process.  I'm going to make a few generalisations here but as men who are about to propose we are in an interesting situation:

  1. We know that we have to propose with a diamond ring 
  2. We know very little about jewellery of any sort 
  3. We care very little about jewellery so the process is quite tedious
  4. If we are about to spend thousands of dollars we want to the best ring for the price that we can get
I am going through the same process that you're all going through and I know how painful it is so I have put together a guide.  It turned out to be far longer than I originally planned so I have split it over two posts.  The second post will come later this week.

Step 1: Know your girlfriend

Before you even think about looking at diamonds you need to know the girl you are about to propose to.  Here are some things that you will need to know at a minimum before you even think about starting to look for a ring.

A. Does she actually want a diamond ring?

For most guys this will be a resounding 'yes' (it certainly is for me), but there are some girls who think that the whole concept is a bit silly and actually prefer something simpler, cheaper and more meaningful.  If you have one of these girls your life just got a whole lot easier (and cheaper).

So how do you find out.  The easiest way is to just start a conversation about engagements and proposals generally.  This is much easier if you are in the age group where everyone is getting engaged.  Ask what she thinks about her friends rings, and when she meets people who have just gotten engaged does she want to see the ring?

B. What is important to her?

Different girls will care about different things in a ring.  Given that you can't buy 'the perfect ring' and don't want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars you need to work out what is important to her in a ring.  For example
  • Does she care about the brand?  Some women care about brands far more than others.  If she doesn't really care then avoid something like Tiffany - you're paying for the name...not for the actual ring itself
  • Does size matter? Size and quality of the diamond are the two biggest things that affect the price of the ring. If your girlfriend is focused on the size of the diamond then you may be better off getting a larger ring with a lower quality then a perfectly formed smaller stone
  • Is she flashy? Some women feel uncomfortable with an expensive ring on their hand and others love the idea.  I'm not saying that you need to spend the world but knowing your partner helps a great deal when you go into the store

C. What style of ring does she want?

If you have even started looking at rings you will know that there are a huge amount of different styles and options available.  If your girlfriend knows that a proposal is coming then the chances are that she has dropped a few hints.  If not you can try and work this out in several ways:

  • Actually listen when she talks about a ring that she has seen and that she likes
  • Surreptitiously take her via a ring or jewellery store and either look at the rings she spends time looking at or the rings she comments on.  Don't be too obvious...if she likes window shopping you may find that she takes you via the store anyway
  • Find out what she doesn't like - avoiding a ring she doesn't like is the key thing you are looking for
What you are looking for is whether she likes classic styles, something that is a bit more modern, single stones or a group of stones, princess cut or round diamonds etc.

D. Her ring size

When you propose you want her to be able to put on the ring so you need to find out her ring size.  The easiest way to do this is the download the Tiffany smart phone app and then stick one of her rings on there (from her other hand) and it will tell you the size of her finger.

Step 2: Set your budget...and stick to it!

Before you start looking for rings the first thing you need to do is set your budget.  Once you set this budget you have to commit to sticking to it. It is always possible to get a bigger and better ring by paying more but you need to draw the line at some point.

Here are some things that you should think about when setting your budget.

A. There is NO rule of thumb!

Have you ever heard that you should spend 1 months salary on a ring?  Or perhaps you've heard that you should spend 2 or 3 months salary?  This is absolute garbage.  It is a marketing ploy to pressure you into spending more money.  Spend an amount that you feel comfortable with.

B. The amount your ring costs is not a sign of how much you love you girlfriend

Honestly if any girl breaks up with you because of the ring you could afford or chose to buy then she is probably not the right person to spend the rest of your life with.  Don't get drawn in the trap of thinking that the amount you spend on your ring is a symbol of how much you love or care about her.

Also don't get drawn into the 'you only buy this once' trap.  You only buy the ring once...but then you need to spend on the wedding, the honeymoon, buying a house, setting up your new house and all the other things that come with starting a life together.

C. Never EVER go into debt for a ring

Never go into debt to buy a ring.  If you can't afford to buy it for cash today then it is not the right ring for you and the stage of life that you are in.  If you need to take a year longer to save up for the ring that you want to buy then that is what you need to do.

I recommend setting a budget and working towards that goal slowly.  I started saving for the ring I was going to buy 12 months ago.  I put an amount aside each month and then 12 months later I saved up the amount I needed...without any pain or need to dip into my savings (or to use debt).

D.  You are not allowed to go over your budget...ever!

Once you have set your budget it is sacred - when you start looking for rings, start $1,000 below your budget.  The chances are they will show you a slightly bigger or better one and try and up sell you.  Starting lower allows you to buy something a little better than you first looked at while sticking to your budget at the same time

....To Be Continued....

Look out for Part 2 in the How to Buy a Diamond Ring series where I will cover the things you need to know before going into a jewellers...including the 4-C's of diamonds

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How to Buy a Diamond Ring (Part 2)

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