“3 months salary”.
That’s what we’re supposed to spend on an engagement ring.
Parking emotions to one side for the moment, unless you’ve been a particularly squirrel-like saver, that’s a huge punch in the coffers for anyone.
If you were spending that kind of money on any other item – like a car, or a holiday, or a computer you’d do your research and shop around.
The problem with buying an engagement ring is that it’s an emotional purchase… and unless you’re like ‘8th time lucky’ Mickey Rooney, getting engaged will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life.
You definitely don’t want to be a cheapskate but at the same time you also don’t want to get ripped off.
I had a chat with the diamond experts at Diamond Manufacturers for some top buying tips. If you are shopping around for a diamond ring I definitely recommend checking in with these guys at some point, on average they could save you a whopping 73% and they also include free aftercare.
1. Write down your budget beforehand – then stick to it
The first thing to do is draw up a realistic budget. That might sound blindingly obvious but it’s extremely important. If you’re firm about your budget from the outset it’ll make your buying decision 100 times easier.
If the 3 months salary rule works for you, great! If not, don’t sweat it. This so-called ‘rule’ was almost certainly invented by greedy salesmen, so buck the trend and spend what you can afford. You’ll be a far less tempting marriage prospect if you’re being chased down the aisle by payday loan companies.
2. Get familiar with the 4 C’s
The last thing you want to do is stroll into a jewellers wide eyed without knowing the basics. If they sense that you don’t know what you’re doing they’ll shuffle you out 20 minutes later with 3 carats of glass glued onto a ring pull and a maxed out credit card.
Having a basic idea of the 4 C’s will help: Cut, Clarity, Carat (size), Colour. You can learn about these in more detail here.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert – you just need to be familiar with the terms so that you have a rough idea of what you’re dealing with.
3. Take advantage of these little known insider tricks
Hopefully by now you’ve found the type of ring you want – now it’s time to get the price down.
By choosing a stone that is ever so slightly undersized (e.g. 0.9 of a carot instead of a whole carot) you could save yourself as much as 30%.
The same goes for colour. By selecting a stone that is near colourless (F-G) rather than totally colourless (D) you can make further savings – without seeing a visible difference once it’s set in the ring.
4. Decide on your metal
The type of metal you choose can dramatically affect the price and a white gold ring will be significantly cheaper than a platinum one.
Both will last you a lifetime, so if you need to stick to a budget consider opting for white gold, although bear in mind you might need to get it retreated every few years if you want to retain the white gold look (they should do this free of charge).
5. Don’t be swayed by pushy sales staff
Walking into some jewellery shops, with the low lighting and luxurious surroundings and softly spoken sales staff can be a bit like entering heaven…
Keep your wits about you – it’s easy to be swayed by a winning smile when you’re surrounded by all that gold and decadence. This is your decision and it’s a big one. Take your time and come back 2, 3, 4 or more times if you’re not 100% convinced.
Once you’ve shopped around and seen the cut and clarity of diamond that you like trying looking online to see if you can get an even better price. When you shop in store you’re paying for their overheads and could be paying 70% over the odds.
6. Haggle like your life depends on it
Haggling, or when you’re buying a high end item such as this, ‘negotiating’ is par for the course. Do it!
There is absolutely no shame in asking lots of questions and really pushing them on the price. 9 times out of 10 they will have a great deal of flexibility. Make it clear that you’re doing the rounds and cheating on them with other jewellers.
Tip: Don’t do this if your partner’s there with you – it’s savvy but not terribly romantic.
7. Make sure you get aftercare included in the price
It’s an easy thing to overlook in all the excitement, but make sure you get the aftercare included in the price. That means the cost of cleaning, repairs, ring resizing, prong tightening and rhodium plating (re-whiting the white gold).
These tips should give you a fighting chance.
In summary keep a strong head, don’t let yourself get hypnotised with any dazzling sales waffle and don’t be afraid to haggle them down on price.