I bought an Engagement Ring!
Wow! This is big on so many levels. Since this is a money site, I'll talk about the money implications first. Maybe I was inspired by Him and Her from Make Love, Not Debt . Some advice to those also considering this step, this is a big purchase, just accept it and get over that part. Now that being said, there’s one major exception. If you have any sort of family heirloom, like a grandmother’s ring, you can cut down or virtually eliminate this expense. While that is seriously attractive, the most important thing here is KNOW YOUR GIRLFRIEND (or soon to be fiancée)!!! Some girls will love the sentimental aspect to this. Remember that 1.5 carat engagement rings were rare during WWII, so your grandma’s ring probably doesn’t have as big a rock as your lady’s best friend’s. So, if she’s into the sentimental stuff, and you have the family ring to give, go for it. Otherwise, get your butt shopping!
An important note on how much you should spend. How much does the diamond cartel/propaganda machine tell you that you should spend on an engagement ring? Surely, you know this number. All together now: “Two Months Salary!” Seriously? Are they really serious about this? Don’t do it. I mean it. I don’t care if you make $24,000 or $240,000 per year, it’s too much. You’re going to spend 16.7% of you annual salary on this one purchase, and still have potential wedding and honeymoon costs to consider? No wonder most of America is broke. Ironically, most of them are also divorced, and spent their marriage fighting over money. Look, I don’t have a better guideline, like two weeks, or one month. But better yet, don’t base it on how much you make, just make sure you are comfortable with the amount you are spending and get the best ring you can for your budget. Do I sound like an ass yet? Hold on, it gets better.
Luckily in Los Angeles, we have a phenomenal jewelry district in downtown. I met up with a friend who knows the area, as this can be somewhat intimidating if you don’t know your way around. We had gone one time previously to look, and decided to wait until after Valentines Day to pass, as we were told that jewelry of all sort was jacked up right before V-Day. But that trip gave me a good idea of what I was looking for. We saw some good stuff, but nothing that jumped out at me.
So, yesterday, I got there before my friend and wandered into one of the small shops that claims to sell diamonds wholesale. I described what I was looking for, Princess cut, approximately 1 carat, good color, willing to sacrifice a little on clarity, and don’t talk to me about cut. The first ring she showed me was literally the one. I changed the stone to one I really liked, but otherwise it was perfect.
One more note, try to find out her size before you go shopping. I ended up calling her sister and her best friend, and no one knew. If you can get away with it, steal a ring for a day and run to your nearest jewelry store in the mall to get a size. Now, don’t make the mistake of actually buying anything there, just use them for sizing, and such things.
In the end, I bought a 1.00 carat, princess cut, G color, SI2, on a diamond encrusted setting with matching band, all for $3788. This is complete, out the door, including sales tax. I had budgeted up to $5000, so I am very happy with this. It went on my credit card, but only because I don’t keep this much money in my checking account. Trust me; the bill will be paid in full next month. However, before you go, go ahead and make a big transfer to your checking account. You may be able to negotiate an additional discount for using debit or writing a check. The small store are run by small business owners. The woman who helped me explained that she has to pay 1.9% on Visa or M/C, up to 2.9% for Amex, and less for Discover. However for Debit purchases she only has to pay a flat 65 cent fee. Use debit, and see if they’ll knock another 1.5% off the purchase price.
So, here’s my advice now that I have done this. Rule Number One, do not buy it at a Mall Store or a major retailer like Robbins Brothers! I went to these places first to look, and prices are seriously like double. If you do not live somewhere that has a good jewelry district, consider flying to one. I’m serious about this. Flights within the US from anywhere to anywhere aren’t going to run you more than a few hundred bucks. You can easily save a couple thousand by avoiding the malls. Now if you don’t have a good jewelry district, and can’t get away, consider the online options. I found a similar ring and stone on bluenile.com, and priced it at $4024. No sales tax, except for residents of the state of Washington. Personally, it is important for me to see the ring and the stone live before buying. Not all SI2s are the same, just as not all G colors are the same. But it’s a good option.
Well, now I have to think about the proposal! Yikes!