When I got engaged to The Boy there was no ring because he knew I'd want to pick one out myself. Of course, I had to get the best ring I could for the smallest price possible (is there really any other way?). It took us an entire day but our ring excursion ended with a .45 karat, G/SI1 rated, round solitaire white gold engagement ring + a 2mm white gold wedding band for a whopping $159.83.
That’s right, ya’ll – I got my engagement ring and wedding band for under $160.00!
Plus, a complimentary cleaning every six months, full value appraisal, and free resizing as long as I own the ring. That’s one killer engagement ring + wedding band + full value appraisal + free resizing + free cleanings for a measly $159.83 (and that price INCLUDES the sales tax).
Looking for a way to score the same killer deal? Here’s some tips and advice that I was able to glean during our ring buying experience:
Upgrade Programs: Upgrade programs allow buyers to bring back a purchased ring and upgrade it to a nicer model or better quality stone. Generally, an upgrade involves using the “equity” built into the ring (the original price) + a minimum upgrade charge (usually about 50% of the original price) – then you only pay the upgrade charge because you already paid the original value. This is a great idea for those looking to save money with a starter ring (like a starter house but smaller and more sparkly).
Think Local: Local jewelers tend to be small and family-owned – and more willing to work a slammin’ discount. Often, they have inventory that is sitting around and will cut a deal just to get rid of it. This is especially true in January when stores need to reduce inventory for tax purposes.
Reuse Old Jewelry: You can always remove the diamond from old jewelry and have it made into a new ring. I refused the First Wife's rock (I’m cheap y'all but no woman should have to wear a hand-me-down diamond) but this would be a killer option for those looking to use an heirloom or broken piece.
Consignment: Many small jewelers do consignment (or pre-owned) sales. Consign your own piece and once your unwanted piece sells then you can use the credit to buy a new ring from the same jeweler (or take the cash and run). Another option is to BUY a consignment piece. Many consignments are for a good 50% less than the original owner had paid for it and come with the original appraisal papers.
Sell Old Gold: Look, we’ve all seen those cheesy commercials on TV but hear me out. Gold is valuable – in fact, right now it's more valuable than diamonds! Many small jewelers will buy your old gold pieces and give you cash or let you have credit towards the purchase of an item in the store. This is what we did – and ended up with $1,142.00 in store credit!
Go for Loose Stones: In the jeweler business, loose stones are harder to move than pieces of jewelry because many buyers cannot visualize a finished piece. The owner of the jewelry store we ended up at was willing to cut us a fantastic deal on a selection of loose stones that the store had + offered us a free setting. With that deal and store credit, I was able to pick out a GORGEOUS .45 stone with a great quality rating (G/SI1) for a whopping $1,000.00 – and used the last of our store credit (about $142.00) toward buying my wedding band.
Negotiate Perks: If you can’t cut a deal on the price – ask for freebies. Ask for a discount on your wedding bands, complimentary resizings (good if you plan on having children), free cleanings, and/or a FULL VALUE appraisal for our home owner’s policy (Always, always get a full value [not the price you paid] jeweler’s appraisal for your homeowner's insurance.)!
Opt for Less: We all want that amazing, top-of-the-line ring but those are expensive. One way to reduce your cost is to look for a slightly lesser quality stone or metal. For example, going down one clarity or color level will often save you hundreds (or even a thousands) of dollars but the imperfections cannot be seen by the average person. Another option, go for a lesser quality metal for your setting. I ended up with a white gold band because a platinum version would have added $500.00 to the bottom line. I figured I can upgrade to a platinum band at a later anniversary – and save money now.
That’s my ring story – will you be able to get such a great deal from your local jewelry stores? Maybe not, but keep in mind, we took the time to visit multiple jewelers, ask questions, and negotiate great deals. And so can you. Ask about consignment sales, ask about selling gold, ask about discounts, and ask about perks or complimentary services. From my experience, you never know – so ASK!