When you’re shopping for an engagement ring, besides getting your soon-to-be fiancé a ring she’ll love forever, your primary objective should be to get the most bang for your buck. Why? Because ring selection is only the first of many huge price tags to consider. There’s still buying a house, furniture, and cars…and let’s not forget the grand total of your combined debts (including student loans). These are the facts of life and marriage we must prepare for.
Before you drop 3 months or more of your net salary on a ring based on standards you’ve been told you need to meet, you should know know a few things. Wedding etiquette is outdated and based on caste systems most modern families just don’t fit. If you’re not one of the Joneses, many of these so-called rules aren’t intended for you. Did you know that the 3 month salary rule comes from a series of marketing campaigns created by De Beers in an effort to stimulate the sale of diamonds? I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want sellers telling me what I need. As buyers we have a great deal of power and it's up to us to educate ourselves.
When you go out to shop for engagement rings, buy what you find beautiful; buy what makes her happy; most importantly, buy what you can afford. Do not feel compelled to spend 3 months of your net salary on a ring because someone told you that you were supposed to. Jewelers spend a lot of money on marketing and they make tons of money because they can count on a few things:
- Your belief in the “tradition” that the groom must spend at least 3 months of his salary
- That the excitement of the bride in waiting over sparkling diamonds with high price tags will outweigh reason in your purchase
- That you’ll be lured in by their offers of free wedding websites, free cleanings, and trade-ins toward upgrades (valued at your purchase price)
When you’re educated about the market, you’ll see through all of these things.
Before I go on, ladies—I have not turned my back on the girl-code by telling your man these things. The truth is you can have the ring of your dreams for a fraction of what most jewelers charge. How, you ask?—diamond wholesalers. Diamond wholesalers offer engagement rings for as low as 1/3 of the retail price, and perhaps even lower than that.
When Sherrod and I were pre-engaged, I fell in love with a round solitaire diamond ring from a reputable jeweler; it was a nice size and shone so bright. I wanted it badly BUT it carried a $14K price tag.
Sherrod wasn’t having it. Buying a home and being debt free (before and after the wedding) was our agreed upon goal so I didn’t press the issue. Besides, I’d recently seen a reality television show where a featured couple bought a huge diamond ring from a wholesaler for about $7K. Not wanting to sacrifice the amazing vision of the ring etched in my heart (lol), I suggested that we give diamond wholesalers a try. I’m so glad I did. We went to Union Diamond and there were several diamonds fitting the specs of the rock I’d been fawning over for SO much less than the one I'd first set my sights on. Sherrod was pleased; I was ecstatic—we both got what we wanted!
Since our very pleasant experience shopping with Union Diamond, I’ve convinced even the most uppity of my friends that are in the market to try it and they have with success. Why pay more to have someone’s name on your jewelry box when you can have a bigger rock (and a much better investment)? No one’s going to see your jewelry box and the value of your retail-priced ring is more likely to be the same as an equivalent wholesale ring, even if you did spend more money on it.
If diamonds are your preference, I strongly suggest looking at wholesalers as an option. The value is so great, I can’t think of a reason to shop elsewhere.
I explained why you don’t need to pay 3 months of your salary on an engagement ring. And now that you know about diamond wholesalers, the ring your lady love wants just may be closer within reach than you previously thought. If you’re still tempted to forgo diamond wholesalers because retailers are baiting you with freebies, I want you to consider a few things:
- Most wedding websites are FREE anyway
- You can actually clean your ring with products you already have at home. I’ve been using these tips and have been very happy with the results. I don’t clean it every week, but it looks like new after each cleaning.
- Are you concerned about coverage for your ring should one of your prongs come lose and the diamond falls out? Well, that’s what insurance is for. If you don’t take out a policy on the ring alone, consider adding it to your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance instead.
- The trade-in policies touted by jewelers can be quite complicated, forcing you to pay more for an upgrade than it’s worth without you ever realizing it. Not going too deep into all the ways that can happen, if you start out paying 2-3 times the wholesale price in a retail for one ring, you're in effect spending what (wholesale) amounts to buying a starter ring and an upgrade at the same time?
Whatever you decide, be smart. You and your lady will have a whole lot of life to live together. Be good to her and start smart my friend…start smart.