Don’t Pay for Things That Don’t Matter

How I saved over $2,000 on an engagement ring.

An engagement ring will likely be the most expensive thing I buy for Amanda.  At the time, I managed to save $3,000 aside for this.  However, I had one problem – all the styles that I thought Amanda would like was priced between $4,000 – $5,000 in stores.

I didn’t want to screw up.  I knew with a limited budget I had to be more selective and calculated with my purchase.  The brand of the ring was not going to be important to me. I just had to find the best looking engagement ring for $3,000.

Here’s my journey on how I saved over $2,000 on an engagement ring and still managed to end up with an engagement ring that looked much better than what we both expected:

1. Avoid retail markups

Jewellery stores typically mark up their engagement rings by 25 – 40%. They have higher operating costs from running a physical location. For someone starting out, with very little knowledge, I initially felt more comfortable shopping at a physical store because I would be able to see the ring in person before I bought it. They charged more but at least I knew I was buying a “real” certified diamond.

With more research, I learned that jewellery stores adjust their store lighting to hide cloudiness and other imperfections on diamonds that would otherwise be visible in real day lighting. It’s not surprising to see diamonds sparkle less when seen outside the store. There’s also very few jewellery stores that will give you a loupe to inspect the diamonds closer and have the sales staff knowledgeable enough to walk you through the diamond in detail. A lot of them will read off the diamond’s laboratory reports and are strictly “sales” people.

I began looking into online jewellers and immediately saw that their prices were 20 – 30% cheaper than jewellery stores for diamonds of equivalent rating grades and settings of identical style. I just had to make sure I was looking at reputable online jewellers.

Online jewellers have to price their rings and diamonds lower to remain competitive and encourage individuals like me (who are not comfortable with large purchases online) to buy their products. They price their diamonds lower in hopes that we also buy a ring setting from them to pair with the diamond.

One of the more reputable online jewellers is James Allen. They have the technology to allow shoppers to view all their certified diamonds in 360 degree view with a minimum 15x magnification. Some diamonds can also be viewed under 50x magnification which helps you spot eye clean diamonds. This is extremely important because all diamonds carry some form of imperfection and cloudiness. It’s important I see exactly where they are.

Certified diamonds are usually independently rated by GIA (arguably more reputable) or other labs. The laboratory reports will rate the diamond’s clarity, cut, colour, and carat. Diamonds that have the same clarity rating will be priced similarly however, when you put them side by side next to each other, one diamond will look better than the other. This is because one of the diamonds will have imperfections that are in a more noticeable area. I didn’t want Amanda to be stuck with a diamond with a black spot on the face of the diamond that I couldn’t see in the physical store due to the store’s lighting but would likely be noticeable in sunlight.

2. Pay for what matters

It’s very easy to pay unnecessarily for higher diamond grades/ratings which is often undetectable to the eye. For me, my main objective was to buy the best looking diamond with the lowest diamond grade/rating possible to keep prices as low as possible. Unless, you’re a diamond investor, there’s no real need to select the highest grade/rating diamonds as they wouldn’t be noticeable to the average person. Here’s what mattered to me:

Excellent Cut An excellent cut diamond means the diamond is cut proportionally to allow maximum light to flow through the diamond which will make the diamond sparkle. There’s no point in having a diamond that doesn’t sparkle no matter how big it is. This was something that I couldn’t cheap out on so I only looked at diamonds with the best cut possible.

Near Colourless Nobody wants a yellow diamond. A diamond that is near-colourless offers the best value and still looks colourless to the naked eye. I opted for an “I” colour grade (near-colourless) and the only people that could tell the difference in colour would be those with a colourless diamond that had it side by side with the one I was picking. I wasn’t having a competition or anything so this didn’t matter to me as much.

Clarity Clarity determines the size and number of imperfections/cloudiness that is on the diamond. This sounds odd, but I was focused on finding a diamond with the most imperfections/cloudiness that wouldn’t be visible to the eye (i.e hidden on the bezel or girdle of the diamond). I was looking at diamonds with “SI” (Small Inclusions) clarity because they offered the best value as long as the inclusions weren’t in a noticeable area. It involved a lot of time to sort through 50+ diamonds but once I found the one, it was all worth it.

Carat Carat is a unit of measure to determine the diamond’s weight. I selected the largest weight within my price range – 0.65 carat.

3. Make the centre stone look bigger than it is

There are two ways to make the centre stone of a diamond look bigger than it really is.

  • I opted for one of the thinnest engagement bands (1.7mm) available. This would naturally make the centre stone look bigger when compared to the size of the band.
  • I selected a band that included side accent diamonds so that the attention would not be solely on the centre stone. Visually, the side accent diamonds complemented the centre stone and enhanced the overall look of the ring.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to get caught up with buying things that have higher end features, styles and functions that we often don’t use or appreciate.  This ends up costing a lot of money over time so avoid paying for things that don’t matter.  Oh and just in case you were wondering, she obviously said yes! 🙂

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