Emotional Intelligence is widely recognized as the ability to solve emotionally based problems… therefore it kind of seems like a good place to begin an article about buying an engagement ring don’t you think? In the 25+ years that I’ve been in the diamond business, I’ve yet to meet a single person who is not working within the confines of some sort of a budget… sure the budget varies from person to person, but the reality is that our ability to pay for the engagement ring of her dreams is largely dictated by the amount of discretionary income that we have to play with. You may or not be aware that according to various advertising campaigns promoted by the diamond industry throughout the years, you’re actually supposed to spend between two and three months’ salary on an engagement ring. Now if you’ve been paying attention, I began this article talking about emotional intelligence… yea, I don’t support the premise of that advertising campaign at all.
Let’s face facts… I’m a guy and the only time emotion affects my decision to purchase an engagement ring is the moment when I decide that I love a woman enough to want to spend the rest of my life with her and that’s also where the presence of emotion in the transaction ends. From that point forward, the decision regarding what diamond ring to purchase and how much I’m willing to spend to obtain the ring is going to be driven entirely by how much money I have set aside for the project and the characteristics of the diamonds being compared. It’s all going to come down to facts and figures and there isn’t a category for emotion to be found anywhere on my diamond analysis spreadsheet.
It might not seem very romantic, but buying a diamond for me is like purchasing a car or any other high end luxury item, it’s all about performance and price. I’m not about to plunk down a chunk of my hard earned cash on something without conducting my due diligence and I don’t believe that you’re going to either. But I can save you bunches and bunches of time and a whole lot of money when it comes to buying the actual engagement ring itself… I know that she’s probably left subtle hints all over the place about the exact ring that she wants and I know that you want to make her happy, but you also want to buy her the largest and nicest diamond possible within your desired price range… right?
And if you’ve spent any time looking around at rings, you’ve probably figured out that a lot of the designer rings which are trendy right now are pretty expensive and that buying one will eat up a significant portion of your budget. Thus you find yourself at a crossroads of sorts… you want to buy her the diamond engagement ring of her dreams, but you also want to be able to continue wooing her in the style which she is accustomed to because otherwise she might not accept your proposal. Oh buddy, I feel your pain… the two biggest fears in are that we will not be enough and that as a result we will not be loved and the whole process of buying the right engagement ring preys quite nicely upon both of those… So let’s see if we can do something to relieve the anxiety that you’re feeling…
The first thing I want to remind you of is that the woman of your dreams is a little more reasonable than you might be giving her credit for… sure, the desires which she’s expressed for the perfect diamond engagement ring might seem a bit over the top; however they are only expressions of a dream and are probably not a requirement for her actual happiness. The reality is that women shop for engagement rings and wedding dresses by flipping through magazines for most of their lives. I have a girlfriend (an actual girl friend) who recently shared a really deep secret with me, it was a private folder stashed away on her computer which is filled with images of engagement rings and wedding dresses which she’s downloaded off of jewelry design and bridal design web sites for years… and she doesn’t even have a boyfriend!
She does however have really expensive taste and whoever the lucky guy who falls in love with her is, he’d better have really deep pockets… or at least that’s what you’d think if you happened to trip across her secret stash of wedding dreams, because the truth is that she’d be happy, truly happy, with just about whatever ring he eventually buys her to express his commitment of love. How do I know? Because we’ve talked about this subject for quite some time on several occasions.
With this in mind, here’s my sage advice: Focus on the diamond first and foremost, it is the centerpiece of the engagement ring itself and the primary focal point that everybody will be focusing on… the ring is just window dressing and believe me, it’s most likely going to be changed out 3 – 5 times throughout the course of a lifetime. In my experience, many women will change settings almost as often as they change shoes! But very few of them will actually surrender their engagement diamond for an upgrade!
So if you’re thinking that you need to balance your budget between the diamond and the setting and that the best way to do this is to buy a smaller diamond, it’s most likely going to cost you more money in the long run because when she eventually wants a larger diamond, you’re not going to be able to get it away from her to offset the price of the upgrade… nope. So dedicate the majority of your desired price range to buying the nicest, largest diamond you can afford and then have the diamond mounted in a traditional solitaire style setting with the understanding that the diamond can be set in a more substantial mounting for an upcoming anniversary.
Online diamond vendors such as Brian Gavin, James Allen and Blue Nile offer several versions of traditional solitaire style settings at very reasonable prices, most starting at just a couple hundred dollars. A significantly more intelligent alternative to designer settings costing three to four thousand dollars and more. One of the designer settings featured in my friend’s secret dream cache has a retail price tag well over ten thousand dollars and it is built to accommodate a center stone in the range of two carats! Yowza!
Imagine dropping well over ten grand for the engagement ring semi-mount and then having your bride announce five years later that she’s grown tired of the ring, that it’s out of style and that she “really wants this one now!” and you do realize that nobody is going to give y0u any real trade-in value on a used piece of jewelry, right? It’s practically impossible to remove all of those tiny accent diamonds from the ring and so you’re going to forfeit the value of those and receive just the melt trade-in value of the metal… congratulations, ten grand just became like $200 – 500 bucks. Yea, that traditional solitaire style engagement ring is looking better and better all the time!
Now if you absolutely, positively, must present your fiancé with a fancy setting that looks like it was made by a famous jewelry designer… I’d like to point out that Brian Gavin, James Allen and Blue Nile all offer a variety of high end settings that look very similar to the most popular designer settings. And if you truly need something custom, Brian Gavin has a fantastic custom jeweler on the premises. They are able to create some pretty amazing designs using Computer Aided Design (CAD) and as you can see from the graphic provided above, you’ll be able to see how things are going to look through the entire design process! All of those images are computer generated renderings created by the CAD program! Pretty cool, huh?
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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