Ring Shopping

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ny_knicks
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Ring Shopping

Post by ny_knicks » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am

I am at the point in my relationship where it’s time to crack open the wallet and purchase a ring. The problem is the thought of spending money on something like that makes me sick. I live in NYC where the average ring size is larger than the vast majority of the country at ~2 carats. For a good quality ring this can run you upwards of $20k-$30k. Basically it’ll let her check the box in our social circle and not feel out of place. I could care less but girls seem to place some weight on this.

If you and your future spouse are doing all the “right” things young bogleheads should be doing (maxing 401ks, Backdoor Roths, high saving in taxable every month, emergency fund of 12+ months, no debt) is spending on something like this crazy?

Did anyone spend a lot on a ring and regret it? Wedding will likely be destination funded by parents so it’s the cost of this and the honeymoon that we’ll be on the hook for.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:35 am

ny_knicks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am
I am at the point in my relationship where it’s time to crack open the wallet and purchase a ring. The problem is the thought of spending money on something like that makes me sick. I live in NYC where the average ring size is larger than the vast majority of the country at ~2 carats. For a good quality ring this can run you upwards of $20k-$30k. Basically it’ll let her check the box in our social circle and not feel out of place. I could care less but girls seem to place some weight on this.

If you and your future spouse are doing all the “right” things young bogleheads should be doing (maxing 401ks, Backdoor Roths, high saving in taxable every month, emergency fund of 12+ months, no debt) is spending on something like this crazy?

Did anyone spend a lot on a ring and regret it? Wedding will likely be destination funded by parents so it’s the cost of this and the honeymoon that we’ll be on the hook for.
There have been MANY threads here along these lines.
And you'll find the full spectrum of responses from "don't spend much; each of you can use a rubber band [just not wound too tightly]" to "if it makes her/both of you happy, spend the most you can possibly spare now". Okay, those are extreme, but there are some responses that come close, especially on the low end (this IS BH of course!).

Bottom line: This is important to you and to her, for the most part. IF it matters a lot to either or both of you, and you can comfortably afford it without risking financial stability, then ... get something you both enjoy.
Just make sure it's something she will enjoy wearing, so true surprises might be risky.

And best wishes to both of you for many happy and healthy years together!

RM and Mr.RM
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MedSaver
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by MedSaver » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:10 pm

Consider a jewelry auction at a reputable house. You can get a 2-3 carat platinum ring for less than $12k.

E.g. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25097/ ... =90&page=1

2.9 ct for $10,650 including 25% buyer's premium. A similar stone at retail would be several multiples.

sport
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by sport » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:17 pm

I would suggest getting a much smaller ring that you can afford. If she wants to have a large stone to show off, get an inexpensive CZ for display purposes in a second ring. No one will know the difference. If you do this, she will have a "real" ring, you will save a ton of money for more important purposes, and her friends will be duly impressed by the CZ.

stoptothink
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by stoptothink » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:56 pm

sport wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:17 pm
I would suggest getting a much smaller ring that you can afford. If she wants to have a large stone to show off, get an inexpensive CZ for display purposes in a second ring. No one will know the difference. If you do this, she will have a "real" ring, you will save a ton of money for more important purposes, and her friends will be duly impressed by the CZ.
This. If "not feeling out of place in your social circle" is really important for you and your future wife, you don't need to spend $20k-$30k when the chances of somebody being able to differentiate between a "real" diamond and CZ without specialized equipment is about zero. Such a bewildering paradox; most of the women I know with larger rings, myself and my wife thought they were fake and many times have been shocked to find out that they aren't (and costed INSANE amounts of money, like $50k+). Really, you aren't impressing anyone but yourself.

BanquetBeer
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by BanquetBeer » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:06 pm

We got a nice ring with amazing craftsmanship. Yellow diamond, flatter cut so it is wide but can’t see depth. <$10k

We don’t GAF about ‘social fitting in’ - people like to spend their money on different things. Easy to say ‘I don’t care that much about rings/jewelry and didn’t want to walk around NY with the price of a car on my finger’ (risk).

Or is that the line you are hearing because she actually wants one?

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:11 pm

Nearly 40 years ago we went through this. Neither of us cares what anyone else thinks. We didn't, and don't, have friends that want to compare rings to see whose ring is better. My wife's ring was appraised 5 years ago at $2,500. My band cost me $75 back then, I found a perfectly good replacement a few years back (mine wore thin) for $225.

Spending $20 - $30k on a ring is simply nutso.

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ronno2018
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by ronno2018 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:18 pm

I like this article -- https://lifehacker.com/how-to-get-the-b ... 1513108389

Especially this part --

"Talk Finances
Before you head out ring shopping, it is important to sit with your loved one and talk about finances if you have not done so already. Not about the ring, but in general. Do you and your significant other have similar goals when it comes to finances? Do you have personality clashes? Do you know what her expectations are when it comes to big purchases?"

Auction comment above is interesting as well as the CZ discussion.

I guess long term maybe worrying about what others think may not be best strategy, but then again I loved punk rock when I was the marrying age.

neoptolemus412
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by neoptolemus412 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:23 pm

I purchased in 2016 and understand that conversation between wants vs. budget. It's easy for strangers on a blog to say spend X, get a smaller diamond, or buy at an auction, but you know your girlfriend. For me, I found that many NY professionals and in my social circle that 2.0 carats was important to many of the women. For others, it might not be. I realized that my wife would have 100s of conversations with strangers, friends, and family about this ring the rest of her life. That conversation, shallow as it may be, could be sincere and positive or insincere and negative. I've seen it myself many times. People, especially in NYC, will want to see the rock and you get a feeling if they are judging you right away. I realize that my wife was right about 2.0 carats meaning something to a certain set and it definitely led to her having numerous positive interactions that even turned into friendships, professional connections, etc. Maybe it's overblown in the big scheme of life, but many things around engagements/weddings are about perception and people will identify certain traits about the couple based upon ring size wedding venue, dress, etc. Obviously, purchase what one can afford, but this is my lived experience and thoughts on the matter as a newly wed.

As far as 2.0 carats, I approached the issue head on and had many candid conversations with my future wife about it. We decided to ring shop together, as the price point, as you noted, is substantial for a quality diamond. At that price point, I wanted her to get what she wanted. The engagement date and location were a surprise, but the ring shopping was clear and transparent to ensure she understood the cost of the purchase.

When it came time to pay, I opened a 0 interest credit card specifically for the purchase. I used the points to pay for a portion of our honeymoon. You'll find price point is negotiable and you can obtain a diamond for around 2.0 carat for $15,000 that's of very good quality and GIA certified. Insurance, should be under $200 a year for the appraised value, which is always much more than the purchase price. I recommend getting insurance.

As far as shopping, here's my general advice.

1) Go physically to see diamonds. It's difficult to ascertain the 4Cs, fire, imperfections, etc. online. The light needs to hit the diamond. If you are uneducated about the process, a good jeweler or wholesaler is great. I put some people that I personally found helpful. However, friend's recommendations, I would try multiple places as it's really about personally who you feel comfortable with. Every married guy will tell you how great their jeweler is, but you'll find most people don't do their homework on the price point enough to really know if they got a great deal.

2) Educate yourself through online research regarding price points. Bluenile is great if you know what you should be looking for; however, I would just use it to price compare to figure out what a 2 carat costs for the specs that are important to you. I went to at least 12 jewelers and scoured online sites to compare diamonds we liked in person to online equivalents. I found in person, I could 100% know the Diamond was eye clean, i.e. the naked eye couldn't pick up imperfections. That was important to us and you'll have a hard time knowing that by looking a pics online.

3) Agree on cut, style, and price ranges with your SO early. This was the biggest issue with my now wife that we faced pre-marriage. She would see someone else's ring without any knowledge of quality or cut, but not know what the whole package was. Once we both became educated, we realized what in a diamond we valued and what we did not. A DEF ring was much more expensive than GHI, but from the naked eye, if the cut is very good and minor imperfections are hidden by prongs, none of that matters. After looking at a bunch of diamonds, it's easy to know if it's what you guys want.

For unsolicited recs based on my personal experience...

Keith Saxe in NYC was great. Straight shooter, patient, heart of a teacher, and a nice variety of diamonds in my price range. I did not purchase from him, but would. He's in the jewelers row in the city.

We purchased from Golden Nugget in Philly as they had the best variety and prices within 2 hrs of the city. They are a wholesaler, so you can walk in anytime and they will likely have a great selection of GIA certified diamonds for you to examine. They offer cleaning anytime my wife is in town. If she wants an upgrade, they will credit the amount paid towards another diamond anytime in the future. My wife was very pleased and happy.

Again, this is my $.02. I'm a frugal person by nature, but understood that the ring was an important representation of the next stage of our relationship. My wife made clear the importance of the ring, so I did my best to try to meet her expectations and desires.

Dyloot
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Dyloot » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:23 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:11 pm
Spending $20 - $30k on a ring is simply nutso.
Spending $1 million on a house is simply nutso.
Spending $50,000 on a car is simply nutso.
Spending $25,000 on a wedding is simply nutso.
Spending $5,000 on a family vacation is simply nutso.

We all could probably list out hundreds of examples of nutso purchases that are made every day. I mean, really, a ring is just a luxury item that people spend money on (or don't spend money on) for a variety of reasons.

The OP says spending money on a ring makes him sick. Yet, he feels social norms require him to do so.

It's a quandary for sure!

To the OP: None of us really know you. One of my best friends took a jewelry making class and made his wife her ring for less than $1,000. Yet, he's a world traveler who has spent far more on plane tickets in the past year than I will in an entire decade.

I would try to make the decision as pragmatic as possible. Let go of the emotions, and decide what the best decision is for your partnership moving forward. It could be that putting that expensive ring on her finger fulfills a social norm that far outweighs the nutso cost of the purchase. Or, perhaps the less expensive ring makes a statement you both want to make.

GCD
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by GCD » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:43 pm

Well, FWIW, here are some more thoughts, which you should discount because they are just my internet ramblings.

Don't go the CZ route. That's just pathetic. It's fakery and posing, trying to be something you aren't. It's like the guy who never served in the military and goes around telling people he was a SEAL or the dude who claims to be a doctor to pick up girls in a bar. If you don't want to spend a lot on a diamond, then don't -- but own that decision. Do you want your wife to have people ooh and ahh over something that is fake? How will she feel having that encounter thousands of times over her life?

If people look down on your wife for the size of her ring then you probably don't want to associate with them anyway. It's like any other consumer good. I could drive a Bugatti, but I drive a 14 year old F150. Who really knows what the finances are behind a ring and who knows how many fakers there are out there. When my wife and I go out to dinner with friends we don't care that we have the oldest car there.

My wife and I are both in our only marriage and we married relatively late (late 30's). Her ring was a custom 2 ct and cost $12,500. It worked for our finances then and we never looked back. Even if it was a bit of an extravagance, who cares? I'm retired now and can't believe how much money I have. Not near as much as some here, but my cash flow in retirement is better than it was when I was working. All that saving worked out. Even with a few extravagances along the way. I get the angst over spending money on such a frivolous thing. I do. But it's ok to live a little along the way too.

By the way, I proposed with a $3 plastic ring from 7-11 to keep the surprise. We went serious ring shopping after that. She keeps the plastic ring in the safe. I think it means as much to her as the real one. Go figure.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:51 pm

I get it.

She can replace the 2 ct. piece.

She could NEVER replace that special plastic ring!

RM
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Nicolas
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Nicolas » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:13 pm

Removed
Last edited by Nicolas on Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:53 am, edited 5 times in total.

adam1712
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by adam1712 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:15 pm

sport wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:17 pm
I would suggest getting a much smaller ring that you can afford. If she wants to have a large stone to show off, get an inexpensive CZ for display purposes in a second ring. No one will know the difference. If you do this, she will have a "real" ring, you will save a ton of money for more important purposes, and her friends will be duly impressed by the CZ.
I'm trying to figure out how this would work. I don't see how you could switch without awkward conversations. You show it off to friends and then next time they see you somewhere, it's a much smaller ring. I don't think I'd want to put my wife in that awkward position.

pasadena
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by pasadena » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:17 pm

That's a lot of money to spend to please the Joneses. I think the first thing you should do is make sure your girlfriend is actually expecting this (not easy to do without telling her, but hey, it can be done). Then maybe think very hard about it.

If *you* think it's ridiculous, as you seem to, then maybe you need to make sure you and your GF are aligned.

I also second the poster above who mentioned auctions. There is an insane premium on retail engagement rings, and they lose half their value at resale (I know a few people who were shocked when they tried to sell theirs and only got a couple thousands out of a much, much more expensive ring). If you really want a 2ct perfect diamond, shop used. Your GF doesn't have to know :)

GCD
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by GCD » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:28 pm

adam1712 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:15 pm
sport wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:17 pm
I would suggest getting a much smaller ring that you can afford. If she wants to have a large stone to show off, get an inexpensive CZ for display purposes in a second ring. No one will know the difference. If you do this, she will have a "real" ring, you will save a ton of money for more important purposes, and her friends will be duly impressed by the CZ.
I'm trying to figure out how this would work. I don't see how you could switch without awkward conversations. You show it off to friends and then next time they see you somewhere, it's a much smaller ring. I don't think I'd want to put my wife in that awkward position.
I think he means as generic show-off jewelry for fancy events. It could just as well be on a pendant, brooch, whatever. Not a swap out for the engagement ring.
pasadena wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:17 pm
If you really want a 2ct perfect diamond, shop used. Your GF doesn't have to know :)
The problem is most (all?) girls want to be involved somehow in picking out the ring. I understand this. They're gonna wear this thing for the rest of their marriage every day. What other thing stays with you front and center for so long?

greenflamingo
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by greenflamingo » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:33 pm

Among my professional friends, my wife’s ring is on the smaller side. Among family, community, and church it is on the larger side.
I
Looking around at work, it was easy to be tempted to go very large on the rock; I’m glad I didn’t, not just for cost reasons.

CatWrangler
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by CatWrangler » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:36 pm

Up until De Beers started their advertising campaign most engagement rings were not diamonds. (Think of Princess Di's sapphire ring.) You can go old school and get a colored stone for less than a diamond.

Another option to consider is moissanite. More brilliant than a diamond and almost as hard, harder than a ruby or a sapphire. But at a fraction of the price.

afan
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by afan » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:48 pm

If someone works in the retail jewelry business, buying and selling rings all day then they have an idea of resale value of diamond rings. Such a person could recognize a good deal in a used ring. It would be a piece that they knew they could immediately sell for more than they paid.

These are the only people who should even consider buying a diamond ring.

No one should buy a new diamond ring. The mark up will prevent selling it for more than cost.

For everyone else, you can get a moissanite ring for far less than a diamond. If, for some reason, you care whether people can tell the difference then know that experts can tell the difference. If you have friends who are jewelers they will know that you did not spend $20,000 on the ring. You should be proud of this. The stone will be as durable as a diamond. It will still be absurdly overpriced, but not as bad as a diamond.
Buy it used.

You can get CZ for a reasonable price. More than I would pay, but a few hundred dollars at the high end. Much less if you are careful.
Buy it used.

Buying an expensive ring to impress others is just nutso.

Why not get some $10,000 bills and staple them to your clothing? The effect would be the same and there would be no worrying that someone might suspect your ring is not really a diamond. They might think the bills are fake, but you could invite close inspection so they could verify authenticity.

Some people might think walking around with expensive bills in view is absurd. News flash: they are right, but they would think the same about wearing a diamond ring.

Get a cheap used ring.
Spend the $20,000-$30,000 you save on shares of VTI.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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leeks
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by leeks » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:49 pm

One option:
Buy a unique but inexpensive ring (say couple of hundred dollars) that isn't even pretending to be a diamond.
Propose with that (you don't want to propose empty-handed).
Offer her the option of (1) ring shopping together so she can get exactly what she wants if having an expensive thing is really important to her (assuming your love for her makes you willing to bow to social convention on this) or (2) potential ring budget instead goes for a nice vacation now or better honeymoon later or toward housing upgrade or whatever else you two would enjoy more than an expensive diamond.

My husband proposed with an interesting silver ring from a local handmade jewelry shop, probably a couple hundred dollars spent. It succeeded!
I never had any interest in diamonds or anything super expensive (of course he had realized that long before proposing to me).

I also live in NYC and engagement ring impressiveness is of zero importance to my social circle unless there is some entertaining story that goes with them. Many of our friends could afford expensive diamonds. Some probably have one, I don't know, I don't pay attention to them, I don't care.

Congrats on finding someone you would like to share your life with!
Last edited by leeks on Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:54 pm

I did this many years ago. It’s probably the same as $20k today. No regrets. In fact, my mom thought wedding rings were a waste of money too, she offered me her smaller ring, less than a carat, very nice, but my husband told his mom about it and she didn’t like the idea, said it’s a no no., my husband has to buy me a ring. So we did go out and bought a big ring.

The ring is now sitting in a safe deposit. I’ll see if one of my kids get married, I can give them the stone. It has no emotional value to us. But we did spend the dough.

runner540
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by runner540 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:11 pm

ny_knicks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am
. Basically it’ll let her check the box in our social circle and not feel out of place. I could care less but girls seem to place some weight on this.

If you and your future spouse are doing all the “right” things young bogleheads should be doing (maxing 401ks, Backdoor Roths, high saving in taxable every month, emergency fund of 12+ months, no debt) is spending on something like this crazy?
What is $20-30k post tax money relative to your incomes? You said "I am at the point in my relationship where it’s time to crack open the wallet and purchase a ring." This sounds strange (sliding into marriage onstead of intentional deciding ). hope you and your girlfriend take time for premarriage counseling about finances and other topics.

If you are sick about it and doing it to impress others, it will be a ring now, the "right" honeymoon to instagram about, house, cars, etc for decades and burn you both out trying to keep up/fit in.

Good luck making your decision.

Rus In Urbe
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Rus In Urbe » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:16 pm

By the way, I proposed with a $3 plastic ring from 7-11 to keep the surprise. We went serious ring shopping after that. She keeps the plastic ring in the safe. I think it means as much to her as the real one. Go figure.
+1 Awwwww. I love this. THIS is a great idea if you must enact the surprise thing. I find that overrated.

The Made-For-TV Competitive Engagement Mania has nothing to do with romance or marriage or long-term happiness. If either of you is buying into that nonsense, it is a bad sign for the future. Research shows (look it up) that the more money spent on the wedding and its attendant fripperies, the more likely the marriage ends in divorce.

My husband and I had platinum bands with a laurel-wreath design custom-made by an artist friend.
We treasure them.
And live happily ever after.
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:24 pm

DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:54 pm
I did this many years ago. It’s probably the same as $20k today. No regrets. In fact, my mom thought wedding rings were a waste of money too, she offered me her smaller ring, less than a carat, very nice, but my husband told his mom about it and she didn’t like the idea, said it’s a no no., my husband has to buy me a ring. So we did go out and bought a big ring.

The ring is now sitting in a safe deposit. I’ll see if one of my kids get married, I can give them the stone. It has no emotional value to us. But we did spend the dough.
This I can never understand. But to each their own. And it's in the safe because it's meaningless to you. OP, take notice.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

arrieros81
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by arrieros81 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:25 pm

If you are at the point of getting a ring.... let her pick it out!!

I say that as a woman who hates her ring; he spent way too much on it, it’s not comfortable or even flattering IMO, and we never even ended up marrying (though we’re still together and even closer).

It was a nice gesture on his part but I haven’t worn the damned thing in a couple years.

Topic Author
ny_knicks
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by ny_knicks » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:25 pm

neoptolemus412 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:23 pm
I purchased in 2016 and understand that conversation between wants vs. budget. It's easy for strangers on a blog to say spend X, get a smaller diamond, or buy at an auction, but you know your girlfriend. For me, I found that many NY professionals and in my social circle that 2.0 carats was important to many of the women. For others, it might not be. I realized that my wife would have 100s of conversations with strangers, friends, and family about this ring the rest of her life. That conversation, shallow as it may be, could be sincere and positive or insincere and negative. I've seen it myself many times. People, especially in NYC, will want to see the rock and you get a feeling if they are judging you right away. I realize that my wife was right about 2.0 carats meaning something to a certain set and it definitely led to her having numerous positive interactions that even turned into friendships, professional connections, etc. Maybe it's overblown in the big scheme of life, but many things around engagements/weddings are about perception and people will identify certain traits about the couple based upon ring size wedding venue, dress, etc. Obviously, purchase what one can afford, but this is my lived experience and thoughts on the matter as a newly wed.

As far as 2.0 carats, I approached the issue head on and had many candid conversations with my future wife about it. We decided to ring shop together, as the price point, as you noted, is substantial for a quality diamond. At that price point, I wanted her to get what she wanted. The engagement date and location were a surprise, but the ring shopping was clear and transparent to ensure she understood the cost of the purchase.

When it came time to pay, I opened a 0 interest credit card specifically for the purchase. I used the points to pay for a portion of our honeymoon. You'll find price point is negotiable and you can obtain a diamond for around 2.0 carat for $15,000 that's of very good quality and GIA certified. Insurance, should be under $200 a year for the appraised value, which is always much more than the purchase price. I recommend getting insurance.

As far as shopping, here's my general advice.

1) Go physically to see diamonds. It's difficult to ascertain the 4Cs, fire, imperfections, etc. online. The light needs to hit the diamond. If you are uneducated about the process, a good jeweler or wholesaler is great. I put some people that I personally found helpful. However, friend's recommendations, I would try multiple places as it's really about personally who you feel comfortable with. Every married guy will tell you how great their jeweler is, but you'll find most people don't do their homework on the price point enough to really know if they got a great deal.

2) Educate yourself through online research regarding price points. Bluenile is great if you know what you should be looking for; however, I would just use it to price compare to figure out what a 2 carat costs for the specs that are important to you. I went to at least 12 jewelers and scoured online sites to compare diamonds we liked in person to online equivalents. I found in person, I could 100% know the Diamond was eye clean, i.e. the naked eye couldn't pick up imperfections. That was important to us and you'll have a hard time knowing that by looking a pics online.

3) Agree on cut, style, and price ranges with your SO early. This was the biggest issue with my now wife that we faced pre-marriage. She would see someone else's ring without any knowledge of quality or cut, but not know what the whole package was. Once we both became educated, we realized what in a diamond we valued and what we did not. A DEF ring was much more expensive than GHI, but from the naked eye, if the cut is very good and minor imperfections are hidden by prongs, none of that matters. After looking at a bunch of diamonds, it's easy to know if it's what you guys want.

For unsolicited recs based on my personal experience...

Keith Saxe in NYC was great. Straight shooter, patient, heart of a teacher, and a nice variety of diamonds in my price range. I did not purchase from him, but would. He's in the jewelers row in the city.

We purchased from Golden Nugget in Philly as they had the best variety and prices within 2 hrs of the city. They are a wholesaler, so you can walk in anytime and they will likely have a great selection of GIA certified diamonds for you to examine. They offer cleaning anytime my wife is in town. If she wants an upgrade, they will credit the amount paid towards another diamond anytime in the future. My wife was very pleased and happy.

Again, this is my $.02. I'm a frugal person by nature, but understood that the ring was an important representation of the next stage of our relationship. My wife made clear the importance of the ring, so I did my best to try to meet her expectations and desires.
Thank you and everyone else for the detailed replies! I agree that I am frugal by nature and that what others think should have 0 bearing on the decision.

With that being said like Neo outlined this is something on her hand for the rest of her life and people talk about it. I’ve seen it first hand - a girl says she’s engaged and people immediately ask to see the ring. In a place like NYC (like it or not) this is even more prevalent and I believe for my girlfriend she’d prefer to just clear the bar then have to deal with people wondering why she’s got a .5 carat ring because her husband was “too cheap” to shell out for something nicer (our friend group already thinks I’m extremely cheap lol this would just be the icing on the cake). We also attend work / client events together where dress can be important.

I should also note that we combine finances already and she is like me - frugal with same work ethic / savings mindset. This would not jeopardize our finances at all and we both have a full understanding of each others financial status prior to marriage.

We have gone ring shopping together and seen various size diamonds / quality. I know what she wants in terms of style but when I ask about how much she says this is the one thing I need to come up with. Taking that as a sign to not cheap out on her this go around. The “fake” rings would certainly fit the bill of cheaping out.

I have done some research and think I am going to go the online route from a quality vendor that can provide ideal scope images with certificates and then have it appraised by a vendor in NYC.

Certainly an exciting time and wish I could just leave whatever amount I spend in my brokerage account but I guess this is part of life!

Nissanzx1
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Nissanzx1 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:31 pm

For that much money, it had better be a sizzler, killer stone. I’d look at pawn shops for a stone. Have a jeweler design a band she likes custom.

I got engaged 5 years back with a 1.03 D Color Purchased From Israel direct for $2700. Another $2500 for custom WG 14K mount. Done. She likes it- it looks great.

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Watty
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Watty » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:36 pm

ny_knicks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am
Did anyone spend a lot on a ring and regret it?
My wife's engagement ring did not cost anywhere near that but when she was out and about people like cashiers or waitresses would give her well meaning compliments about what a nice ring that it was. This bothered her more than a little bit since it made her feel like the ring made her a target for being mugged, and she was not in bad areas or anything like that.

She started turning the ring around so that the diamond did not show. Sometimes she would take if off if she was going to be in some place where she would feel uncomfortable with wearing valuable jewelry, or doing something like gardening. Changing a diaper and a diamond ring is not a good combination. A couple of time the ring was misplaced when she took it off and there was a panic until it was found. Occasionally someone we knew would notice that she was not wearing her diamond ring and think what we had broken up.

I think it was within six months of when we got married that we bought her a plain gold wedding band that matched mine for everyday wear and the diamond ring went into our safe. For the first few years she would still wear it a few times a year like to go to a party or wedding but that became less frequent and I don't think she has worn it in at least five years now. If you buy the expensive ring then you might plan on getting an everyday ring too.
ny_knicks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am
For a good quality ring this can run you upwards of $20k-$30k.
I have only half jokingly suggested that before spending money like that you should go to the bank and get $25K in cash and ask her to carry that around for a week to see if she feels comfortable with carrying that much around with her.

One problem to also consider is that if you buy a high quality diamond for everyday wear it will quickly get dirty and look little better than a much lower grade diamond. It makes a lot more sense to use a high grade diamond for something like a pendant that will not get dirty so quickly.
ny_knicks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am
I could care less but girls seem to place some weight on this.
Have you actually had a deep talk with her about this?

It is not uncommon for people(not just women) to also really want to buy a home and when it comes down to the choice of buying an expensive right or delaying a home purchase for a year she might much to spend the money on the home or something else that is important to her. Some people will also delay having kids until they reach some financial milestone so how that money is spent could also be a factor in that decision.
Last edited by Watty on Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Thegame14
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Thegame14 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:40 pm

first, Id assess how serious the two of you are. If this is the woman you plan on spending the rest of your life with getting her the ring she wants even if it costs $20K isn't the end of the world, I know someone who had a $80K yellow canary diamond ring. the more costly decision is marrying the wrong person and ending up in a divorce especially if kids are involved, any divorce especially if there are kids, will be many many many times more expensive than the ring. I am sure most if not all people don't go into a marriage thinking they might get divorced, but I am sure there are people more certain than others.

how about ages, how long dating, parents both still married, are you same religion, same money habits, both want or don't want kids, both make similar income or expected similar incomes??

Thegame14
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Thegame14 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:43 pm

Also food for thought, there average wedding in NJ and NYC is around $40-$50K, so even if you spend $20K the ring, but as you said your wedding is almost paid for by parents, then you are still ahead of the game.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:46 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:24 pm
DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:54 pm
I did this many years ago. It’s probably the same as $20k today. No regrets. In fact, my mom thought wedding rings were a waste of money too, she offered me her smaller ring, less than a carat, very nice, but my husband told his mom about it and she didn’t like the idea, said it’s a no no., my husband has to buy me a ring. So we did go out and bought a big ring.

The ring is now sitting in a safe deposit. I’ll see if one of my kids get married, I can give them the stone. It has no emotional value to us. But we did spend the dough.
This I can never understand. But to each their own. And it's in the safe because it's meaningless to you. OP, take notice.
I don’t wear jewelry that often. I’m not a materialistic person. It depends on the person. Just don’t start out a marriage in the wrong foot that’s all I want to say. My husband and spent money on having a luxurious wedding at a 5-star hotel. So the ring is just a small part. And the key thing is we solve problem together, not his and hers, we’re still stay married. Most often people keep saying on the internet, the bigger the wedding cost, the sooner the divorce. It’s not the case for us. The cost of the ring is peanuts now.

AlphaLess
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:50 pm

If your spouse is a boglehead, then buy a CZ or moissanite ring.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.

jharkin
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by jharkin » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:50 pm

Dyloot wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:23 pm

Spending $1 million on a house is simply nutso.
Spending $50,000 on a car is simply nutso.
Spending $25,000 on a wedding is simply nutso.
Spending $5,000 on a family vacation is simply nutso.
Yea, but all of those items, in spite of the high prices, actually have some intrinsic value - you can live in one, get transportation from another, make memories..

OTOH, a diamond is nothing but a shiny rock whose "value" is a completely artificial construct of a 1938-1947 advertising campaign.
Last edited by jharkin on Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

AlphaLess
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:51 pm

Thegame14 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:43 pm
Also food for thought, there average wedding in NJ and NYC is around $40-$50K, so even if you spend $20K the ring, but as you said your wedding is almost paid for by parents, then you are still ahead of the game.
I would not see it that way. That cost of the expensive wedding, paid for by parents, could turn into a gift deposited into a brokerage account.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:53 pm

arrieros81 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:25 pm
If you are at the point of getting a ring.... let her pick it out!!

I say that as a woman who hates her ring; he spent way too much on it, it’s not comfortable or even flattering IMO, and we never even ended up marrying (though we’re still together and even closer).

It was a nice gesture on his part but I haven’t worn the damned thing in a couple years.
Haha, it’s not couple years for us. More likely 20 years.

The only time I got some satisfaction of showing off the ring was when I was at a musical play in London, all dolled up to the nines, yeah some London girls had that envy look at my ring. Worth every penny.
Last edited by DrGoogle2017 on Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Watty
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Watty » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:07 pm

One more thought.

You should also consider synthetic/lab grown diamonds which are chemically identical to natural diamonds. These may be much less expensive and they will not have the stigma of "blood diamonds".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_diamond

Even De Beers is selling lab grown diamonds now.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-angl ... SKCN1QA255
Its Lightbox brand, created for the new synthetic venture, is starting small, selling 20,000 carats by the end of 2019, but De Beers has invested in a synthetic diamond factory in the U.S. state of Oregon, which should produce more than half a million rough carats a year when fully operational in 2020.
Diamonds have always had a bad resale value but the lab grown diamonds keep getting better and less expensive which could make the resale even worse in the future.

https://clark.com/shopping-retail/lab-c ... est-deals/

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Nicolas
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Nicolas » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:18 pm

Deleted
Last edited by Nicolas on Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mnnice
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by mnnice » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:45 pm

It would make an interesting poll.

Track gender, cost of engagement/wedding ring, if ring is worn, or if people have a tattoo or silicon band in lieu of a traditional ring.

DH and I looked at diamond engagement rings and never pulled the trigger. I was afraid of loosing it and it felt weird. He didn’t want to spend the money on something I was so ambivalent about.

We bought two cheap bands 2/$100. DH wore his for a month or two. I still wear mine.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:49 pm

We also have two gold bands, bought for $20, also in the safe deposit box.

HereToLearn
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by HereToLearn » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:58 pm

Watty wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:36 pm
ny_knicks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:55 am
Did anyone spend a lot on a ring and regret it?

She started turning the ring around so that the diamond did not show. Sometimes she would take if off if she was going to be in some place where she would feel uncomfortable with wearing valuable jewelry, or doing something like gardening. Changing a diaper and a diamond ring is not a good combination. A couple of time the ring was misplaced when she took it off and there was a panic until it was found. Occasionally someone we knew would notice that she was not wearing her diamond ring and think what we had broken up.
Agree with you 100% that diaper changing is a hazard if wearing a ring. After the first few times of tearing a hole in the diaper, I stopped wearing my rings inside the house. Never lost it because I kept it in the same kitchen drawer all the time.
Watty wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:36 pm
One problem to also consider is that if you buy a high quality diamond for everyday wear it will quickly get dirty and look little better than a much lower grade diamond. It makes a lot more sense to use a high grade diamond for something like a pendant that will not get dirty so quickly.
Diamonds clean up easily, so while sunscreen, hand lotion, etc can temporarily mar the sparkle, that is easy to remedy. A diamond on a chain does not capture the light the way one's moving hands do.

Isabelle77
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Isabelle77 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:05 pm

We lived in NYC when we were engaged 17yrs ago. Maybe we ran in the wrong (or right) circles but I never felt any shame in my 1ct diamond. My husband had my ring reset for our 10th anniversary and it's much flashier now. Honestly though, I can count on one hand the number of actual conversations I've had about my wedding and engagement rings. Again, maybe I hang out with the wrong kinds of people.

OP, one hint that may help is that my husband actually bought the diamond for my original ring in his hometown city in the midwest. After shopping in the diamond district, he found it was less expensive far outside the city. Not sure if that's often the case or not, these were the days before BlueNile etc.

mrc
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by mrc » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:18 pm

35 years ago, we purchased matching rose gold bands. No diamond solitaire.

If a ring competition suits you and your fiance, go big. Otherwise get something you both like, and something you can afford. The size/cost of the ring is a poor predictor of happiness and marriage length. ;-)

Congratulations! :sharebeer :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
Macs are for those who don’t want to know why their computer works | Linux is for those who do | DOS is for those who want to know why their computer doesn’t work | Windows is for those who don’t

BanquetBeer
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by BanquetBeer » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:24 pm

‘All the conversations about your ring’?! We’re quite social and can’t recall more than maybe 20 actual discussions over the first few years. All with close friends who we felt comfortable sharing all details with.

I think you’re overestimating how interested people are in other peoples lives.

We spent about 0.65 months salary on it. Don’t even wear it that much between work, kids, and busy life. Can’t recall when I last saw it actually. Believe it resides at the bank.

Another post about faking it with a fake stone? It’s only faking it if you tell people it’s diamond and it isn’t. Who is going to ask? Why does it even matter? I think we save more every month than her ring cost.

fourwheelcycle
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by fourwheelcycle » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:30 pm

James Allen will sell you a 1.0 carat, G color, VS1 clarity, ideal cut diamond for $6,400 and a 1.5 carat, same criteria, for $12,000. Mounting in a solitaire six prong setting will add $600 to $1K. I bet you can afford that, and those stones will look as good as any other to the naked eye.

megabad
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by megabad » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:36 pm

Obviously this is a personal decision. For the young people that have asked my advice, I usually say to set a reasonable budget and find a solution within it. More specifically, search for a good deal. Don’t buy retail. A moderate cut,clarity 2 carat should run about 15k at BN online (saving you at least 5k) so you can get a 2 carat for much less than you think. Alternatively synthetic would save you another 30% or so. I would think you could get a brand new 2 carat ring for right around 10k by just shopping around. I don’t recommend buying used diamonds since I find it hard to get certified (which to me defeats the whole point of buying diamonds). Obviously I would play with the sizes to see what is more economical. 20 years ago 0.9 carat was the sweet spot, but this was a time when 2 carat rings were rare and they no longer are. My youngest cousins daughter is 5 ft, 90 lbs soaking wet, and just brought home a 2 carat ring from Costco from her public school teacher boyfriend so times are a changing. It looked like she had a light bulb on top of her hand to me but they were both super happy. Similar to some of the posts above, the only time I have ever heard of regrets in the cost of an engagement ring is in speaking with divorcees.

harrychan
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by harrychan » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:01 pm

Tldr

I already discussed with my then gf that her preference was to have a smaller ring that she could wear on a regular basis. I made sure I got a GIA certified diamond and back then in 2005, it cost about $5000 for a .75c, VVS with D color.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

nick evets
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by nick evets » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:07 pm

I question the wisdom of starting this thread. :)

You knew what the response would be: your fiance is wrong for wanting an engagement ring that's that expensive. (Personally I think it's her decision, and if you want to marry her, deal with it -- not affirm your own frugality by asking a group of internet strangers who are also frugal).

Now you've made yourself even more annoyed at having to "crack open the wallet," and possibly annoyed at her, too. :)

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:39 pm

DWs first set of rings cost about $100. That was in the early 70ties. I picked out a really neat setting and the jeweler put in a tiny rock. The original set ended up being stolen. The replacement set reflected our much improved finances as we built our careers, the rock was much, much larger. I also added a diamond band for some anniversary, can't remember which. She wears jewelry very seldom as she is always crafting something or the other, so wearing a set of rings isn't practical.

I'm sure the granddaughters will probably end up with some, if not most of MiMi's jewelry. The daughters have already picked out some of the pieces they would like to have when the time is appropriate. That way there will be no drama later on that could disturb the family dynamics.

I still have my original band, but it is too large now to safely wear, might slip off. It has yellow gold and white gold together, I'm not sure how it would be to have it reduced in size. I just bought another band from one of my son-in-law's sister, who worked at a jewelry store and called it a day. A decent price and a nice ring.

The $100 spent in 1970 is equivalent to about $630 today, according to the calculator at bls.gov. Even the inflated price is still very small.

OP, include your spouse-to-be in the decision making and you won't go wrong.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

afan
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by afan » Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:40 pm

. Also food for thought, there average wedding in NJ and NYC is around $40-$50K,
Considering that 2017 median household income in NYC was just under $58,000, I find this very hard to believe. Lots of people get married who could not come anywhere close to spending that much

Sounds like marketing hype from the wedding industry. Maybe the average of people who hire wedding planners? Average of weddings held at big hotels?

Not in NYC, but we got married in my spouses parents' living room. They did not charge us for using the space. A local judge did the ceremony. Reception was at the house. Adjusting for inflation, it was nowhere close to $5,000.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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WoodSpinner
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Re: Ring Shopping

Post by WoodSpinner » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:21 pm

leeks wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:49 pm
One option:
Buy a unique but inexpensive ring (say couple of hundred dollars) that isn't even pretending to be a diamond.
Propose with that (you don't want to propose empty-handed).
Offer her the option of (1) ring shopping together so she can get exactly what she wants if having an expensive thing is really important to her (assuming your love for her makes you willing to bow to social convention on this) or (2) potential ring budget instead goes for a nice vacation now or better honeymoon later or toward housing upgrade or whatever else you two would enjoy more than an expensive diamond.

My husband proposed with an interesting silver ring from a local handmade jewelry shop, probably a couple hundred dollars spent. It succeeded!
I never had any interest in diamonds or anything super expensive (of course he had realized that long before proposing to me).

I also live in NYC and engagement ring impressiveness is of zero importance to my social circle unless there is some entertaining story that goes with them. Many of our friends could afford expensive diamonds. Some probably have one, I don't know, I don't pay attention to them, I don't care.

Congrats on finding someone you would like to share your life with!
We took this approach....

My fiancée (now wife) and I had a long talk about the ring and stone. Decided to go a different route than diamonds since she loves the sparkle and color of other stones. She speced out the size and shape she wanted and I went out and found one and “surprised her”. Together went to a jewler and designed the ring to meet her taste and desires.

What a wonderful experience it was for both of us! I didn’t feel taken by shopping for diamonds (DeBeers has an incredible marketing talent). My wife loved the fact that I finally found it in Cape Town, South Africa after traipsing through dealers on several continents to find the exact stone she wanted. Still remember the overwhelming joy we had in designing the ring together and the first look on her finger!

10 years later we are in the midst of repeating the process — time for something new !

Still a bit giddy — we just found a new stone!

WoodSpinner

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