So, you’re thinking about popping the question? Hints have been dropped. The time is as good as it will ever be.
This will be one of the expensive things you ever buy. It may well be the important purchase of your life.
My absolute passion is helping men present perfect engagement rings. I've helped thousands of guys over the last 25 years. I know exactly what men need to do to ensure she loves the ring they present.
Occasionally I have to clear up the mess of guys who got it spectacularly wrong. Don't be one of them.
Read on my friend, and give me a call if you feel I can help.
Top tip number one is….
This might seem obvious but you really need to have some idea about the kind of design she likes. Do you know her preference of precious metal or diamond shape? She may know the exact diamond specification and ring design she wants - should you ever get the urge to get down on one knee.
Some guys try and wing it. While this can work, it can also end up being stressful or a costly mistake. I have had to deal with girls hating the ring and wanting it redesigned or upgraded immediately, meaning you have to fork out more of your hard earned cash.
Richard from York bought an engagement ring in 2016 and gives this piece of advice:
“Recruit her best friend, sister or even get her mother involved (if she’s close to her mother then this could even earn you extra brownie points from your new fiancée and your future mother-in-law.) I got Katie’s sister involved and she knew everything, from the style of the ring Katie had apparently always wanted, to the correct ring size (they have similar sized hands so that bit was easy). She even helped plan the actual proposal and made sure Katie was in the right place at the right time for my surprise, along with all our family and friends. I’m not quite sure how I’d have managed to pull it off without her.
"Having Katie’s sister involved also took some of the pressure off me – it felt like if we got it wrong, then at least it wasn’t all my fault – that her sister who had known her all her life got it wrong too! Is that wrong to say? (laughs) It might be, but it is true. It felt like a big decision and it was nice having the reassurance of knowing she was going to love it.”
Again, a fairly straightforward one, but ask around for recommendations. Simply going into a high street jewellery store because it’s been there for a long time or because you recognise the name is not good enough. You are going to be spending a lot of money and you need to make sure you are going to be well looked after.
Ask your colleagues, friends, family - someone you know who has purchased an engagement ring. If they had a good experience then find out about it and get a recommendation. Jewellers love having people referred to them, it means they are doing something right and it feels nice to get that affirmation.
It also means that you are less likely to pick a jeweller who will not look after you or who will do a poor job for you (and trust me, as in all walks of life, poor ones and downright dreadful ones do exist). As one of the most important purchases of your life, don’t trust it to chance.
Mark from Harrogate says:
“A good pal of mine got engaged last year and he knows a chap who works for a diamond company. When I started thinking about it, I went straight to him, got the contact details and it was great. I ended up buying from him and reckon I saved over £2000 and got a better diamond than ones I'd seen on the high street.”
So, I get that we don't all have a friend who knows a friend, who knows a guy.....However, if you're thinking about getting engaged, chances are you are at the age where friends and family have bought engagements rings. Find out where they went, how they went about it and avoid their mistakes. Get recommendations and do your research.
Do you have a product, service or skill you can use as a bargaining tool? Sometimes you need to think outside that old proverbial box to get the best deal.
Andrew from Knaresborough says:
“I went to a jeweller and it came up in conversation fairly early on that I was a dentist and it turned out the jeweller’s daughter needed a bit of work doing on her teeth. The family were very unhappy with their current dentist. I went to this particular jeweller as he was recommended to me by a friend and came away with a beautiful engagement ring. I also got the whole family as new clients of mine. I was able to negotiate a good deal in return for some dental work and check ups for the whole family. A good result for us both.”
Now, this won't work if you're buying from an employee. But, if you're able to speak to the business owner, or you've chosen to speak to a jewellery designer, it's worth exploring if there might be a contra deal to be done.
Choosing the right moment to ask for a great deal is the key to whether you’ll get it or not. Many retail jewellery stores like to end their day or week on a high. They will be more likely to accept a cheeky offer at the very end of a day or the end of a long week. If they’ve had a good week then they may be feeling so happy they want to help you get the ring you want for an amazing price, or they may have had a very quiet week and need to get a sale, even a heavily discounted sale!
Charlie from Leeds gives this advice:
“I found a ring I liked in a store in Leeds and told the sales girl that I would go and have a think about it. I knew they closed at 5.30pm so I went back in at just after 5pm. The ring was still in the window and was priced at £3500. I was a bit cheeky and offered them £2500 not thinking for one minute they’d accept my offer. The manager got involved though and eventually agreed to sell it to me for £2650. I was ready to walk away and he could see it. It’s always worth being a bit cheeky as long as you don’t mind them saying no."
Most jewellers will not mind you asking for a discount - even if it is very cheeky, just bear in mind that they are also within their rights to politely decline any cheeky offer you make. So, don't be offended if the offer is declined. Know in your own mind what your maximum spend is and if you need to, then walk away. There will always be other rings and other diamonds for you to look at, or if your heart is set on that ring and there is no discount to be had, you could always......
Some jewellers will not discount and that is fair enough. Many will mark up their engagement rings to give them room to discount – giving you the impression that you are getting a good deal – whereas others will just be working to tight margins and won’t have the ability to drop the price for you.
There is still the ability to barter though as explained by Nick from York:
“The ring I bought was in 18ct white gold and I’d done some research so I knew that the ring would need cleaning and re-plating every year or so. The Jeweller wouldn’t discount so instead I asked him to throw in free cleaning and polishing for the next five years and I also got him to agree to a 20% discount off our wedding rings which we knew we would need within 12 months. It always feels good to think you’ve saved a bit of money, so definitely worth asking.”
What other extras can you ask for when negotiating a good deal? Is she going to want diamond earrings for the wedding day? What about your watch - does it need a service? Or the rest of her jewellery, does it need a good clean and polish free of charge perhaps? Be imaginative and you'll be surprised at what added extras you can get thrown in.
More tricky than it sounds! Here’s Mike from Walton-on Thames’ experience:
“I went into one Jewellery store and liked one of their rings. I asked the girl to write down the details so I could go and have a think about it. She wrote down that it was a 0.75ct F/G VS diamond ring. I thought that was all I needed, so off I went to another jeweller in the same town. He took one look at the note with the details on and almost laughed. He explained that it was impossible to know whether it was a good deal as that was not enough information. Apparently, there is a lot more to diamonds that just the colour and quality. I hadn’t even made a note of the metal the ring was made in.
He spent a bit of time with me explaining how he searches for diamonds and how two diamonds with the same so-called spec can be very, very different. I went away, did some research on line and then started again. I actually ended up back at the helpful Jeweller’s where he sourced me a D colour diamond and designed a platinum ring for it to go in. Knowing what you are comparing and making sure you compare like for like is tough, but if you don’t then you could end up with something you’re not happy with. Seek professional advice from someone you feel you can trust. I send all my mates to see him now as he did such a good job and I felt like I wasn’t “sold” to at all.”
Understanding the difference between the tiny nuances in each diamond is complicated, even for those of us who have been working with and selecting diamonds from around the world for over 25 years! No two diamonds are the same. Fact.
For example, two seemingly identical F colour, 0.50ct princess-cut diamonds may have entirely different measurements, polish and symmetry. These factors, along with many other differences will have an impact on how big the diamond looks, how beautiful it is and the all-important sparkle factor.
If you want and extra special engagement ring then go bespoke. The high street will have a good choice, but most stores choose diamonds to hit price points, and not their individuality or world-class sparkle.
It is widely accepted amongst diamond professionals that most diamond reports, or certificates are not worth the paper (glossy or otherwise) they are written on. Most exaggerate the quality grades. Why? Because it is almost impossible for the lay person to assess whether the report is accurate.
Here’s some advice from Alex from Cheshire:
“A good friend of mine is a jeweller and he was very honest over a pint recently, when I mentioned I was looking at a new diamond ring for my missus. He told me to always choose a diamond with a GIA report as they are the most accurate and if I can’t find one then he would help to find me one without a cert as it would be much better value for money. So, that’s my tip – go with the GIA diamonds or find a friend like mine!”
The diamond market is awash with organisations producing diamond certificates, the most trustworthy and accurate is the GIA.
A diamond without an independent report can be just as beautiful as a diamond with one. Conversely, a poor diamond with a report is still a poor diamond.
Tip 8 – How Much To Spend?
Someone, somewhere once mentioned a guy should spend one month’s salary on an engagement ring. More recently the amount that is banded about is three months' salary.
It is of course, a load of nonsense. Many men will spend less, many will spend more. The advice for how much to spend comes from Ben from Coventry:
“I am sharing a piece of advice my father gave to me a few years ago when I was starting to look at engagement rings for my then girlfriend. He told me that I should spend enough so that it hurts – that if I didn’t stretch myself or ensure the purchase was considered and well-planned that disaster lay ahead. I didn’t listen at the time and bought what I thought was a nice ring, but it was one I could comfortably afford.
"The engagement didn’t last – not because of the ring, but because she wasn’t the right girl and I should have known at the time, but I didn’t. If she had been the right girl, I would have wanted to spend more, I would have wanted to get the ring perfect for her and I know I would have pushed myself financially so that it hurt a little.
"I know these things now, because I did meet that girl and I bought a ring for her last year.
"So, my father’s advice - which I did heed the second time around - is spend enough so that it hurts a little. It is an investment in your relationship and spending enough so that it pinches slightly means you really believe it is right. That your relationship will last the test of time.
Respect the purchase and respect the girl.”
I love this advice from Ben. It sums up everything that's important and emphasises the the amount you spend is completely personal.
Stretch yourself, if you don't want to, maybe you need to ask yourself why?
We have all been there, approached by a pushy sales person using tactics to make us buy. t it can happen in Jewellery stores too. Here’s David’s advice following a recent trip into a Jeweller in Harrogate:
“I took my fiancée in to a reputable local Jewellers to try on a few engagement rings and ultimately to find the perfect ring for her. The salesman was very nice and he got a few different diamond rings out for her to try on. When she slipped the third one on her finger he immediately declared, “That’s the one! Oh yes, definitely, that’s the ring for you!”
My fiancée and I quickly made our excuses and left – he didn’t even ask her if she liked it, it just felt like he was trying to “sell” to us rather than assist us in finding the right ring for us. Awful. I won’t be going back.”
Make sure you buy her perfect ring, not one someone has succeeded in "selling" to you. The right ring shouldn't need "selling", if someone is trying hard to sell you something, then walk away. Chances are it's the wrong ring.
There are some advantages when buying online – the main one being that there are different laws when it comes to returning items online as opposed to buying face to face. Most online retailers will offer a full money-back guarantee as this ensures they can give you some peace of mind if you make the wrong decision or the ring is the wrong one, for example.
Make sure you check the terms and conditions of any Jewellery store you consider buying from, whether that is on the high street or online to make sure you know exactly what you’re promised.
The other main advantage is that you can save money if you buy online but there are pitfalls to avoid as explained by Tom from Boroughbridge:
“I had done quite a bit of research so knew what I wanted and what I wanted to spend. After doing some shopping around in local Jewellery stores and then comparing online I knew I wanted to buy online as it was going to be much cheaper. When the ring came through I wasn’t happy though, the design was as I had chosen but it wasn’t very nice – the edges were rough and the metal was really weak as I could bend the ring with just my fingers.
I wasn’t happy, but thankfully had already checked out the returns policy so did manage to get a full refund after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing. I ended up buying from a different company online, but one that was a bit better known. I would recommend buying online, but just be careful – and make sure you have the safety net of a money-back guarantee.”
Online can be a good choice, but as Tom discovered it's fairly easy to make a mistake and when it comes to buying an engagement ring, a mistake can be very costly.
Make sure if you're opting for online, you've been given a good recommendation and you know exactly what you're doing.
It’s certainly not for everyone, but there are benefits to buying abroad – the main one being price. There are hurdles to overcome though and that’s even before we look at who to trust abroad and what your rights are if you are not happy or if anything goes wrong with your engagement ring once you are home again.
Language barriers, importation documentation, tax and duties are all things to consider. Diamonds are a world-wide commodity so in actual fact buying a diamond in New York or Dubai is not necessarily cheaper than buying in the UK if you are declaring the goods and paying the relevant import duties and taxes. This is of course, highly illegal, but it happens and is why people think that buying abroad is a money-saving option.
Marcus from Ripon gives his advice:
“I bought my fiancé an engagement ring when were on holiday together in Dubai and in the excitement of the moment we didn’t really consider the quality of the ring itself. It looked nice in the shop and we were so caught up in the moment that we didn’t ask too many questions.
When we got back to the UK reality kicked in when Gemma caught one of the claws meaning we had to take it to a local Jeweller for repair. It was when there that the Jeweller - who had been recommended to me by a good friend – explained that the ring needed re-making! I couldn’t believe it! He showed me some of the weaknesses and how poorly the ring had been made and explained that the diamond was at risk of falling out. The diamond itself had come with a certificate but the Jeweller showed me inclusions that were not showing on the report….. Basically, I had not bought well and ended up having to spend an additional £1000 getting the diamond re-set into a better quality platinum band.
My advice? If you’re going to buy abroad do your research and make sure you know what you’re buying. Get a recommendation from someone you trust or ask around locally to make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. Check out how you would go about getting any problems resolved and any refund as well as I tried to get some money back from the guy in Dubai but never got anywhere.”
Well, hopefully you've learnt enough to help you navigate your way through your engagement ring purchase with a bit more of a swagger than before and with less chance of you making a costly mistake.
It's pretty clear that planning and research are vital in making sure you buy the right ring at the right price. Finding the right jeweller can also help enormously – someone with a good reputation whose sole purpose is to ensure you end up with the best possible ring for your budget.
If you want any advice, including which jewellers to trust in your local area, then just get in touch. With over 20 years in the industry creating bespoke diamond engagement rings and with a family history in jewellery spanning back almost 40 years, I know who you should avoid and who will look after you well.
If you want to speak to me about helping you design and create your own perfect engagement ring, then get in touch. I have a small list of exclusive clients throughout the UK and occasionally take on new clients, let me know what you're after and I'll see if I'm the right man to help you create it.
And good luck with your search - try and enjoy it as hopefully you'll only do it once!