Since our article on the zaniness of the modern day wedding industry got such a strong response last week, I thought I might revisit the general topic.  In the comments section one reader intrigued me with a few recommended options for saving money on an engagement ring.  I’m not saying I’m looking to buy one tomorrow or anything (God, why does my tie suddenly feel so tight… is it hot in here or is just me?), but if popular consensus is a guide, then I probably shouldn’t push my luck too much longer.  While part of me is hugely influenced by the massive amount of wedding materialism I’ve been subjected to from a young age, the other part of me thinks that by making one smart decision on an engagement ring, I could quickly replace 2371 hours of coupon clipping in terms of overall savings.  That is very appealing to me to say the least.

I’m Not A Wolfpack of One Anymore?

I was quite surprised by the reaction to the wedding article to be honest.  I never expected so many people to agree with my fairly extreme (or so I thought) ultra-logical views that so often get portrayed as cold and heartless.  In a way, this is yet another testament to the brilliant marketing campaigns that the wedding industry puts together.  It appears that there are many people out there who think along the same lines as I do, if not exactly coming to the same conclusions.  Yet the wedding industry had previously made me feel like an outsider who was completely disconnected from the social norms of the world that surrounded him.  That’s pretty powerful and impressive execution of a marketing strategy when you stop to consider it from an evil genius point of view.

wedding ring on amazonWhen I think about a certain type of really hard rock that shines like many other rocks do my heart doesn’t skip a beat.  I don’t find compressed carbon sexy or symbolic of a whole heck of a lot.  Then again, you’re talking to a guy that doesn’t really see how cut roses that will quickly wither away and die are supposed to represent the extremely caring feelings you have towards someone, so what do I know.  All that being said, I often don’t have the guts & energy to actually act out against all of the social norms I don’t understand.  That trend will probably hold true when it comes to buying an engagement ring.  One thing I do get an incredible amount of joy out of is seeing happiness on my girl’s face, and this would definitely be worth the money regardless of the cost of the piece of compressed carbon it takes to do it.

Your Guide To Engagement Ring Nirvana

Buying an engagement ring is one of the largest monetary purchases a young person makes in their life, so I feel like it is worthy of a 3-part series here on Y and T.  I’m not going to bore you with more talk about the 4 Cs and picking what setting you like.  There are people that are way more obsessed with this stuff than I am and they will probably do a much better job of explaining it if you fire up the old Google machine.  From what I seen of Pinterest before relegating it to the minor leagues of my internet surfing lineup, there are more than enough wedding-based articles on there to go around.  Instead, I’m going to specifically look at what options we have outside of the diamond cartel that currently dominates the industry and sets prices artificially high, as well as ways to save money if you do choose to go the diamond route.  Then, because I’m a guy and I am from Mars, we’ll get a more sane perspective when Young chimes in at the end of the week and sets me straight on what a decent boy should be thinking!

Amazon To My Rescue!

The sheer psychology behind the engagement ring idea is powerful enough to chase most of the herd into the corral that is the world of engagement ring retail shopping.  To even consider trying to save money on a product that is supposed to be held up as the symbol of your love for someone automatically feels crass and “cheap” in every sense of the word.  Yet why should it be that way?  Why should getting a great value for your dollar make you feel so dirty when it comes to anything?  I’m not sure, I only know that it does and that blogging about it anonymously helps me (and hopefully you) confront this weird social norm head-on.  I think that every engagement ring is a personal decision and that much like a ring itself, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to he had.  I’m amazed at the judgmental levels that both the recipient and the giver have to go through depending on the decision that gets made here.  If you are able to fight this pressure, one way I can guarantee that you will save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on an engagement ring is by ordering online from Amazon.

It’s a Trust Issue

Many people will cringe at the idea of ordering something worth so much online, but from what I can tell the process seems fairly safe.  The companies that sell through Amazon are easily identifiable and you can check out specific reviews on them from sites other than Amazon if you wish to verify anything.  Also, instead of just looking at the review on a specific ring, you can check out the reviews that have been generated for every product they sell on Amazon by clicking on the company name link above the product name on a specific item page.  If you do this you can use the experiences of several dozen people to guide your purchase, and I would assume the amount of reviews and comments will increase a lot in the months to come as buying an engagement ring on Amazon gets more and more traction.  To further allay your fears, it appears that every ring I looked at on Amazon comes with an ironclad return policy and I found several testimonials on other sites testifying to the honesty in these policies.

While there was a fairly wide range of reviews concerning the quality of the setting a ring-maker used, it appear that the actual diamond (by far the biggest cost) was almost always appraised fairly when looked at by a third-party jeweler   Every ring that I looked at came with a “genuine third party appraisal certificate” or something similar.  I have no idea what these actually mean or if there is any regulation within the industry, but I have to think that on some level Amazon would have been vilified pretty hard already by the ultra-intense wedding blog world if they had made any sort of pattern of screwing with brides-to-be and their gullible fiancés.

Too Good To Be True?  For Your Local Store Maybe

Just like with any other product, Amazon is able to cut costs to the bone on jewellery.  When you consider the costs saved in renting premium retail space, paying for employees to hawk your wares, and even the insurance that must be needed on retail jewellery operations, the retail store’s pain becomes your gain.  There is simply no way that your local jeweller can compete with the raw efficiency and volume that Amazon has to offer.  This results in huge discounts for you on a product that badly needs a huge discount!

Comparison Shopping Made Easy

If you like dealing with aggressive commission-compensated sales staff all day, then by all means be my guest and shuttle yourself from store to store around your city (which is actually a pretty limited market when you look at the big picture).  If you want to see the best offerings at the most competitive prices on the international market, all while viewing your options at your leisure in your pajamas, then Amazon (and the companies they represent) are your best bet.  You don’t have to put up with any “this weekend only” stuff from people in cheap suits, or false promises of, “I guarantee you won’t find this anywhere else.”  Amazon even helps you compare with their “customers who viewed this, also viewed that feature.”  It’s a pretty low-stress way to spend several weeks (months?) worth of salary, which might otherwise be a really crappy experience.  Plus, a quick search for promotional codes can sometimes yield unexpected benefits!

Other Considerations

Here are a few more interesting tidbits I dug up on my quest to help ring-buyers everywhere:

  • One of the perks for paying crazy retail prices is that they will often re-size the ring for free and clean it for life if you buy it there.  Amazon sellers will usually re-size the ring (I would probably just pay to get it done at a jeweler , but the cleanings will obviously come out of your pocket.
  • Returning it online is made pretty easy, and most stores have insurance that would cover you mailing it back, but at the end of the day some people treasure the peace of mind that comes from being able to walk back to the corner store.
  • Amazon’s comparison features can be useful to you, but they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t help Amazon either.  Seeing a bigger carat size or a more brilliant sparkle for only “a little more” can make you an easy target for an upsell.
  • One method a lot of people seem to prefer is to visit a couple of stores to pick out a cut, clarity, setting etc, and then look online to actually order it.  If you don’t mind wasting a salesman’s time, this seems like a decent option.  Plus, you get the satisfaction of know just how much you actually saved over retail.

So what am I missing here?  Is there something more inherently romantic about strolling into a store that reeks of pocket-grabbing materialism vs buying from a faceless online corporation?  I’m not sure how the retailers stay open to be honest.  If the price of diamonds is still turning you off, we’ll take a look at other options later this week that will save your pocketbook and possibly your soul if you’ve watched the movie Blood Diamond recently.

Just to leave you with a deliciously sarcastic quote that I found while doing some research for this article:

“This [ring] means I OWN her!”  -Homer Simpson