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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.

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.

When 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

Article comments

Marie says:

As a young woman who will likely become engaged soon after almost 6 years of dating, this article has totally made me feel better. I often find that frugality is desired by men more often in these situations, but in my case it’s the other way around! We have been dying to tie the knot, but money is a big concern. We will need two ceremonies: one religious nikkah (married by Islamic Law) and one legal by our province, which will already be costly enough. We have been looking on Amazon at rings for each other, and for the longest time (since it was my idea) he insists on doing it the “proper” way, and saving for a trip to one of those Customer ApPREYciation sales. Boyfriend usually gets annoyed by it, but I am obsessed with cutting corners where I can. If you ask me, surfing the net in PJs pointing out cheap rings I like over a bag of Doritos is exactly how I want to preconceive something apparently so monumental. Or maybe it’s the little serotonin jitters I get from opening that mailbox and seeing a nice package inside that I’m really after…

Kyle says:

Good luck Marie!

ccuao says:

I read just recently that the whole purpose of engagement rings started around the 20/50’s(?) It was fairly common practice apparently for fianc

Teacher Man says:

Amazon also says Canadian diamonds specifically ccuao. Interesting story (and kind of unromantic if you ask me).

I have worn my “looks-like-a-diamond-but-is-actually-moissanite” engagement ring for the last eight and a half years, and no one has EVER doubted that the stone is a genuine diamond. As long as the wearer likes the ring, who CARES what you spent on it or even whether it’s real or not?

Teacher Man says:

Great to know Elizabeth! That’s what I was looking for, a first-hand experience. I’ve heard mossanite is actually more brilliant than all but the most expensive diamonds.

I read recently about a guy who proposed with a cubic zirconia ring, because he didn’t know if she was going to say yes, and also, he didn’t know if she would like the ring.

Fortunately she did. (See I would have let her wear the CZ ring, since she liked it, and that would have been the end of it.) Then the guy went out and bought her a ring with a real diamond in it! Poor guy was then broke.

If you love diamonds, then have a diamond. But if you, like Elizabeth, prefer mossanite or even CZ, go for that! Money is hard to come by these days.

Teacher Man says:

Unless you’re in the 1% that is… 😉

Della says:

What about a vintage piece? They tend to be more unique and often less expensive than new.

Teacher Man says:

I’ll definitely look into that Della, where would be the best place to look in your opinion?

I’m getting married in June, and my engagement ring is not a real diamond. After my pleas to my fianc

Teacher Man says:

Yup, I’ve got a piece coming up on this, this week Jordann! Mossanite would be what you’re referring to if I’m not mistaken. So you truly couldn’t tell the difference with the naked eye then? I’m definitely going to consider this. Congratulations btw (I assuming she said yes!)!

Squirrelers says:

You know, I think I might have considered this if the option was available. I’m certainly not opposed to buying such a big item online. If you can save money, it’s a practical decision.

However, the person you’re giving the ring to might not like the idea that you were so ‘practical’, and that the purchase didn’t involve the traditional search. Have to balance what truly makes sense with the rational/irrational thoughts the recipient might have about getting a ring bought online, which could be perceived as being less ‘romantic’. If she truly loves that you were smart about saving money on a purchase like this, you might have a great match, the more I think about it!

Teacher Man says:

I have definitely considered this. I honestly have no idea. In some ways I wonder if it couldn’t just stay a surprise? In any case, we will get a more common sense piece from Young on this topic later this week.

I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from Amazon. Luckily my wife (married 13 happy years) doesn’t care about bling. She didn’t want a big rock on her hand, and she’s just as thrifty as I am. She is totally thrilled with her engagement ring which has 10 tiny diamonds on it. At the time I debated about buying it at Walmart, but just couldn’t sink that low. Paid twice as much at the local jewelry store.

Bryan says:

I bought the engagement ring for my wife through Ebay; based on the story that was part of the listing, it sounded like the seller had been unlucky in love. It worked out for me because I got a great deal (I bought the ring for around $800, and it was later appraised for being worth close to $3,000).

Teacher Man says:

Ebay is a place I never even considered vs Amazon. Just because I’m nosy I have to ask if you ever told your wife/fiance the origin of her rock Bryan?

My wedding set was a hand-me-down from Mr. PoP’s great grandmother. Frugal and sentimental at the same time. Everybody say, “Awwww…”

That said, if we hadn’t had that as a choice, we probably also would have considered the pawn shops around here. Lots of them and lots of nice jewelry…

Teacher Man says:

Hand-me-downs are pretty cool in my mind. Tradition and such is as good a reason to care about a piece of carbon as any!

I’ve bought jewelry online – I just got my wife a watch. It’s been painless. I would not buy an engagement ring online though – 2/3s or more of the cost of the ring is the diamond, and I would NOT want to couple that with the ring purchase itself. Deal with diamond merchants for diamonds and jewelers for rings. Deal with a jeweler for both, and you will get screwed 99.5% of the time. That’s a scientific fact 😉

Teacher Man says:

I hear you, a lot of the places that amazon sublets for sell single diamonds too I believe. For me, living in a rural area I’m not certain on the quality of jewelers, I thought the basic deals on the rings that were offered were pretty decent.

Great tip! I didn’t know that. I wouldn’t really be keen on a purchase like that being made online. Too many chances to get scammed. It is good that Amazon’s if-you’re-not-happy-for-any-reason-then-we’ll-give-you-your-money-back policy applies to engagement rings, too. I guess it might be worth the risk. Take it to a jeweler after you’ve received it and make sure everything’s legit.

Teacher Man says:

Yah, I agree about the third party check. From everything I read it seemed like no one really had a bad experience where an outside jeweler appraised the ring at a much different rate than what the original company reported. Also, keep in mind it isn’t just Amazon’s guarantee, but each of the companies specifically that have no-questions-asked money back deals.