Save money: buy an engagement ring online!
As many of you that have read this blog for a while know, November of 2006 was a devastating month for my family and I. For the first time in our lives, we visited a pawn shop and sold many of the items we valued, including my most of my wife’s jewelry, my banjo that she had purchased me for our anniversary a few years earlier, our video camera, and my wife’s first digital SLR camera I purchased for her as a gift to get her started in photography. Selling these items taught us a valuable lesson that some things are far more valuable than the stuff we have, but it was hard to do, and a very low point in our life. It’s amazing how when faced with not being able to pay your mortgage or put food on the table how quickly your priorities can change.
The real tragedy came as we realized once we were home that my wife had accidentally placed her engagement ring in with the jewelry we had pawned! She was heart broken and completely devastated. Just talking about it this weekend brought tears to her eyes.
The first ring
See, when we got married I was still in college, poor as any other college student but taking a full class load and working 30-40 hours a week. I saved everything I could to buy her that $900.00 ring. It was my entire savings at the time, and while not a big ring, it was beautiful. I went back to the pawn shop to try to get it back, but it had already sold (or at least so he said). Since then, my wife has been wearing only her wedding band for over a year now. One of the main reasons I decided to monetize this blog last year was to begin saving some portion of my proceeds towards getting her a new engagement ring someday.
I am happy to let you know that on Sunday that someday came. We purchased her a new engagement ring. Nothing crazy, nothing to elaborate, but what we hope will be a beautiful ring. While it won’t replace the original I gave her more than 15 years ago, it will be something she can be proud of, and something she can give to our daughter one day. That is really what has been so upsetting to my wife is that she had planned to give the first ring to our daughter, and now couldn’t.
Amazon.com sells rings?
You probably noticed I said “what we hope will be a beautiful ring“. I say that because we have purchased it, but haven’t received it yet. We bought the ring from Amazon.com. I had read about this from a few other bloggers sometime back, but in the past few months have really researched it and did a little price comparing. We actually visited one more jewelry store in our area yesterday afternoon before making the final purchase decision and found that in generally, by purchasing the ring through Amazon.com, we would save anywhere from $500-$1,000 depending on the size and quality of the diamond we choose.
The ring we finalized on cost $1,500. The diamond is a .54 carat, round, very good cut, F color, VS2 clarity, with a 14k Yellow Gold 3.5mm ring setting. This same exact ring at the local jewelry store would have priced at around $2,500 excluding tax. We can’t wait to see it, as it should be beautiful.
But he’s in debt!
Now, for those of you gasping right now and thinking he’s in debt how in the world can he buy a diamond ring! Let me explain. We filed our taxes about a month ago and expected a very minor return if any at all. That was intentional; as I had adjusted my withholdings to the maximum amount without having to file special paperwork (remember I have 6 kids). I also sold about $6,000 in stock last year and had to pay capital gains tax. So with all of that factored in, we expected a total return of maybe $100.00 or so if that. Surprisingly, we received right at $2000.00, mostly due to a state refund. My wife and I discussed the unexpected windfall, and decided since it wasn’t planned, we would use it to buy the ring she had been so patiently waiting to replace and would continue to save my blogging income to continue to pay against our debt. I’m sure some of you may not agree, but given what the emotional roller coaster my wife and I have been on for the past year and a half, and considering how emotionally important the ring she accidentally gave up was to her, she deserved a new ring. She is an amazing person, always giving and seldom ever asking for anything in return.
The Amazon Experience
I found the shopping and research experience on Amazon to be excellent. They have a very simple 3 step process for purchasing your ring called Create your own ring. You first select the diamond, then the setting, then view and pay for your ring.
The selection process is really slick. Here’s a screen shot of the diamond selection screen (click on the thumbnail for the full size screen):
The screen allows you to use the slider controls to narrow down the diamond you are interested in based on Shape, Price, Carat, Cut, Color, and Clarity (Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity are commonly referred to as the 4 Cs). The Amazon screen also has complete help and definitions for all of the terms and dynamically shows you the number of diamonds available based on the criteria you have specified. For us, price, color and clarity were the primary drivers, so I adjusted the screen appropriately and ended up with more than 200 diamonds to choose from.
Once you click on “See results”, you are the presented with a screen that shows a summary of all of the available diamonds (click on the thumbnail for the full size screen):
This screen allows you to view all of the various diamonds within the ranges you specified, and allows you to sort by the various selections. We sorted from lowest to highest to find the best diamond for the money. One of the nicest features on this screen is the ability to compare up to 20 diamonds. Here is a sample screen shot of the comparison screen (click on the thumbnail for the full size screen):
As you can see, the comparison screen provides all of the detail for each selected diamond lined up side by side for easy comparison and selection. This made the whole process much easier as you could see exactly what was driving the various price differences.
Once you’ve selected your diamond, you are then presented with a number of setting options based on your precious metal preference and style. We went with a 14k yellow gold solitaire band. One of the advantages of going with a yellow gold setting is that you can go with a lower than F grade color, as the yellow from the gold is visible in the diamond anyway hiding the color that is in the diamond. This is a great way to save some money or get a larger diamond for the same money. I elected to stay with the F color though, as I wanted to leave the option open for a difference setting down the road.
Once the setting is selected, you are presented with an image of the ring with the size stone you selected so you can visualize what the final ring will look like along with standard Amazon.com order and payment options. The ring arrives in 3-5 days using standard shipping (only $6.99).
Now we are just waiting. She is very excited as she’s been waiting for a long time. I am excited an anxious at the same time as while I trust Amazon.com, I’ll feel much better once I see that we get what we were told we would get. Once we receive it, we intend to take it out and get in appraised both for insurance purposes and to validate the quality and price savings we received by purchasing online.
I’ll write up a post later this week or early next week once we receive the ring and get it appraised to let you know how things turned out for us. So far though, I would highly recommend that you consider purchasing an engagement ring (or jewelry in general) from Amazon.com. The experience was simple, easy and provided us with considerable savings over the local jewelry store. I am not concerned about Amazon.com’s customer service, as my experience in the past with them has been excellent.
Ever buy an engagement ring or jewelry in general online? How was your experience? Share your perspective or story, add a comment!