Real bride Cris from Kiss My Tulle wrote in to tell me her amazing engagement ring shopping story, and I just had to share it with you! She and her future hubby worked their broke-ass brilliance like mofos and harnessed the power of “just ask”, to score big time on the ring of her dreams. You readers are so freaking inspiring! Check out Cris’ story…
I recently got engaged and got to help pick out my engagement ring (which may not be optimal for everyone, but I was thrilled!). Of course, I had to get the best damn ring I could for the smallest price possible (is there really any other way?). It took us an entire day but our ring excursion ended with a .45 karat, G/SI1 rated, round solitaire white gold engagement ring + a 2mm white gold wedding band for a whopping $159.83.
That’s right, y’all – I got my engagement ring and wedding band for under $160.00! Plus, a complimentary cleaning every six months, full value appraisal, and free resizing as long as I own the ring. That’s one kick ass engagement ring + wedding band + full value appraisal + free resizing + free cleanings, all for a measly $159.83.
Upgrade Programs: Upgrade programs allow buyers to bring back a purchased ring and upgrade it to a nicer model or better quality stone. Generally, an upgrade involves using the “equity” built into the ring (the original price) + a minimum upgrade charge (usually about 50% of the original price) – then you only pay the upgrade charge because you already paid the original value. For example, say your original ring cost $1,500.00 – using a traditional upgrade program; you would be able to start looking at rings in the $2,250.00 range but only pay $750.00. This is a great idea for those looking to save money with a starter ring (like a starter house but smaller and more sparkly).
Referrals: We visited one of the best jewelers in our town and were pleased to find out that they happily referred budget-minded people to smaller (and more affordable) jewelers. Be sure to mention to the smaller jeweler that you were referred by the larger business. This will often make the smaller company more likely to help you with deals because they want to maintain a great relationship with the larger jeweler.
Think Local: Local jewelers tend to be small and family-owned – and more willing to work a slammin’ discount. Often, they have inventory that is sitting around and will cut a deal just to get rid of it. This is especially true in January when stores need to reduce inventory for tax purposes.
Reuse Old Jewelry: You can always remove the diamond from old jewelry and have it made into a new ring. I refuse to wear another woman’s rock (I’m cheap and flexible you guys, but no woman should have to wear a hand-me-down diamond from his previous relationship) but this would be a killer option for those looking to use an heirloom or broken piece.
Consignment: Many small jewelers do consignment (or pre-owned) sales. Consign your own unwanted piece, and once that sells you can use the credit to buy a new ring from the same jeweler (or take the cash and run). Another option is to straight-up BUY a consignment piece. Many consignments are for a good 50% less than the original owner had paid for it, and come with the original appraisal papers.
Sell Old Gold: Look, we’ve all seen those cheesy-ass commercials on TV but hear me out. Gold is valuable – in many cases, more valuable than a diamond! Many small jewelers will buy your old gold pieces and give you cash or let you have credit towards the purchase of an item in the store. This is what we did – and ended up with $1,142.00 in store credit!
Go for Loose Stones: In the jeweler business, loose stones are harder to move than pieces of jewelry because many buyers cannot visualize a finished piece. The owner of the jewelry store we ended up at was willing to cut us a fantastic deal on a selection of loose stones they had, and offered us a free setting. With that deal and our store credit from the gold, I was able to pick out a GORGEOUS .45 stone with a great quality rating (G/SI1) for a whopping $1,000.00 – and we used the last of our store credit (about $142.00) toward buying my wedding band.
Negotiate Perks: If you can’t cut a deal on the price – score some freebies. Ask for a discount on your wedding bands, complimentary sizing, free cleanings for life, and/or FULL VALUE appraisal for our home owner’s policy. Always, always get a full value (not the price you paid) jeweler’s appraisal for your insurance!
Opt for Less: Lots of us want that amazing, top-of-the-line ring, but those are expensive. One way to reduce your cost is to look for a slightly lesser quality stone or metal. For example, going down one clarity or color level will often save you hundreds (or even a thousands) of dollars, but the imperfections cannot be seen by the average person. Another option: go for a lesser quality metal for your setting. I ended up with a white gold band because a platinum version would have added $500.00 to the bottom line. I figured I can upgrade to a platinum band at a later anniversary – and save money now.
That’s my ring story! Will you be able to get such a great deal from your local jewelry stores? Maybe not, but keep in mind, we took the time to visit multiple jewelers, ask questions, and worked hard to negotiate great deals. And so can you! Ask about consignment sales, ask about selling gold, ask about discounts, and ask about perks or complimentary services. From my experience, (and Dana’s, too) you never know – so ASK!