So my boyfriend and I are taking a big step and going shopping for an engagement ring this weekend. How much room is there to bargain on the price of jewelry and how does one go about bargaining in such a high class environment?
Someone in another thread mentioned trying to bargain at Tiffany and Co. No go.
You might have better luck if you buy a diamond and then choose a setting.
You sure can. Not at Tiffany though. But at most “mall” jewelers you can ask for and get a discount that won’t be more than about 10%. Other places you can get a bigger discount. If you have access to a “jewelery mart” area, you should be able to get a great deal. Shop around, get to know the prices, and informed buyer is a happy buyer.
So, how much of a discount could I ask for at a local jeweler? 10% 40%? I’ve heard that jewelry gets marked up almost 200%.
Also try http://www.bluenile.com. They are one of the few internet startups running at a profit. I didn’t really trust them (internet diamond buying), but the Seattle Times did an article about them, and they are reputable. I would try to find a good price there and use that as a bargaining point with the jeweler. You know about how much it’s worth.
I think it depends largely on where you are going. In LA, the jewelery district off Pershing Square was a great place to bargain a few years back. Every stall is independent, and while they might not fight with the guy next to them, they will know you can walk to the next building and get a deal.
Also remember that the prices are seasonal, and that at least in the US, jewelery prices double or triple around Christmas.
I worked at a jewelry store years ago and YES, by all means, work a deal. Most stuff is easily 300% above cost and that leaves lots of play room. Offer a fair price, say that is your budget, be ready to pay cash or direct from ATM (no checks or credit cards!) and start to walk out. We used to cut deals every day - especially on slow, midweek days just to have something to deposit in the bank at night.
I have also done the same at small shops that sell clothes, shoes and electronics. Never hurts to ask, and as long as you are making a serious offer, they will consider it.
Also, have you considered pawn shops? Some of them have amazing deals, but you have to be careful to make sure you know what you’re getting.
And last, but not least, I have two friends who tattooed rings on their fingers. Looks pretty cool and no fear of ever losing them. Oh, and by the way, Congratlations!
As unromantic as it sounds, I recommend you do some serious research first before you go out shopping for a ring (I am assuming you will be looking for a diamond ring - if not please ignore me).
Obviously, the diamond is going to have the most effect on the overall cost of the ring. So you will want to learn all you can about them. A couple of good faqs can be found here and here. I commited this information to memory before I went out looking.
And it was a good thing I did - I was able to make some informed decisions about rings when I was looking at them at the jewellers. I saw a lot of stuff being passed off as better than it really was. I am no expert, but I was glad I had the information.
Eventually, I was able to find a place where I could buy the stone loose (it is better to do it this way rather than in a setting). The owner allowed me to inspect the diamonds with a loupe, and had about 10 different stones in my price range to look at.
And the stone, in addition to being better quality, was less expensive than similar sized ones at the mall stores.
My wife still gets complements on the ring - it sparkles well in almost any light. If you are going spend a huge chunk of change on something that weighs a few grams, it might as well look good!
As I say, not the most romantic story ever told. But the research pays off.
Wow! DMark & Mske thanks for the great stuff. The only thing is we are on a budget, so we were thinking about holding off on the diamond for now and going with either a CZ and a really nice setting or a created saphire in a really nice setting.
He is in graduate school for accounting so upon completion and getting into the real world we will be able to upgrade to a really good diamond to replace the center stone in the setting we purchase now.
Reason being, the settings I like are about 1/3 of the cost of the diamonds I like.
so is there as much room to bargain on an engagement ring without the diamond? Has anyone else gone this route?
“Obviously, the diamond is going to have the most effect on the overall cost of the ring.”
Slow down there sonny. You can also have the ring itself made of platinum or titanium. Those are both pretty expensive. Actually it’s not so pretty how expensive they are.
Just do a search on Titanium Rings.
One word - Moissanite.
I knew as soon as I posted that someone would call me on it… When will I learn…
Here in NY City we negotiate the stone(s) first, setting last. Like you said ging , the setting being a fraction the cost of the stone, the setting is almost an afterthought (price-wise, of course not aesthetically). Titanium is a fad (IMHO), stick with gold & platinum which won’t go out of style (in your lifetime). Platinum is more durable than gold, but tends to fade and “dull” over time. (Besides, platinum is for jewelry, titanium is for industrial applications, bike frames, and hip replacements… IMveryHO.)
One note to consider… all 1 ct. “pear” shaped (for example) stones are not all the exact same size and shape. Lots of things affect size and shape (how “deep” is it? how large the “table”?). If you get a CZ set in a high quality setting (quality of stones and settings are usually hand-in-hand, BTW) with the idea of re-setting a quality stone later, well… maybe consider getting a “cheap” setting now for the “cheap” CZ and upgrading both stone and setting later.
My point is that the CZ you choose now may not be (probably won’t be) the same size & shape of diamond you want later. The same setting can be used again, but…
Would you buy a top of the line automobile but tell the dealer “Oh just drop some crummy little engine in it, we’ll upgrade later”?? Get the setting and stone (car and engine) you want and can afford now, and upgrade both when you can afford to. No harm done. Remember, the stone is the investment, not the setting.
“Here, darling, I’d like you to wear my great-great-grandmother’s… setting.” Not as romantic, huh?
I had a great engagement ring buying experience with http://www.diamond.com/ I was VERY nervous about spending thousands of dollars on something I had never seen. However, the seller had a 10-day no-questions asked return period, and I immediately had it appraised when I got it here. I was pleasantly surprised to find that that it appraised for about 35% more than I paid. They also had a policy (about 2 years ago) that they would throw in a basic setting for no extra cost. This allowed me to surprise my wife with a ring, but allowed her to pick out her own setting later. It’s relatively easy to pick out a stone over the internet, based upon objective measures of cut/caret/clarity, but it’s tough to visualize the setting.
Interestingly, the store that eventually did the setting was one I shopped in prior to the internet purchase. The jewler whined a bit about me going elsewhere, and told me that if I would have disclosed that I was shopping on the internet, he would have matched the price. Grudgingly, he generally concurred with the appraisal.
One other point. Everything that I read in my diamond buying frenzy suggests that you do yourself a favor when you buy a stone with a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certificate, which considerably increases value. It also gives you a “footprint” of the diamond so that you can make sure you get your stone back after future repairs.
just some info not yet mentioned:
Amsterdam is the refined diamond capital of the world
Almost all of the diamond industry is owned by DeBeers
i want to emphasize the research suggestion and the not using CZ. IMHO, it is obviously not a diamond, it’s kind of flashy like costume jewelry, and not that status is really that important, but I wouldn’t want to have to tell my upgrade plan to all inquiring females.
Why not get an nice ring that you can afford, even if it has a stone other than a diamond? You will have plenty of time in your life to buy big expensive rings if that is your fancy, but there is no need to re-write history by upgrading your engagment ring later. Pick out something beautiful that reflects your life and love at this moment and it will become a treasure even if it isn’t jaw droppingly expensive.
Bring a lupe, so you can look like a professional. Also you might take the ring outside & look at it in daylight as shops usually have special lighting to make the rings look better, so outside you can get a better idea.
You probably don’t have much of a clue what’s real & what’s not & what the quality really IS compared to what they say it is, so shop around. I might prefer an antique ring from an antique store.
How about macys? Or one of the other department stores? They might be nice if you have to bring it back.
Stones are often are re-set, but settings are not frequently, uh, “re-stoned”. Worry about the stone first and setting last.
Anyone who can tell the difference between a CZ and a diamond will not be impressed by the fact that you’ve set a CZ in an expensive setting. Anyone who can’t tell the difference between CZ & diamond also won’t recognize a fine setting. Either way, a fine setting might be a waste of money unless you are using it to hold an suitably fine stone.
How about a small yet high quality diamond now (in a befittingly quality setting)? A few years from now… anniversaries are “perfect” times to upgrade jewelry (or so my wife keeps telling me).
People sometimes think bigger is better with diamonds. Not so: quality is where it’s at. I’ve seen some huge stones conspicuously “shown off” that should’ve been made into saw blades to begin with (I thought a cousin of mine had a quartz crystal it was so dull and cloudy; but it was damn BIG! which was all she cared about). Again, those who know the difference will know the difference, and will be impressed not by size but by quality. (Yeah, OK, size too, but “big & crappy” always loses to “small & quality”.)
Research http://www.tiffany.com/html/jewelry_expertise/diamond_intro.asp, Tiffany’s “How to buy a diamond”, it will tell you everything you need to know about diamonds. Go “window shopping” at reputable dealers or department stores. Have your fiance wear a coat & tie and you look your best, too (blue jeans won’t even get the stones out of the display case). Learn to say “We want nothing less than a G, VVS(one)” and know exactly what that means (it’s in Tiffany’s website). If you don’t already have your own loupe, you must ask the jeweler for theirs and use it. Know what you are doing, and look like you know what you are doing, and you will be treated much better.
Many people have suggested that you bring a loop. I suggest that you go to a store that has a microscope and will set the stone under it for you. That way you can raelly see what your getting. The imperfections that make it a vs1 or whatever will be easy to see and the salesperson should point them out to you.
You can also bring a piece of very very bright white paper. put the stone on it, you can see better its brilliance or lack thereof, or it has hints of red, blue, yel, etc.
Warning! IMHO material here!
As mentioned DeBeers controls the majority of the worlds gem diamonds, and keeps supply artificially low. They do all sorts of nasty things to keep thier illegal monopoly going.
At least watch the PBS Frontline on it.
Personally, I’d think about a heart shaped ruby or something.
As for Titantium, I think it would be cool to have a Gold, Platinum and Titanium ring (the three metals twisted together in a Celtic weave). The purpose of the Ti?
<corny> It is the only metal strong enough to contain our love </corny>
But I’m nowhere near the ring buying stage