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Avoid These Pitfalls When Buying An Engagement Ring In-Store

Engagement Ring Shopping Pitfalls There are a lot of pitfalls to avoid when shopping for an engagement ring in a store

Buying your fiance’s diamond ring has completely changed in the past 10 years. In the past, if you didn’t have Grandma Jean’s family heirloom given to you by your mother, then you did what every other nervous groom did – you went to your local jewelry store and were shown a dizzying array of engagement rings. But nowadays, you have the option of shopping online, visiting a locally owned jewelry store, or perusing a big box retailer.

In speaking with most newly married men, we’ve found a common response. “I went online, and did some fact finding. I wanted to see how much I could afford and what exactly I could get for my money.” After that, some purchased their rings directly online, whiles others felt they had to see the ring in person to pull the trigger. If you are part of the latter, be aware that there are pitfalls to avoid when shopping for a ring in a store.

Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing In A Store

Don’t Be Pressured

Purchasing an engagement ring is one of the biggest and most special purchases you’ll ever make in your life. If you’re at a store and feel the salesperson is laying on the pressure or is offering you a “once in a lifetime” deal, then walk away. Diamond prices are driven by global market forces and special deals on diamonds don’t exist. You should always feel 100% comfortable with your purchase before pulling the trigger. A good jeweler will always take the time to work with you to find the perfect ring.

The Up-Sell

It is important to have a budget in mind when you visit a jewelry store. Why? Because when you get there, that 1 carat beauty looks pretty small when it is nestled against a 5 carat whopper. Even if you are not from Texas, your eye tends to drift to the “Bigger is Better” option which is just what the salesperson wants you to purchase. Make sure you stick to your guns and do not let the commission paid clerk push you to something you cannot afford.

The Showboater

Not every jewelry store clerk has the extensive training needed to really explain the diamond engagement ring you are about to purchase. They will wing it and hope that you can make a fast decision, so that they can make a sale. Make sure you find a person in-store who is a GIA certified gemologist and actually knows about the diamonds and their differences.

Name Brand Doesn’t Always Mean Quality

Those flashy brand names roll quite easily off each blushing bride’s lips - Harry Winston Inc., Tiffany and Co., or Cartier. Each offers plenty of beautiful and expensive pieces, but they also build additional costs into their prices as well. Glamorous stores, and even those at the local mall, require expensive real estate and large advertising campaigns. These extra costs are all built into the cost structure of each big brand and are passed along to the consumer. What’s more, you’ll be paying an enormous premium for the same quality stone that you can find from a non-branded jeweler.

Every Diamond is Not Equal

If the price looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Obviously diamonds with different color, clarity or cut gradings will have different prices, but if a diamond’s price is considerably lower than other diamonds with the same specs, than there is a reason for it. Some possible reasons are:

  • The diamond is not certified by a reputable diamond grading laboratory (GIA, AGS, EGL, IGI)
  • The location and type of inclusions make the diamond not eye clean
  • There are inclusions that might affect the structural integrity of the stone
  • The dimensions of the stone (table %, depth %, etc.) are suboptimal
  • The stone has a strong fluorescence that affects the clarity of the stone
  • The diamond has been treated

Now, we are not saying you shouldn’t try to save some money by sacrificing on some of these points, but the jeweler should be 100% transparent as to why the stone is so much cheaper than everywhere else.

Not All Unmined Diamonds Are the Same

If you are interested in an unmined gemstone, then it’s important to know the difference between a lab grown diamond, moissanite and a lab simulant diamond. A lab grown diamond is a diamond that was created under real life conditions in a laboratory and is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Moissanite is a naturally occurring mineral that shares similar properties to diamonds that’s also been recreated in a laboratory. A lab simulant diamond, on the other hand, is a very cheap stone (similar quality to cubic zirconia) that does a poor job of simulating real diamonds and has extremely high markups (with no resale value) that will degrade in quality over time. Needless to say, we would recommend avoiding lab simulant “diamonds”.

Know the Terms of Financing

If you are looking to finance your purchase in-store, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Most jewelry stores offer a 12 month “no interest if paid in full” credit card promotion (commonly referred to as a deferred interest credit card), that might sound enticing, but can leave you paying a lot of interest if you don’t pay off the balance in time. Most retailers are intentionally untransparent when it comes to providing details about their deferred interest credit cards, so its up to you to dig into the details before applying for these types of cards. See our previous post on deferred interest credit cards to understand how these credit cards work.

In the end, it’s all about your bride and YOU. The convenience of online shopping can’t be beat if you’re researching your options and trying to narrow your choices. Ultimately, your decision is a personal one, so seeing the diamond with your own eyes may be the best way to determine if it’s right for you. So look for online sellers with retail stores and/or easy and flexible return policies.

Gage Diamonds - Chicago’s Modern Jewelry Store

We at Gage Diamonds saw an opportunity to provide a better shopping experience for engagement ring shoppers by having both an online and brick-and-mortar jewelry store. You can shop our entire selection of designer engagement rings, certified diamonds and wedding rings online or come into our Chicago location to view everything before buying. For you non-Chicagoans, we offer a free 30-day return policy so that you can shop confidently online.