They say hindsight is 20/20. If we only knew then what we know now. What a shame we don’t have a time machine to go back in time and right the wrongs we’ve done.
But wait! Maybe there is something we can do to avoid making blunders that will come back to bite us. We can learn from others’ mistakes. We can find out now, at the beginning of our engagement ring shopping journey, what “landmines” are out there and how we can avoid them.
Here are the top ten mistakes other people have made when shopping for an engagement ring:
- Buying a fake – There are quite a few “diamond-like” products peddled in the marketplace, including lab-grown diamonds, baked diamonds, laser-drilled diamonds, bleached diamonds, composite diamonds, enhanced diamonds and diamond simulants. It’s easy to swindle a novice into thinking they’ve gotten a deal of a lifetime. If you want to ensure you are getting a 100% real, natural diamond, make sure you get it in writing. Also make sure the diamond is fully bonded with a lifetime buyback, lifetime exchange, and lifetime breakage policy. In case you wake up one day and don’t need it, a fully bonded diamond ensures you get your money back. Non-bonded diamonds resell at an average of 19.7% of the original selling price. Most retail chain stores sell non-bonded diamonds that are worth 1/10th of what you paid the moment you walk out of the door – creates doubt and drives a wedge with the competitor. Don’t get stuck with a lemon.
- “Certifying” instead of verifying – If I had a Nickel for every person confusing “certified” with verified, I could retire. A “certified” diamond has a lab grading report (most notorious is GIA) and people are told that the information on the report guarantees the diamond’s quality and value. It does neither. I’ve seen cases where the lab report doesn’t match the stone at all. Verified diamonds have their spectral signature (digital fingerprint) uploaded to the cloud, so if the stone is ever lost or stolen it can be returned to you if found. It’s simple, we want to make sure the diamond we are buying is worth what we are paying. Fully bonded verified & registered diamonds do that, “certified” diamonds only pretend.
- Trying to play the game before reading the instructions – Please understand that buying anything is like playing a game; you improve your chances of success 1000% if you understand the rules. And Rule #1 is get educated. Roll up your sleeves and learn a little bit about the product before purchasing anything, especially an engagement ring. Whether you read my book or anybody else’s book about diamonds, it’s important to invest time and money into your research. Jewelers speak a language and if they notice you are not fluent, they will more likely take advantage of you. In addition, don’t rely on information you find for free online. There is a lot of bias and misinformation that can sabotage you even before you leave the gate.
- Putting baby in the corner – After not doing your research, the second biggest mistake is not having a clear idea of the ring she wants. I’ve seen it time and time again – you’ve done your homework (so you think), headed to the store to buy your ring, planned the perfect proposal, executed the perfect proposal, dropped on one knee, asked her to marry you, opened up the box, and… the look of joy on her face crinkles. You feel it. You know something isn’t right, but then she bounces back, puts on a strained smile, slides on the ring and hugs you. Mixed messages. What happened? Your woman, your boo, your baby is in the corner, in a tough predicament. You see, she loves you, but she doesn’t love the ring and she’s afraid to say anything. She’s in a bind. She felt for sure you picked up on all those hints about the shape she wanted and were paying attention when she showed you her Pinterest board with her favorite ring styles, so how did she end up with the wrong ring? The #1 tip of expert gift givers is to ask the recipient what they want and give it to them. I’m not saying to spoil the surprise, but I promise you that if your lady wants a ring, she will have no trouble laying down breadcrumbs for you to follow to find the ring she wants.
- Breaking the bank – That’s right! Overspending, not underspending, is the third biggest mistake you can make. Anytime we overextend ourselves and don’t live within our means, it puts a strain on our relationships. Studies after studies report the #1 relationship wrecker for couples is money worries. So how do we help avoid this? Set a budget. Yes, set a budget and stick to it. Don’t buy into the idea that you must spend two months’ salary on a ring. Don’t let the jewelry industry badger you into going into heavy debt for a little piece of carbon. If she is the right one, she will love whatever you can afford, as long as she has some say in the style and design.
- Waiting until crunch time – Many people underestimate just how long it takes to get the perfect ring. There is an old saying: “You want it bad; you get it bad.” Don’t rush the process. Give yourself at least three months. The three main steps to getting a spectacular ring she loves: 1) Research (education) 2) Discovery (what she wants) and 3) Shopping. The more time you give yourself, the more comfortable you’ll feel from feel from start to finish. If you want to wait until the last second, the odds go up that you’ll overpay or not get good quality – or both.
- Putting the cart before the horse – Jewelers make their biggest margins on the setting, not the diamond. Diamond pricing has become so commoditized some jewelers try to hook you into an expensive setting and then use whatever money you have left over for the diamond. Always, always, always choose the center diamond first! It is like the sun in our solar system; everything revolves around it. Good diamonds don’t depreciate, but settings regardless of quality have little to no secondary market value. Does it make sense to spend seven thousand dollars on a setting and two thousand on the diamond if the setting loses about 90% of it’s value? NO. 70-80% of your budget should go to the center or main stones and 20-30% to the setting.
- Confusing the forest from the trees – Jewelers bundle the weights of all the diamonds on a ring under the term “total weight”. For example, a jeweler may sell a ring and say the ring has “two carats total weight”. This means that all the individual weights of all the diamonds added together equal two carats, not that the center stone is a 2-carat diamond. When trying to understand what you’re getting, ask the jeweler for the individual weights for each stone and their cost instead of grouping it all together to make it sound impressive.
- Splitting the purchase – Don’t buy the setting from one location and the diamond from another; it will leave you stuck in the middle. All rings need service at some point in their lifetime and if you buy the ring and diamond from different places, the jeweler who sold you the ring won’t work on it because he or she doesn’t want responsibility for the diamond and the jeweler who sold you the diamond won’t work on a ring that’s falling apart because he or she didn’t sell it. Don’t get caught in a Catch-22. Buy the center stone and setting from the same jeweler.
- Forgetting Murphy’s Law – Even if you do all your homework, ask her what she wanted, give yourself enough time to shop around and stay within your budget, ask yourself this very important question before you pull the trigger: what if she still doesn’t like it? What are your options? A good jeweler will bond the diamond so you can get your money back, but you may get stuck with an intricate setting. Before you purchase, not after, ask the jeweler what your options are in case everything goes awry.
Look – we get these sorts of questions all of the time, and I totally understand why it’s a huge challenge to figure out where to begin on picking the perfect engagement ring for your future wife. We’ve helped thousands of men just like you over the past 30 years navigate the confusing road to purchasing their engagement ring, and we’d like to do the same for you!
Click on the button below to schedule a complimentary 1 on 1 call with one of our expert gemologists to see if we can be of service to you. We look forward to helping you “wow” her soon!
This is Fred Cuellar, the Diamond Guy®. Talk to you next time.