RingI was hoping some one here may be able to help me out. After four years of dating my girlfriend, I have finally decided to ask her to marry me. I am in the early stages of looking for a ring and am obviously wanting to get her the best ring I can. Unfortunately what she deserves and what I can afford are two different things. Therefore my hope is that someone on this list knows someone that would be able to get me some type of deal on an engagement ring. I'm not looking for a hand out by any means, I just want the best value for my money. I'm also looking to get it pretty soon as I believe both of us would like to get married before I leave for Afghanistan next year.  Thank you in advance to anyone who is able to help me out!

Dylan Distasio replies:

Good luck with the proposal! Unfortunately I don't know someone who can give you a deal on a ring. However, I would highly recommend checking out Blue Nile. They have beautiful diamonds at all price levels, quality levels, cuts, etc. at very low prices compared to retail. I am incredibly happy with them from personal experience. I was able to get a very high quality diamond for an engagement ring that my wife is now wearing. They also offer settings if you want to one stop shop. They ship quickly, and the diamond appraised at approximately 50% higher than what I paid. Most importantly though, it is a beautiful stone. My co-worker also had great luck with them. I'm not a Blue Nile shill, just a satisfied customer.

Charles Pennington weighs in:

T BoxBorsheim's is pretty good. With them I don't think you have to worry you're getting ripped off. You can call them on the phone and just talk with them about how much you're thinking about spending, and they'll provide a host of options for you. If you want, they'll even ship one or two out to you so that you can have a look. If they do rip you off, you can go complain to Warren Buffett at the next Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting!

Caution: She may want a ring from Tiffany, even though you both know the extra money is just for the blue box.

Dan Humbert takes an unconventional view:

Don't waste your money on something so ridiculously overpriced as a diamond (especially since you indicate you are short on funds and are off to Afghanistan, meaning you'll have a lot more important things for you and your fiance to spend your limited funds on). If you and your fiance want an engagement ring, cubic zirconiums are nearly as good, and I understand there are now even better man-made diamonds that a jeweler cannot distinguish from natural diamonds — it takes an expert with sophisticated equipment. Exact types and prices are well-covered in the recent book Spent by Geoffrey Miller. No one else will be able to tell, and you and your fiance have no obligation to confess that you were not so wasteful as to buy in to De Beers's monopoly and ridiculous advertising that you should spend 25% (or whatever obscene portion of your year's salary) on the diamond.

Taking it a step further — this being a libertarian-oriented site, why get married at all? You and your love should set the terms of your own wonderful relationship rather than letting the government, courts and lawyers dictate the terms. It's a lot more romantic to voluntarily win each other's love each day, than to be obligated by the government to stay together unless and until expensive and debilitating proceedings involving lawyers and judges allow you to change the terms.

The dissenting view gets support from Kevin Humbert:

Dan offers excellent diamond advice. After losing a number of "real" diamonds to both women and thieves, I decided to look into synthetic diamonds as an alternative some time ago. At the risk of sounding cynical you don't blow through as many ring-requiring ceremonies & occasions as I have without incurring significant financial loss… and that's before the rings are even factored into the equation. Man made diamonds vary wildly in price & quality. Even so, the discount to comparable high quality diamonds is high enough to make something man made a no-brainer for me. As for whether anyone notices if it is real or not, I can't recall having met anyone outside of the jewelry industry who is impressed with a diamond wedding ring one way or the other, either real or synthetic.

But Laurel Kenner interjects:

Gentlemen! A fake gem sends the wrong message. And relationships without marriage usually turn out to be fakes, too. Just ask a wife whether her marriage is real or not.

An anecdote from Chris Cooper:

I once had an employee who had already made a lot of money from stock options owned by her husband and herself as executives at a big tech company. When they got married he told her she could have a one-carat ring now, or for every year she waited he would increase the size by an additional carat. After several years she caved in, and could be seen flaunting a 5-carat flawless solitaire in important business meetings. A stone of that size does tend to attract the eye.

Legacy Daily sends a specific suggestion:

Congratulations! Engagement and marriage are indeed very special life events. I have jewelers in the family who would be happy to help. I just called them to let them know that they might hear from you. Feel free to contact Artinian Jewelry.

John Lamberg looks back:

A word of advice: When your wife to be picks out a wedding ring, no matter what price, run, do not walk, to the counter and purchase it. Do not repeat the mistake I made many years ago and say, “let’s think about it…”. Some mistakes are never forgotten.

Victor Niederhoffer also reminisces:

I bought mine for 25 cents at Woolworth on 86th and Third Avenue. And as the poker player said after he took his real diamond from her the day of the wedding to throw into pot, "she's still wearing it."





Speak your mind

13 Comments so far

  1. sloane on July 1, 2009 8:54 am

    RainBow Jewelers 847 309 6218 in Schaumburg Illinois — this family owned business has been in business for over 30yrs and is successful even during the economic slow down because of his reputation. David Dolinky is honest, loved by the community as he is involved in many charity events and does his own work so no middleman and will always beat his competition in terms of quality and price. He makes purchasing jewelery a pleasant, enjoyable experience that will last a life time. I know cause I've been all over myself looking w/ my soon to be husband and was honored to find his store. Something as important as whom to spend the rest of your life with should be shared with the ring that she will wear forever and that ring should be purchased by someone who deserves your business.

  2. Mike Griswold on July 1, 2009 9:18 am

    If you are in New York, find someone with some experience and head for the diamond district. As my boss says — "In the diamond district you might worry about getting ripped off, but at a retail store you can be certain you will be."

  3. Anton Johnson on July 1, 2009 11:59 am

    The vast majority of men understand the economics of jewelry, especially diamonds. Paying thousands of dollars for a faceted and polished element seems ridiculous. Why not give something practical; maybe a big LCD television or a complete set of kitchen appliances? Alas, that just won’t do, as status is everything. The fact that her betrothed would expend a huge sum on such an impractical item symbolizes to the world your deep commitment.

  4. Justin on July 1, 2009 12:30 pm

    My (soon-to-be) wife and I actually shopped for her engagement ring together, and we were happy we did. While separately looking over various rings on display, we both noticed the same ring. We left the jewelry store for a little coffee and to discuss things we found that we liked, and that’s when we realized we both were smitten by the same ring! It seemed to be a good omen for future decision-making together.

    On top of that, it wasn’t even a conventional engagement ring. It was a green sapphire in a simple setting of 22k gold. If you ignore the absurdity of the diamond monopoly, you can find truly lovely gems that are both real and unique, representing what every marriage truly ought to be.

  5. Russell Sears on July 1, 2009 2:12 pm

    May I suggest that you take a trip to Alaska or Yukon area. Jewelry stores abound in almost all the small towns. The jewelry artistans are also abundant, and diverse. Even with a small stone, the savings could pay for the trip.

  6. mark marino on July 1, 2009 7:15 pm

    Corban –
    Don't know if you are in NYC or not — because you can't beat a good J-wish dealer from the NY Diamond District. Of course you should ask many questions and take your time , learn about the 4 Cs which determine the value of a diamond: Color, Clarity, Cutting & Proportions and Carat weight. Have had excellent results pleasing ladies with merchandise from signedpieces, very helpful and excellent prices. Go as big as you can afford, Congratulations & Good Luck!

  7. J Freivogel on July 2, 2009 7:41 am

    My sister-in-law makes fused glass jewelry, and when I decided to propose, I had her make me a "placeholder" ring of negligable value bearing an image that was meaningful to us. Then we went shopping together so that she could point me in the right direction.

  8. david higgs on July 2, 2009 10:18 am

    grandad bot a large diamond in the early 1900s — looks flawless, very beautiful. all these years we thought it was a diamond — turned out to be a flawless white sapphire. worth much less per carat, but man does it sparkle…

  9. Mitchell Jones on July 2, 2009 12:58 pm

    Marriage is living together with a stamp of approval from the government. When it has legal or tax advantages, do it. Otherwise, there is no reason to bother. If you are getting married merely to avoid social disapproval, you need to get some new friends. And if you are getting married merely because your girlfriend insists on it, you should consider getting a new girlfriend.

    I would add that even if you get married for tax or legal reasons, rings are a basically bad idea. They are prone to get caught on things, and if you are in motion and the thing is anchored down, or vice versa, bad outcomes tend to result. (Remember the story, a year or so back, about the baseball player who jumped up to catch a foul ball, caught his ring on a nail, and ripped off his finger?)

    What this means is that wearing a ring is a fundamentally irrational act, an act which social convention cannot justify. You might as well file your teeth down to sharp points, wear a bone in your nose, and cover your body in ornamental keloid scars. Make your woman wear a plate in her lip. Add a new ring around her neck every year until her neck is three feet long. Hang weights on her earlobes until they stretch all the way down to her shoulders, despite her three foot neck. Bind her feet so she can’t even walk.

    A better approach would be to evaluate each social convention before you conform to it. If reason indicates that it is a very bad idea, and it is not legally required, then simply refuse to yield to the pressure.

  10. Tristram Waye on July 2, 2009 1:49 pm

    I have been doing some research on this subject as well, and I think the key to situation is to find something remarkable at a price that does not tax your resources and relationship. I spoke with a custom dealer here in Vancouver and what I came to discover is that for a "modest" price you can get a terrific diamond. The diamonds at a Spence's (large Canadian retailer) appear cheaper, but their prices are based on buying bulk and therefore certain quality deficits or compromises need to be assessed. The cut is the biggest difference. Spence's is much more expensive for better diamonds because as the diamonds increase in quality, it is the relationships that matter. Of the four metrics, the cut will be the most important because it will determine the brilliance or light refrecting qualities. You can compromise in other areas a bit if the cut is excellent, because the rest are very difficult to assess without a scope and trained eye. I have observed that women seem to have a natural affinity for shiny and sparkling objects, therefore a well-cut diamond of any size is likely to dazzle and impress. In other words, you do not need to spend a fortune to find a great diamond, just a great cut, and I'm sure many of the places mentioned here can help you find what you want, with a tasteful, timeless setting. On top of this, the length to which you are going to get it right will provide an excellent story, for which in addition to a fine ring she will enjoy and treasure immensely. tw

  11. vniederhoffer on July 2, 2009 10:41 pm

    when stocks are high he's your guy but beware when they start to descend its then that those louses go back to their spouses diamonds are a girls' best friend vic


  12. Nic Chalmers on July 3, 2009 12:14 pm

    I would not think it a good idea to buy a diamond “retail”. Like art and capital markets, the jeweler (dealer) who sells you the ring purchases the stone from the same place you can i.e the wholesale market. The diamond you buy will come with a code that describes its quality and a valuation that should match the quality (like a bond). At times there are sometimes small arbitrage opportunities between the different codes (values) that are given to the same stone by different laboratories (agencies).

    There is no reason to squander hard earned savings on “investment grade” stones (these are very shiny and very white) as one can get a reasonably sized stone with a nice cut and good clarity for less than you expect. An upright dealer will explain to you the difference and should show you a selection of stones (the curve) that will allow you to easily see what I am talking about. After buying the stone of your choice you can take it to almost any manufacturing jeweler and he/she will gladly set it for you in a ring - of your choice - (don’t get the size wrong) at a very reasonable price for even gold, white gold or platinum.

    One would be foolish to think that the ring is for you. The ring is for her and she will not mind how large the stone is but rather cherish from where it comes. This appreciation will never wear off and will last long after you have decorated her other hand many years later with a small chunk of very brilliant and very white carbon.

    All the very best - to you both.

  13. Jorge on July 7, 2009 8:27 am

    I could help you… if you lived in Spain!

    Good luck and congratulations,



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