10 Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring

tips for buying a vintage engagement ring

Not long ago, I discussed identifying the type of engagement ring that would suit a lady. Today I get into the nitty-gritty of actually going into jewelry stores and making the purchase, using Robert and myself as an example.

  1. Once you determine what type of ring you’re looking for — new or vintage, for example — search for jewelry stores that carry rings in that style. I was leaning toward a vintage style ring, yet Robert and I cast a very wide net initially and went into a fair amount of stores that had all-new merchandise. In a couple of instances, we ended up feeling trapped by a salesperson in a store that clearly had nothing to my liking. Don’t make your search longer than necessary.
  2. Limit the number of stores you go to in one day. For me, the merchandise starting all looking the same after three stores. Robert got bleary-eyed after two.
  3. If you’re interested in vintage rings, you may have more options than you think. Certainly, searching for a true vintage ring limits you, but some modern stores carry newly made vintage-inspired rings. You can also get a custom-made ring in a vintage style; however, custom design will run up the cost. A more unusual option is to get your ring made from a cast of a vintage ring. This is less commonly available, but Robert and I went this route through the local business Wanna Buy A Watch.
  4. The metals you’ll likely encounter will be: platinum, white gold, gold, and to a much lesser degree, rose gold. Platinum is the most expensive and most popular. White gold resembles platinum but is cheaper. It’s gold mixed with a lighter metal — sometimes it’s dipped into the lighter metal. If that’s the case, you may need to get the ring redipped over time. Rose gold is gold mixed with copper, which gives the metal a rosy hue.
  5. Consider both personal preference and your diamond when choosing a metal. Certainly, a woman’s preference is important, but also consider what metal would most enhance the look of the  diamond in the setting. For example, our diamond is a J in color and would look yellow when placed in platinum or white gold settings. We opted for a yellow gold setting that made the diamond look more white.
  6. New diamonds should come with a certificate that includes the color, clarity and cut of your diamond. This is an assurance of the diamond’s quality. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is probably the most well-known of all the labs that do gem certification. Vintage diamonds rarely come with a certificate because this is a relatively new practice. Btw, a stone can only be certified when it is loose, not when it is in a piece of jewelry. (That said, it can be appraised for insurance purposes in a piece of jewelry.)
  7. Be honest with salespeople about your budget. We found most salespeople respectful of our budget, but there were some instances where we felt the person was pushing us toward an emotional decision rather than a practical one. Don’t get so swept away that you purchase something out of your price range.
  8. Only work with a company and salesperson you trust. This is a big purchase and diamond-switching has been known to happen, so if you get a bad feeling, walk away. You need to feel comfortable throughout this process.
  9. If you’re bringing a diamond to be set, expect to place a down payment, and to pay the rest in full when the ring is ready. Some places may require the entire payment upfront. Other places may have payment plans.
  10. If you’re setting an engagement ring, the mounting may be an extra fee. However, some jewelry stores roll the cost of mounting into the initial price they give you.

And in case you’re wondering about the final outcome of our heirloom diamond: We had the diamond cut to remove the chip. There was some drama because one cutter was concerned that the diamond would crack due to the weakness that caused the chip. But in the end, it was cut, nothing cracked, and we lost very little of the diamond’s size. So: happy ending! Btw, if you need a diamond cutter, very few work with the public. You will likely have to go through a jewelry store to work with one.

Photo courtesy Erstwhile Jewelry Co.


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  1. Engagement Rings are always special and precious for a girl. Its very important to have something memorable when having these rings,and thus these tips are very much helpful in choosing one.
    Everyone have a different choice for this, for example diamond rings are my favorite.

  2. I love each and every one of these lines. You put so much love and thought into each of these tips.Thanks for the great tips too!Thanks for the post.

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