Tips and Tricks

5 tips for buying a diamond engagement ring

I use to work in a jewelry store.

As stressful as that job was (that could be a totally different blog), I doubt many things could be more stressful than knowing you’re about to spend a large amount of money on something you don’t know much about. Especially with a fast-talking guy in a cheap suit telling you why THIS one is the BEST ever, completely disregarding your concerns.

You’ve asked your family, your friends, your neighbor – that weird guy at work – for advice. And now you’re even perusing the internet for tips, trying to make a solid decision. Thankfully, you’ve ended up here.

Jewelry stores are not all evil, but they are trained to persuade you to believe that their selection is the best. So after over half a decade of jewelry sales, I present 5 things to keep in mind when buying a diamond.

  • DIAMONDS HAVE A RATING SYSTEM. They’re not all created equal. All diamonds can be graded according to their appearance. Some stones show more of a dingy yellow color, instead of having the clear shiny white preferred look. Most have “inclusions” – imperfections in the stone, sometimes even visible without magnification – that affect the grading of their “clarity”. While not all diamonds will come with papers or cards explaining what they are graded, nicer stones typically do go through some sort of a certification process and have the documents to prove it.


  • BE REASONABLE. Diamonds aren’t cheap. Sure, there’s a (large) mark-up. But not everyone has an uncle in the jewelry business to get them the bottom price. For that reason, don’t get too hung up on the grading scale I mentioned. Feel free to research it, but ultimately if a diamond sparkles, shines and doesn’t have a sizable flaw visible from the top, it may be the perfect diamond for you. Most budgets are not suited for a top quality stone. Many mid-range stones (i.e. G/H in color or SI1/SI2 in clarity) will be a great choice for the average buyer.


  • ASK FOR THE BEST PRICE. The salesman may hate to hear this question, but it often pays off. Many large chain jewelry stores offer promotions, military discounts, coupons, and savings events. Even if they can’t offer you extra off right then, there’s a good chance they’ll know when a better sale is coming up. Some even have a little wiggle room to negotiate price (especially on bigger ticket purchases – think $2000 or more in a chain jewelry store). While this doesn’t mean you’re going to suddenly cut a price in half, you may save yourself up to 10%. Just remember to be respectful when asking – they don’t own the store, and they can only do so much.


  • LOTS OF TINY DIAMONDS = LOTS OF BIG HEADACHES. Ohhhh they’re pretty, alright. Pretty frustrating. Maybe it’s a “halo” of diamonds around the center stone, a cluster ring, or diamonds down the band (extra credit for diamonds down the band in curving “braided” or “infinity” styles), but regardless it’s the jewelry store’s worst nightmare. They’re popular and trendy, and often smaller stones are used to make the whole ring look bigger and better, but buyer beware. All those tiny stones are held in by even tinier prongs. Once one becomes loose and falls out, it’s only a matter of time until another one does. If it’s the look you love, be sure you have lifetime warranties. I recommend carefully reading over the warranties, even if the salesman seemed to explain them in detail. Many diamond replacement warranties require periodic visits to the store to keep the warranty up-to-date.


  • GET CREATIVE. If you’re trying to surprise someone, it can be stressful to decide on something they’ll like. Many women have Pinterest accounts that can give great clues to what their personal style is. It’s not unusual to even show what she’s pinned to a salesman for him to help you find something similar. You can help your budget out by buying a reasonably priced diamond solitaire ring second-hand (I’ve seen many pawn shop diamonds brought in) and having the diamond reset into a new design by a jewelry store that will be able to appraise the stone and warranty the mounting you purchased from them. Worst case scenario, just be sure of the store’s return policy before purchasing.


Anytime I asked someone about their jewelry, their eyes lit up. It’s amazing what sentimental value most pieces carry. At the end of the day, whatever diamond you’re gifting to someone – regardless of size, shape, price – will be just as cherished.


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