Buying an engagement ring is the height of viciousness; like making a prisoner fork out money for his handcuffs. In another example of why the tagline for marriage should be “You’ll pay for this”, this piece of jewellery has men everywhere in tears. Still, a ring there must be. In the interest of raising Singapore’s marriage rates, here’s a guide on making that ring affordable:
1. Avoid International Chain Jewellers
Chain jewellers are jewellery stores with multiple outlets. Like Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc.
Buy from them only as a last resort. Most chain jewellers base their prices on branding and a sense of security; buyers assume a “big name” company won’t rip them off. But remember that small, independent jewellers live on their reputation as well. Many neighbourhood jewellery stores have been operating for decades, and have a rock solid (see what I did there?) reputation.
Do visit chain jewellers though, just to get a sense of the price. Anything that’s up to $700 in a chain jeweller, you can probably get for $500 at a neighbourhood store. Note how the ring looked, and you’ll be able to find something close. Sometimes, an independent jeweller can make a close copy to suit your budget.
2. Compromise on Carats
For $500 or under, you’re probably looking at a 1 carat diamond. That’s the perfect set up for a sexist carrot-and-stick wedding joke, but I’ll resist. Anyway, jewellers will sometimes show you rings that are 0.9 or 0.8 carat. This is the sort of difference that’s only visible under a loupe (jeweller’s magnifying glass), so don’t be afraid to compromise.
For the ring itself, expect 14 carat white gold. That’s considered decent for something $500 or under. Again, don’t worry about a slight compromise.
3. Alternatives to Diamond
As a very last resort, you may want to consider an alternative to diamonds. Zirconia is a favourite alternative, and can drop the price to $350 or under. This may even expand the budget enough to nab you a more expensive ring. And remember: unless it’s a golf ball of a gem, it’s the ring people notice more often than the diamond. Synthetic sapphire is also gaining in popularity, and should bring the cost to around $400.
It’s not unheard of for guys to come clean and admit it’s not a diamond, but promise to upgrade it in due time (I suggest “once the Middle East is at peace”).
4. Use Several Small Stones
Pick a ring with several small diamonds that add up to a carat, rather than one big whopper. A large part of a diamond’s value is based on how big that one diamond is, which, come to think of it, is disturbingly suggestive. Anyway, having three or four small stones can make your ring seem larger, while keeping the price down.
A lot of jewellers like to keep quiet about this, so be sure to openly say this is what you’re looking for.
5. Visit Pawn Shops
I don’t know why people have problems with old or used engagement rings. Older jewellery is more unique, especially if it comes from before the 70’s. There were fewer chain jewellers then, and mass produced designs were less common. Shouldn’t your engagement ring be as unique as possible?
Also, it’s not uncommon to find $600 – $800 rings at $500 in a pawnshop. Why do you think jewellers regularly scout around down there? And oh, yeah…even if you buy a new ring, you know there’s a chance it could have been melted down from an older piece anyway right? So there’s really no shame in getting something from the old “hock shop”.
A final bit of advice: there’s a wedding, a house, and a car or child that follows that ring. If a salesman tries to tempt you, just remember all that. There’s no reason to slave a few more years to put a down payment on your flat, just because you wanted a nice finger ornament.
Looking for an engagement ring? Comment and tell us how it’s going!
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