Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Buying the ring of love



(Note: An overdue post - just reminded about it since this is also my upcoming article for MoneySense's next issue.)


“Will you be part of my life?” I resoundingly replied, “Yes, I will spend the rest of my life with you.” There goes my marriage proposal, but while it was a breeze to say yes to a life-changing decision, what I found jittery was, when my fiancé, Robin, asked me to look for the engagement ring that I wanted.

I’m not a big fan of jewelry, even accessories, but still, I did my homework, scouted for a ring, but nothing caught my attention. So when he was here for us to buy the ring, it wasn’t an easy search - he had his ideas what to get for me: I had none as to what would I wear. After trips to numerous jewelry stores spread across Metro Manila malls, we found it. Here’s what I learned in finding my engagement ring, and how such lessons will help when it’s time for us to buy our wedding rings:

1. Spend within your budget. My main contention about getting an engagement ring was, I didn’t see the point of wearing an expensive ring to prove a man’s love to his lady (Is love not enough?) To convince me, Robin said from centuries back, a ring (usually diamond ring) traditionally serves as a betrothal gift of a man to his prospective bride while or directly after she accepted his proposal, signifying a formal agreement to marriage.

To paraphrase him, he added it has been society’s way to think that his amount of love is tied to how much he could spend for a ring. So he was able to appease me, but I ended turning down most prospective rings because of their prices – too pricey even if discounted. The diamond industry is said to create the rule that an ideal budget for a ring is worth two months’ salary. Set that aside for it is your fiancé who will eventually determine how much he is willing to shell out – both for engagement and wedding rings.

2. Weight the stones. Robin observes I’m not keen on jewelry, so he was on the lookout for simple yet classy ring for me. He was first considering round cut diamond. When I later became pro-active in our search, I leaned more on a princess cut – which what we got since we both discerned it’s quality made (though I’m not exactly keen on having diamonds for wedding rings).

There are countless choices now but know the basics if toying to get a diamond ring: cut (according to Tiffany and Co., the diamond’s cut will determine it’s defining characteristic – so check for angle and size and the shape; round remains classy, but for variety, you may opt for emerald, heart, oval, marquise, pear, or princess cut); color (the most valuable is white or colorless, and graded “D” by jewelers); clarity (examine the ring through a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass, and when the stone is graded SI1 [Slightly Included 1] or better (best and most expensive is IF, or Internally Flawless; worst is I3 or Imperfect 3], then your pick is fine), and carat (ask for stones than the next carat [example: 0.9 instead of 1], since this almost indiscernible difference can lead to significant savings).

3. Pick the band. While we had different idea regarding the stone, Robin and I settled for 18K white gold band. According to Suarez Wedding Rings site, white gold is becoming more of an option since it is trendier than the traditional yellow gold and not as rare looking as rose gold, not to mention it is more affordable than platinum, an extremely white metal that is harder and more expensive than gold or any other metal at that.

Note also that white gold is recommended for stone settings than yellow – you may also opt for 24 karat gold, but if you want value for your fiancé’s money, let him save more by opting for gold of lesser karat, since gold by nature is a soft and malleable that generally loses its shape over time (so cleaning and maintaining your engagement and wedding ring might eventually become a real expense).

4. Tap for quality. We searched in mom and pop jewelry stores and even those jewelry chains – but the latter of course, command higher price because mainly of their name and years in the industry. But we found our ring in a less popular store, which has the accreditations required and follows global guidelines (for example, the country follows the International Gemological Institute guide on diamond clarity). Most stores we checked also offer discounts, but the more eager stores will give in to the customer’s (reasonable) demands.

In our case, when Robin said he already had his pick, price wise, and how he thinks the ring looks good on me, we want back to the store, tried the ring once again, and after exchanging agreeing looks, my fiancé made the purchase. The sales lady did the tests on the diamond, detailed the ring’s specifications (which suited Robin satisfactorily), and computed for the price. When we got the discounted amount, I asked if they could just waive the excess P2,500 since it’s the only ring of its kind left and we truly came back for it after all the choices we have had. So they waived it and my fiancé gave me an approving smile for sealing the sale at a more reasonable amount. We also tried a couple of wedding rings, and which the store ladies said, if we purchase those, we’ll get another discount since we got the engagement ring from them (which I’m remembering well in case we buy there again).

5. Don’t buy alone. It is advisable to have someone when buying jewelry – whether your fiancée’s mother or best friend who knows your lady love’s preferences. When a college friend saw my engagement ring in my blog, he inquired via SMS about its particulars, especially how Robin got it for me. When I told him, I went with my fiancé in searching and buying the ring, he followed up if the process lost the surprise element and the romanticism (since he was considering then to propose to his girlfriend, and wanted to get a lady’s perspective on the matter). Without a doubt, I said it was worth all worth it.

Though it took almost an exhaustive week for us, I told my friend it was a real bonding time for us, and I see our ring shopping as an exercise in mutual decision-making –and it involved money at that, and I’m just glad we agreed about it. It was bliss and for a job well done in finding my ring, my fiancé just asked for a kiss on the cheek, which I gladly gave: Not only we’re happy with the purchase, but also buying the engagement ring gave us an idea how are we going to fix on more “couple” matters in the near future.
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