So, you are finally ready to propose and you already have the entire proposal idea completely figured out in your head.
There’s just one problem. You are missing the final piece of the puzzle before putting your plan into action – the engagement ring.
For many would-be grooms, the engagement ring is probably one of the largest purchase you would ever make in your life. And with other commitments plus a large wedding expense coming up, I’m pretty sure money is tight and you want to save costs where possible.
Let me guess, you probably ended up on this webpage by searching for “cheap engagement rings”, “discount engagement rings” or other related terms in the search engines.
Here’s the thing: is it even possible to buy cheap diamond rings or discover an “incredible deal of a lifetime” with discount stores? Well, if I were you, I won’t keep my hopes high…
And I’ll be honest with you; the current state of the jewelry industry is one that is full of misleading advertising, blatant misrepresentation and scams.
I decided to pen this article due to the recurrent emails from people who ran into problems with “wholesalers” and “discount jewelers”. Hopefully, I can help you see through the false promises of cheap engagement rings and help you avoid costly mistakes.
Diamonds aren’t like grocery products you buy at Walmart. The truth is, nobody sells to the public at “wholesale”. Ever.
It’s simply because there’s no one buying large quantities of diamonds from cutters and transacting directly with the end consumers in bulk.
“Wait, if what you said is true, why are there so many jewelers and businesses claiming to offer wholesale diamond prices?”
Well, these businesses are using misleading advertising practices and they are actually breaking the law by making such claims. And I’m not making this up…
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, title 16, chapter 1, subchapter B, section 233.5; “retailers should not advertise a retail price as a “wholesale” price. They should not represent that they are selling at “factory” prices when they are not selling at the prices paid by those purchasing directly from the manufacturer.”
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) had also mentioned that vendors who claim to offer wholesale prices to the public violate both the Lanham Act and FTC guidelines. You can read the complete details for yourself in this brochure.
People who claim to be “diamond wholesalers” are selling to end consumers as retailers. If you think you are getting an awesome deal from a jeweler who claims to be offering you wholesale diamond prices and cheap engagement rings, you better think again.
In reality, there’s usually something more sinister at work.
The jewelry industry is one that is very competitive and many businesses work with single digit profit margins.
I know there are many online vendors and physical brick-and-mortar jewelry stores who claim to offer “wholesale” or “cheap” prices. Yet the truth is, they actually have similar or higher prices than other legitimate retailers!
So, how are these unethical jewelers able to offer seemingly “better” prices and false promises of “huge” savings? Well, they throw up a smoke-screen of “preferential pricing” and deceive consumers by selling lower quality diamonds.
As if selling inferior products isn’t bad enough, most of these “diamond wholesalers” are actually overcharging and ripping you off for sub-par quality goods.
Let me reveal a few tell-tale signs of such businesses and the tricks they utilize in order to pull the wool over the consumer’s eyes.
If you had been shopping around for a bit, I’m sure you will come across jewelers who claim that uncertified diamonds can offer better savings. After all, the typical argument used is that you are buying the diamond and not the paper.
So, why would you even want to pay a gemological laboratory to grade the diamond when you could bypass those costs and get the “savings” passed onto you?
The truth is, selling uncertified diamonds is the easiest method for unethical vendors to misrepresent their products and deceive unsuspecting customers.
In almost all instances I had seen, I can assure you that the grades of an uncertified diamond will always be grossly exaggerated by the seller.
Here’s an example to illustrate this: If a jeweler has a 1 carat H SI2 uncertified diamond for sale, he/she is going paint the diamond in a better picture. This is a method called grade bumping and the jeweler may intentionally describe it as a E VS2 so that it fetches a higher selling price of $6,500.
Now, the average asking price of a 1.00 carat E VS2 GIA triple excellent round diamond is around $9,000. For people who didn’t know better, you may assume that you had gotten a good deal since you are buying a E VS2 diamond at a “reduced” price of $6,500.
“After all, you are buying the diamond and not the certificate. What does the opinion of a reliable lab like GIA matter?” says the jeweler who’s offering you the deal.
Thinking that you gotten an awesome deal, here’s the kicker:
The average price of a H SI2 GIA certified diamond is around $4,500. What had happened is that the jeweler had just ripped you off in an excess of $2,500 for your stupidity. How’s that for a deal of a lifetime?
So, you walked into a jewelry store with signboards and advertisements screaming “discount engagement rings” and “70% off retail prices”. You go on to tell the jeweler that you are only interested in buying a certified diamond.
He pulls out lab reports for a couple of diamond rings that are on sale and tells you: “We have GIA certified graders who performed these evaluations. What you see is what you get and you can trust us.”
Upon inspection of the grading reports, you realize that they are conveniently graded by their own company or some unknown gemological laboratories.
Here’s the deal: In my experience, “diamond wholesalers” and discount jewelry stores are some of the most blatant misgraders in the industry. Now, you need to understand this. Even if a person graduated from GIA, it doesn’t make them GIA nor are they representative of what GIA would grade the diamond as.
The trick employed here is to “validate” the misrepresentation of diamond quality by using dubious grading sources. Once again, this is done for the purpose of inflating the diamond’s qualities to make you think you are getting a great deal.
The fact is, gemological grading labs are not made equal. For the record, I only recommend that you buy diamonds graded by GIA or AGS because of their reliable and accurate grading standards.
In contrast, the “certificates” touted by many “wholesalers” are NOT of GIA’s grading standards. They are assigned better grades than their real qualities and this is precisely why their diamonds and engagement rings appear to be cheaper.
To illustrate this problem, here is a photograph of a 0.93 carat diamond that was sent to us by a reader. He also sent me an in-house certificate issued by the vendor which stated the diamond to be E in color and VS1 in clarity.
As you can see for yourself, the inclusions are appalling and it would at best be an I1 rating by GIA’s standards. If you blindly believe what a store claims a diamond to be, you are simply asking to get ripped off.
I had seen the following scenario happen to many people times over the years and I don’t want the next victim to be you. Someone unknowingly buys a low quality diamond from a wholesaler recommended by a friend and discovers the scam after getting a second opinion from an independent appraiser.
Upon trying to return it, the seller refuses to offer a 100% money refund and doesn’t want to replace the stone with one that has the correct grading. In the best case scenario, the jeweler will only take the stone back with a restocking fee or offer store credit.
The bad news here is that you are either out of pocket by a few hundred dollars (or even thousands) or you are stuck with a misrepresented diamond which you were duped with.
It’s not cool at all…
Even if the jeweler offers a credit towards store purchases, would you even want to do business with someone who tried to scam you the first time round?
Here’s the bottomline: regardless of where you decide to buy your jewelry from, you better make sure that you get all return policies written down in black-and-white.
As a guideline, I only recommend doing business with vendors who offer an unconditional money back guarantee for at least 15-30 days. If you are interested to see a list of recommended vendors that I had personally vetted, click here.
First off, I don’t like using the word “cheap” to describe diamond rings. It’s an oxymoron. So, instead of saying “cheap engagement rings”, I would prefer to describe them as “affordable engagement rings”.
Secondly, I know that many people think they are smart enough to game the system and locate a “fantastic” deal. It ain’t happening and I’m going to say this in your face now: You are likely to end up with the short end of the stick.
Why? Well, the main reason why you won’t find “incredible” deals is that diamonds are priced like global commodities. This means that prices for diamonds with identical properties are fairly consistent throughout the world.
When reading adverts with headlines like “1 carat diamond ring for $1,000”, you need to exercise some common sense because when things are too good to be true, they usually are.
If you are looking for an affordable engagement ring and want to get the biggest bang for your buck, here are some tips to help you save money.
Firstly, you need to understand that cut is the most significant factor that affects a diamond’s beauty; not color or clarity. There’s no need to pay an excessive premium for a D color, internally flawless diamond when a G color VS2 clarity diamond can look just as good to the naked eye.
As you can see above, the difference in prices is astronomical! The best part is, it takes a trained grader to detect the minute differences between these 2 diamonds, let alone a typical consumer with no prior gemological training.
Secondly, the next thing to help you achieve the goal of an affordable diamond ring is the setting design. Obviously, the more intricate the setting design is, the more you would need to pay for workmanship costs.
It makes sense to stay away from elaborate designs when you have a tight budget to work with. By choosing a simple setting, you can save quite a tidy sum of money!
Thirdly, I recommend that you use a 14k white gold material for your setting if you are on a shoestring budget. Compared to platinum, 14k white gold costs only a fraction of it.
It gets even better – based on my experience with helping people choose their engagement rings, I can assure you that the majority of people cannot tell the difference between a 14k white gold and platinum ring from its visual appearance.
There’s no need to spend the extra premium on a platinum ring or a 18k white gold ring for that matter.
Need some ideas on how to buy an impressive looking ring for less than $2,000? Well, it’s certainly doable if you go about shopping with a rational mind. Here’s a great looking diamond and setting that I picked out at James Allen for a total of $1,920.
The engagement ring is a symbol of love, commitment and a promise of binding marriage. Regardless of your budget, I feel that it’s the thought that really matters and not the amount you are spending.
Don’t get suckered into false advertising tricks that unethical jewelers use to create an illusion of low prices. Nothing is too good to be true in reality and when in doubt, don’t buy anything on impulse.
With that, I wish you the best of luck when buying your engagement ring. If you need professional advice or a second opinion on a pending purchase, feel free to get in touch with me!