How do you buy an engagement ring without having an absolute blowout? In this week’s video I share 5 engagement ring shopping tips from a completely unqualified person (me) – sharing a few little tips to help you navigate this situation.
It’s not all about spending the lowest amount possible, it needs to be a delicate balance of not overspending and not undercooking it so they’re disappointed – not an easy feat. I share my experience buying an engagement ring and a few tips to help you save money and not get taken advantage of.
G’day there, Ray Corcoran here. In this week’s video, I’m going to be talking about buying an engagement ring. This is one of the biggest purchases many people make in their life, and there’s a lot of confusion around how much do you spend? How do you navigate this without having a blowout? So I’m just going to talk about my experience buying an engagement ring a few years ago and being frugal or financially conservative person, and I’ll just talk about some of the tips and some of the things I noticed through the process so it’ll help you navigate it, so you don’t, one, disappoint your partner, but two, don’t have a blowout either.
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In terms of buying engagement ring, I won’t give you the long, boring story of when I bought mine, but basically the short version is, I spent a lot of time doing research and then went to a number of jewellers in the city in Sydney. It was a very, very weird and kind of disappointing experience with most of them. I think I went to about eight different jewellers, six of them were terrible, one was okay, and one was amazing, and that was the one that I went with.
But it’s very, very confusing because you don’t really know what you’re doing and it’s quite a big purchase financially. A lot of the jewellers are quite salesy, and not all are like that. There’s some great ones out there, but a lot of them are, I found very pushy and always trying to make you spend more and more and more. Generally it was just a terrible sales experience.
So in this video I’m just going to be showing some of my thoughts around how to do this successfully, because it can be a very, very delicate situation.
In terms of the big one, how much do you actually spend? That’s going to be a personal thing for you, but if you’re curious, in Australia, I think there was a study done in 2017 and the average spend was around six or six and a half thousand dollars. That seemed kind of low to me, I feel like people spend a bit more than that these days, especially with social media and all the pressure that comes with it.
In terms of how much to spend it really comes down to, I guess, how much you earn and your expectations of your partner. Some people have a partner and they’re very, very lucky where they don’t really care. Just spend as little as you want, doesn’t really matter. It’s more about the relationship and what you do in the relationship rather than some non-rare rock, like a diamond.
Then we have the other end of the spectrum of people who have very, very expensive taste and you’re probably screwed. But realistically, we’ll go over how to navigate this so you don’t end up having a blowout and it’s still decent quality.
There’s also a rule of thumb that you may have heard where it’s a two or three months salary. In Australia, the median salary is around $65,000 from memory and that works out to be, I think it was about 12 or 12 and a half thousand dollars for a ring, which is quite expensive. For someone making 65K, I think you are out of your mind if you spend that much. Obviously it’s your personal choice, so I can’t judge too much, but if you’re spending that much money and you’re not making that much money, I just think it’s crazy. You’re at the start of your life together with this person and you need to set up your finances in a smart way. Having a blowout on a ring early on could be a disaster for you.
In terms of how much you have to spend, I think it should be something that… obviously try and get the best quality and the best thing you can get without sweating bullets over it. If you’re super, super stressed about how much to spend and that sort of thing, then that’s probably a sign that you probably shouldn’t go over the top and your partner probably already knows how much you make anyway. So it should be relative to that of course.
So tip number one is when you go to jeweller or when you look online to buy a diamond, they show you huge images of the diamond. The problem with that is it shows a thing that is probably that big, and it’s showing it this big. What happens with that is obviously they want to show the product and make sure you can see it in high detail, but it’s a bit of a trick because you can see all these imperfections in the rock and it makes it look like a crap rock, even though it’s probably going to look fantastic anyway once you actually see it in person.
A trick that I have found is that you, even on the pictures online, screenshot it, and then shrink down the image to as close to real as possible. What that will do is give you an actual real… more realistic representation of what they’ll see on their finger every single day. Same goes for when you’re actually at the jeweller, they’ll show you a big image of the diamond, but this thing is only a couple of millimetres wide. It’s only a very, very small thing, so if you can’t see it with your naked eye, or it’s very, very hard to see it with your naked eye, then I personally just don’t worry about it. You don’t need to get the most flawless, flawless one there is. Very few people can actually tell difference anyway. So this is a really good way to save money without it being noticeable in person.
Second tip is understanding that the width of the diamond is what people will see when they’re looking at it from top down. When people propose, the partner will probably do the classic cliche Instagram post, and they’ll do the top down photo. Hopefully they’ve got their nails done, but basically they’ll have that top down photo of the diamond. One thing you want to make sure is ideally you get the widest diamond that you can afford for your budget, because that will make the rock look bigger and more impressive to their friends. Let’s be honest, that’s deep down what they all want, and they want the most likes, and they want all their friends to be jealous or all their friends to be super impressed with the rock that they got, because they use that as a proxy for how much people love them, which is totally incorrect. But that’s the way the world works.
If you buy a diamond on weight or however they calculate it, you don’t want the diamond to be super wide and then super shallow as well, because if it’s super wide and super shallow, the light refraction within there is not going to be as good. So you won’t get that really, really nice sparkle that looks really, really good. So it’s a bit of a balancing act, but try and go for the biggest width that you can, maybe some people might disagree with that, but obviously the goal is to get the biggest, most impressive, most sparkliest rock we can possibly get for our budget typically. Make sure you look at the width because some of them are made a bit more narrow and a bit longer. You won’t notice that in the ring because that all gets covered up typically by the claws as well.
Tip number three is knowing how to allocate your budget. So you don’t just have to buy an engagement ring, you need to get a wedding band and you need to get a wedding band for yourself as well. So the way I approached it, you just establish whatever budget that you have and then you want to max out. The way I think about it is the 80/20 rule. Most people will come in and notice the main rock on the engagement ring. For me personally, I reduce the budget elsewhere and put everything into making the rock as good as possible for the budget that I was comfortable to spend. I think you’ll get much impact and will look much more impressive than if you had spend less on the main rock, and then you’ve got some other maybe rocks on the… smaller diamonds on the band, but they’re not that good either and it ends up basically spreading your budget very, very evenly.
For me, my own wedding band, I don’t care about the fanciness of it, it’s going to get scratched and scuffed any way and I take it on and off all the time anyway to go to the gym and all that sort of stuff. For me, I reduced actually how much I was going to spend on my ring and we also made a decision to not, in my opinion, waste money on putting lots of little tiny diamonds on the band itself, and I allocated all the budget into the main… or, the majority of it, into the main rock.
Now, this sort of depends on what your partner wants. If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, that’s personally what we did and my wife loves it, and it looked amazing. It looked really, really good. Some people do believe, and I believe this as well, is that having lots of little diamonds around the band anyway kind of distracts and takes away from the main rock anyway. So I would rather have a knife edge band, so it’s a very slim line and discreet, but still strong enough, and then have the rock be the main hero of the ring. So this might be getting a bit too hectic into it, but this is literally what I think about and this is literally how I approached it after discussing with the jeweller about all of this stuff works and it might be something that you think about as well.
Tip number four is, know what you want before you get there if possible. I did a lot of research online in terms of some of the big websites like Blue Nile, and I think James Allen was another one and I was just looking at whatever they had on there, and I kind of got a rough idea of the rough carat size, had to be at least this size, the kind of band that I wanted, the kind of cut of the diamond. I wanted it a round diamond, I think it was princess cut. I forget. But basically I wrote down in bullet points on a little piece of paper like this before I took it to the jeweller.
I knew mostly what the kind of product that I wanted, and this is important because if you go there and you have no idea what you want, which happens a lot, you leave yourself exposed to getting taken advantage of because you have no idea what you’re dealing with, you don’t know the difference between this versus that, why this is better than that. Why a round cut has better light refraction than some of the other shapes. There’s all these different reasons about why certain elements of the ring will cost more or less.
It’s important to establish a budget before you get there as well, and allow for a bit of flex as well, because there’s always going to be stuff that you see on the day, or maybe when you see it in person, it won’t be as impressive. But the more that you can do before you get there, unless you can get caught up in the moment, because it can get pretty hectic because they’re showing you 50 different diamonds and you start to go cross-eyed after a while, and it all starts to sound the same. That’s how you can end up spending over your budget.
Tip number five is not, from a financial perspective, equating ring spend to how much you love your partner is a totally retarded conversation. I think a lot of people… There’s heaps of people that are terrible partners that spend lots of money on a ring and it all fizzles out. This is just one part and it needs to be a sensible thing. You’re going to be spending your whole life with this person, and on one hand you don’t want to under do it because they will be disappointed and they’ll be bitter at you forever. On the other hand, if you spent heaps, in the long term it probably smooths out. For me personally, I spent… I can’t say exactly how much I spent, but I spent a decent amount, but I feel like I didn’t go crazy either. It ended up working out perfect, wife was super happy with it, I was super happy with it. I think it was a fair for the value I got.
One thing that people probably fail to understand as well is, you might save a few hundred bucks here and there, or maybe a grand or two, whatever, throughout this process. But if it’s not the kind of product that you really, really want at the end of the day, you’re going to have a lifetime of being disappointed with it. For me, my wife regularly tells me how much she loves her rings, and for me, I had a few moments in the process where I could have saved a few hundred here, a few hundred there, and I wanted to, but I said, let’s do it the proper way, or do it the way that… what she really wanted. In hindsight, that was the best decision to do it the proper way. It wasn’t worth saving a few hundred bucks, or a couple grand in the scheme of things, especially if you’re going to be with someone for the long term.
So just something to think about, these decisions aren’t always purely financial, and there’s always more to it than just getting the cheapest, cheapest price. It might sting for a long time if you undercook it and it’s just not the right thing. So just something to think about. You do have options of other rocks, and if you can get away with another rock or you’re lucky enough that your partner wants a ruby or something else, or an alternative, you’re going to save heaps of money and good for you.
There are options like, I think it’s called moissanite, which is quite popular. It’s not identical to diamond, but it’s sort of close. For me personally, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, but the savings are there. If you have a partner that’s open to other styles or whatever, pretty much any other style is going to be cheaper. So that’s something to keep in mind, if you’re trying to save money and your partner does love the idea of an alternate style ring, you probably will save a bunch.
Different cuts as well are going to be cheaper. Typically the round cut diamond is going to be one of the most expensive, and hen you have some of these alternate shapes of cuts that end up being… They don’t probably sparkle as well due to the geometry, but you can save money with that as well. So it’s just a few little things to keep in mind.
So a bit of a random one this week, but I just really wanted to share, I guess, my experience buying an engagement ring. I know it’s a big financial purchase for a lot of people and a lot of people don’t know how much they should spend, and how navigate going through that process without getting taken advantage of.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the video and if you like the video, please give a like and I’ll see you on the next video.