I can remember the exact moment I decided I eventually wanted to get engaged. I was 12 years old and at a magicians club meeting with my father. An old man spoke to several overweight magic nerds between a slight of hand and card trick routine. I eavesdropped. He dropped a pearl of wisdom on us - "when the diamond hits the door, the panties hit the floor!" - and it changed my adolescent life forever. Unreal. That's all it takes?.... A diamond ring? Sign me up.
14 years later I realized that getting a diamond ring is a LOT more work than I thought it was at 12 years old. It's so much second guessing, anxiety, and frustration. Will she like this ring? Will she hate this ring? What damn ring size is she? How do I find out what she wants without her figuring out what I'm doing? After all is said and done, if I could go back in time, I'd tell my prepubescent self to explore other options to make panties hit the floor.
However, now that I've survived buying the ring, I'm here to pass along what I learned to anyone about to take the engagement leap. I'll spare you the "Learn your 4 C's (cut, color, carat, clarity)" lesson. You can find that stuff everywhere on the internet. Instead I'll fill you in on the stuff you won't find on the Tiffany's website.
1. Don't be afraid to ask everyone you know (that won't ruin the surprise of the proposal) if they have a "diamond guy". If you know that your friend's cousin is a diamond wholesaler, start talking to him. This is the time to bite the bullet and befriend every jerk you may know that you once hated if he has a connection. The best weapon in your engagement ring buying arsenal will be a good diamond guy. Check out the fingers of your friends' fiances and wives. Did your cheap son-of-a-bitch friend just give his girlfriend a rock that prevents her from lifting left arm b/c it's so heavy? If so, tell him that you don't even know where to begin to look for rings. Chances are he'll point you to his guy. Find as many diamond guys as you can. Go with the one that you feel comfortable with or the one that will give you a great deal. In the end, they'll all give you prices that are below what you'll find in a store, and chances are you'll get a better ring than you'd find that's mass produced. Also, they will be willing to coach you through the entire process.
2. Hit the net. There are a couple websites I used when I was looking for rings. Blue Nile and Abazias are the two that I frequented. While I've never purchased diamonds online I do know some people that have done this and have been happy. The sites gave me an idea of what I could afford, and they gave me an idea of what rings existed.
3. Speaking of "afford", let's talk money. In 1947 some a-hole at DeBeers came up with that "a ring should be 2 months salary" idea. How DARE someone with the word "beers" in his name come up with such a crippling rule. Truth is, spend what you can afford. Also, keep in mind that you can change out the stone when you get more money one day. It's not the end of the world if you can't afford the biggest and the best right now. If you are on a budget, pick one of the C's that you don't mind sacrificing. If you want the most sparkly and bright white diamond, you're going to have to sacrifice on carat weight (size). If you want a big diamond that sparkles a good C to sacrifice is color. A great budget buy is a diamond that may not be the most white. Girls tend to look at sparkles and size, and once you get it in the sun, it's hard to tell between the different grades of color. Also, round diamonds are generally more expensive than square because it's the one shape that appears bigger than it actually is. I'll spare you the geometry lesson, but the weight of the round diamond is at the top so a 1.5ct diamond may appear to be 2ct whereas a square diamond may be 2ct but only look 1.5 because the weight is in the bottom of the stone. THEREFORE, if you can only afford a 1ct round diamond, it's okay because in the end it'll look like it's 1.5ct.
4. Understand that your girlfriend ALWAYS knows what's up. She knows you're interested in buying a diamond. You may blindside her with the time and place of the proposal and she may not see it coming, but dude, girls ALWAYS know when you are/aren't thinking about rings. Just be hip to her hint dropping. And girls, figure out what you want and drop hints. Listen when she talks about her friend's ring. Try to get an idea of what type of jewelry she likes and you can tell your "guy" and he'll help you. If there's one thing to find out it's the shape she likes (ie round, pear, princess, asscher, etc). That way, you can't screw up. Just get the stone you can afford that's the shape she wants, and she'll be happy.
(a note to girls about dropping hints... be realistic. also, don't drop hints too early. you'll know when the time is right.)
5. Lastly - Relax. Know this - whatever you get she.. will... love... You can't go wrong. It's one more diamond than she had yesterday. It's a sparkling rock that some dude dug out of the ground, and you bought that will remind her that you love her. She'll understand the time, energy, and money that went into purchasing it. You can't go wrong. I promise. But seriously, don't eff it up. Kidding. You can't.
Guys, leave any questions or comments you may have! Did I leave anything out? Add it!
Girls, feel free to jump in on this! What do you like? Got any questions?! Got any advice?