No, not that time, but that time – you know the one, with the wedding bells and the expensive cakes and all of the crying women, hopefully “happy crying” as opposed to “why are you throwing your life away for that jerk?!” crying. But before you can get to the bells and the cake, you’ve got to get the ring.
My relationship with Sara is currently in pre-ring phase.
Mind you, she’s a lot more excited than I am – of course, she should be because she’s the one getting the ring itself. I’ve proposed an alternative exchange where the woman would get a ring from her man and the man would, in return, receive a flat-screen television from his lady, but so far that proposition hasn’t taken off too well. I’m keeping my hopes up, but for now she’s told me to just focus on her ring…
So we spent a good portion of our weekend both Saturday and Sunday looking at various jewelry stores for Sara’s perfect engagement ring. I don’t think we exactly found it just yet – at least not one that fits within Scott’s Non-Bankruptcy Budget Zone – however it was certainly an educational experience, to say the very least! I should also note that it did take me a bit to get over the initial I can’t believe that I’m actually looking at engagement rings jitters, but I like to think that towards the end of the venture I had dropped aside most of my premonitions and was shopping like a pro. I mean, if any act promotes the slightest bit of anxiety, this would certainly be it, but we’ll talk more about that at another date! Don’t worry, babe, I’m not going anywhere…
In total we went to probably six or eight places, maybe ten total – Jared’s was the only stand-alone jewelry store, with the rest located in a couple of nearby malls. And by far, I have to say that Jared’s treated us the best – offering us something to drink, explaining everything there was to know about diamonds before looking at a single stone. They even took Sara’s necklace and cleaned it for her while we looked when I had mentioned that I’d bought from them before and was happy with the service. The extra hands-on touch really helped to get our feet wet with the search, and she found something pretty close to what she thought she wanted. The only catch?
A $3500 price tag.
Now I’ll say right off the bat that I still, at the time of writing this, have no idea what my budget is for this thing, but Sara will tell you herself that almost four grand is way too much to spend on her ring. Four thousand bucks can buy an awful lot of stuff – pay off a credit card, start a nice down payment for a house, or even help pay for the eventual wedding itself which we know won’t be cheap – so that one is kind of out of the question. And believe me, this is one time when I’m definitely happy that I have a “simple girl,” in her own words, because still today an awful lot of chicks subscribe to the myth that a ring should cost two months of the man’s salary, or even more! Sara’s smart enough to know that it would be crazy to start a marriage with me being that deeply in debt for just the ring itself, and I’m glad that we can talk openly about financial stuff like that because they say that money is still the number one thing that married people fight about.
I believe that number two is – Why do you keep sleeping with my sister? – but let’s try to stay focused here, people!
Overall, I really liked Jared’s because it’s the only store that I really felt truly comfortable in and I really think that this is a purchase that we both need to be comfortable with, not just her. We both really appreciated that they took the time to explain everything so thoroughly, as we would later learn that most won’t go to those lengths by far, and their service plan would also prove to be the best as well (they’ll replace side stones, the main diamond, and even the ring itself – others will do some, but never all). They didn’t balk or make comments when we said that they could openly talk about pricing (many wanted to hide them from Sara, which seemed a bit “tacky,” at least for our relationship), and even when we left, they said that they knew that we would check other places, but that when we did our homework and saw what else was out there, we’d really see what they had to offer. And at least with the others that we saw this weekend, they were very right!
The mall stores didn’t exactly fair as well – we went to several locations at both Westshore and Brandon – and I know Sara was a lot more open-minded than me, but I just wasn’t all that impressed with that part of the trip. A few didn’t even bother to come over when we perused their cases, and most didn’t have anything close to the basics that Sara had decided on at Jared’s (yellow gold, whereas apparently white gold is “the rage” right now, and a pear-shaped diamond, which apparently isn’t a very common shape). One particular store really woo’d her over and won her heart because they said that they could make anything she wanted, but the sales people reminded me of sorority girls and didn’t do much to make me feel comfortable during the process. Mind you, these were also the folks who gasped when I said that they could say the prices “out loud” in front of Sara. The best stores kept us both happy, and only a couple of them really did this.
Out of all of the mall stores, it was clear that most were catering to a very specific crowd – dare I say those that wanted a $5000 ring, and didn’t care why it costs that much. Not as many got into the part that actually interested me – the quality of the diamonds themselves – because as Jared’s explained, this is where the actual value of the ring is. Retail price doesn’t stand for much more than the profit that the store made off of me, so I want to know that if I spend $1000 on a diamond, that I actually got a quality stone, not just one that’s “big.” Only two stores out of the whole batch both cited quality ratings and explained what they meant – Jared’s and one place in the Brandon mall. The rest were all pushing $X-priced rings, and I suppose for a woman who just wants to know that her man spent $5000 on her, then that’s fine. But Sara and I are a little different…
I enjoyed learning about all of the different things that make up the diamonds and really getting a good feel about what I’m about to invest in, but I think most amusing of all was the price factor just because it became quite clear that most people aren’t nearly as open about their finances as Sara and I. I mean, right now we really try to do things as evenly and fairly as possible, and we agree that it should make eventually combining our finances just that much easier, but it was both funny and kind of sad to see that clearly, not everyone shares this point of view. In the very last store (and one we actually really liked), while one sales person was showing Sara their different settings, I eavesdropped on another lady trying to pressure her hip, young customer into signing up for a $5000 credit account so that he could buy the ring that his girlfriend wanted. Clearly he was very nervous, mentioning that he was just about to pay off both of their cars and had been looking forward to not having the extra payments for a while, to which she simply reassured him that if it was what she truly wanted, “It was well worth it!” I almost wished that the girlfriend had been there, too, but I’ve got a feeling I’d already met her type many times before throughout the course of the weekend!
So ultimately it was alright for our first trip to the jewelers for such a significant purchase – a bit scary, albeit, but Sara’s worth it, at least in small doses! There will definitely be many more trips like this one until the perfect ring that we can both be happy with is found. Until then, I’ll no doubt keep putting up with half a dozen lousy sales reps for every worthwhile one, lop-sided shoppers who are out to buy that $5000 ring regardless of what it’s actually worth, and at the end of the day, Sara will owe me for enduring yet another ring looking-at session while she searches for just the right one.
Of course, she found me, so at least the difficult search is over! 🙂