Sunday, November 01, 2009

Where to Shop for the Ring?
When it comes to ring shopping, people usually pay a visit to the local diamond stores. That is the conventional choice among couples. However, buying a diamond ring online is not uncommon to some busy couples anymore as we enter the e-business generation. The shopping experiences of both extremes dominate the diamond buying business.

(Rachel's Personal Preference: I personally like to shop local stores because I get to see and feel the REAL diamonds and rings. Sorry, I am not so into e-shopping yet =p)

Before the ring shopping begins, it is advisable to browse through the internet/bridal magazines and check out which style suits your fiancee the most (or the one you like the most, if you are bride who is going to shop together with your husband-t0-be). It will greatly narrow down the many options available in the jewelry stores.

Let see what store/internet shopping experience has to offer to the couples.
1. Bargain District
2. Chain Stores
3. Designer Salons
4. Online Retailers


New York City Bargain District
A.K.A. Diamond District at 47th Street (betweem 5th and 6th Avenues)

Pros:
1. Many stores to choose from.
I went there with my friend to check out the place two weeks ago. I believed there are more than 100 retailers along West 47th Street!

2. Great discounts for those who are really good at bargaining skills!

This is a bargain district; good bargainers win! Even though you got the deal, I would suggest you to send the ring to a trusted jewelry exchange for ring appraisal. You want to make sure you pay for something that is worthwhile; engagement ring is one of the great investments in life.

Cons:
1. Below average customer service.
I have to say that the customer service is not their priority concern. They spend no effort to build relationship with their customers. What retailers in diamond district want - is great sales volume, they hardly care about providing good customer service.

2. Annoying and offensive conversation when you are leaving them and look for others at the other stores.

Okay, I might be a little bias on this point. My friend and I went to a shop where we found the cushion-cut diamond. No doubt, the diamond "looks magnificent" under the spot lights (every diamond does). However, we would like to keep our options open and scout around the area. Are you interested to know how the salesperson replied us? He said: "We have been in the diamond business for years and we know people will never come back and but the ring from us. So never tell me about getting back to our shop again." (Oh well, if your deal is really good compared to other jewelers who offer the same quality, why wouldn't we come back to you? This is a major investment, we need to shop around and see what other jewelers have to offer. I am annoyed by his arrogant and pushy attitude! He totally turned me off. No matter how good your deal is, I WILL NEVER GO BACK AGAIN.)

3. Deals are too good to be true?!

Would you believe them when they give you 75% off the ticketed price? I would suspect the genuineness of their diamonds! 75% mark-down is outrageous. I believed every diamond ring has its own value and price...75% off largely discounted the genuineness of the diamond.

For more information about NYC Diamond District, you may visit their website at http://www.diamonddistrict.org/home.html


Chain Stores
Examples: Zales, Kay Jewelers, Jared, and Tiffany & Co.

Pros:
1. Can be found throughout the country and around the world.

2. Carry similar products and provide consistent services.

This is a plus for couples who relocate throughout their marriage. This is especially valuable if you have bought the lifetime protection plan where you are entitled to free cleaning and inspection services for a lifetime.

3. Offer lower prices and great discounts.

They have greater purchasing power as they make purchase in bulk and re-distribute items to many stores at once.

Cons:

1. Limited selection.

They only carry popular items, but not rare pieces such as cushion cut and unique ring setting. For example, you are able to find a brilliant-cut solitaire ring (accounts for almost 90% of all engagement rings sold in the nation), but not a cushion-cut Victorian-style ring (maybe only one out of ten people would choose this ring*).
*I just made up the ratio just to show you the limitation in selection as you decided to get the ring from jewelry chain store.

2. Limited customization.

For example, Zales does not customize the center diamond of the ring; you will have to purchase the ring as is. Well...they do give you an option to upgrade your ring...where you will have to get a ring that is double the price you have paid for the first ring. For me, this is ridiculous. Why do I have to spend triple the price to get the ring that I want?

3. Jewelry pieces are mass produced.

Do not be surprised to see another lady walking on the street and wearing the same design as your fiancee does.


Designer Salons
Example: Michael C. Fina at Fifth Avenue, New York City

Pros:
1. Excellent customer service.
No doubt. Treatment we received from the professional jewelry consultant in Michael C. Fina was far better than the one in Diamond District. As soon as we sit down at the showroom, they asked if we would like to have some wines or water to start with. All consultants are in great manner! I simply love this place!

2. Knowledgeable and friendly jewelry consultants.

Libby Repko, a very friendly jewelry consultant who took care of us the other day. She patiently walked us through the many collections in their showroom and explained the characteristic of each ring from different designers. I truly respect her professionalism. It was a great experience!

3. Extended selections.

I always thought that I am going to start with the diamond selection and then the ring setting. In designer salon, surprisingly diamonds are not the first thing to start with, but the beautiful ring settings. Designers' ring settings are beautiful and unique. For example, rings from Scott Kay, Tacori, and Hearts on Fire; just to name a few, there are many more!

Cons:
1. Some items can be very pricey.
If you are a budget bride, you might want to re-consider for getting the ring from designer salon. You always have to pay the price for unique ring.

2. No discount available.

Because of the time and efforts each designer spent to creat the unique ring, they will not accept discount.

For more about Michael C. Fina Salon, click here.


Online Retailers
Example: Blue Nile

Pros:
1. Good choice for busy couples.
This is a great option for those who have no time to shop for the ring and can only do it online.

2. Offer great selections.

The online retailers usually offer extended selections from ring settings to diamonds at your choice.

Cons:
1. Miss the fun of brick-and-mortar ring shopping experience.
As mentioned earlier, I am a person who prefers to see and feel the ring right in front of me. Furthermore, it is a fun experience to shop the ring with your fiance/fiancee. This is another great way to get together and understand each other better. So why not take some time off to shop around with your loved one? It will be fun!

2. Be careful with online scam.

Look for BBB Accredited Business Seal in the website to make sure the e-business abide all rules and regulations set by Better Business Bureau (BBB). You do not want to lose your investment for being careless.



This might not be the most in-depth information given to you, but it is sufficient for you to know ehere to start from.

Happy Shopping!






Sources:
1. NYC Diamond District
2. Types of Jewelers, LoveToKnow Engagement Rings, lovetoknow.com
3. Engage, Michael C. Fina
4. Education, Guidance, Diamonds, and Fine Jeweler, Blue Nile

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