Every proposal is different. Some are grand affairs that take months of planning, while others are spontaneous moments of romance and love that occur on an idle Sunday afternoon.
Whatever your preference, if you are looking to pop the question with a ring in hand, there are some basic tips to follow that will ensure the moment goes as smoothly as possible.
Buying an Engagement Ring – The Timeline
The Two Month Rule
I would always recommend aiming to have the ring in hand at least two months before you plan to propose. This is the absolute minimum leeway. Why so long? Well, unless you are one of the lucky few who finds the perfect ring in the perfect size in a store window, you will need to allow for any potential glitches along the way.
In almost all cases, the ring will need to be made to order. This is certainly the case with buying online, but even traditional jewelry stores usually only carry sample rings that will need to be resized and re-polished before they are sold (or a brand-new ring will be made for you). Essentially, you are at the behest of as many as three different tradespeople who are involved in the production of your ring. This means allowing time for materials to be ordered, physical production, quality assurance, and that is before you have even delved into the realm of bespoke jewelry.
Give yourself breathing space by planning in advance. If there is a fast approaching date that you are desperate to propose on, it is better to propose with no ring at all than indulge in the stressful experience of leaving it to the wire.
The Busy Months
If you are looking for the quickest turnaround on your engagement ring, there are definitely some months to avoid. While we associate ‘wedding season’ with the summer months, engagement season begins somewhere around the end of October and continues right through to the end of February.
Those adverts you see around Christmas time urging you to seal the deal with a diamond? Well, everyone else sees them too! If you want to propose during peak engagement season, you need to ideally be looking at rings from August and finalizing your choices by September. Any later, and you will risk delays due to large workloads and endless orders. Have stress free Christmas proposal by getting ahead.
Getting the Best Deal on Your Engagement Ring
It is time to share a sad truth that many of you will not want to hear. It is, however, an important rule that could save you a lot of money in the long run:
A Good Quality Diamond Will Never Go on Sale!
Do not be tempted by promises of end of season reductions and ‘too good to be true’ bargains.
The diamond buying business is all about margins, and those margins will be heavily scrutinized long before engagement season begins. Online retailers are usually already at the absolute maximum reductions anyway; the nature of online retail means less overheads, which is why you will always find a better price online. Therefore, they will not offer sale prices on their quality diamonds, as they would simply be losing money, and they are already the most competitive you can find on the market.
A traditional brick and mortar jewelry store will already have large markups on their diamonds, which are necessary to compensate for the high running costs. Any reductions will not be a real bargain, rather they will be truer to the actual value, and will be easily matched or beaten by an online retailer.
If jewelry stores receive items that they know will be popular during the engagement season, they will mark them up drastically in the months before, sell what they can, before slashing down to the ‘original’ price. You will not save money on your diamonds shopping this way!
If you’re looking for an exceptionally high quality round cut or princess cut diamonds, take a look at the True Hearts diamonds line from James Allen. If you’re looking for Fancy Shape Diamonds take a look at James Allen.
Seasonal and Festive Promotions
You will notice jewelers offering seasonal and festive promotions. The most popular of these are Valentine’s Day and Christmas sales. It is always important to read the small print. In most cases, these offers will not apply to diamond jewelry, and very rarely apply to the center stone of a ring. See that little asterisk next to the word ‘Valentine’? That immediately tells you it is time to read the terms and conditions.
You are more likely to pick up a pair of sale earrings or a bracelet than you are an engagement ring.
If you’re an expert shopper, you may find yourself saving money on your engagement ring setting should it be included in one of these promotions, however my advice would be not to pin your hopes on this.
I Need a Ring Quickly!
In some cases, people decide they need a ring as soon as possible. This is made trickier when the proposal date falls during a busy period, but you still have options available to create the perfect proposal:
Shop Online – While this would always be my recommendation anyway, it is particularly significant for those shopping in a hurry. It may be tempting to believe you will get a ring quicker by walking into a jewelry store and walking out with a ring that day, but the choices will be extremely limited. It is also likely that the ring will have been tried on and handled by lots of brides to be, meaning it might not be in the best condition. And that’s before we even get to the price and examining the diamond quality!
Confirm Terms of Purchase – Online vendors often have excellent terms of purchase. Explore these as an option. It may be possible for you to order a ring, propose with it, and then exchange it after the proposal if it’s not quite right. As long as the ring is in perfect condition, there is no reason why the vendor won’t offer a refund or exchange. Reputable online jewelers such as Blue Nile and James Allen offer should your fiancé doesn’t like the style of ring. But please always check with the jewelers you’re buying the ring from before assuming they all have the same terms and conditions. I suggest reading my post on which company has the best trade up guarantee here.
Consider a Dummy Ring – If you’re in a real tight spot with proposal dates, or if you have ordered a ring and it hasn’t arrived on time, you may consider proposing with a ‘dummy ring’. This can still be something beautiful and sentimental (a piece of jewelry that’s been in your family, for example) but can be later replaced with the perfect engagement ring.
There really is no ‘best time’ to buy a good quality engagement ring. It is completely personal, so the best time is whenever you are ready.
Do not be lured by deceptive deals, and make sure you allow as much time as possible to take the pressure off. Most of all, remember that quality is everything, and you can get an exceptional quality diamond within your budget at any time of the year. It is all about research and patience!