Valentine’s Day is around the corner and I know some of you might be thinking of popping the question to that special someone. If you know me, you know that I got engaged this past December in Tokyo.
I told my fiancé that I wanted to pick out my engagement ring with him, so I was able to learn a lot about the ring buying process. I wanted to write a post to help guys who are feeling lost in how to purchase a ring. I wrote these tips based on my experience shopping in Tokyo, but overall I’d say you could apply these same ideas to ring shopping in America or any other country.
Let’s get started!
Tip 1: Study up on the 4Cs before you go
There’s nothing worse than feeling like a complete idiot when the jeweler starts spouting off jewelry jargon you’ve never heard in your life.
To prep for your visit, study up on the 4Cs. The 4Cs are Carat, color, clarity, and cut. These are 4 ways in which jewelers describe diamonds across the globe. Regardless on whether you speak Japanese, this is the universal language of the diamond world and will help you understand your purchase.
These 4 words are going to help you figure out the difference between the 4 identical looking diamond sitting in front of you with very different price tags.
There are plenty of websites out that can educate you on what these words mean. So before you go, take 20 minutes and google “ the 4Cs of diamonds”. Trust me. You will feel SO MUCH better that you know a little bit about what’s going on before you arrive. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Did you do that? Good. So now this brings me to tip # 2.
Tip 2: Know your priorities
Maybe you know your girl wants a 1 carat diamond. Maybe she cares less about the carats but is looking for a particular cut. Maybe she doesn’t mind a diamond with a little bit of color it. If you know where you can be flexible, this could save you a huge amount of money.
For example, the difference between a colorless diamond and a near colorless diamond to the naked eye are VERY subtle, even for a trained expert. But you could save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Also, jewelers know that people like even numbers, so if you’re willing to go just under 1 carat, say .7 carats, you can find yourself savings as well.
Similarly, if your lady is into something more unique and diamonds aren’t her thing, you can get yourself a large sapphire for the price of a small diamond.
Tip 3: Know your budget
This is a probably a given but you should know your budget before walking in. Not only will this keep you from splurging on something you can’t afford, but it will help the shop attendants show you great options in your price range.
Tip 4: Make an appointment
If you’re shopping during engagement season, the shops are VERY busy and which can leave you left waiting for a free shop attendant. This is a very big moment in your life so it’s okay to want someone’s full attention. Save yourself time by booking appointments in advance. Most stores make it easy to do online. Just look on their website for a button that says 予約, pick your store location, your time, and contact information and you’re done! If you need help figuring out some of the questions in Japanese, let me know and I can write a post on some of the useful vocabulary you will need.
Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to ask For Native Language
In big cities like Tokyo, shops know that they’ll have customers from out of the country who come may not speak Japanese. If you ask in advance, you can sometimes find a shop attendant who can speak English or Chinese. My fiancé is Chinese and we were able to get a sales attendant who spoke both Chinese and Japanese.
Tip 6: Look for discounts
Thanksgivings to Valentine’s Day is Engagement Season, the time of year when most couples get engaged. On the other side, summer is when more people are hosting and attending weddings. So, during the summer, engagement rings go on sale.
But summer isn’t the only time for discounts. We found that nearly every store we visited had a Christmas sale that began around December 1 till Christmas Day. We were able to save a TON on an otherwise expensive diamond and setting because of the Christmas deal.
TRAVELERS LISTEN UP. Depending on where you are, some jewelry stores will offer you a traveler’s discount or allow the purchase to be duty free. With a purchase this size, that could mean hundreds of dollars saved.
I know no one wants to take about savings when it comes to something as romantic as an engagement ring, but think of it as savings you could use toward a bigger carat size or a nicer cut.
Tip 7: Bring pictures
This is the most important advice I could give you. Even as a girl who spent many hours on pinterest looking at rings, once I was in the shop, I found it difficult to put into words the kind of look I was going for. Having 2 or 3 photos I liked as a reference helped the attendant give us a better starting point.
If you don’t have any clue what your girl might like, snap a few sneaky photos of the jewelry she normally wears or ask her best friend to help you out. Who knows, your girl might have an entire pinterest board of rings all her girlfriends have seen but you have no idea exists.
Tip 8: Ask about insurance and protections plans
A ring is a big investment of your money and of course your relationship. Make sure it’s going to be protected. Ask what the store’s police is if the ring gets damaged, lost, or stolen. Ask what sort of cleaning and repair services they provide for customers after the purchase.
Tip 9: Leave about a month for the ring to be set and resized
In my mind, we would walk out of the jewelry shop the same day with our perfect ring. But if you want to choose your setting and your diamond (which you most likely will), most stores will need between a week to a month to get your ring set and resized for you. This is because a lot of the times they’re not doing the setting in house. It can take even longer if you’re doing any other more customized services.
Tip 10: Take your time!
It took thousands of years to make this diamond so don’t feel like you have to make your decision in a day. Don’t be afraid to step out and come back. The shop we eventually purchased from was the first place we visited. I came back later to take a second look before finally deciding it was the one. Visit lots of shops! Look online! This is your big moment so take all the time you need.
I want to give a quick shout out to Ginza Shiraishi where we ultimately purchased our ring. We received really great service and an amazing discount on our ring which allowed us to get a slightly bigger carat size. I’m still crazy about this ring and find myself admiring how beautiful it is during quiet moments of the day.
Whether you’re celebrating with your special someone, friends, or Netlflix + wine, I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s day.