Unless you're going ring-less, your wedding rings are going to be something you wear for a very long time — it may be on your hand all day, every day. So shouldn't your ring get at least as much thought and care in shopping as your wedding outfits?
I used to work at a jewelry store, and I could tell you some interesting stories. The worst part, though, was seeing someone come in to buy a ring when they had no idea what their partner would want, and then dropping several thousand dollars on a guess. If you are a non-traditionalist, you can be even harder to shop for!
So, here are my tips for getting what you want, and at the best price.
Don't be afraid to try on a lot of styles
You aren't stuck buying the trillion cut diamond if you don't like it, but you'll never really know if you don't see it on your finger. My husband thought he wanted a fairly plain band. He wound up with a 1/3ct. solitaire in a very industrial looking vice-like setting.
Actually try it on!
I got engaged during my time at the jewelry store. I lived with our stock eight hours a day, which means I tried on every ring in our store more than once. In all, there were a total of THREE rings I actually liked on my hand. Something may look great in the catalog or on a model's hand, but you won't know how it looks on you until you put it on. I was crushed when the gorgeous halo style ring just seemed “meh” when I put it on.
Consider your lifestyle
If you're a nurse, you probably don't want something that will poke through gloves. If you are in an industrial job, tungsten might sound awesome until you realize that you can't cut it off if you break your finger and it swells up. Seriously, nobody wants to lose a finger.
Seriously, jewelry stores are like car lots. I had no idea, and thought that sticker price was end of story. Unless you are buying something on an advertised deal, you can usually negotiate a better price. You may even be able to decode their price tags — there's usually some kind of code on the back to let the salesperson know what the bottom line is.
Most jewelers work on commission. Early month may mean there's no pressure to make a sale, so less haggling will happen. Late month may get you a screaming deal, or may mean that someone desperate to meet their goal is going to gouge you, so it's a gamble.
Go to special design sales
Many stores have events a few times a year when they bring in a lot of extra stock that they don't normally carry. These can be a great time to design a ring that is uniquely you — especially if you want a more traditional bridal setting but want colored stones, or fun accents.
Don't feel like you have to buy “the set”
If you don't like the band that comes with an engagement ring, you can usually find something else that will work. If you don't, consider having your wedding band customized. I did, and it cost about the same as it would have to buy one we had in stock.
If you're planning a surprise proposal, you can go for a solitaire or a non-engagement-ring
If you get a solitaire, you can have the stone put into a mounting that you let your partner help pick out later. Alternately, you could propose with a ring pop and an invitation to go ring shopping, or ask with a bright gemstone ring in their favorite color. If you really feel that you need “the ring,” please make sure you bring in a currently-fitting ring (so that the jeweler can make sure the new ring will fit properly), and that you have a good idea of what they like. Bonus points for taking them shopping beforehand but making the actual proposal a surprise.
The bottom line: don't just settle, because your ring is something you'll probably look at every day. Make sure you love it!
jewelry: Todd Reed Inc
jewelry: Wexford Jewelry
photography: Melissa Miksch