A nifty tip for ring shopping from a UK bride

Guest post by Christie

The German and I bought our wedding rings last week and followed the most awesome tip from a friend. Forgive me if this is totally obvious but we had no idea that we could do it so I thought I would share…

We went to Hatton Gardens, which, for those of you who aren't from London, is just one whole long street of shiny jewellery shops, and found one that looked nice enough to go into (The German chose on the basis that it had an aquarium and a pretty girl in it). We sat down, chose rings (I had no idea there were so many different sorts of plain gold bands, crikey), got them to write down exactly what it was that we had just picked… and then wandered up to the other end of the road to a wholesaler called Cookson's where we picked exactly the same rings for less than half the price.

Photo courtesy of Cookson's website.

I felt a bit bad for the pretty — and extremely helpful — sales lady in the fancy shop; the wholesalers is a rather unmagical Argos sort of a set-up and you take home your rings unpolished and in a little plastic bag. But hey, it turns out we actually prefer the unpolished finish and instead of costing £665 they were in total £281.75 (£90+vat for mine; whatever the rest of that is for The German, fat fingers). Admittedly £140 each still really hurts but the blow was definitely cushioned by the totally astonishing saving. And of course we LOVE them.

Anyway, I assume it's possible to do this all over the country, not just down here, so thought I'd share.

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Comments on A nifty tip for ring shopping from a UK bride

  1. I got to pick out my engagement and wedding rings, and I purchased them on ebay, custom made. I got them for about 85% off what I would have paid at a jeweler. It definitely pays to shop around.

  2. I'm going the Overstock.com route, which is probably very similar only online instead of in-store. Getting the exact same thing made by the exact same people for half the money is definitely worth it.

  3. We got ours custom-made in Damascus steel from eBay, and paid a total of about $400 instead of $400 each for the same rings elsewhere.

  4. If you're just looking for plain bands in different widths and metals, hit the Rio Grande catalog (riogrande.com). It's a jewelry supply catalog that quite a few jewelers order from and mark up. You'll likely have to order the catalog–just register as a student or hobbyist to get your customer number and use it to place your order. I've been ordering from them since I was a metals student in high school and university and have always been happy with the products. You'll still need to hit a jeweler to size it if you're not their standard sizes, but it will be LOADS cheaper than anything retail. If you have a stone already or will be inheriting one in a setting you aren't fond of you can also order mounts for engagement rings and wedding sets that take stones as and take them to a jeweler to set and size for you. One of my friends bought his fiancee's yellow diamond at a gem show (intergem.com) from a diamond dealer for about $600 and had it set a few weeks later in a white gold setting and bought matching plain bands at the same time. His bride got exactly the ring she wanted and they saved a ton taking that route. The gem show circuit is also a great way to see a lot of different rings and stones at great prices if your city doesn't have a diamond district of it's own. It also happens to be a great place to shop for jewelry for your bridal party or yourself as they tend to carry all types of things at all price ranges.

  5. I got NotFroofy's ring from eBay UK–even though we live in the US. I wanted something that was 22 karat gold, to match the one she was giving me, and it is a lot easier to find those in the UK than here. As a bonus, because the ring was a used one, we avoided the environmental costs involved in making a new ring.

  6. For brides that live in Asia, you can have rings custom made for dirt cheap in Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, etc. A good idea if you don't plan on getting gemstones (at least in Thailand) 😉

    • I realise this post is getting old, but…I don't suppose you have some leads for Korea? I've been looking for rings but they seem to all have diamonds (or CZs) in them. Just wondering 🙂

  7. We did something similar for our bands — browsed at several jewelry shops and then found what we wanted online for about one-third the price. (I was a sucker for me e-ring, though, and we bought it immediately in the store.)

  8. 🙂 Don't you just love Haton Garden? This area is also full of independant designers in their little studios upstairs
    if you are looking for somthing more original you can also commission a jewellery designer who will endeavour to create something bespoke and more unique just for you
    Enjoy the treat !
    Catherine Marche

  9. when picking our rings in the UK we found http://www.weddingrings-direct.com/ really useful – they do a service where for a fee they will post you the rings you are interested in mocked up in silver for you to play with at home for a week or so. My partner plays guitar and is a computer programmer, and he doesn't usually wear jewellery, so it was really important that the ring we picked for him was super-comfy. We did feel a bit silly for not even checking out Hatton Garden, though – we do live in London, and its where my dad's engagement ring, so it would have been nice, but it was also great being able to do all our umm-ing and ah-ing without a sales assistant looking over our shoulders!

  10. We got my engagement ring in Hatton Gardens from Quality Diamonds who we went to on recommendation from my parents. We were given a half-hour diamond lesson, with loads of diamonds to look at, then plenty of time to decide which ring we actually wanted. They then asked my man-creature his budget and asked me what was most important in my diamond. They emailed us back the following day with details of a few suitable diamonds, one of which we picked. My ring is stunning (if I do say so myself) and we got it for a far better price than we ever imagined. Hatton Gardens ftw!

    • Sorry, but OMG that sounds so bloody sexist! I’d go MAD at a shop assistant if they asked my FH what HE wanted to spend on the ring – as if I have no input at all?! You’re planning our lives together… Are you not to be involved in all your other major purchase decisions too?!

  11. Great ideas here.
    My partner and I just found some terrific old bands at a local antique jewelry consignment shop. They cost less than new bands and the workmanship is really fine. (We liked them better than anything we saw at Tiffany's–which we couldn't afford anyway but hey, how often do you get to swan into Tiffany's and try things on?) I like having something reused/recycled and with a story already wrapped up in the metal.

  12. Curly fries you rock! thats such a good bit of advice – just wish i'd done that for the engagement ring! Good luck for your big day – am sure it will be AMAZING 🙂

  13. The Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham works in the same way. It seems to be that the rougher looking the shop, the cheaper it might be.

  14. I love Hatton Gardens! I got my engagement ring from an adorable, old, dark second-hand shop there filled to the brim with unusual vintage jewellery. In the end, my ring was a compromise – I wanted something old, the fiancé wanted something new so we decided on an old ring which looked new. It is a lovely aquamarine (I am not a fan of diamonds as engagement rings). The best thing is, I tell everybody it is second-hand and a lot of people go: ‘eeewwww, it could have been worn by a corpse!’ 🙂
    I am not looking forward to getting the actual wedding rings though as I find shopping for jewellery generally rather tedious, but I think the fiancé does not :).

  15. If you are near a city it is also worth researching local craft centres and looking for designer-makers. I am London based so I plan on getting my rings from Cockpit Arts (http://www.cockpitarts.com/) or Crafts Central (http://www.craftcentral.org.uk/) both of which house a variety of jewellers who are just getting established. I know there are similar schemes around the UK – not only does this allow you to meet the people who are making your rings but you can also often negotiate details a little. Much more personal and often cheaper than more commercially produced stuff!

  16. This is a great article, CurlyFries.

    My partner and I bought a ring setting from a jewellery supplies type place, plus the three stones we wanted in it (emerald, sapphire and blue topaz). For a (teeny-tiny!) extra fee they put the whole thing together, et la voila – a beautiful, personal engagement ring for a FRACTION of the cost (and time and energy) than anything that spending a whole day trawling every jewellery shop within proximity could have turned up.

    The place we got it done is just a few miles away from us, so we went in to the store but they have a website (www.kernowcraft.com) and do mail order stuff, and I’m sure there’s a store closer to you if you want to go in and look at your gems before hand.

    I’d definitely recommend it, because while your ring might not come ready-polished and packaged in a shiny box, it makes the whole thing very personal and it’s quite cost effective.

  17. http://www.titaniumkay.com/
    just thought I’d leave this link here, it’s where I’m buying my guy’s ring. It’s a wonderful site, with an actually good selection of men’s rings. Lots of black rings as well as silver for good price.

  18. Just want to play for another side here: while the savings can be great by going the wholesale, ebay, or the jewelry chain store route, shopping locally is important. Supporting local artists (and even local jewelers with a decent selection) is good for your community, and the service is often unmatched. You can sometimes even negotiate a lower price.

  19. I have a sellers permit because I vend jewelry. Sellers permits are free to obtain. I am going down to the wholesale market in downtown LA in the next 2 months for our rings at wholesale cost. It will probably cost me about $20 based on weight. Ask anyone you know that owns a business or does crafting if they can go with you to get the biggest discount of your life. <3

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