When it comes to one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make, it’s less about price and more about value.
Listen, there are plenty of places to buy an engagement ring for not a lot of money. You’ll find them on every High Street and, if you really don’t care about the quality, they litter the internet like confetti.
Buying a cheap engagement ring is not difficult. Buying one that represents great value is another matter entirely.
Let me illustrate for you. When you buy a house, do you buy the cheapest house on the market that fits your needs? Or do you buy the house that’s priced further up your budget but is in a better location, offers a better return on investment, is close to good schools or the station and has a few extra luxuries in terms of layout and space?
When you buy a car, do you go for the market entry make and model? Or do you spend more and buy something that offers better fuel economy, additional safety features, lower depreciation and more affordable servicing and maintenance costs?
Buying a diamond engagement ring is no different (apart from the they don’t come with a roof or wheels). If you look beyond the price tag and buy further up your budget, you’ll get a lot more for your money.
And that probably means coming to a bespoke independent jeweller like me.
As a rule of thumb, on the High Street volume and discount are king and a lot of the pieces you’ll find there are manufactured abroad, using lower end quality diamonds.
Independent shops tend to specialise in certain styles of jewellery, for example luxury watches or engagement rings.
The jewellery centre of London is Hatton Garden, which is where my shop is located. These shops are what I class as mid-range. Most of them specialise in engagement rings and most of them have the same in their shop window as the shop next door. It's very easy to get confused when surrounded by all these beautiful diamonds!
And then you get London's Bond Street. These are the big brands which sell high-end diamond jewellery to very wealthy people and it’s where you’ll find names like Tiffany, Cartier, De Beers and many more.
If money is no object then the best place would be one of the luxury stores on Bond Street or in Knightsbridge, but bear in mind that their mark-up is far greater than an independent jeweller or of a High Street jeweller. But, then you’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful diamonds there – so you’d expect to pay a small fortune for them.
If the budget is a real consideration and money is tight, then the best place for you might be to pop along to the High Street jeweller and pay a visit to one of the multiples. Other than offering you a large selection of rings, they can also offer hire purchase terms.
It won’t surprise you to learn that my favourite place to buy an engagement ring in London is Hatton Garden. Not just because I work here, but also because I do believe you will get the best value for money.
In most cases you’ll be dealing with a jeweller rather than a shop assistant and when parting with a substantial amount of money, you want to know that the person serving you has a background in diamonds and fine jewellery.
I find it very frustrating that some of the young sales assistants don't even know the basics of a diamond’s 4 c's. Yes, it can be a bit daunting if you've never been to Hatton Garden before; and yes, it seems like every shop has the same as the shop next door. But you should be able to haggle and compare from one shop to the next.
Going to Hatton Garden doesn't just mean you’re limited to the retail shops on the road. Historically, Hatton Garden has been the centre of the jewellery industry for more than 350 years. There are lots of workshops that are happy to deal direct with the public. And I am one of them.
Let me leave you with a few tips to help when picking your perfect engagement ring and deciding where to get it from:
- The first thing you need to do is buy my book, The Engagement Ring – How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Ring and Get It Right First Time. That has all the information you’ll need to make the right choices.
- Go to an independent jeweller or someone who has a workshop so that you can get exactly what you want. Just because a shop only has a certain range of sizes and styles doesn't mean that's all that is available to you.
- Make sure that person is a member of the London Diamond Bourse. This way you know that your diamond has been ethically sourced.
- Ask around for recommendations. It’s always a good idea to go to someone who's been recommended to you. Then follow this up with looking at their online reviews.
- And finally, do your research. If you're not sure about anything, then ask questions. My blogs are a great resource for information as well.
There you have it. Don't lose sight of the end goal. The aim here is to make every effort to make sure you pick the perfect engagement ring for your fiancée.
But always remember that you never actually own a diamond, you merely look after it for the next generation!