I got my bling bling without the financial sting.
My hunt begins
Last year, Chris asked me to be his forever best friend.
He gave me the perfect ring: thin band, sparkly, and handmade with a unique design.
I was happy as a bumble bee.
Six months later, someone watched me take it off for safekeeping before I went to the beach, and they stole it out of my car.
I was heart broken.
On the bright side, Chris hadn't paid the average engagement ring ticket. In fact, he gave me the ring with a whisper that once we were more financially stable, there would be an upgrade.
So when we both finished paying off a sizable amount of student loans, we started browsing for big rock rings.
And HOLY DOOZY.
I quickly learned that engagement rings are a gigantic toilet flush of money.
(I'm sorry to whoever that offends*)
*but not very much.
The moment someone walks out of a jewelry store with their Sparkly, the resell value drops to around 25%.
Also, while we're on the topic, I have to take the opportunity to get on my soapbox and talk about How Diamonds Are A Driving Force In Bloody Wars And Human Injustices and also how It's Very Hard To Actually Prove If A Big Diamond Is Conflict Free. (Source? Google it honey.)
The Cheaper Option
Lab grown diamonds have the exact same chemical makeup as regular diamonds. They are just are durable and sparkly. And they look identical: diamond detectors will not be able to detect a difference. The main difference? Lab grown diamonds are $500-$1,500 a carat. Mined diamonds are $3,000-$6,000 a carat.
I was sold.
I checked out some online stores for the deals, and I discovered that similar to the 4 C's that determine the quality and value of diamonds, (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat), lab grown diamonds have variance in their brilliance and quality. It's tough to know if an online store is really selling the quality stuff.
With prices up to $5,000 for a lab-grown diamond, I felt like I couldn't risk it.
The Costco of Ring Shopping
Then we discovered the Downtown Los Angeles Jewelry District. There are 5,000 jewelry designers, wholesale sellers, retailers, and family-owned shops in a radius of just several blocks.
It's not fancy. Nobody will offer you white wine. Most of the sellers are squeezed into an indoor market place with booths and paper signs announcing the sales. But for diamond lovers, this is a slice of heaven.
How To Navigate The Jewelry District
1. Know Your Shiz
In the jewelry district, the setting and the diamond are usually sold separately, so have your browsing stage completed before you arrive. Know the average prices and have a photo of the type of design you're looking for. Once you click with a seller, they will often create a custom replica or negotiate with other sellers to find the same ring.
2. Be Firm
Finding the good deal means saying NO to many other offers from sellers who are hoping that you're just a little naive. Start by naming your budget and say exactly what you're looking for in quality. If they give you the old go-around, walk away and try one of the other 4,999 sellers.
Once you get a price quote, visit other sellers and tattle. "That seller over there offered me $2,500 for this ring. Can you make a better deal?"
4. Do A Little Sniffing
Read some reviews online and pick your stores. Make sure that before you purchase, you write down the return and warranty terms. Have a very clear agreement of expectations and ask to see the diamond tested along with the certification. If something goes south, there isn't a store manager to help, so be smart about it, babe.
My Diamond Ring
And here it is! My diamond is being custom made right now, but this picture comes close.
The ring will be a yellow gold thin band studded with mined diamonds (lab-grown diamonds are ridiculously hard to find in a setting so I went with tiny conflict-free diamonds from Canada).
Including the 1.7 cushion cut lab-grown rock and studded halo, the total carat count is 1.83. (Just between you and me I'm telling my mother that it's 2 carat shhh.)
Let's compare prices here.
At stores like Zales and Kay's, this cut and pure color without any inclusions would go for around $20,000.
Online sellers might price it for $13,000-$18,000.
In the Jewelry District, the mined diamond would be sold around $5,000-$10,000, depending on the negotiating.
Lab Grown Diamond
Brilliant Earth and other online sellers sell the exact same ring for $3,500-$5,000.
In the Jewelry District, I bought my colorless, brilliant cut, 1.83 carat lab-grown diamond for $1,499.
I feel like that last sentence made a boom so I'm just going to leave you with some pictures of my outfit during the Ring Shopping Spree.
Don't forget to watch the video at the top and leave a comment!