The Shinies.

I placed a down payment on an engagement ring today. Is that even what you call it, a down payment? Layaway? Those phrases conjure images of car lots and 1950s JCPenney stores. For that matter, do JCPenney stores still exist? No, that was Mervyn’s that went under. One day into my marriage proposal plans and there are already more questions than answers.

I got off work a little early and found myself drawn to a big box jewelry store, which is not surprising as I had made the decision to propose to my beautiful girlfriend months ago. Until today, however, I hadn’t acted on that decision. The thought of a trip to Target, a sort of “no need to get her an engagement ring today, let’s find a little something here” attempt, failed to deter my romantic whim.

The Shane Company, for my East Coast readers they are your “Friends in the Diamond Business”, know what they’re doing. I’m not just referring to their beautiful jewelry but to the fact that from the minute you walk in they’re messing with your mind. Loaner umbrellas and coffee by the door greet you, subliminally suggesting that the employees want to take care of you from the moment you arrive into the future beyond their doors. Manipulation angers geeks because our intelligence usually sniffs it out as a scam while our schoolyard scuffles label it as bullying. Thankfully for them, Shane has pretty, shiny things which kick start our A.D.H.D. and make us forget about their subtle tricks.

I walked in with the intention to just look around, but those damn shinies were too much for me.  While they were careful not to ask it right off the bat, it wasn’t long before…

“How much are you comfortable spending?” (Notice they’re implying I’m comfortable.)

“Honestly, I’m not sure.” (I’m broke.)

“Well, we can create something beautiful on any budget.” (Oh, you’re broke.)

“I was thinking around $3,000.” (Actually, I was thinking about a $13 picture frame from Target.)

Why $3,000? Hell if I know. Seemed like a good number at the time. Herein lies the problem, and the purpose of this blog. I’m entering into a situation where I can’t predict the questions that I’m going to encounter, let alone the answers. A geek is used to having all of the answers and suddenly I’m throwing out thousand dollar figures because the shinies are jamming my radar. I can’t be the only person who is clueless about how to propose marriage, so maybe my discoveries will aid someone.

When the shinies released their hold on me I realized I had purchased (layaway-ed?) a two-stone setting and made plans to return and select the center diamond. Now, with my savings cleaned out, I face rent, tax season, six monthly payments of $200, and another $1,500 for the center diamond. All said and done the ring would come to approximately $3,300.

Incidentally, here we see how butchers and jewelers operate on the same principles. You say one pound of ground beef and they give you one-and-a-quarter pounds. It’s an extra $0.73 to you, so you don’t say anything, but when they do that for every customer day in and day out, they’re walking away with thousands of dollars a month. Let’s just say that with jewelers, their monthly upsell could buy a lot of hamburger.

But at least I have (layaway-ed) a ring. The ring that was going to make her cry with joy, the ring that she’ll wear forever, the ring that will ensure she says, “Yes.” Despite the burning questions that lay ahead (where, when, and how to propose) I feel like a burden has been lifted off my back. This is going to happen, this is for real. This is great. Or it was great until I Googled “Average engagement ring price” and the price range of $3,500-$4,000 kept popping up.  I’m set to pay $3,300. In a purchase where bigger is better I now have a puny ring that just isn’t going to cut it. Suddenly, it’s the ring she’s going to show off to her sisters and friends, the ring that my mother has been waiting on for years, the ring that’s going to say, “I got married and all I got was this lousy ring.”

Doubts and fear of inadequacy… At least I have that part of the marriage proposal nailed.

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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