One (new) ring to rule them all.

I finally made a decision to choose a different ring.

It’s going to be the same three diamond set up. The two outer stone will comprise 3/4 carat and the middle stone, which will be raised, will be 3/4 carat. They’re all brilliant round, which is a specific cut of the diamond. They basically look like the photo shown here.

In fact, the ring looks a lot like that. The band is skinnier and I’m going to have them change the setting so the prongs are less noticeable.

It’s going to cost more (about double) but I’m really happy with it. I don’t think it’s too flashy but still an eye-catcher. I haven’t selected the new center stone because as soon as I do I need to start paying it off. I have an idea of what I want it to be, but just haven’t picked out the exact diamond.

So, now the new payment plan begins and I have to think of a different excuse for saving money since I’ve filed my taxes.

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Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 11:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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/roll on Loot Upgrade.

When I was at the jewelry store the other day, I noticed two separate couples who were “upgrading” their engagement rings. This struck me as kind of harsh and, well, insulting. It’s certainly not the rule, but people do tend to get married when they’re younger, less financial security. I can imagine that someone in the relationship (against stereotypes, probably the male) is unhappy with the size of the ring (see previous post) and now that they have more money, they want to buy the ring they always wanted.

People. This is the same logic that gave us a walking Jabba and Greedo shooting first.

The ring, while shiny, is still a symbol of the love. Was the love crappy in the beginning? Hopefully not.

Yet, there they were. Mutually discussing how to make the ring better. One couple had a baby in a stroller, so naturally I was envious they could afford a kid and a new ring while I’m trying to quit expensive coffee cold turkey to save a few bucks.

Perhaps my desire to avoid this do-over engagement ring is what’s driving me to go bigger and better now. The more and more I think about it, I’m reconsidering the ring I have set aside.

They say it’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. (For my geek friends: It’s not the gear you have, but how you play your class.) But who wouldn’t want a yacht?

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 12:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Is bigger better?

After yesterday’s post, I lay in bed thinking about my closing thoughts. It bothers me that I’m concerned over the ring’s price point. I’ve never been the type of person who needs to drive a flashy car or wear $200 sneakers. I do enjoy gourmet food and when it comes to tech I usually buy the best, but that’s about personal enjoyment and not showing off.

I think the difference comes from the fact that this purchase, by nature, is about showing off. “Hallmark created Valentine’s Day” conspiracy theories aside, the engagement ring is as much about love as it is about flashiness. Symbolically the wedding rings represent the union of marriage. An engagement ring is the modern equivalent of 3 goats and a sack of flour.

However, it is 3 goats and a sack of flour for the girl I want to marry, so why not the best? When I cook her dinner, I try to go all out because it’s for her, but when I’m alone I’m more likely to grab a few tacos from the truck down the street.

There’s also the thought that she’s going to show it off to people. People I know, people I don’t know. And the TV has taught us, they will care what the ring looks like.

The ring I have on hold right now is a three stone setting, sort of like those “Past, Present, Future” rings. I like the style and she once mentioned that she thought she had fat fingers (she doesn’t) so she wanted a ring that moved outwards and didn’t make them look fatter. The two side diamonds are approximately 1/4 carat each. The center diamond will be 1/2 carat. All “beautiful round”, fairly high quality diamonds. I think it’s a great ring… But possibly too small.

I may shop around more to compare this ring with some a little larger. The nice thing that I found out at Shane Company is that everything is fully refundable or exchangeable during this layaway process. If I put 99% of the money down and change my mind, I get all that back with no penalties. It may sound odd in a world of taxes and fees for everything, but they want you (manipulate you?) to feel comfortable in the purchase. I know if I didn’t have the option to change my mind, I never would have put the ring on layaway a few days ago.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Why not subscribe to bigger is better, if my wallet can swing it?

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mom an’ Pop?

As a kid I didn’t know who Ronald Reagan was, but I sure did like Alex P. Keaton. Capitalism makes sense to me and I have no problem shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Safeway. They provide jobs and offer a wider selection at a lower price, what’s wrong with that?

With that said, why am I feeling guilty about buying a ring from a chain store? Sure, it’s not Kohl’s where everything is always 75% off and the gems are manufactured in a lab using discount petri dishes, but it is a chain. I guess a chain jewelry store is just like a chain grocery store in that it represents a lack of originality. How many rings exactly like the one I’m purchasing are out there? My girl is unique and special to me, shouldn’t the token of my love be just as unique? Does an eccentric, bearded jeweler tucked away in the back room of a small shop like it’s still 1947 create a better ring?

I needed to know so I sought out an eccentric, bearded jeweler who hid himself away on a stool. The window of the otherwise inconspicuous storefront was bordered in a string of glowing red chili peppers. Why? I don’t know, add it to the list of questions I’m encountering. Inside, there was no coffee or umbrellas but there was a table covered with alcohol. No subtlety here, “Come in, get your drink on.” Though I do question why bottles of Jägermeister and Goldschläger populated the table. You have to love college towns – I hear on Fridays the winner of the beer pong tourney wins a cameo brooch.

The U-shaped display counter was about one-fourth the size of Shane Company’s display and one case was filled with turquoise pendants and bracelets. It’s a hippie college town. And that grizzled jeweler, he was in the back after all. Problem is he stayed there while I browsed the cases. I had to call him out of his hole to get a closer look at some rings. I asked to see a three-stone setting similar to the one that was waiting for me at the Shane Company.

“That’s $7,300,” he sighed looking through my sneakers and sweatshirt into my bank account.

“It’s beautiful.” And, he’s back with me. Praising an artist is like feeding a stray cat. Do it once and they’re yours for life.

“Yes, it’s palladium,” he handed me the ring. I nodded in admiration to mask my confusion. Wasn’t palladium the material that Black Panther used to create a temporary shield for Captain America?

“I was looking for white gold.”

A sigh. “This is better than white gold.” Uh-oh, now I’m poor and stupid. Only way to re-hook an artist? Ask them about their art as if it’s actually interesting.

“Oh, interesting. Tell me about the differences, please.”

“Palladium is as strong as platinum, but it won’t discolor her finger.”

“With that green ring?” Thank you, Zack Morris for buying those cheap class rings and turning everyone’s finger green.

“Right.”

“It’s nice, but not exactly what I had in mind. Do you have anything else like this?”

“Nope.”

And that was that. I politely looked around at some pearls and sapphires, but as soon as enough time had passed so that my exit wouldn’t be rude, I bailed. I want to look at some other smaller stores, and some more chains for that matter, to make sure I have the perfect ring but this experience has strengthened my love of capitalism. Chains have the overhead and demand to keep a wide variety of items on hand and to provide those items at the best possible prices. Ideally, I’d like to find a medium where I pay a little more for a truly individual ring and support the mom an’ pop shops. I’m just not sure it’s possible.

Plus, what would Alex P. Keaton say?

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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