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Wedding Woes

Talk to me about rings

levioosalevioosa Southern California member
5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
So, SO and I are looking at rings. I went to Robbin's Bros tonight just to look at styles and I ended up seeing something I really liked. I'm not sold on the center diamond and it's expensive. I was originally planning on checking out rings and then purchasing from Blue Nile or Brilliant Earth but the band I found is just unique enough not to be a standard on those sites. I'm not really sure what I'm asking. Any full on warnings about RB? Any good experiences? I'm thinking it might be a good idea just to buy the bands and then get the center diamond from a jeweler. SO wants to try bargaining if we go in to buy it, but I'm not sure how open they will be to that approach. I've never looked for rings before and some of the research I've been turning up seems to say different things. And then I feel like I need to be a freaking jeweler just so I don't get ripped off. Any words of wisdom? 


Re: Talk to me about rings

  • no specific feedback on RB, but in general, chain stores will likely cut an extra 10% off the "sale price" if you ask. You probably won't get them to go much below that, unless the ring was a special order that was cancelled at the last minute. 

    if you're buying a loose stone, I would absolutely do your homework. understand how stones are graded (the 4 Cs), priced, and research your jeweler. use the loop to check out any inclusions in the stone - a skilled lapidary will be able to cut the stone in a way to minimize the appearance of inclusions. Also, check the color from the bottom vs. top. (color is graded from the bottom rather than top, so there can be up to a 3 level difference when the stone is flipped - you may be getting an excellent price or overpaying  depending on grade and appearance.
  • Is it @artbyallie who has all the experience with jewelry? I know there's someone on here who knows a ton. 

    IDK what the best route is, but ditto @*Barbie* if you pick a stone somewhere else and just get the band from RB. DH ended up building a custom ring and I know he spent a TON of time researching because he picked out each stone - like even the ones around the band. I think it just depends how much you/DH care about all that. 

    But also.....yayyyyy for looking at rings! How exciting and congratulations on such a fun step! :)

  • I would go with an independent jeweler rather than a chain or BN/BE. (Perhaps I am biased b/c I do work for a jeweler, but I'm not telling you to go with him.)

    So, Blue Nile may have low loose diamond prices, but they also are not physically stocking these stones. They're buying most of them direct from cutters, primarily in India, and they tend to either have fluorescence, not be accurately graded, or are just cut in such a way that you're really not getting what you should be. Having compared a bunch of them, I noticed that they don't have the 'spread' appropriate to the carat weight.

    For the simplest way to choose, though, here's what you need. Only buy GIA-certified. Ask the jeweler to get several stones in for you to look at. You will hold the loupe to your eye and bring the diamond up very close to it until it comes into focus. You might even be able to look through a gemscope, but a loupe (10x magnification) is standard. I'm assuming you're going for round brilliant, but most of this will apply to any fancy cut as well. Aim for G or better color. SI1 clarity is plenty, and will save a significant amount. Cut grade is super important for sparkle--you want Excellent or Very Good in cut, symmetry, and polish. You may have heard of Ideal Cut; this is just a marketing term meaning triple Excellent grades. Also check that the diamond has NO fluorescence. It makes diamonds a lot cheaper, but it could also make them look milky, especially in sunlight. There's no way to know if fluorescence will affect the look until you see the diamond in person, which is why I strongly advise against buying online. Finally, make sure you're getting the 'look' of whatever carat size you're buying; this is the 'spread' I mentioned earlier. For example, a 1ct round should be around 6.4mm in diameter. Much smaller than this, and you might as well drop down in carat weight so you're not paying for a 1ct and getting a 7/8 look.

    Okay, so maybe that wasn't entirely simple. I do spend a lot of time looking at diamonds. I'm happy to offer more specific opinions and advice, if you want it.
    You can also filter for all of this on Blue Nile and review the GIA certs. I think they are a better bet than a chain jeweler and have been very happy with my diamonds, but it does pay to research. 
  • I mainly wanted to chime in to say that shopping for rings sounds like an exciting step.

    My wedding set was passed down from my mom, so I can't really speak to shopping or knowing much about diamonds.

    But I have heard that it's better to buy a loose diamond for all the reasons PPs talked about above.  Especially since you're not crazy about the stone the ring you like currently has, I'd lean toward buying the unique band you like and buying the diamond separately.

    Random import fact I learned on a trip to Mexico (a number of years ago, may not still be true).  Loose gemstones don't have an import tax, but gemstones that are already in jewelry do.  It was recommended that, if you buy expensive jewelry on the trip, take the gemstone out of the setting before going through customs.

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  • kahluakoalakahluakoala member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited February 23

    So, I want to put my plug in for some diamond alternatives in case your heart isn't set on a diamond and minimizing your environmental impact is important to you (or even saving a few bucks is important to you!). 

    One: Robbins Bros is great because they offer lab created diamonds! So, lab created diamonds aren't alternatives or simulants, they're chemically and molecularly real diamonds, they were just made in a lab instead of grown in the round. These are typically about 30% cheaper than mined diamonds, but don't come in as much variety. Like mined diamonds, not each one is perfect - they have inclusions, different colors, and cuts just like mined diamonds but there's just not as many variations. They also don't tend to manufacture them in super small sizes since it's not cost effective (i.e. it's difficult to find pave lab diamonds). There's the most variety if you're looking for a round. Brilliant earth also sells them, but be careful going elsewhere because sometimes there's false advertising and you're basically paying for a really expensive CZ (Diamond nexus comes to mind here...)

    Two: Moissanite. Moissanite is a gem stone originally found in meteors, but is mostly manufactured in a lab similar to lab-created diamonds. It's a different gemstone with different properties, but looks very diamond like. On the MOHS scale, they're a 9.25 compared to the Diamonds 10 - they're comparable in hardness to a sapphire. They're extremely durable and definitely a "forever" stone. No, they're not exactly like diamonds, but to the naked eye they are extremely similar. The differences are that moissanites have double refraction which means they throw off more colors (some refer to as the "disco ball effect"), and they have a more "splintery" look - like you can see the lines in the cut. Pricewise they are a fraction of the cost of diamonds - typically around $500 per carat on moissaniteco.com (the largest and most well known distributor) - more obviously set into a ring. Differences become pronounced at larger sizes. I have moissanite earrings and they look amazing! I've held them up to my diamond ring and they're completely indistinguishable to me (not a gem expert). If it's not important to you, this can be a great way to save thousands of dollars and minimize your impact. More info here: https://www.doamore.com/diamonds-vs-moissanite/

    Personally, it was important to me that my FI didn't spend money on a new mined diamond. We were all set to go with moissanite, but then I was offered an heirloom from my grandmom, which I now proudly wear. I am looking into moissanite bands to go with it!

    Hope this helped
  •  Finally, make sure you're getting the 'look' of whatever carat size you're buying; this is the 'spread' I mentioned earlier. For example, a 1ct round should be around 6.4mm in diameter. Much smaller than this, and you might as well drop down in carat weight so you're not paying for a 1ct and getting a 7/8 look.

    ^^^ this is important as well. if you get a stone that's just under 1ct, say .97ct, you're likely going to pay a lower per carat price than you will for a stone that's just over (1.03).If both stones are well cut, there would be a minimal difference in appearance, but the just under stone would also be a much better price. 
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Thanks for the advice everyone! If I am thinking about a 1.20-1.40 carat round, does the width change dramatically?

  • levioosa said:
    Thanks for the advice everyone! If I am thinking about a 1.20-1.40 carat round, does the width change dramatically?
    It will depend on the cut- a shallower cut will be wider, a deeper cut narrower. It’s posdible for a 1.2 to look the same as a 1.4. But the depth of the diamond will also impact the sparkle you get!
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited February 23
    levioosa said:
    Thanks for the advice everyone! If I am thinking about a 1.20-1.40 carat round, does the width change dramatically?
    No, but the PRICE does!  ;)  I would pay more attention to color, cut and clarity.   I have a 1.40 diamond with a big crack-like inclusion.  The color, cut and clarity are so good, you really can only see the flaw in very direct lighting.  My flawless solitaire with lower rated color, doesn't look as impressive, but it's MINE! o:)
  • From what I understand knowing the size range helps and being flexible helps more.   Focus more on the cut, clarity and color and then find the carat that makes sense. 

    My e-ring diamond is .97 carats.  DH opted for just under 1 as he was guided by a wholesaler in NYC who said that too often there is something sacrificed to get to that magical 1 carat or more size.

    Also, if color / clarity are important consider your metal.  Yellow gold bands are just going to make the diamond look more yellow.  
  • @artbyallie - i'm curious what you do at the jeweler - sales? design? metasmithing/stone setting? are you a gemologist? 

  • @artbyallie - that sounds like a lot of fun. I'm taking metalsmithing classes right now, just trying to learn some basics. I've also been shopping for stones online. Next class is bezel setting. I love jewelry, and thought it would be fun to learn how to make it myself. 
  • I also highly recommend working with in independent local jeweler with a great reputation, bonus points if you can get a custom jeweler who does the work on-site because later on if you want something made unique you have one place to go.  I found the independents to have FAR superior long-term customer service because I wasn't just a number, I was an individual, and they always remember me when I walk in.  If they didn't have it, they were willing to order something in and we went through their catalogs together to find the closest fit, and then when I chose a unique style they kept looking to find a band that would match the setting in the style and budget I wanted for that.  I have three rings and all had customization work done on them to get them to be what I wanted (All would have lost their structural integrity had they been adjusted up to the sizes my fingers changed to after kids, the second two only have CZ stones, and frankly I don't care because my original is the one that matters IMO there, and even then, it's a symbol, not the marriage)...  If you like everything but the shape of the center or side stone you can usually get a different shape setting without too much issue done as long as it's in the same size range...  BUT, you're better to be working with an independent than a chain to get exactly what you want!
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  • I would recommend being able to look at loose stones over, something from a chain store that is already set.  I got my e-ring from Spence, which is a small chain.  We were able to buy my diamond and setting seperatly.  We decided to go with a lab created diamond.  We were able to compare the mined diamonds and the lab created diamonds.  When we looked at comparables I would say the price difference was 20-30%.  We went with Spence because they do have more than one location for warranty concerns, but it is nothing like a jewelry store in the mall.  We looked at Blue Nile, but we really wanted to see before we buy.  Plus the customer service for cleaning, resizing, etc.
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