Monday, February 13, 2017

Shopping Rocks (Diamonds) With Ross

Hey you, you over there running out to the mall for a last minute Valentine’s gift! Stop! I know you're heading to the jewelry counter looking for something sparkly or shiny for your lady. Don’t buy in haste. Take a minute to think about the 4 C’s of diamonds. And to explain this...I hand you over to my capable diamond buyer husband, Ross. Your lady will thank you.

Clueless About the Four C’s?

I was too, but remember why you are shopping.

You have a special someone, a Valentine, a girlfriend, a wife. Maybe you’re even considering getting down on one knee over dinner and asking that girlfriend to be your wife. Maybe you just want to show your lady how beautiful you think she is or how much you appreciate her. Maybe you're just buying that necklace she's been emailing you links to and sending you pics of for the last 2 months since Christmas. If she's really good, she's been sending you pics where said necklace is Photoshopped onto her own image to prove how amazing it will look, but I digress. Now it is time to make your purchase and show that person just exactly how much they mean to you before you ask them to make/confirm the biggest mistake commitment of your lifetime (assuming that is what marriage means to you both, of course). This may sound scary, terrifying, horrifying...I could keep going...but really, it is super exciting! So think it through, but lighten up and enjoy the process.

What Are the Four C’s?

  • Carat - This is the weight of your stone, how big is the rock? Size does matter.
  • Color - Actually, it is the lack of color, the scale goes from D-Z(D being colorless, Z being yellow) anything in the colorless range is going to be very pretty indeed!
  • Clarity - Basically, this is a score for how many imperfections exist in the stone. A diamond scored at a VS1 (very slightly included) and an SI2 (slightly included) will look the same to the naked eye, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality and value.
  • Cut - This is the rating which really determines how much the diamond will sparkle! It is not to be mistaken for the diamond’s style. It is all about how the diamond interacts with the light. The cut scale goes Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, to Excellent.

For more info on the 4C’s on the go, check out the GIA 4C’s Guide App. This awesome tool includes a “My Diamond Wish List” to help you keep track of all the stones you have seen on your shopping trip. They all start to sparkle the same after a while.

What is GIA? Is it important?

In a nutshell, yes.

Houses have deeds. Vehicles have titles and registration. It only makes sense that you have similar documentation for something as precious as your diamond purchase. A diamond grading report isn’t an appraisal. It is the scientific blueprint of a stone’s exact quality characteristics.

This is how you are going to ensure that you know exactly what you are purchasing and that it is coming from a trustworthy source.  But I wouldn’t make a purchase that does not come with one of these diamond grading reports.

How Do You Know What She Likes or What Size She Is?

Ask! If you are seriously considering making a marriage proposal, I am going on the assumption you have talked to your significant other about building a future together. Next time you are in the mall going to one of her favorite stores, take a walk through a jewelry store or two. Ask her what she likes... more specifically, ask her what shape stone she likes and what type of setting she likes. Style is one element of jewlery that is perhaps most important but least influenced by price. Don’t underestimate this. Put yourself in her shoes and imagine you are getting a piece of jewelry you have to wear for the rest of your life. Do you want something that is ugly or not your style? I didn’t think so... Once you find something she loves ask to try it on, whoever is working the counter should be able to help you figure out the magical ring sizing number, now don’t forget it! The same can be said for other pieces of jewelry with precious stones. No one wants to rock hideous earrings or a necklace set in a metal that is not their favorite simply because their hubby bought them.

Image result for cuts of diamonds

How Much am I Supposed to Spend?

Ultimately, it comes down to what you can afford to spend. There are existing notions of 2 or 3 months salary, but this is not a hard nor fast rule and certainly does not work for everyone. I can speak against buying knockoff costume jewelry from Forever21...your lady probably definitely has nightmares about this if she's been dropping hints about a certain item. Not to fret, there are multiple avenues for finding the right gift for your significant other such as family heirlooms or diamond alternatives if the real thing is too $$$. I encourage you to explore these options to figure out what is right for you, but this is a read for the diamond buyer.

I would strongly recommend saving your cash to get the person you want to spend the rest of your life with a beautiful ring or a thank you necklace for putting up with your shit charming quirks for so many years. They may need a little bit of a bribe after all. Just kidding, what I was trying to say was that I don't recommend you put it on credit that you can’t afford to pay off (that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t earn credit card rewards or cash back on a large purchase like this). Be honest about your finances and stay within your budget. Save up the money, chances are you will need a place to live, have wedding expenses, or tiny feet in your future. Let me tell you, none of these are not cheap! Don’t saddle yourselves with a mountain of diamond debt, that is not romantic and by no means the Valentine's panty dropper you may have been intending.

Does Where I Buy Really Matter?

For me, the answer was yes… I walked into several jewelers (there are a lot in my local mall). Not many of them gave Abby and I a second look or even offered to help us as we hovered over their engagement ring cases. Littman Jewelers however did. Despite our age, they knew our money was still green. They ended up being the place where I spent my hard earned cash. Customer service really should not be undervalued. Littman has an in house jeweler who did fantastic work sizing our wedding bands without causing them any damage (I have had bad experiences elsewhere). Another factor that should go into your decision is what type of protection plan is included or available for purchase. Littman offers a lifetime care program which is awesome when you need to take your ring in for a rhodium dip, clean and polish. The real thing that makes this care program worth it though is if the stone falls out of the setting and is lost, they will replace the stone!

Protecting Your Investment

When you do take the plunge and have made your purchase it is time to protect what you got! Before you pop the question you should get the jewelry appraised and added to your homeowner's policy, if you have one. If you don’t have a policy, not to worry because you can add the prized possession to a parent’s policy until you pop the question and transfer the jewelry to your significant other at which point you will need to transfer it over to her parents’ or her policy. Contact your agent for more information about appraisal. Many agents have an agreement or a preferred local jeweler who will do the appraisal at a discounted price. This is a great time to bring in a few pieces that are not insured and add them to your policy.