Should You Surprise Her with an Engagement Ring?
As you begin thinking about getting engaged, it is a good idea to contemplate some different routes you can take to reach that point. First question...should you completely surprise her or should you involve her in the process?
1. Total Surprise.
She has no idea what is coming. This is the traditional method. You select the design, metal, diamonds/gemstones and ring size based upon your detective work, her personal style from your perspective and ideas of what you think she would want.
Complete Bridal Set. You purchase both the engagement ring and the wedding band. She doesn't have to lift a finger (except for her ring finger, that is), and she has absolutely no choice about her rings. If it is a ring that is custom designed and already has a band paired with it, this can be more cost effective over the long term.
Engagement Ring Only. You purchase just the engagement ring and let her be involved in the selection of the wedding band(s). Again, this is the traditional method. Usually purchasing the engagement ring alone can be an intimidating task. I tend to suggest that you let her be involved in picking the wedding band. You never know if she might have something different in mind than the traditional band.
Pro: You can create a magical moment, sweeping your loved one off their feet, causing a strong emotional response. There will be a great sentimental value in the fact that you did all of the work yourself, and your special lady is sure to love anything you select. Great choice for a sentimental gal.
Con: She will have no input as to design, metal, stones or size. The ring may need to be sized. Will you worry about if she likes it? Will she pine over another design to grace her finger?
2. Options That Use Her Input
There are a number of ways to still create that magical moment of the engagement ring proposal with a little less stress and guess work.
Present her with a solitaire with the intention of resetting it. You can focus your surprise on the stone, by choosing a special diamond, sapphire, ruby, or spinel, and then have this stone set in an ultra simple prong setting. After the proposal, you can let her know that you want her to be involved in the selection and custom design of her special ring. Being allowed to participate in the design of her own ring, collaborating with you and the jeweler, will be a rich and rewarding experience for her. This is a great choice for a contemporary woman. It also allows you to spread out the cost a little bit (stone first, some shopping time for her, before you need to put down a deposit on the mounting).
Ring shop in advance. This is a very common practice. You’ve been together for awhile and both feel you are on the track to being engaged. Take her into a store where you feel comfortable (Diamonds Direct, obviously) and spend some time letting her try on rings and talk about what she likes. Have your sales associate write the information down for you, including a ring size. Then, when you are ready 5 days later or 6 months later, then information will be there for you to surprise her with a final product.
Pro: She will love being involved in the creation of a fine piece of jewelry. This is something that she will wear and look at every day, and it will be an expression of her style as well as your commitment to her.
Con: Some of the surprise element is missing, and she may get antsy in anticipation of when you are going to present it to her.
In a nutshell, you really have to do what is comfortable for you. If you are more traditional and want to choose the engagement ring completely, then chances are your lady knows that about you and will appreciate it. If she has been very verbal about choosing an engagement rings and is dropping hints about styles, then you might be safer getting her involved. The most important part is that you both have realistic expectations and respect that this is a symbol of something much bigger than just a ring.
On a side note, I received the sweetest thank-you gift from a client today. Kathy and her husband, Joe, have been married for 30 years. To celebrate their anniversary, he bought her a beautiful new diamond engagement ring. When Kathy came in to pick up her ring, she presented me with a nice card and the cutest Christmas tree ornament. She was in the store choosing out her ring when we found out the offer we placed on our new house had been accepted so she wanted to get me something for the new house. I already modified it a little by adding the infamous “McMahler”. I couldn’t help myself!
Buying diamonds online
Maybe we can call this my Wednesday rant. I have something to vent about. Before I start and have you fellas explaining to me all the reasons I am wrong or going on about saving money or time constraints, let me just say that I am woman and I can’t explain why I feel a certain way, but that’s the way it is so deal with it. Ladies, are you with me?
There is a big trend in jewelry that I am not down with. Shopping for your diamond online. Yes, I am a jeweler so I am biased on this topic, but I think shopping for your engagement ring (or any piece of jewelry) is part of the romance. Whether you shop alone or bring your significant other along, there is something to be said for going somewhere and having a conversation with a jeweler. I love my clients. When I sell an engagement ring, I literally cannot wait to hear about the proposal, to see the ring on its new owner and get their input on how it turned out. And I really believe that most ladies love having that experience as well. Who doesn’t want to have a family jeweler?
When I have a new client call who is also shopping for diamonds online, I don’t really get worried. Nine times out of ten, I have no problem presenting a diamond that is competitive and usually more affordable. Just because it is online, does not mean that it is more affordable. If the online distributor can get it for a good price, so can I!
Many people feel that just because a diamond is graded a certain way that it will look like all other diamonds with that grade. Not true! Many of these large diamond houses can have diamonds graded as something better than they actually are. We see it all the time. By definition, an SI-1 clarity diamond should have no imperfections visible to the naked eye. Even though this is a fact, we keep seeing diamonds that have been sold in large retail store and online which have huge, blatant imperfection that is clearly visible to the eye. You cannot go on grade alone! It makes much more sense to go see a jeweler, like myself, who can bring in a few diamonds in your price range and lay them out in front of you. Compare the qualities. Figure out what is the most important to you when it comes to the quality of your diamond.
With the amount of technology in our world, the personal experience of great customer service is lost on us. If we want something, we point, click and it is ours. This is fine when you are buying a CD or some stationary or some office supplies, but not something like an engagement ring. Would you feel comfortable buying a car without seeing it, taking it for a test drive and checking under the hood? No. Diamonds and gemstones have just as many complexities, if not more, as a car. Make sure you are getting what you are paying for!
When I think about shopping for an engagement ring online, I get this mental image of a guy at his computer, eating a sandwich, clicking on the little arrows to narrow down his diamond search. What is romantic about this? Shopping for the single most romantic symbol of your life while sitting at your desk on your lunch break? Make an effort. Drive to the jewelry store. Get to know the person you are buying this ring from. I guarantee that when you have a problem with that ring, that online store will not be as motivated to make you happy as I would be.
There is also something to be said for having a place where you can go. Show us exactly what you want, tell us what your significant other is like, tell us what you are comfortable spending, give us your timeline. We want to help you. We are motivated to help you make this proposal a success. We want you to come back for anniversaries, birthdays, children, etc. We have a desire to develop a long term relationship with. The person who is available to have an online chat with you is not as motivated to support you as we are. It doesn’t hurt that we are all hopeless romantics at Diamonds Direct too. We love a good “how did you pop the question” story.
My last plug…support Main Street America. Small businesses are the life blood of our country. We’ve all seen what happens when large companies get too large. Show the little guys some love. I can guarantee we value our relationship with you much more than these huge chain stores.
Diamonds Direct is a huge advocate for giving. We believe very strongly that you cannot be successful in life or business without giving generously of your time, money and donations. We are all big supporters of being passionate in life so anytime we can catch that enthusiasm for a charity, it is fun for us to get involved.
What is it about giving that makes you feel good? For me, it is that feel good, “aha” moment. That moment when you are up to your elbows in bread dough cooking for a homeless shelter or handing out bottles of water to irritated Habitat for Humanity workers or on mile 62 out of 65 in the 3-Day Walk for the Cure or sorting tiny little diamonds to make a beautiful pendant for a silent auction. It’s that moment when you smile to yourself because this little thing that you are doing right this moment is going to make a difference in someone’s life. Probably someone you don’t know. Someone who will never have the opportunity to thank you. And then I think about a time, whether in the past or in the future, when I will be that person who needs help. It is a totally awesome cycle of generosity that I can’t imagine life without.
The original owner of Diamonds Direct, John, is a Vietnam veteran. Two years ago, his unit received the Presidential Citation at the White House for courage under pressure during his tour in Vietnam. We are very proud of him. John has become an advocate not only for Vietnam veterans, but for families living in Vietnam. Over the past few years, he has become increasingly involved in a non-profit called Bridges to Learning (BTL). BTL raises money to send children to school in Vietnam who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn. John started out attending the yearly gala and is now one of its biggest advocates and supporters. This year’s BTL gala raised enough money for 400 Vietnamese children to go to school for another year. BTL also raised money to build their own high tech, clean, school for students to attend. http://bridges2learning.org/
I am also heavily involved in volunteering. Last year, I did the 3 Day Walk for the Cure. It was absolutely a life changing event. I managed to raise $4000 for breast cancer research in the months leading up to the walk…but that was the easy part! Whoever thought of walking for three days to raise money for breast cancer was brilliant. Walking for three days straight is HARD. My feet have yet to fully recover for that walk. I never thought just walking could be that difficult. But walking for three days is nothing compared to the strength, mental awareness, stamina and spirit that is needed to battle breast cancer. The women I met on that walk and the stories I heard have shaped my life forever. I continue to raise money for the walk each year, but don’t know if I will subject my feet to that again for another couple years. J http://www.the3day.org
Anyone who knows me, knows that art is my big obsession. I sit on the Steering Committee for the Uptown Art Fair. Art is awesome. Art makes life more beautiful. Art gives kids an excuse to make a mess. Art is great release of creative energy. I put a lot of time and effort into my position on the committee and I still always feel like I should do more.
The Salvation Army is also a personal favorite. I have to tell you, there is nothing quite like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you are outside in the cold, ringing your bell and a little kid comes up and puts all their change in the bucket. Or when a parent is walking up with their kids and they stop about 20 feet away to give each of the kids a dollar. Or when someone gives you a knowing smile on the way into the grocery store and comes back out with a twenty dollar bill. Or, my personal favorite, when someone comes out with cash AND a hot chocolate for me. I like to switch up the location where I ring because every place has different types of givers. The thing they all have in common is that simple sense of giving because it is right. I also get to meet some pretty amazing people that I would otherwise never talk to! Do you want to ring too? http://www.ringbells.org/
Okay, so if you have made it this far into my blog, you are probably asking yourself why I am babbling on and on about charities and volunteering. I promise, I have a point. This year, we are going to try something new out. We want new clients, this is a given. We want to figure out a fun way to get new clients. So over the next 6 months, I am going to be trying new ways to get people excited about Diamonds Direct, but also pay it forward by donating money and items to charities as a direct result of that excitement. So please, keep an eye out for these unique ways to support local charities and a local business at the same time.
Now, check out these new pictures taken with our fancy new photography system. I could not be more excited about having an awesome space to photograph the amazing work we are doing here. I am still learning the tricks of trade when it comes to taking high quality photos, but hopefully you can bear with me. Don’t forget the holidays are coming up! We have tons of new inventory at every price point.
Beautiful sapphire pendant...yes, those are all sapphires!
14 karat white gold amethyst and diamond ring
14 karat white gold hand made diamond necklace
Well, it has been an interesting week here at Diamonds Direct. Interesting in a good way! We started the week with the 50th & France Pumpkin Festival. It is so much fun for us to see all the kids in their costumes. We continued our tradition of handing out ‘diamonds’ to the kids. Every trick or treater is asked, “Would you like candy or a diamond?” Needless to say, we ran out of diamonds before we ran out of candy.
My job is fun. I get so excited when I meet a new client. This week, I have been working with three very different gentlemen on getting engagement rings. Each of them discovered our store in a different way and each of them had a very different way of handling the process.
The first client, ‘Charlie’ found us on Google while doing engagement ring research. He called here to talk about diamond pricing and when I answered the phone, I accidentally fell off of my chair…which resulted in a lot of crashing, laughing and eventually “Sorry about that. Diamonds Direct at your service.” We laughed for a minute about it and eventually started discussing what he was looking for. Charlie’s girlfriend is a big fan of emerald cut diamonds. While we were on the phone, I looked through our inventory and found a couple emerald cuts that suited his budget and quality requirements. He wanted to stay under $7,000 for a 1.00 carat, colorless (D-F), eye clean (SI-2 or better) diamond. Since emerald cuts are step cut, it is easier to see imperfections within them so I recommended we looked above a VS-2 clarity. I plan on showing him the two options we had in stock, as well as one additional option I had brought in to show some variety on faceting and measurements. We will be meeting this afternoon and I am eager to see which one he chooses! He plans to set it in a very sleek, modern solitaire ring, which will go great with the classic straight facets that emeralds are known for. Stay tuned for an update!
On Saturday, we had a client come in during the Halloween event here at 50th & France. Bless his heart for braving the crowd of 2000+ kids and their parents in the name of love! He came in with a setting he had purchased elsewhere. His girlfriend had fallen in love with this particular setting, but he had not been impressed by the diamonds the jeweler had to offer. The first diamond I pulled was a round .92 carat, H color, VS-1 clarity. As soon as I took it out and told him the price, he said, “I’ll take it!” We just got the ring back in with the diamond set this morning and it looks great. He plans on proposing this weekend and I cannot wait to hear how it goes!
The third diamond client is kind of a fun story. He was sitting across the street at Barrio having a drink after work with a friend. They were talking about relationships and what is important in life. Out of the blue, ‘Tom’ decided that it was time to propose to his girlfriend of 8 years. As he made this decision in his head, he looked up and saw the words “Diamonds Direct” outside of the window on our awning. His friend said he stood up, finished his beer and walked out the door without a word. His friend had to watch him to see where he was going! When he got to our door, I let him in and he was right down to business. He described to me what he had always envisioned the engagement ring he bought to look like. What he described to me, mainly using his hands and a quick pencil sketch, was a bypass setting with a princess cut diamond. Or as he described it, “a square diamond that looks like it is floating between two straight pieces of metal”. I reached into the case, pulled out a ring and showed it to him. It was exactly what he had drawn a picture of! The cool part about this story is we generally set rings after they have been purchased (ex: the customer picks out a diamond and then we set it into their ring of choice). This engagement ring just happened to be one of the five or six rings we have set up as a completed piece! So Tom is standing there with his mouth hanging open. Then he started laughing. He decided it was fate and this ring was obviously sitting here waiting for him to buy it. So he pulled out his credit card before I even gave him a price on it. When I did tell him the price, he laughed again and told me it was about $4000 less than he had expected to spend. Of course, I offered to charge him more, but he assured me the original price was just fine. We finished the transaction and away he went. The next day, his fiancé came into the store to get her ring sized. She was over the moon with happiness. Tom had proposed the evening before. They were lying in bed, reading their books before bed as they do every night. She put away her book and lay down facing him. He put his book down and she thought he was going to turn out the light. Instead, he opened a ring box in front of her face and asked her to be his wife. Simple, but perfect.
These stories are why I love my job! Love is such a basic human emotion and it is something we all want. It is so fun for me to get to hear these stories and actually have a small role in them. And let me tell you, the best proposals are the simple ones. Get to the root of who you are. Choose a moment that is precious, but unexpected. Make it a memorable one.
Mixing old world class with new age technology
***Please note: There is a Halloween event at 50th & France this Saturday, October 29th, from 10am-4pm. If you are considering coming in to visit us, keep this in mind and call ahead! We want to see everyone, but we also don’t want you to waste an hour trying to park and maneuver around kids. On the flip side, if you have kids and they like candy, come out to 50th & France this Saturday! Diamonds Direct will be open until we run out of candy (probably sometime between 2pm and 4pm)***
In the grand scheme of things, I am a newbie to being a jeweler. I am not sure that everyone joining the industry attacks the learning process with as much determination as I have though. No one can ever say I am not enthusiastic! It seems to me that when you are doing something that you are meant to do, you can never learn enough or feel like you’ve accomplished enough in a day. When I get home every evening, I find myself thinking about my recently engaged couples or a client with a new jewelry design. This new piece means so many different things to these people, but, in most cases, it symbolizes a stage in their life. What a great feeling to know I am a part of something like that!
One thing I have been learning a lot about lately is technology in our industry. If we are being honest, Diamonds Direct is not leading the pack when it comes to fancy computer technology. Many jewelers have invested in CAD computer programs and other technological wonders that make custom design and casting much easier. Am I jealous? Yes, absolutely! Does it mean the quality of the work we are doing here is inferior? No way.
I like to say that we do things ‘old school’ here at Diamonds Direct. We are creating hand sketches and our goldsmith is hand carving wax models. The process is interesting, personal and results in amazing handmade jewelry. This is particularly fun for me because I am bringing new designs and ideas to the store with a younger perspective on style. I am lucky to work with a goldsmith who is patient with me and is willing to discuss every aspect of every design.
It is also exciting because as we begin to integrate new technologies and techniques to our store, I will be here sharing it with you. Maybe we will try designing on a computer and find that it doesn’t suit us or our clientele. Maybe we will begin using new equipment for photographing jewelry and our Facebook fans will hate how it translates to the screen. Maybe we will try new lighting in the showroom and it will create too much of a glare. Maybe we will make all of these changes and you will all LOVE it and the line of customers will be out the door!
The point is things are happening here at Diamonds Direct. We are on the brink of change, but still embracing the beauty of how it has been done for years. It is comforting to know that Diamonds Direct has made it through one of the hardest economical times in our countries history. This is a credit to our wonderfully loyal (and constantly referring) clientele.
Can you tell I am feeling thankful and reflective today?
Now…first step on the path to change….paint the walls! Who’s coming to help me?!