Buying a Diamond: Should Your Fiancée Come Along?

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We’d be misleading you if we said there was one simple answer to that. The more honest reply would be “it depends.” It depends on what kind of woman she is, how much value you put on the surprise factor, and how embarrassed you’d feel if she liked the one on the right but you could afford only the one on the left.

You can’t rush a diamond. It takes time and effort to “excavate,” transport, design, cut, polish and ship it off halfway around the world. By the same token, you can’t rush love either. Okay, she’s given you the ultimatum. If you can afford to lose her, that settles the question, doesn’t it? But if you believe, deep in your heart and soul, that you can’t live without her, then you’ll have to do a lot of pondering. You’re expected to come up with a stone (no, not a cubic zirconia, sorry) to accompany the million dollar question.

When you’re ready to ask, “will you be mine”, her mother would be curious about the diamond as constitutional evidence.

You have a budget, you’ve been given the names of two reputable jewelers and you’ll now have to decide if she’ll come along.

Buying a Diamond with your Fiancée - Factors to Consider

We’ll come up with three hypothetical types of women. See if you can find where your woman fits in. We say “hypothetical” in jest, but these types of women do exist in the real world. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine if she ought to come along.

However, before we come up with the categories, we’ll make these assumptions right off: 

  • Assumption # 1: you love her and she loves you, regardless of how much you make, how much you spend on her, and how much debt you carry
  • Assumption # 2: she expects a diamond. She has agreed to split the mortgage 50-50 for the new house you are buying after the honeymoon, but she expects you to pay for the diamond yourself
  • Assumption # 3: should she break off the engagement, she will return the diamond to you

With those assumptions established, let’s tackle the personality categories: 

Type 1: she’s assertive and ambitious. She speaks her mind and is not afraid to express her opinions. When she goes shopping, she likes to make the round of stores in the neighborhood and will search long and hard before she spends her money. She rarely shops, but when she does, she goes to good quality stores. Her shoes and clothes are expensive because she believes that they help enhance her corporate image. She’s a savvy investor who believes in non-traditional investing. Her father is a surgeon, and her family lives in an upscale neighborhood.

Type 2: she’s timid, believes in being a devoted wife, mother and homemaker. She usually delights you with her cooking, and is especially proud of her cranberry muffins. She comes from a middle class family and a strict religious upbringing. She does not go for the trappings of wealth. If she finds a good dress in Walmart, she’ll buy it. All of her kitchen items are bought from the dollar store. She wears very little jewelry because her mother used to tell her that too much jewelry camouflages her natural beauty and makes her look like a Christmas tree. She’d much rather buy a book or watch a good movie than buy perfume or facial mud masks.

Once or twice, you heard her say, “I just love surprises.”  

Type 3: while growing up, she’s always acted like a tomboy. Many times she’s been mistaken for one because she likes to wear jeans and turtlenecks. She keeps her nails short and wears no make-up. She’s good at swimming, cycling, skiing, tennis, volleyball and mountain climbing. She’s 100% into sports so she keeps everything short:: her hair, her nails, and her conversations. She can, however, talk for hours about tennis or golf. You invited her to a formal concert and a corporate get-together before, and she kept fidgeting in her formal long gown, really miserable. “Why don’t they let us wear bermudas to these concerts?” she asked you, annoyed at the fuss of being all dolled up. And when her best friend once showed off her diamond, her reaction was: “You going to wear that thing around everywhere you go?”

Using these types, you can decide if she should come along, but first we’ll briefly discuss the pros and cons of diamond-shopping with and without her.

With your Fiancée

According to Carly Wickell who wrote the Guide to Jewelry and Accessories for a popular web site, “the best way to buy her an engagement ring she’ll love is to let her pick it out herself.” This will guarantee that she gets to wear it forever and not auction it off. The fact is many men don’t have the foggiest clue about diamonds, unless they’ve apprenticed at Tiffany’s or DeBeers during their college days. To them, buying a diamond is like being asked to repair a manometer when they don’t even know what a manometer looks like.

Another advantage to shopping together is that she’ll realize how much you love her because she chose one of the more expensive stones and you readily said okay (although faintly). She’ll tell her friends how you didn’t even bat an eyelash when the jeweler quoted the price and that you were so good-natured about dishing out thousands of cold cash upfront. Fact is your knees never stopped trembling.

Without your Fiancée

Despite the benefits we mentioned, many males are just not into “together shopping” because when they’re in love, they’re like innocent little boys who love to surprise their loved ones. Not to mention that they take pride in having chosen the diamond themselves. It makes for delightful conversation when they’re in the pub with close friends. They get to rattle off what they learned about diamonds, providing tips to their comrades who may also be in the market for diamonds.

Men put a lot of importance on the total and perfect proposal package. They believe that the combination of surprise, mystery, and romance is one that deserves careful planning and strategy. It pumps their adrenalin levels, because to some of them, hunting for perfection, even in a stone, is like hunting for prey. If their fiancée tagged along, this essentially ruins the aura and adrenalin rush.

And there’s the cost factor as well. To some, money is a taboo subject. They’d never tell their loved one how much the ring set them back. By shopping alone, they would be more comfortable haggling with the jeweler. After all, men work hard for their money. They don’t want to part with it, just because a life event is on the way. They feel that committing themselves is much better than a diamond ring, so why should they spend on a piece of rock when there’s a house and children looming in the horizon? And the Rockies are a plane ride away anyway?

A Straight Answer and a Creative Solution  

You’re going to say we trapped you into thinking that if you could spot your girlfriend’s personality type among the three we provided, you’d get your answer. Mea culpa. Shame on us “pseudo-psychologists.”

The problem is we omitted to mention the decision-making component. All three can have varying speeds at coming to a decision, but common sense tells us that diamond shopping, even for a woman, is a laborious, heart-wrenching, brain-racking decision. Given this situation, you could be spending days hopping from one jeweler to the next because – surprise – she can’t decide. You’re spending hours bending over glass counters that say “please don’t lean” when you could be doing your annual office budget because it’s a week late and your boss is beginning to wonder if he hired the right controller.

You: Sally, this is the 13th store we’ve visited. You got to make up your mind. The wedding is six months away, and we’ve got other things to worry about.

Sally: Oh, but Harry, they’re all so beautiful. I have to know that I picked the right stone and the perfect shape. Let’s go to two more, shall we, then I’ll decide.

Arghh! Was this how you envisioned it would be?

Try this creative solution: strike up a conversation with her over coffee one day by showing her shapes of diamonds and mentally record what she says. Don’t make it too obvious. Or, you could say something like: “did you see that rock on Sue’s finger the other night? He must have spent a fortune.” Then get the diamond conversation rolling. Repeat the process three or four times on separate occasions until you get a fairly good idea of her preferences.

Once that’s done, you write down her preferences, take them to the jeweler, purchase the diamond, and ask for a return guarantee. If she doesn’t like it, you take it back. Tell her she can exchange it as long as it falls within your price range. If she likes it, you saved yourself hours poking into magnifiers.

In effect, we’re suggesting that you don’t take her along (think of the potential time lost, the arguments that can ensue, the embarrassment), but do have a close to accurate idea of what she likes. If she doesn’t like it, the diamond can makes its way back to the store.

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