How do I get the best deal on an engagement ring? In a nutshell, you need to make sure that your diamond’s journey from the mine to the retail store is as short as possible. We explain how, in 5 steps.
1. First, understand why diamonds are expensive
Why are diamonds expensive? A part of the answer is because they’re rare, beautiful and highly durable.
However, a diamond’s price is largely determined by the number of stops it makes along the way from the mine onto your finger.
2. Diamond mining and production costs
These 6 stages below happen before a diamond reaches a retail store. Each one adds a little bit of cost to your diamond. All are necessary, because without them, we’d have no diamonds.
- PROSPECTING: A diamond prospector spends decades travelling and analysing terrains before finding a mining site.
- MINING: A mining company employs hundreds of thousands of hours of manpower, machinery and fuel on extraction and sifting for diamonds.
- SORTING: From the mine, a diamond is sent to a sorting centre. It’s inspected and placed in one of more than 12,000 categories.
- CUTTING: Next, your diamond is taken to a lapidary and cut into its final shape and polished to a fine sparkle.
- SIGHTHOLDERS: Your diamond finally travels to a special diamond wholesaler, called a Sightholder who also provide a vital checkpoint for the Kimberley Process to ensure your diamond is ethical.
The Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada, Image by Planet Labs, Inc. Wikimedia Commons
3. What happens during the retail phase
Between 2013 and 2018, UK jewellery wholesalers showed an annual turnover of £1.5 billion. However, jewellery retailers turned over £6 billion. The difference is almost six-fold.
The overheads of running a high street jewellery store – like shop premises, staff, display furniture and security – count for some of this difference.
What these statistics don’t explain, though, is why two diamond rings that are apparently alike can cost £2,000 in one jewellery store and £12,000 in another?
To fully understand this, you next need to understand the extra costs some jewellers add to their products, and how to avoid them.
4. These 5 unnecessary costs can make your diamond very expensive – unless you avoid them
There are several things that happen to a diamond after wholesale and before you wear it on your hand. Each time your diamond exchanges hands, more cost is added to your jewellery.
To save money you need to avoid these factors:
❌ ADDED COST 1: Outsourced manufacture
Good jewellery craftsmanship is worth paying for if you want your ring to last, but many jewellery shops outsource manufacture. This raises their markup and adds transport, both of which you’ll ultimately pay for.
✔️ HOW TO SAVE: Find a retailer that crafts their own jewellery
Independent stores that make their own jewellery will have cut out the middleman and can offer you with better prices.
❌ ADDED COST 3: Glossy advertising
Large jewellery retailers spend millions on branding. A considerable chunk of the money you pay for your ring is actually covering the retailer’s marketing budget.
✔️HOW TO SAVE: Buy from an independent jeweller
Avoid large, well-known brands that do lots of advertising.
❌COST 4: High street premises
Running a jewellery store isn’t cheap. The costs will be added on to your jewellery. The more luxurious the store, the more staff it employs and the better their location, the more you’ll pay for your diamond ring.
✔️ HOW TO SAVE: Shop online
Online jewellers don’t have storefront overheads.
❌COST 5: The jewellery retailer has no buying power
If a jewellery retailer wants to buy a large batch of diamonds at a reduced price – and pass this saving on to their customers – they must have what’s known in the diamond industry as “buying power”. It isn’t just about having capital. It means having strong relationships within the diamond industry, especially with wholesalers, to get great deals. Not every jeweller has buying power. Therefore, many jewellery shops stock jewellery from other brands. When this happens, there’s an added markup on your diamond.
✔️ HOW TO SAVE: Find an independent jeweller with buying power
Good indicators are: (1) they’re not part of a big chain (2) they don’t stock other brand names (3) they have a vast range of their own brand products, and (4) they offer a range of diamond grades from premium quality to high commercial grades, from H/Si to E/Vs.
5. In conclusion, this is how you save the most money on an engagement ring
It’s not about how much you spend on a ring. The real question is how much value are you getting? Remember, the shorter your diamond’s journey from the mine onto your finger, the more you’ll get for your budget.
Therefore, the secret is: shop at an independent online jewellery store that crafts a wide range of own-brand jewellery (i.e. it does not stock other brands). That will give you the maximum saving on your diamond ring.