questionswhat's my next step, now that i want to propose?

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you're making a huge mistake. just kidding of course.

when i was ring shopping, i went to a few big box stores. the stuff was nice, but they kept trying to upsell me. it's my biggest pet peeve when shopping and i refuse to buy something from a place like that.

i found a local jeweler. absolutely loved the experience and staff there. the lady i saw spent close to an hour just talking to me about diamonds. what all the terms mean, what to look for, etc. i'd also done a lot of my own research so i knew she wasn't just blowing smoke up my a...err...nose. once i picked the stone, i ran all the specs by my friend's mom who's worked in jewelry for 30+ years. she said i had done a great job and was getting a great price.

do your own research before ever going in to the store. i suggest local if you can find a reputable place. (if you happen to be in Seattle, http://www.seattlediamonds.com/ - ask for Nicole). 8 years later, my wife still gets compliments from random people. good luck!

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@carl669: Thanks a ton for the help. I've found a local place nearby that seems pretty decent, what sorts of research should I do? I'm not sure how to make sure I'm not getting taken for a ride, really.

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Congratulations! What an exciting time!!

I agree with @carl669, go to a local jewelery store that has a great reputation. My DH went to the big local retailer in our area and they spent a ton of time with him explaining the details about diamonds and helped him pick out a ring that he could afford and was happy with purchasing. And I still get compliments on the ring. I've always liked multi-stone rings, so mine has one big in the middle with 2 smaller on each side, and most important to me is that it doesn't stick up high so I won't chop them off if I hit something!

Friends of the family were engaged around the same time we were (this was 12 yrs ago) and they went to a big box store to buy the ring. Later they took it to a jeweler for appraisal for insurance purposes and found out the ring was not even close to being worth what they were told and what they paid. Luckily they were able to return it and then they went to the same jeweler as my DH.
http://www.smythjewelers.com/

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@figgers3036: If they offer a return policy, which many do, buy it then take it to another jeweler for appraisal and compare that to what you paid/told it was worth and that should help tell you whether you were taken for a ride or not.

I have my ring insured through an additional policy related to our homeowners policy in case I would lose it or if it were somehow stolen. So if you decide to do this, you would need an appraisal anyway.

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@figgers3036: i actually wrote up a doc with a bunch of info. if i can find it, i'll post it for you.

otherwise, aside from the 4C's (cut, color, carat, clarity), learn about the depth, table diameter, girdle, etc. this site is a good start: http://www.diamondgrading.com/Diamonds_Tutorial.htm

also, when you go to look at them, ask if you can take the stone outside. lights at a jeweler can make a mediocre stone look pretty good. but once you take it outside, it don't sparkle nearly as much.

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@figgers3036: here's the link to the doc:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4hv5u1iwp748var/diamond%20cut.doc

it goes a little more in depth as to what all the proportions are and what you might look for. i was specifically looking for a round diamond (hence the Round table on the bottom of the first page). it really helped me when i was deciding between an IF (internally flawless) diamond and a VVS2. of course, no numbers compare to actually seeing the diamond in person. the IF was nice, but the VVS2 just blew me away.

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Paging @shrdlu! She might be able to lay her fingers on a link to a similar discussion that came up a few years back. One of our former members knew all the ins and outs of jewelery, especially engagement rings. Young guy, but he knew his stuff.

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I'm going to step away from local jewelery stores because they usually lack selection and can have a hard time competing. I went to Diamonds Direct and will never go anywhere else for diamonds. Yes, I sound like I came out of your radio but it's true. There was never any pressure, no one ever tried to sell me more than I wanted. We discussed my budget and she worked hard to find me the best fit for the quality, cut and size I was looking for, she even called me when they got new ones in that would interest me. My wife has her ring cleaned for free every few months. A while back she had a problem with the ring breaking her out (its a Tacori so no, I didn't cheap out). They sent it back and had it recast for free two years after I bought it, no problems so far. Bottom line is they worked their butts off to make us happy then and every time we go back in the store.

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@lavikinga: Would you like the bad news, or some help?

In this question, our boy states that he is shutting down all those external, very helpful, guides. I note that almost every single person who received a PM containing the guide is someone who is either completely gone, or not very active (if at all).

http://deals.woot.com/questions/details/f6056acf-575c-48d4-a0c6-ee29e6b977c1/catbertthegreat-jeweler

I recommend this search to glean helpful details.

http://deals.woot.com/questions/search?q=catbertthegreat&sort=mostrecent

I'd have more, but I'm in the middle of canning, and very pressed for time.

I need to send that child email. It's been far too long since I've heard from him.

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@shrdlu: Did he really? Golly gee. Looking back over that question made me realize how many of the original folks have gone on. "Claudia" and our Good Witch. I miss them.
When you do drop him a note, send him my best. I miss our Rocket Man.

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@figgers3036: Now that the canning has died back for the day, let me offer you some congratulations. It's a good time of life, and I hope you have every joy in this.

XXOO

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@shrdlu: Thanks for your help and well wishes!

@everyone: Y'all are awesome and the best. It looks like I've got lots of learning to do... eek! The local place I'm eyeing is moving soon so they're putting a bunch of stuff on sale (after all, I am a deals.woot.com member, can't pass up a deal).

In the end I'm sure it'll be fine, and thanks to all of you again.

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@figgers3036: First steps are to pick a stone cut/shape and setting type. Notice I said "stone" and not "diamond"- sapphires are all the rage these days, whether they're primary or secondary stones, so don't limit yourself; when I bought a ring for my now-wife, I knew I wanted something a bit different and was a bit ahead of the times when I custom-designed a diamond+2 sapphire setting. It's up to you which order you decide in- whether stone first or setting first. For me, I did stones first but either should work (I went with an Asscher). DO NOT be afraid to window shop and DO NOT limit yourself to one store for shopping. Yes this will greatly increase the number of things you end up looking at, but it also greatly increases the chances of finding something you find that is perfect.

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Once you've made those picks, it's time to find the stone and the actual setting. In regards to diamonds, I personally am with @nmchapma and bought mine from Diamonds Direct but only after a large amount of shopping online; believe it or not, just like anything else great deals can be found online for precious stones (DD beat all those deals in my case, though). In addition, the absolute variety of stones available online is amazing; you're lucky to find a B&M store that has more than two or three stones available in your chosen cut and price range (especially in my case where the cut was a bit more obscure and not as popular). I would recommend both bluenile.com and whiteflash.com, just be sure to get certified stones to guarantee quality when buying online. I differ when it comes to the setting and would recommend only shopping in a B&M store for it. Study your metals and know generally what you want going in.

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@carl669 @lmensor @lavikinga @nmchapma @shrdlu @ki4rxm Thought you all might appreciate the update - found a great setting and stone, and it's out getting set. Thanks again for all of your help.

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@figgers3036: That's great news, I'm glad you found something you were comfortable with buying! Congrats again and best wishes!!!

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@figgers3036: Photos, my good man, when you get it back. We will require photos. Insure the sucker, too. It is a sickening feeling to lose an engagement ring.

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@figgers3036: Good job! Also in for pictures. And as was mentioned, be sure to get insurance and remember that homeowner's and renter's insurance won't cover single items if they are worth >$xx depending on the policy, so you'll probably have to add it individually as an insured line-item.