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Ask the Local:

Where should I buy an engagement ring?
Dear Local –
I’m thinking of getting hitched – where would you go to get a ring for your honey?
Lucky in Love, NF

Lucky –
Amazingly enough (what a coincidence!), I just went through this very ordeal, I mean pleasure, this summer. I’ll tell you what I know.
First off, there is a ton of information online. Tiffany.com has a great web-based education module, which is a great low-stress way to learn about diamonds. BlueNile.com also does a great job with education. Finally, one site that I found very helpful, despite the tacky name, was www.bridaltips.com If you can wade through the text, it actually has a lot of good information.

Secondly, take your time – I think you’re crazy if you go in and buy the ring in the same day. You can’t really get a sense of what a carat is, much less what style you’re going to want, in one trip. You might also want to bring a female friend to give you an idea of what the rings look like on her hand. It’s very hard to imagine when they’re sitting on a tray, and your hand isn’t going to give the right sense of scale and shape.

Third, go to more than one place. The two best jewelers in Boston are Tiffany & Co. (with locations downtown at Copley Place, 100 Huntington St, Boston, and in at the Atrium at; 300 Boylston St, Chestnut Hill) and America’s oldest, Shreve, Crump and Low (right next to Boston Public Garden at 330 Boylston St, Boston).

Finally, think about looking online. When you go into Tiffany, you feel like you are walking into a very comfortable bank vault. Very comfortable. After some Harvard education, I know what that means – overhead. They do provide a lot of value – lifetime service, free sizing, financing. Shreve’s also has a “trade-up” policy in which, in the future, they will buy back your stone and let you put the money toward a larger ring (to match your post-graduation wealth). And, not least importantly, you get the wow factor when you present the goods. However, you are going to pay a premium of 25-50% for the pleasure, and when you are talking about a purchase which is eclipsed only by your term bills, as my Finance prof says, “Come on, guys – that’s a lotta money!”
Good luck to you!
The Local

Don’t forget – send your queries to The_Local@mba2002.hbs.edu

September 24, 2001
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