Engagement ring shopping can be overwhelming. The jewelry industry is both highly competitive and highly confusing to the customer. The rise of e-commerce jewelry companies has introduced countless new options for prospective couples.
We’re here to break down the five distinct ways couples typically purchase engagement rings these days.
Neiman Marcus Palo Alto Precious Jewelry Salon
1. Luxury Jewelry Store
Our Favorites: Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co.
The traditional jewelry store, think Tiffany & Co, Fifth Avenue. These higher-end stores typically sell highly refined jewelry that many consider luxury: precious and semi-precious gemstones (diamonds and sapphires) and traditional precious metals (yellow gold and platinum). The product is predominantly "casting" jewelry, which means it’s made with molds and is not as fine and durable as hand-crafted jewelry. These brands charge a significant markup because you're getting something with their name on it and they have the popularity to do so. That's not to say their jewelry isn’t worth it but it's important to know that the intrinsic value of what you buy from them is weighted more on the brand side of things instead of the quality. You’re paying for a name.
Van Cleef & Arpels Jewelry Salon
2. The High Jewelry Brand
Our Favorites: Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Verdura
Slightly more upscale than the luxury brand jewelry store, the high jewelry brand store such as Cartier provides exceptional jewelry from historic brands—priced at a premium. These brands became famous for elevating jewelry to an art form. They made one-of-a-kind, commissioned pieces that were thoughtfully built for customers. Over time, these leading jewelry brands have had to tweak their business model to survive serious changes in the retail jewelry industry. Most significantly, these brands transitioned from manufacturing one-of-a-kind, commissioned pieces to manufacture mass-produced lines of jewelry. It went from bespoke to the mass market. By reducing the cost of jewelry and scaling the manufacturing process these brands have been able to retail a slightly lower quality product to a greater amount of people at a higher price. While they are not the design masters they once were in the 1920s and 30s, many of these brands still provide the finest commercially branded jewelry available today.
3. High Estate Jewelry Retailer (NYC)
The high estate Jewelry retailer is little known to the general public but plays a vital role in the high-end jewelry industry which is anchored by New York, London, and other international hubs. This sub-industry is dominated by established jewelry and gemstone dealers who have amassed rare collectible jewelry. These dealers and retailers sell museum-quality jewelry that often makes news for their auction price tags. Co-founder of Edelweiss Jewelry, Ryan Karolak worked at one of our favorites, Siegelson in New York from 2009-2017.
4. The Online Discount Retailer
The e-commerce jewelry industry has absolutely exploded. Blue Nile Amazon and smaller places like Helzberg dominate a huge percentage of the overall jewelry market. While online discount retailers such as the Blue Nile are perfect for some people the process and quality of the product are not always as easy or good as they make it seem. The diamonds and gemstones that these online retailers offer are not usually an issue, instead, it's the quality of the jewelry design and craftsmanship that leaves a lot to be desired. By offering such a wide range of options as well as complete flexibility in terms of gemstones it is no surprise that they have attracted many shoppers. But this flexibility comes at a cost in the form of a significant drop in quality compared to the aforementioned options. It is also important to note that this selection process is not the same as "custom jewelry," which by definition can only be made by hand.
Henne Jewelers, Pittsburgh
5. Your Neighborhood Jeweler
Our Favorites: You tell us! Let us know in the comments below.
This category is a little bit different from the others. Your neighborhood Jeweler could be similar to any one of the options I mentioned above. In my experience about half the time, the neighborhood Jeweler is really great. I'm from Birmingham Michigan where there's a handful of great ones, but I've also dealt with many businesses and know that some of the sketchiness that the New York 47th Street jewelry seen is known for Exist Elsewhere as well. What would be great is if you would share with us where you're from and if you got a great or not so great neighborhood jeweler in your area.
The unique Edelweiss ring box
6. Brand New Concepts
Let's face it, the jewelry industry is ripe for something new. There's a handful of people out there thinking differently shelling thoughtfully and bring something new to the table. We are trying to do that here at Edelweiss. Our focus is on quality, price and complete customization. Vrai and Oro focus on the most sustainable product possible, selling lab-created diamonds in simple, straightforward designs. These companies have seen success not only because they provide an innovative, responsible, high-end product, but because they provide an exciting immersive experience.