We chose to go custom for two reasons: 1) I couldn’t find exactly the right setting pre-made 2) it’s cheaper to get a custom setting than to pay for the name-brand version.
My FI asked me to “help” with my ring (ie – get what I want and he’ll pay for it). Here’s what I did:
1) Set my budget. FI said I could go “up to” $15K. I decided to cap it at $10K. I earmarked up to $2500 for the setting and $7500 for the diamond, knowing if I went over budget on one, I’d have to adjust the other.
2) I researched the crap out of diamonds and decided on the top specs I could expect to get in my price range. I also learned that finding a jeweller who bought direct off the diamond exchange, and not from a middleman, would save me tons on the cost of my diamond (like 30%+!).
3) Decided on my setting. I found a picture of a setting that was close to perfect and edited it in MS Paint to exactly what I wanted. Here’s the photos I took to jewellers:
4) Got 5 quotes. I took the pic of the setting to various jewellers (including online retailers) asking what they would charge to make it in platinum with a diamond that fit my specs. The quotes I got ranged from under $10K (online) to $38K for the same ring with comparable diamonds!
5) Chose the jeweller and haggled. We decided based on how the store treated us, the price they quoted (2nd best), and the warrantee and maintenance program they had. We handed them the lowest quote and asked them to match or beat it. They did.
6) Chose a diamond. The jeweller didn’t have a diamond in stock that matched my specs. Since they buy directly off the diamond exchange, they went through and sent us GIA reports with diamonds that did. Once we’d found a stone we liked (on paper) we put down a 30% deposit, the jeweller bought the diamond off the exchange, and we waited for it to arrive.
**To buy a diamond this way you REALLY have to know how to read a GIA. We bought purely on specs. We didn’t even see a picture of the stone before buying. The jeweller assured us that if the stone arrived and really wasn’t what we had expected from the GIA, he’d find us another stone. But he’d be stuck with the stone cause he’d bought it off the exchange.**
7) Approved diamond and setting details. Once the diamond arrived, we went to see it in person. It was perfect! So we confirmed the details on the setting and the jeweller got to work.
8) Review wax mould/rough setting. Usually you’d approve a wax mould AND a rough setting but our jeweller just went right to the rough setting since the picture I had provided was 100% exactly like I wanted it. We saw the ring in three pieces – ring, setting, loose diamond.
9) Pick up finished ring. About two weeks later, it was all done!
10) Get engaged!!
Here’s my custom beauty (size 8). Fancy yellow VVS2 oval, 7.3×9.7mm (1.48ct but shows face up over 2ct because of the cut), Excellent cut in platinum and 1/2 eternity band with hidden halo. Came it at just under $10K and I LOVE her.