Retail prices of almost everything fluctuate on a fairly predictable basis, due to the competition of stores to snag customers when the widgets are wanted.
Snow skis go on sale briefly at the beginning of winter as retailers battle for attention and sales. Then they rise during the season. And in spring the prices of snow skis plummet in a rapidly increasing avalanche until the inventory is cleared out.
Diamond engagement rings are not entirely an exception. And yet the prices of diamond engagement rings don’t fluctuate much.
You can ski only in winter, but you can take the plunge in any season of the year.
Also, quality diamonds are:
- Certified and known
- Stable in value
- Not affected, like skis, by the added value of innovation, decorations, and styles (a diamond is what it is — forever)
- As a consequence, good diamonds are never deeply discounted, and rarely truly discounted at all.
So, are there better times of the year to buy a diamond engagement ring?
The short answer is Yes, there are some predictable times of the year for savings on ring settings — that is, on the rings themselves, not the diamonds.
But there is far more to timely shopping for diamond engagement rings than knowing when settings are discounted.
Here’s how to shop savvy for a diamond engagement ring:
You Do Have a Life
First, let’s remember something obvious which is often forgotten in a fever of tunnel vision brought on by the determination to win at the shopping game.
Buying a diamond engagement ring is about much more than getting a discount.
The best time to buy a diamond engagement ring is whenever you ready to buy it.
Timing, especially in your engagement ring, is not just, and not even nearly first, about hitting a sale.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.
So here’s a question: Do you want to spend months waiting, and a few hours a week prowling prices, in order to save a couple of hundred dollars on an engagement ring setting?
One answer to that question could be “Yes. It’s all about a bargain for me.”
And another answer, perhaps more humane to yourself, and a wiser answer all around, could be, “If it’s convenient to grab a discount, I will.”
Good Diamond Retailers Don’t Discount the Rocks
If a retailer is offering massive discounts on diamond rings, you can be sure that the “list” prices of those diamonds are inflated and fantastical.
We’re so familiar with the “pretend and discount” retail dance that we have all accepted it. (When JCPenney famously tried honest pricing in 2012, consumers hated it.)
We prefer fantasy in which TVs have a “list price” of “$4,999.99” but are “on sale for $1,499.99.” We all know that no one ever paid $5,000 for that TV. The same fantasy is universal with shoes. Same with clothes. With cars.
You’ll even see it with uncertified diamonds.
These are diamonds of low quality, ungraded. True, they’re diamonds, and you can see the cut and the size is labeled. But you have no idea what you’re getting in terms of color and clarity.
These fantasy list prices and massive “discounts” do not occur with certified diamonds.
That’s why you won’t see massive “discounts” on diamonds themselves at quality diamond retailers such as James Allen, Blue Nile, or Brian Gavin.
What you will see at such retailers is some discounting of settings — the rings, not the stones.
The reason for this is that the profit margin on certified diamonds isn’t huge, and the prices are well-known.
What is the Best Time of the Year to Buy an Engagement Ring?
Here are a few of the best times of the year to buy an engagement ring:
Black Friday: The Cliche is True
You can save hundreds of dollars — not on diamonds but on settings — even at quality jewelers on Black Friday.
For example, James Allen cut 25% off select settings during its Black Friday 2019 sale. And Blue Nile offered up to 40% off select settings in its Black Friday sale of 2019.
The discounts didn’t apply to the diamonds, but to the settings. That was still a substantial savings, assuming the setting that you wanted was in the sale.
Black Friday sales from online diamond retailers often begin even before Black Friday — the week before Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving Day itself. And they often extend through the following week. Cyber Monday occurs on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Many merchants extend that sale all the way through the end of the week, now known among these promoters as Cyber Monday Week.
But remember, timing can be everything when gifting an engagement ring.
If Black Friday is just around the corner, and fits with the timing of your hearts, then taking advantage of these savings makes sense. But to wait months, hoping the setting you have your eye on will be included in the sale at a substantial savings?
It’s hard to imagine poetry written about that.
Which means it may not be the best way to make memories together.
If Christmas shopping season were a football game, then Black Friday would be the kickoff.
Cyber Monday Week would be only the first two drives.
The game continues for four more quarters, which are the four weeks of December.
And like all good football games, it’s close. The fourth quarter is the most intense.
Even so, quality diamond engagement ring retailers still won’t offer the kinds of huge discounts you’ll see in other retail sectors.
But they may still offer some discounting on settings throughout December.
December shopping takes some skill, and some prior knowledge, if you’re playing the bargain-hunting game. Depending on demand and supply of diamonds and rings in any given December, prices may fluctuate lower. But they may also edge higher than throughout the year, if demand exceeds the inventory supply of any given retailer.
In mid to late January you may also see the same kind of modest discounting of settings, as retailers cater to Valentine’s Day shoppers. But these discounts are less predictable than Black Friday and December discounts.
Mass-market diamond engagement ring retailers selling non-certified, questionable diamonds (they’re real diamonds, but of dubious, usually uncertified quality) may offer “huge” discounts tied to the Valentine’s Day holiday. But these are “discounts” against inflated prices.
To state again there are no true “steals” or “bargains” in diamond selling.
With quality diamond merchants, just as in December, January shopping requires some prior knowledge. Prices can fluctuate up or down (as always, only slightly, never huge swings) depending on shoppers’ demand and the supply in inventory.
March and April
March and April can be slower months for jewelers. This may result in some discounting of settings. But even more important, you’ll enjoy the intangible value of feeling less rushed and pressured. Plus, your finances may have recovered from the shopping season — or at least be on the mend.
The best time to buy a diamond engagement ring — or anything — is not only about the best pricing of the year. It’s also about your finances in that time of year. And furthermore, especially with an engagement ring, it’s about the experience.
Springtime is slower in retail — for you as a customer and for jewelers as business. That means you can spend more time, looking for exactly what you want. It also means jewelers can spend more time advising you, and procuring for you exactly what you want.
You Want to Believe…
Finally, to repeat, because the “70% off” propaganda will definitely be repeated to you zillions of times in targeted Internet ads as you’re shopping for engagement rings:
Massive discounts diamonds don’t truly exist. You get what you pay for. The market is stable. It’s not the kind of market which creates sales.
We all want to believe.
But it’s just not so.
The truth is out there.
And the truth is that with diamonds — as with any commodity — you get the market price.
Diamonds have a generally stable price, unlike many commodities. But even if you bought gold or oil on a price dip, that isn’t because it’s “on sale” for Black Friday. It’s because supply outstripped demand. You still got market price, not a sale or coupon discount.
The Market Rules
Quality diamonds aren’t exactly commodities. They’re more like works of fine craftsmanship, or even art. But they are like commodities in the sense that they are objectively graded and priced in a market that is transparent and full of accurate information.
Propagandistic retailers can and do mark up low-quality diamonds to crazy high “list prices” then stick “70% off” labels on them to fool the unaware customer into believing he’s got a bargain.
But he hasn’t got a bargain. He’s got what he paid for.
And sometimes he even gets less than he paid for. The unscrupulous merchant may mark up a diamond to a ridiculously high list price and overcharge the unaware customer.
If you’re unaware, new at this, as are virtually all shoppers seeking diamond engagement rings, how would you know — unless you were forewarned?
Avoid Being Ripped Off
Those kind of shenanigans don’t happen at quality diamond merchants such as James Allen, Blue Nile, and Brian Gavin.
Here’s how you can know:
- All their diamonds are certified, priced and sold as valued.
- They don’t play games on you. You simply won’t see massive discounts on diamonds themselves there. (That’s a good sign.)
Many More Productive Ways to Find Savings
Because fine diamonds are not really discounted, your time and effort is probably better spent saving money on things other than the once-in-a-lifetime purchase of a diamond engagement ring.
Naturally, we think that because an item is quite expensive, there must be some way — right? — to find savings in there. Works that way for everything else in retail.
It’s an understandable — but mistaken — assumption. We all make it when we first begin shopping for diamond engagement rings.
But the good news is that with diamonds, neither you nor the merchants have that stress. Merchants have little room to give. It’s all priced in, certified, and stable.
More good news is that y ou have many better spaces in your life in which to find savings.
That daily cappuccino? That adds up to $600 a year. So there are much more fertile fields in which to harvest heaps of savings.
Timing is good, when shopping for a diamond engagement ring.
But this is better: shopping wisely, with awareness, staying within your budget, getting exactly what you want, at a time and place of your own choosing.