Given the long lead times for HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, a uniquely Singaporean culture has developed where the act of applying for a BTO flat is akin to making a marriage proposal.
After all, what can more eloquently expresses the desire to establish a new home together, be heavily committed financially together, and have a mandatory deadline set for legally registering your marriage?
As practical as “Shall we BTO?” is, it is also highly unromantic, as far as marriage proposals go. And while there is now a widespread understanding that diamond engagement rings are a scam perpetuated by the jewellery industry, unfortunately for men, getting down on one knee and proposing with a diamond engagement ring is still seen as a necessary rite of passage.
This is true even if their female partners say they are fine without an expensive diamond engagement ring or insist they rather have the cash instead. This might change in the future, as a culture of rejecting consumerism prevails, or society gets sucked (and suckered) into yet another expensive fad.
If You Want/Have To Get An Engagement Ring
For those think they cannot get away with not getting an engagement ring, the first thing to do is to set a budget.
How much do you want to spend on an engagement ring? Keeping in mind projected costs you may have in the near future, such as your wedding, new home, and starting a new family.
How much you spend is a highly personal decision and you shouldn’t allow your peers to influence your decision. After all, a carefully and thoughtfully selected ring will do more to melt your partner’s heart than just buying the ring with the biggest stone (with a price tag to match).
Put A(ny) Ring On It
If both partners decide that they are truly opposed to spending thousands of dollars on a “real” diamond ring, the guy has absolute freedom to choose the type and budget of the ring he would be proposing with.
There are rings with dozens upon dozens of small scrap diamonds that look really presentable and cost $300 or less.
If you prefer something less conventional, you can also choose from other precious/semi-precious stones, which could give you a distinctive ring at various price points. Of course, depending on the size and quality of the stones, some of these rings can cost as much as (or even more) than conventional diamond rings.
Another alternative is to ask your mother, grandmother, or another venerable family member to bless you with a heirloom ring. If you think you partner won’t mind, this not only adds to a feeling of history and tradition, it also gives a prized jewellery a new lease of life and purpose – all while not costing anything!
Buying A Ring From “Brand Name” Stores
Visit virtually any shopping centre and you’re bound to run into at least a couple of jewellery shops. Names like Cartier, Gold Heart, Lee Hwa, Love & Co, Tiffany’s, SK II, Soo Kee are familiar because of their large network of physical stores and the extensive resources they spend on branding and marketing.
One big benefit of buying a ring from one of these stores is that you are likely to be able to make a purchase and leave with the ring you want on the spot. These stores keep a healthy inventory of the in-demand designs, which is great if you need a ring urgently.
You also benefit from good after sales support, with convenient (and sometimes complimentary) ring band resizing, cleaning and repairs after you buy your ring.
Some of these brand name jewellers also have signature designs and cuts that are not available anywhere else, which adds to the feeling of exclusivity.
The downside is that these benefits will cost you – literally. The costs of rent, manpower and marketing will be passed down to you somehow, and you might find that you’re paying a markup for a diamond of comparable qualities (carat, cut, colour, clarity) with a non-brand name jeweller.
Read Also: Are Diamonds Worth Overpaying For?
Getting Your Ring From Boutique/Custom Jewellers
For those who don’t mind waiting and buying a ring from a non-brand name store, you can consider small boutique jewellery shops or freelance jewellers.
You can typically get a comparable ring, in terms of specifications and design, for significantly cheaper – 20% or more is not unheard of. But because these jewellers don’t have the volume or capital to hold large amounts of inventory, there is usually a waiting time between placing an order and receiving your completed ring, created based on your choice of diamond and band design.
When getting a ring from a non-brand name jeweller, you should exercise caution and due diligence. Some things you can do include finding reviews or personal testimonials from past customers, and always insist on seeing and receiving the diamond’s GIA certification, which certifies that you’re getting the diamond you’re paying for.
Before placing an order, take a look at the portfolio of rings created by your prospective jeweller, so you can get a sense of the quality of workmanship and sophistication of designs you can expect.
It Is The Heart That Is Most Important
Whatever the ring you choose, the most important decision is you and your partner choosing each other as life partners.
The eventual ring (or lack thereof) reflects your unique love story, personal circumstances and values, and that is more precious and beautiful than even the most expensive diamond in the world.