It happened right before Thanksgiving. I got a card in the mail from a jeweler that had somehow found out I was getting married. Come in to the store and we’ll give you some free earrings, no purchase necessary. All I had to do was come in between Black Friday and Christmas.
So I did. Of course. While I was there, I figured I might as well look at wedding bands as I hadn’t yet gotten one for the fiance. He hadn’t gotten his ring size yet, but the jeweler showed me the selection and told me I should definitely buy before Christmas.
She told me during the holidays jewelers freeze their prices, regardless of how gold or silver performs in the stock market, and then they put on all these fabulous sales. After the holidays the sales stop, and they resume pricing their products based on the current value of gold/silver, etc.
I walked out with a coupon, but ended up not going back because the prices were far outside of my budget. This is my second go around with the whole marriage thing. The last time I got married was before the housing bubble burst and the price of precious metals comparatively skyrocketed. So what I had been expecting to spend versus the reality I had just been confronted with had really hit home.
About halfway through the crazy holiday shopping season, we were out as a family at the mall buying the gifts that we still needed to fill in. We stopped at a different jeweler to get him sized. He saw some rings he liked, and the prices here were a lot more affordable.
I asked the woman waiting on us if what the other jeweler had told me was true: would prices go up after Christmas? Was this really the best time of year to buy?
She told me yes, and confessed that they would continue to have 40% off sales, but that it wouldn’t be on as wide of an array of products and that they would resume following the stock market when pricing their products.
We looked around the mall a bit, and found that the jeweler we had started with had the best prices for their selection. So we headed back. I handed the girl at the counter the business card of the woman I had been talking to before; I wanted to talk to her again so she could get the sale she had earned.
She took the card from me, put it under the desk, and started to show me Tungsten rings. She was talking the fiance into it, too, despite my vocal protests that I didn’t want to spend that much money on a ring that (in my opinion, which may be completely wrong,) is a fad. On top of that you can’t resize it. I wanted gold or silver, and I wanted it in my price range.
She refused to show us the rings I asked to see, and lost a sale.
Time went on. It was the night before Christmas Eve and I was freaking out because I was going to miss the best time of year to get these sales. So I went on-line, fully intending to price compare and find a store that had a good selection for when I went in person on the morrow.
Of all places, I found it on Sears website. A ring almost exactly like one he had seen and liked in a “real” metal, and in my price range. And it was a comfort-fit, which is a bonus the fiance won’t even understand, but he’ll unknowingly appreciate it.
It said it wasn’t available in store because it was shipped by the original jeweler directly. I checked out the original jeweler, and they had the ring for less on their website. Plus I found a coupon code for 5% off (which can be huge when you’re spending hundreds,) and free shipping.
I held my breath as I pressed the “Complete Purchase” button. I had gone mad. I was purchasing jewelry on-line based off an internet picture, and then having it shipped to my house hoping the mailman wouldn’t just leave it out on the street.
But I did it anyways. I was not going to have to go out on Christmas Eve.
So a few days ago it came. All my fears were laid to rest. It was exactly like the pictures. (Though I can’t take a good one.) The post office actually left me a note requesting that I pick it up rather than leaving it in the mailbox or on the street.
I couldn’t be more surprised that I didn’t hit a snag or problem. It’s at least as beautiful as the pieces we saw at all those other stores, and so much more affordable.
If you’re comparing pictures online, it’s a good idea to look at sites like James Allen. They provide a 360 degree view of their products, so its easier to see what you’re getting than with simple 2D pictures.
Since I had already seen pretty much the same exact men’s ring before, it made it easier for me to create a mental composite from 2D. Had I not, or if I had been shopping for an engagement ring with a diamond, the 360 degree view would have been something I mandated from my online jeweler.
I did some price comparison after the holidays. I didn’t save any money by freaking out on Christmas Eve. I didn’t spend more, either, though. Prices on the products I was looking at were pretty much the same.
I did some research independent of jewelry store salespeople and found that the best time of year for jewelry spans pretty wide: October to February. (Valentine’s Day anyone?) So I did well. I just didn’t need to stress quite so much about my timeline.
Brick & Mortar vs Online Retailers
Since this article went live in January of 2014, there have been several articles floating about the web citing summer as the best time of year to buy wedding jewelry. I’d like to present some context to that argument in a 2017 update.
The first thing to note is that at brick and mortar retailers, this may be true. Shopping online, though, can save you anywhere up to 50% over these in-person retailers–no matter the time of year.
When I asked Oded Edelman, Co-Founder and CEO of James Allen, about the difference, he explained it in this way:
“We take a consumer-focused approach to our promotions in order to make the experience as positive as we can during key times throughout the year. Our research has shown that the majority of engagements happen in the four months between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.”
“Typically brick and mortar retailers have entirely different cost structures thanks to holding inventory, overhead costs, etc,” he continues. “Their operations structures as well as their marketing tactics are very different, which may lead to higher costs for the end consumer.”
This means the biggest sales at online retailers, at least at consumer-oriented businesses like Edelman’s, do indeed happen between October and February.