Today the New York Times ran an article stating that there is a ripple effect among pinched consumers and the jewelry stores that supply them.
"The new frugality has forced diamond mines to curtail production, led to deep discounting at jewelry chains, spurred hundreds of store closings and resulted in job cuts at boutiques and department stores," writes Times reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom.
But don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet fellas, there's more to this story than you think! While the jewelery industry is suffering, Rosenbloom notes that, "the sales of diamond rings and wedding bands seem to be holding up."
Cue the wedding bells!
In order to investigate this notion further, we reached out to diamond trend expert Francesca Ferrante of the Diamond Information Center who gave StyleList a crash course on buying bling-bling on a budget.
StyleList: What are your top tips for purchasing diamonds/engagement rings on a budget?
Francesca Ferrante: Go to a reputable jeweler that you trust. Know what you want from the start so you can avoid being pushed into purchasing something you don't want. If you're budget is $5,000, buy a nice quality ring that holds up in a flexible market. You can always skip an expensive honeymoon, and invest in a good diamond. There are simple ways to be smart about cutting costs.
SL: What should consumers consider when buying from a big jewelry chain versus a jeweler?
FF: The biggest pro when you go to a jeweler is the customer service. Kay Jewelers and Zales are great stores but when you go to an independent jeweler in your neighborhood, whose worked with your family or friends, they'll put more time in. It's nice to have that touch of home.
SL: How can a consumer who has no or little knowledge of diamonds get prepared before making the big purchase?
FF: Familiarize yourself with diamonds. Go to diamondfacts.org to find out where they come from. Brush up on the 4 C's of diamonds (clarity, color, cut and carat weight). You can design your perfect ring at adiamondisforever.com, print it out, and take it straight to the jeweler. They will then be able to help you understand the details and steer you in the right direction. Don't be afraid to ask questions. We find that men tend to window-shop 3-4 weeks before buying, while women buy on impulse.
SL: What types of cuts create a large, expensive look without hurting your pockets?
FF: Emerald and cushion cuts give you a lot of surface area to play with as opposed to a solitaire. You get more diamond for your money. Many celebs add pavé diamonds -- not for financial reasons but for detail. They add sparkle to the ring without adding to your budget. This is an easy way for someone on a smaller budget to copy celebrity style without going up the price scale.
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Leon Bennett, WireImage
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Gregg DeGuire, WireImage | Frank Micelotta, WireImage
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Steve Granitz, WireImage | Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Gregg DeGuire, WireImage