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Despite our differences, I’m generally happy with my marriage to Mr. FAF. He’s a good husband, father, and friend.
The one thing that keeps bothering me about our marriage is the $2,350 engagement ring Mr. FAF got me.
I know the unspoken rule in the dating/marriage world is that the value of the ring should be at least three times the guy’s monthly salary. I think it’s a bit too excessive and unnecessary.
A friend of mine once told me that was the bar she had set for her then boyfriend (now fiance). She wouldn’t accept a proposal with an engagement ring less than three times his (lawyer) monthly salary.
My engagement ring
When Mr. FAF broached the topic of marriage to me, he said he would get me a $5,000 ring because that was what I deserved.
Back then Mr. FAF was (and still is) a poor grad student, so I was touched when I heard that.
But the frugal side of me woke up from fantasy one day. I told him I’d be happy with a $500 ring, and I meant it.
I had never really fancied a ring with a big diamond. I thought we should save the money for a house, a car, or our babies if we got married. After all, we were just two poor grad students. I didn’t need to impress anyone.
Mr. FAF wouldn’t agree since it’d make him look cheap. He compared a $500 ring to a piece of glass, which I of course disagreed with.
We eventually agreed on $2,500. It was still too expensive for my taste. To me, it was just equivalent to buying something that had no practical use or wouldn’t yield any investment return. But we needed a compromise.
I was doing some research online, looking at sites such as Jared and Kay, and I was totally aghast at the prices. That’s when my best friend told me she had gotten her ring from Costco for a much cheaper price.
I was surprised and immediately hooked. I thought Costco was mainly for wholesale meat and vegetables. They have nice jewelry as well? Apparently, Costco rings can cost as much as $40,000.
I searched for more info online. In 2013, Good Morning America assessed a Tiffany ring and a Costco ring to compare their real value. They found that the $16,600 Tiffany cut was appraised at $10,500, whereas the $6,600 Costco ring was priced 17 percent lower than its appraised value of $8,000.
Over all, the Tiffany brand name added significantly to the high price. The only downside about Costco is that they don’t resize ring for free, but Tiffany does.
Armed with the finding, I told Mr. FAF to get me a ring from Costco. He of course wasn’t thrilled and was skeptical. But I showed him the study and said I’d be more than happy with a Costco ring, so he gave in.
Mr. FAF got me a $2,350 ring which was evaluated at $3,850 by an expert. It came with a certificate for insurance. I later paid $120 for resizing.
Savings = $3,850 – $2,350 – $120 = $1,380
My engagement and wedding rings
After I announced our engagement, questions came pouring in asking for photos of the ring and about how Mr. FAF proposed. I had a lot of fun showing my friends what Mr. FAF had given me.
When people asked where the ring came from, I told them the truth: it came from Costco. The ring was on display among all the fruit, pork, yogurt, and hot dogs. People always gave me a quizzical look when I told them that.
It was a bit awkward, but part of me was happy we didn’t spend a markup price for a big brand name like Kay or Tiffany.
After a month or so, the euphoria died down. No one asked about the ring anymore. It was forgotten or seen without much interest by other people. It was just a ring.
I thought it would be enough formality for a marriage until people kept asking me where my wedding band was after we got married. And I had to admit I decided to buy wedding bands for Mr. FAF and myself just to avoid that question.
I started looking online and ended up on Amazon where I got a $265 titanium ring for myself for just $25 and a $145 ring for Mr. FAF for $12. Mr. FAF told me he’d be happy with a $1 ring, but I couldn’t find anything that’d fit him for less than $12 back then.
Both prices included shipping and handling. The reason they were cheaper on Amazon is because the prices didn’t include store rent and salesperson’s hourly wages and commissions.
Savings = ($265 + $145) – ($25 + $12) = $373
TOTAL SAVED = $1,380 + $373 = $1,753
After I started wearing the wedding band, people stopped asking me about it. I carried on my normal life. I was married. But there was no more interest or confusion about my engagement or marital status.
Instead of paying $4,260 for engagement and wedding rings, we paid only $2,507 (saving $1,753). I know the value of the rings, especially the engagement ring, must have depreciated substantially over these years, which still pains me to think about.
Part of me is happy we had the ring shopping experience. But now I just want to sell the engagement ring. I will still keep the wedding band in case people wonder if I’m married or not. It’s also nice to have some proof of our marriage.
But the $2,350 proof of engagement, in my opinion, was a bad investment. The only enjoyment I got from it was when I showed it off to my family and friends. Now no one even cares or asks about it.
I’ve looked up websites where I can sell the ring and even got a quote for it. But Mr. FAF insists that I keep it. He said we can keep it as an heirloom for our offspring or sell it when we’re in extreme financial difficulty (i.e. bankruptcy). Not wanting to upset him, I agreed.
If I could go back in time to talk to my unmarried self, I’d tell her not to buy such an expensive item to mark our commitment. This is something I will definitely tell my future daughter.
Sometimes I wonder if it’d be weird if I had asked Mr. FAF to transfer $2,500 to my bank account as a proposal instead. This might sound like he used money to buy my ‘Yes,’ but at least we could still have our cash in the bank and invest it in something with a high rate of return later on.
Oh well, it’s too late now. I guess the best thing I can do at the moment is enjoy our marriage and avoid similar purchases in the future. But I can tell you one thing: societal pressure to spend is real!