Michael on June 1st, 2009
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Although my wife and I are going to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a few weeks, it was as though we were married only yesterday as I read The Weakonmist’s post How I Saved 15% On My Wedding Ring In 15 Seconds & 45% Overall, which I found while reviewing this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by Funny About Money.

Truth be told, my wife’s wedding ring and my wedding ring are both remarkably inexpensive.  We went for the traditional plain gold matching bands.  However, when I had previously purchased my wife’s engagement ring, I did almost everything wrong.

You: Tiffany’s?

I said “almost everything.” I did go to the diamond district in Boston and sought out a wholesaler/retailer.

You: But?

But I totally failed to negotiate.

You: Why?

Quite honestly, I didn’t know you could, so I blew it (From a financial perspective only; it’s a beautiful ring and, as I said, my wife is still tolerating my nonsense 10 years later).  Nonetheless, I have long since learned that virtually everything in every jewelry store is negotiable. About the only difference between a jewelry store and car dealership is the lack of a negotiation about the value of the “trade-in.”

The Weakonomist gives a great quick summary of how easy negotiating jewelry can be. My experience echoes his findings. Simply asking for a discount will often garner one and the greater your “ask,” the greater the follow-up discount.  Margins in jewelry (unlike cars) can be very high, so jewelers have great incentive to move merchandise, even at lower than sticker price, rather than stick to their guns and lose a potential sale to a competitor.

Have you haggled over jewelry? What strategies worked for you?

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4 Comments to “Sticker price vs. good price – at a jeweler”

  1. Abigail says:

    We accidentally negotiated my husband’s engagement ring. (I said if I was marked as “Back off, boys” he had to have something similar for the ladies. He didn’t care; he thought it was a good excuse to get a cool ring.)

    He found one that he absolutely loved at Fred Meyer’s Jewelry. But it was around $1300 or so. We were discussing it after Tim had tried it on. I winced at the price. I said to Tim it was a little higher than I was comfortable with. The lady at the counter asked what we were looking for. I said we were hoping to keep it under $1000. She made a single call and got it okayed. (I still dragged him around to several other jewelers to check around, then we went back before closing and bought it.)

    Doing the math, that means we saved 27% total without any real work on our part.

  2. Michael says:

    @Abigail: Great story – thanks for sharing. And you and I both know they still made money on a $1,000 sale, showing you just how rich those jewelry margins are!

  3. Being a real estate agent, I find this story fascinating. Flexible prices are part of my job (negotiation is a big part of buying and selling real estate) but I never dreamed that I could negotiate jewelry prices. I can’t help but wonder: are these unique negotiating tactics for each industry, or do the same basic principles apply everywhere?

  4. First of all, thanks for including my link!

    For the Toronto real estate agent: In my experience the negotiating tactics are similar, but you do need to know the industry in order to gain some leverage. For cars you need to find the volume dealers and play them off of each other. Also let them set the prices.

    In jewelry you need to establish some kind of baseline like “oh well we really can only spend $900 but we were really hoping to get this ring”. You say this with the expectation of a counter offer higher than $900. Then you say something like “wow $1200 is great but that is out of our budget, at $1100 I might be able to talk the wife into it”.

    Same game, different players.

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