H.L. Gross & Bro Jewelers at 840 Franklin Ave., in Garden City is one of the oldest, continuously family-owned and operated jewelry stores in the country. Since 1910, trust, value, selection and service have been key components in assisting customers with their diamond shopping, especially when it comes to buying that oh-so-important piece of jewelry.
“The ‘surprise engagement ring’ isn’t as prevalent for today’s couples as it once had been,” said Justin Stadler, GG, AJP, of H.L. Gross Jewelers. “With so many engagement ring choices and variations, more couples are selecting the ring together. This ensures he presents the ring of her dreams, but he may still choose the diamond on his own.”
Rewinding 30 years, Stadler said that the engagement ring marketplace showcased three typical design aesthetics: classic solitaires (single diamond rings), three-stone rings (a main center diamond flanked by matching, smaller side diamonds) or highly stylized designs incorporating angular cut diamonds in metal-heavy settings. There are currently 10 shapes of stones to choose from—round, princess, cushion, oval, pear, emerald, asscher, radiant, marquise and heart, with round being the most expensive cut as the facts and light reflections are more brilliant.
“Modern brides-to-be want something unique and special, and more options leave room for individuality and customization,” he said, adding that it’s a good idea for grooms going at it on their own to know their girlfriends’ styles. “Even poking around on their girlfriend’s Pinterest and Instagram to see what pictures she likes won’t hurt either. Be sure to find out her finger size without ruining the surprise.”
But if a bride’s future fiancé is completely clueless as to the 4 Cs of diamond shopping and beyond, it is in his best interest to do a little research before setting foot in a store. According to Sami Saatchi, owner and CEO of SVS Fine Jewelry in Oceanside, the hardest thing for guys to do is figure out a timeline.
“When it comes to the engagement ring, it’s good to start looking about three to four months before the date you want to give it to her,” said Saatchi, who is a tenth-generation jeweler. “We do everything here, so we can fix anything from a sizing matter to a redesign change,” he added of the store, which has been family-owned and operated for the past 12 years at its location on 3323 Long Beach Rd.
SVS has an ample selection of rings to choose from, which can be overwhelming at first, but as Saatchi suggests, is much better than a chart with pictures.
“When someone looks at a chart it doesn’t explain everything and is skewed greatly, so we show them a good representation of what the 4 Cs mean. Then, based on what they’re looking for, we show them what that combination would look like,” said Saatchi on understanding the concept of diamond shopping. “We also work directly with diamond cutters and go to Antwerp, Belgium, two to three times a year, so we get first pick; there’s no middle man.”
Stadler recommends “investing in what she cherishes and learning where you can cut back.” He also encourages guys to ask around and look at reviews of jewelers and stores, as most business still comes from word-of-mouth.
“The best predictor of future performance is past behavior and a jeweler’s reputation is forged with every ring they sell,” said Stadler, who added that meeting with a knowledgeable, professional associate that you can bounce ideas off is key. “Experienced jewelry professionals know what works and what doesn’t and can help you make the best decisions.”
Fortunately for Saatchi, he already has a store full of employees who are a huge asset when it comes to helping the groom make a choice.
“We have every personality on board; the mom, the technician, the artist—so when things come up we can pull on their strengths,” said Saatchi. “Sometimes I have guys who are more excited about the ring than the girl is.”
While the diamond is a very important part of the ring, it’s not the whole ring. (Read more about different Precious Metal options for rings.) The design of the mounting or band also contributes to the overall look. Does she want a plain band or a diamond band? Or perhaps a design etched into the metal?
Stadler recommends that grooms not get too caught up in the diamond’s weight, as size and weight are different things. Comparing different diamonds in color and clarity first are most important, as this is what mainly differentiates price. Cut is a matter of preference and with carat, well, bigger doesn’t always mean better, as some three-carat diamonds can be cloudier than one-carat, crystal clear stones.
As for the “three month salary” rule of thumb, Both Saatchi and Stadler recommend that guys ignore it.
“About 90 percent of what he’s been told is by his fiancée, and his goal and ours is to make her as happy as she can be, and make a beautiful ring in the process,” said Saatchi.
“How much you choose to spend on the engagement ring is a personal decision and made up of many different factors, so get the most beautiful ring you can afford, in the style she loves. If you follow that, you can never go wrong,” added Stadler.
Both jewelers understand what a big investment, both personally and financially, buying an engagement ring is, so it’s no surprise that the customer comes first.
“Our end goal is to never make a sale, but to make a client/friend so we can be there for everything in their future, making a relationship that’s long lasting,” said Saatchi. “We want to give the customer peace of mind, so when they walk out of here, there’s nothing they have to do but give their girlfriend a beautiful ring.”