You Work On Commission, Right?

When Toby and I got engaged, we had the hardest time shopping for a ring. For starters, we wanted a blood-free diamond, free of Sierra Leone. And considering the majority of America’s diamonds come from there, we were assuming we’d need to find something other than a diamond. So I set my sights on gems like sapphires or garnets. We were ready to spend a pretty penny on it, too. Armed with cash, we set out on weekends in search of that perfect ring.

We were living in D.C. at the time and considering neither one of us had ever looked for expensive jewelry before, we weren’t exactly sure where to go. We headed to Georgetown, first, which is perhaps the most ritzy place in D.C. proper. There, we were greeted by a man who actually suggested we buy a 79 dollar ring. The thing had a seam. I even checked to see if you could push it together to make it smaller and further apart to make it larger.

Just think, for that price, you can still take her to dinner when it’s all over.

Toby Joe was furious.

Doesn’t that cheap motherfucker realize I could BUY HIM?! I make more than that asshole. I make more per year than he’ll see in his lifetime. Cheap asshole.

Needless to say, we left the store empty fingered.

We looked in a few more places in Georgetown and were properly ignored in every last one of them. If people paid attention it took place in the less expensive stores. This was something we were soon going to get used. We headed to Pentagon City that day but by then the excitement of having a new ring to celebrate our new engagement was pretty much extracted from me thanks to the apparent judgment by others.

The following weekend we put on nicer clothing and headed out to Tyson’s Corner in Virginia, home of the biggest shopping complex I have ever been to. It spans a highway, it’s so big. We knew there’d be jewelry stores galore there and if that didn’t work out, there was a Tiffany’s across the street.

We visited at least 7 stores and were spoken to by one person. The rest of them wanted nothing to do with us. The guy we did manage to speak to claimed he would have no way of knowing where a diamond came from. Which, I am told, is a flat-out lie unless, of course, you’re buying your precious stones from the back of a truck in which case it came from a back of a truck—nuff said.

We didn’t have much luck at Tiffany’s either. They didn’t even make eye-contact with us.

In the end, Bailey Banks and Biddle was the place we ended up giving our money to. And that’s pretty much what it was like for the two of us; we had all this money set aside for a big fat, blood-free diamond and nobody wanted it.

Big mistake. HUGE.

But I’m not writing for pity. It’s a good day when your bad day consists of several failed attempts at buying a diamond ring. The reason I am writing is to suggest that someone go into the non-judgmental diamond-selling business because there are a slew of young, unkempt, non-suit wearing folks out there who have money to spend on expensive jewelry. And, you know what? They might appear to be “too young” as well. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have money. That doesn’t mean they can’t drop 8+ grand on a big effin’ rock.

Do you have to be judgmental asshole to work in a jewelry store or what?

Goodbye, I have to go shopping now.

19 Comments

  1. I remember trying to do the same thing when I was ring shopping for the missus. Not too long ago, I quit a job over the fact that the company I was working for had just signed a contract with DeBeers to try and restore the corporate “image”…after a long discussion with an African friend I knew this was the right choice.

    Diamonds are about as common of a stone as they go…funny this is DeBeers pretty much controls the market and CRUSHES anyone who attempts to sell diamonds to anyone but them…total monopoly.

    I went into many of the same stores you mentioned (including the store in G’Town…I think…) and every person was a fucking douche…for some reason jewlery salespeople in DC seem to have a stick up their ass for people under 40 who come in to their stores.

    TJ when you buy the 25 year ring…try Tiny Jewel Box on CT Ave., ask for Dolly (she rocks!).

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  2. I figured I’d avoid the whole controversy of blood diamonds by getting an antique from back when diamonds were just mined by slaves.

    But then that whole mess happened and I didn’t get the ring.

    Anyways, I saw an interesting segment on tv a while back that claimed that Russia stockpiled diamonds before the DeBeers cartel grew too powerful, and is sitting on enough to seriously undervalue them. The problem though, is that everyone – not just DeBeers – relies on the scarcity of diamonds that DeBeers has created.

    It kinda reminds me of the Bond movie Goldfinger where, instead of stealing the gold from Fort Knox, the evil character tries to blow a dirty bomb in there to contaminate it and render it useless.

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  3. Diamonds are over rated. Visit here http://www.lifegem.com/ you can create a diamond out of a dear dead relative. Gross.

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  4. i’d have to fuck with one of those jerks……….i’d say” yes you can help me, i’ve heard that the average cost of a diamond for an engagement is roughly 2 months pay right?…….(yes)…..well, then i guess i’m gonna be in the market for something around 20 grand.” i’d do this with a straight face and watch his/her reaction.

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  5. I commend you on being so aware. I wish I would’ve been more aware of the awful legacy of diamonds in Africa. I already was not impressed with an expensive rock as some sort of symbol of love. We retaliated against the huge rock by only spending a week’s pay. I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Oh and the internet – that’s a good place to shop for a ring if you know what you are looking for.)

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  6. DeeKay, I support sweatshop labor.

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  7. Third world pre-teens made my designer jeans.

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  8. Wait. No picture of the ring? Off with it, Howley!

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  9. hahahahahhahah
    I will post the ring! I WILL! Macro, baby.

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  10. I’ve just now realized, because I am oh so very slow, that you have the same last name as my Husband’s mother’s maiden name. wtf? Was that English?

    Anyway they are all Howley’s from the Pittsburgh area. Ring any bell’s?

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  11. Holy shit, I just realized how this might sound. I did not spend 8 thousand dollars on a ring. Nothing even close to that. No way, no how. I would much rather own a house or a car or a new computer or a small island.

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  12. Wait, really Amanda? That’s nuts as I don’t think there are man of us. I’ll have to discuss this with my father. Email me her name. I’ll ask Bob.

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  13. I have to say that Vu and I had a great time at Tiffany’s on the mag mile in Chicago. We were living there and in fact no where near gettin hitched but I wanted to see inside. We looked like we were poor, we were. However and older gentleman working behind all of the diamond encrusted rings we could NEVER afford, insited that I have the pleasure of looking at the one I fancied up close. Then he insited that I try it on!! I almost passed out. He was very nice without being pushy. It was awesome. I just goes to show that good customer service includes not assuming anything about the people who come in. If I were rich and unconcerned with buying diamonds I would go back and buy a huge rock from that guy just to reward him.

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  14. In January I had gotten a huge unexpected bonus and decided to spend it on something frivolous, ie Jewelry. I went to Tiffany, BBB, Cartier, and movado. Like you no one made eye contact or offered to help me. I don’t understand why places wouldn’t just show a little bit of courtesy. It made me so mad that I went and bought a 40G ipod and put the rest in savings.

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  15. Sian, the Hepburn in you must have lured them in; you’re so cute.
    Debra, Apple is a place that knows no judgment. Good for you! Go get that iPod! Gigs beat carats any day!

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  16. Did no one get the silly, embarrassing Pretty Woman Quotes? NO ONE?!

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  17. Sort of like “Mr. Charles” Chele. Remember.

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  18. I do, indeed, Mom. Thought about that this morning as well. mean people. MEAN!

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  19. I totally know those jewelry people! They work part-time at our local “modern” furniture store with their faux ING-esque accents. Also – where can I find a t-shirt that reads ‘i can buy you’

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