WRITTEN BY KRISTA BEAUVAIS
Engagement rings are expensive! Is there any place on the planet to buy one where you’re not being totally ripped off? Maybe not, but we’ve discovered a place in Belgium where it’s much cheaper than anywhere else we’ve looked, and the selection is fantastic!
I know there are a lot of very good reasons to not like diamonds or buy diamond rings. I’m aware of what happens in some countries, and I’m aware of a certain large company’s unsavoury control of the market. But I also know that the traditional engagement ring is still the diamond. So for those looking to buy one, this might help make it a bit more affordable.
We did not go to Belgium to buy an engagement ring. The picture below is not one of a man who was expecting to fork over money for an engagement ring. That’s why I’m sharing this story. I’d like to thank the excellent bargains in Belgium for saving me a fourth year of just being his ‘girlfriend’ (lovely as it was).
So, like I said, we were not in search of an engagement ring. We were in Belgium for another reason and found ourselves with a day to kill. We had never been to Antwerp, so decided to check it out. On the walk from our hotel to the main centre, we strolled past an enormous diamond district.
Erik had heard of this before, but I hadn’t. It seems that Antwerp is the central distribution hub for sending diamonds to the rest of Europe. This means all the diamonds destined for Europe arrive here before being shipped elsewhere. This also means there are lots of shops and the prices are cheap thanks to the enormous supply!
We had been dating almost three years by this point, so I casually suggested we go for a browse. A browse turned into a purchase. Yay! It seems that Erik had been researching engagement rings for quite some time and knew about things like diamond size, clarity, and inclusions (of which I was clueless) – and cost!
He had been hoping to get my ring in South Africa because of their excellent diamonds and prices, but he couldn’t pass up a purchase here since it was a far better deal than he’d found anywhere else – even South Africa!
I won’t tell you the details of my ring quality or the price Erik paid, but I can tell you that I love it! It’s been on my finger now for about a year and a half and I still shine it in the light to watch it sparkle.
I can also tell you that we had to get my ring valued for insurance purposes. It turns out that it’s worth three times what Erik paid for it. That was happy news and it’s lead me to believe that, if you’re in the market for an engagement ring, it might be worth adding a trip to Antwerp on your agenda, especially if you’re going to be somewhere in Europe anyway.
For any ladies reading this, maybe you shouldn’t show it to your boyfriends. Instead, start dropping hints about wanting to visit Belgium for all the fabulous beer!
If you’re in the area, you should also stop by Brugge a couple hours away because it’s beautiful! We use AutoEurope when we book car rentals in Europe since they always have the best deals.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll find what you want, but there’s a huge variety and there’s a much greater selection here than I think you can find in most other places (although I hear India is also a great option). Hatton Garden, the famous diamond area in London, doesn’t even have this level of selection – and their prices are ridiculously high!
We’ve done a lot of travelling since buying my ring and we always have fun stopping to look at prices and feel pleased at what a good deal we got. If you’re going to go, do some research first so you know what size, clarity and inclusion quality you want. Zales does a pretty decent job explaining this.
Also visit lots of shops before deciding. There are often very similar rings for very different prices. Mine was on a 50% off sale and we wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. It seems like all the shops there have some sort of enormous discounted sale happening.
Bring your rain jacket. Belgian weather is, I think, worse than England!
ALSO SHARED BY KRISTA
- See her profile page for the full list
- Written, formatted and edited by: Krista Beauvais
- Photos: all photos are courtesy of Krista Beauvais
- Recommended hotel in Antwerp: Ibis Central hotel
- Recommended car rental company: AutoEurope