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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 17-Jul-06


Monday 17-Jul-06

A diamond negotiation

I've been happily married for 30 years now and decided to buy my wife a ring for an anniversary present. Here is the story of how I found and negotiated a great deal on a beautiful ring. (Note: rather than give the game away on what it actually cost, the prices below are scaled down).

I started off looking at antique rings in an upscale arcade near where I work, but they seemed expensive and were largely old-cut and lacked sparkle. It also didn't help that the antique dealers were unwilling to negotiate. Yet I still nearly fell into the trap of buying the first ring I liked. The sales patter and diamond twinkles under the bright lights sent me into a kind of lust where I decided I wanted that ring without thought of alternatives or value. Fortunately I didn't buy it then and when I looked at it again another day it didn't seem as attractive. What this experience did do, however, was to fix my mind on a price range of $20-$30 as I realized I was prepared to fork out this amount for the woman I love.

I eventually found my way out to Hatton Garden, a London street full of diamond merchants and jewellers. After browsing for a while, I found myself at the end of the street in a shop run by traditional Jews, complete with the hats, hair and deadpan expression. I randomly asked after a solitaire ring in the window that had caught my eye. It was priced at $70, way above my comfort range, but the nice young man who served me brought the price down to $65 and then $60. I shook my head and left, but remembered the negotiation potential.

After much looking around, a friend dragged me back out Hatton Garden and got me thinking in more detail. My target now was a full-band channel-set eternity ring. Learning more about diamonds and the 'four Cs', I sought VS clarity, brilliant cut, around G colour and a total of about 2.5 carats. He introduced me to people who would make the ring and were more flexible on price. I then went up and down the street, asking for quotes and found a range of $23-$28. Wandering past the the Jewish jeweller, I saw an older person serving and thought I'd try asking about that solitaire ring. I didn't think I could afford it, but was curious as to whether what looked like the owner would come down further, and he did, to $55.

After even more browsing, I ended up about a week later in the same shop where we had a good conversation about eternity rings at around $24. This showed them my real spend level and I talked about bringing my wife in on Saturday. They looked a bit crestfallen and explained they were closed on Saturday. Of course -- this is the Jewish holy day. I shrugged and turned to go,  but then asked to see the diamond solitaire ring again. I asked, casually, about a 'good price'. Now the price became $48. I sighed, explaining that this was way above my ceiling (which I had just demonstrated was in the region of $20 to $30) but offered to buy it there and then for $40. There was much talk in Hebrew between the owner and his son and the price came down to $44, but I just looked at the door and repeated that I could hardly afford the $40. We looked at each other for a while in silence, but I held my tongue and just raised my eyebrows. And eventually my offer was accepted! It was more than I had intended to pay, but from my research I knew I had gotten a bargain. Indeed, the insurance value is $89.

The real value, however, was in the shock and delight in my wife's eyes when I gave her the ring at a romantic dinner for two. 30 years on and she is still my real treasure.

Your comments

I don't understand the relevance of the Jewish background of this story. On first reading I considered it was at best a poor attempt to use an old stereo-type. At worst it is anti-semitic. I am off to Thailand for a holiday. My kids tell me that the haggling there is very similar to that you outlined here. Markets all around the world are the same. I enjoy this site. It is about 'Changing Minds". I don't care if you are Jewish or any other minority - or majority. Don't use negative stereo-types.

-- Ron Pollak

Dave replies:
Well, Ron, I'm most definitely not anti-semitic, nor do I have any other conscious bias. If I have caused any offence I apologise. I am a member of a minority group and know the effects of negative bias. I actually liked the people I dealt with there - they were straightforward and civil and if anything I have a positive general regard towards Jewish people, with whom my experiences has always been good. My position on difference is that we should celebrate them. When you are in any group you tend to take on patterns of thinking and acting that others in the group use, and which help to define you as opposed to others. This is how identity is built. Such differences are interesting and as long as you do not use them to attack others then I consider observing them as being respectful.

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