I saved for months, and that was kind of a big deal in itself. Part of every paycheck had been set aside as cash hidden within a book that I never read until I had enough to go ring shopping.
I knew that DeAnne wanted to be surprised, so she and I never went out looking at rings together. In the times when other people’s engagement rings came naturally into conversation, I tucked away as much knowledge as I could so I would get it right when the time came. I knew that she wanted the question to be popped in private, not in a restaurant and not surrounded by loved ones. I knew that she wanted something simple and elegant, not gaudy or glitzy. I knew that I needed to have the blessing of her parents before anything else.
I did my homework on the 4 C’s of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat. To break that down for the uninitiated, cut means shape (and the angles used in the actual cutting of the diamond), color means color (along the scale of white to yellow), clarity means brilliance (more imperfections in the diamond means less brilliance or fire), and carat means size (pure and simple). I went out to a number of jewelry stores and looked to see what I could afford with the amount that I saved up.
And then a friend of mine mentioned that his boss knew a diamond broker.
“He’ll be in town in a week or so,” said my friend Dave. “You could buy the diamond separately and then have it put into a setting.”
“Is he legit?” I asked.
“My boss has worked with him before and he trusts him. I’ll come along if you want me to, since you don’t know him. The broker normally sells his diamonds to jewelry shops, but he’ll make exceptions for friends. You’ll get a lot more diamond for your money than you would anywhere else.”
“Okay,” I said. “Sounds good.”
And so we met up on a Saturday morning and headed off to some guys house near Holland, Michigan. I had a set amount of money to work with, so I saved some out to cover the actual ring setting. After looking at a few different options, I settled on a round cut with good color and great clarity that was big enough to see, but not so big as to be ostentatious.
“What should I do about the setting?” I asked Dave.
The diamond broker overheard and told me that if I went to downtown Holland, there was a jeweler who would give me a discount if I mentioned his name. The jeweler was Jewel-Tec, he said, and they have a door right next to DeVries.
“Just buzz them on the intercom,” he said, “and tell them that you need a setting for your diamond.”
“Thanks,” I said.
Time was getting close to when I needed to head into work, but since we were so close to Holland already, we decided to head over to Jewel-Tec.
None of us had been there before, and with the vague directions that we had, we wandered around downtown a little before seeing a business called Devries that had a nondescript door with a buzzer next to it. I stepped up and buzzed the buzzer.
I buzzed again.
“Hello,” said a groggy voice. “What do you want?”
“Um,” I said. “My name is Josh and I have a diamond.”
“What?” said the voice, possibly belonging to a well hungover person.
“Um,” I said again. “I have a diamond and I was told you could help me?”
“Get out of here.”
And that was when Dave noticed another business on the next block named DeVries & Dornbos. You see, in Holland, Michigan, the chances of throwing a stone and hitting someone with a last name like DeVries are pretty good. We headed over and sure enough, there was another door, but this time the door had a nameplate that said “Jewel-Tec”. I buzzed the intercom, told them I was interested in a ring setting, and headed right up.
After some time looking through various settings, I described to the jeweler what I had in mind and he told me that he could make something like that himself. I would have to come back in a few weeks with the diamond, but it shouldn’t be a problem.
A few weeks later, I had a beautiful engagement ring that I helped design in my hand, and all I had to do was ask DeAnne to marry me (you can read how that day went here). It was a successful venture, but I still wonder what the guy on the other end of that first buzzer thought of me.