Matchmaking

How To Finance An Engagement Ring–From An Upscale Matchmaker?

For those of you gentleman seeking to buy that special lady in your life a diamond ring to pop the question, remember that if you are feeling a bit crunched by the economy, there is a way out, by financing that diamond. This will help you pay off a little at a time, and get her the diamond she wants.

And if you are looking for an alternative to buying a diamond, please check out my next article which will tell you how to get her a beautiful ring ( Maybe even more beautiful then the diamond you might be able to afford) without breaking the bank.

But for those of your who must buy the diamond, here’s a great article for you to read:

How not to break the bank when popping the question

By Jay MacDonald

You, sir. You with the lovestruck look. I know you’ve found the perfect occasion to spring that diamond ring and pop the big question.

Financing tips for wedding, engagement rings

You may have seen promotions aimed like Cupid’s arrow at your highly emotional state of mind. “Hey buddy, this platinum solitaire here will only set you back six months’ pay and we’re currently offering zero percent financing for a year! Now here’s where you sign…”

Not so fast, Romeo. If you want her to marry you for richer and not poorer, you’ll study the fine print first to make sure that bauble on her finger doesn’t turn into a ball and chain on your newlywed finances. Because that’s what wedding bills are for.

Before you buy, let’s take a closer look at jewelry store credit terms, return policies and some creative alternatives for cash-poor romantics.

Few favorable terms from jewelers
Chances are, you’ll shop locally for an engagement or wedding ring; online transactions still account for less than 5 percent of all jewelry sales, according to IDEX Online Research, despite thef rapid growth of popular jewelry sites such as Blue Nile and Ice.com.

In addition to taking most major plastic, many brick-and-mortar jewelers large and small offer dedicated private-label revolving credit cards. Unfortunately, their terms tend to make the majors look like a bargain. Although jewelry sales abound as Valentine’s Day approaches, regardless of when you buy it, you’ll generally realize savings through a jeweler’s card only if you pay off the ring before the promotional period expires.

For example, the Kay Jewelers Card offers three months of free financing, or one year interest-free with 20 percent down and a $500 minimum purchase — with an APR of 18 percent to 22.9 percent (5.5 percent in Arkansas). The Zales Diamond Card similarly features zero interest and no payments for 90 days, or zero-zero for six months with a $500 minimum purchase (online only), at an APR of 23.73 percent.

Terms brighten somewhat with online jewelers. Blue Nile, for instance, offers a Bank of America credit line of up to $25,000 and either three months same-as-cash or a line of credit with repayment terms up to 60 months. APRs range between 8.99 percent to 24.99 percent.

Ice.com doesn’t offer financing per se, but it will forgo payment in full and instead ding your credit card a recurring monthly amount you select without charging a fee.

Rather ominously, however, in the event of noncompliance, Ice reserves the right “to appear at the purchaser’s or receiver’s premises and take possession of the said merchandise without prior consent or notice.” Honey, would you get the door?

What if she says no?
A jeweler’s return policy is another important factor to consider before buying a ring.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends you read the jeweler’s return and refund policies carefully before you buy; ask for one if it’s not provided. When ordering online, keep printouts of the site’s return policy as well as details of the transaction in the event you’re not satisfied with your purchase.

Most major jewelers will refund or exchange a ring in unused condition for 30 days, and some refund and/or exchange as far out as 90 days. They may deduct shipping and handling from your refund and/or charge a restocking fee. Exceptions are usually made if you received the wrong item or it was damaged in shipment.

Regina Leadem, industry vice president for GE Money Luxury Card, one of the major private-label credit card processors in the jewelry sector, says jewelry returns are rare and usually hassle-free.

I would be shocked today if a merchant did not take back a piece of jewelry.

— Regina Leadem,
GE Money Luxury Card

“I would be shocked today if a merchant did not take back a piece of jewelry,” she says. “They’re in it for the long haul; their lifeblood is in these small customers. I really don’t know any merchant that would do that.”

But should you happen upon an uncooperative jeweler, don’t abandon hope: your major credit card company has your back, sort of.

Charge back that diamond
According to MasterCard spokeswoman Naya Larsson, under MasterCard rules, you’ll first need to try to work things out directly with the merchant. Failing that, you must then provide your MasterCard issuer with all documentation of the transaction and a letter from an expert on their letterhead or validated by some other means that support your complaint.  What kind of expert? It depends on the nature of the dispute: a gemologist if you’re dissatisfied with the stone, or a jewelry expert if your beef is with the setting or engraving.

That still won’t guarantee you a refund (or charge-back as it’s known in the card world); that’s just to get your MasterCard issuer’s merchant bank (also called an acquirer) to agree to have a chat with the merchant.

Conversely, American Express does the heavy lifting for you with its “Easy Dispute Resolution” feature; you just identify the transaction that went sour and they do the rest. You may or may not get a full refund, but you won’t be out the time and money of trying to.

“Because we have these merchant relationships, a lot of times we are able to move things along faster or better than a card member might be able to do on their own.” says AmEx spokeswoman Mona Hamouly.

Share the love — try social financing
Can’t make the math work with traditional financing? You might want to consider the emerging world of social financing.

Sites such as Prosper.com and Zopa.com bring borrowers and lenders together in an exciting new way. The borrower (you) takes out a simple fixed-rate loan and gets a MySpace-like page to explain how you plan to use the money. Lenders buy a certificate of deposit at the interest rate of their choosing. The lower they set their interest rate, the more it bids down your monthly loan payments.

Everybody wins — and more importantly, you avoid the awkwardness of borrowing from family and friends.

“At Zopa, we have a number of folks who have either gotten married or are anticipating getting married and are looking for people to help them reduce their expenses,” says Zopa CEO Douglas Dolton. “Typically, families want to help in some way and end up buying toasters and candlesticks and whatnot. Think of how much more productive it would be if they had an avenue to really make a difference in that couple’s life by actually reducing monthly expenses.”

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