By Melanie Hofstedder
Getting engaged…it’s kind of a crazy time because you are planning to spend the rest of your life with one person. Talk about scary, right? So, when you decide to start the hunt for the perfect engagement ring that will symbolize the commitment you made to each other it’s really important to not get overwhelmed in the process.
The Diamond District
We live in NYC. And anyone who lives in New York knows about the famous diamond district. It’s one of the largest diamond marketplaces in the world. Take one walk down 47th street and you are literally attacked by diamond dealers trying to sell you a ring. My first thought was ARRGGGG get me out of here! But, since my soon-to-be fiance (Michael) and I are brave souls, we decided to walk into one of the reputable diamond stores (one that was recommended.) After all, since I was going to be the one to wear this ring for rest of my life, I wanted to have some say on what the ring would look like. But the minute I stepped into the store, I was hit with a barrage of questions and rings and options. Talk about overwhelmed!
” You can get this ring or this ring or this ring and do you know about the Four C’s and what it means and the setting and the color, and the shape and how about this and this and this or that?“
Brand Name Stores
We left there with our heads spinning but maybe a bit more knowledgeable. Not only did everything begin to look alike, we had no idea if what the store was selling us actually had the value that they said. So we decided we should really check out a few of the big name stores — we figured that would be a completely different shopping experience. And it was! The salespeople were less pushy but then again, the diamond we wanted (1.5 carats) and the one we could afford were as far apart in price as a Honda versus a Mercedes. Yikes! The diamond we could afford was half the size of the one we wanted. Oh well, I was marrying a man, not a diamond!
Finding Leeza Braun
As luck would have it, I have a very amazing fiance. And he decided that he had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for…a 1.5 carat amazing ring! LOL. Wanting a surprise element, and also wanting to figure this thing out for himself, he told me “he got this.” Whew! I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but it turns out, a man can be pretty resourceful. Michael decided to take to social media and do a secret post asking all his friends about Diamond Ring Jewelers they recommended. He got about 4 or 5 recommendations and he put his mind to the task. He didn’t know what to expect when meeting in a showroom versus a store. But here’s what he described to me:
Michael’s Experience with Leeza Braun: Diamond Ring Specifics
Judy and Aliza were able to hone in on exactly what we wanted. They asked me a few questions even before I met with them…questions like:
- Budget – a must know in order to determine where they could start looking
- Shape – Emerald, oval, etc. They even sent me images of what different shapes were — who knew there was something called Pave
- Setting Style
- About my fiance – what kind of style she had – sporty, conservative, etc.
The Leeza Braun showroom is a really beautiful space on the 21st floor with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline. What a complete difference from the madness of the Diamond exchange or even the experience of the large jewelry stores on 5th Avenue.
The Leeza Braun Ring Design Process
1: First, Judy selected a few diamonds for me to look at when I came in.They all looked fantastic even without the setting! I could not tell the difference between buying one diamond over the other. Judy took the time to explain the difference to me in the quality of all the stones (even though they were all about the same size.) Basically, I received Gemology 101 lesson that made it easy to understand the different values of the stones that I was selecting.
2: Leeza Braun not only has access to one of the largest diamond inventory in the world (through their father’s company, Leo Schachter) but they will go to the ends of the earth (literally – Europe, Far East, etc.) if there is a special request that is not available in Manhattan. This wasn’t my case but they did show me this 10 carat diamond they purchased for another client. (Oh well, I figured I’d buy that for Melanie on our 25th anniversary.)After looking at a few different shapes, I decided to go classic (round) for Melanie because she’s a lawyer and dresses conservatively for work.
3: The setting– Aliza showed me about 5 different settings and we were able to put the stone in each setting. None seemed exactly right, so Aliza brought out a few more. They were all really nice, but for some reason, not resonating with me. I showed Aliza a few pictures from magazines that Melanie conveniently left out. Aliza told me that since Leeza Braun designed custom rings, she would actually draw out the setting and get back to me in a few days. I left Leeza Braun with the knowledge of how much my ring would cost and what the quality of the stone was.
4: Shop Around: And then (I couldn’t really believe this) she told me to shop around. So I contacted and met with 2 other diamond places that had been recommended, now armed with my exact specifications. After meeting speaking with the other places and going to a few top stores in the exchange, my decision to work with Judy and Aliza at Leeza Braun was made. I knew that after this very exhaustive search that Leeza Braun gave us way more than the other places I interviewed — from selection, to value, to knowledge, trust and most importantly, I felt that the design team at Leeza Braun cared way more — they literally love every diamond engagement ring that they create — they personally are invested in making sure that my surprise to Melanie would be the surprise of a lifetime.
5: Aliza sent me a few designs of settings that she created (and I showed them to Melanie’s best friend.) She gave me her idea of which ring Melanie would like best and my selection was made. After sending Aliza the selected design, I had the ring in about 3 weeks. And wow! The design did not compare to the real diamond ring. I knew that Melanie would absolutely love it.
6: Appraisal: Of course I also received the GIA report on the diamond and a wholesale appraisal for the complete ring so that I could get the ring properly insured.
(Back to Melanie) Meeting with Judy and Aliza
And LOVE IT I did! I was so happy that Michael found the design team at Leeza Braun. I also got to meet with them because I needed to get the ring sized and it was clear that they were not only proud of their work but so satisfied that I loved the ring. (Kind of like tears in their eyes satisfied.) Buying a diamond engagement ring in a store or a diamond district dealer can’t come close to the experience of the one-on-one attention that you get when dealing with a showroom like Leeza Braun. Plus you get something unique and custom that no one else has! With my many anniversaries to come, I know Michael has the perfect place to go when he needs that special gift for me…like a push present. But that’s not happening yet! (That I know of.)
In the end, I can’t say enough about our experience with the Leeza Braun design team and I know if you decide to use them, you will be thrilled with your diamond engagement ring, no matter what your style or budget. Congratulations on your soon to be engagement!
Click here to learn more about Aliza and Judy.
Click here to schedule an appointment in our wonderful showroom. Not in New York? Don’t worry! We have clients around the world and we can set up a teleconference so you have the exact same one-on-one attention as our local clients.