Buying an engagement ring online feels like a strange thing to do. It’s up there with buying a car you’ve never test driven or renting a house you’ve never seen in person.
But in these technological times, instead of going from large retail chain to local jewelry store to look at sparkly rings, the engaged-to-be create Pinterest boards. Some do this voluntarily because they dream of their wedding day or have romantic thoughts about sharing the rest of their life with their partner. In my case, my man friend asked me for suggestions on what ring to buy when the time came. So I hesitantly agreed to make a board on a secret account that no one I knew would be able to find (unless he or I gave them the link).
Admittedly, the process became rather addicting. I dug online through all sorts of local shops, antique jewelers, Etsy, and even eBay hunting down vintage rings that were stylish and worth the price tag. I learned a lot about diamonds. Seriously a lot. From the value of the 4Cs to the exact amount of carats needed to look proportional on my hand (yes this info exists), I now know it all.
After a few days, I found a dozen design suggestions and my “Rings I Like” board was complete. Now I waited. I waited and trusted that all my research would be thoughtful and meticulously considered in the hands of my partner. That was until I started getting notifications via Pinterest that options I so carefully researched and curated were now being repinned. All my hard work was now sitting on the dream boards of others. “That’s not fair! These are my finds,” I thought.
Maybe I should make the board private? Yes, except that would make it difficult for my man friend to access and share with families and friends who might want to weigh in with their input. I would basically have to give him backend access to the account or he’d have to ask me to share it with certain people. So I left it public, and felt a ping of competitive jealousy every time someone repinned one of my picks.
One morning I woke up to yet another repin notification. Since Pinterest doesn’t update or notify you if an item you pinned has become unavailable with any distinguishable frequency (which is probably for the best in cases like these), the only way to know if the status has changed is to click through to the link. The ring on my board that was repinned was no longer available. It had been sold, which was a bit of a bummer, but okay, fine.
Until something in the URL caught my eye. In big bold letters it said ‘ON HOLD ANUP’ — Anup is my man friend’s name. This ring that was now sold has a new URL and title, with his name IN THE URL. Thank you, Internet; you just spoiled the surprise.
It turns out adding the name of a purchaser to the title is not actually unusual. I’ve noticed names plastered on listings all across Etsy. But for an engagement ring? Really? That just doesn’t make sense. Innocent, Internet-savvy me was now forced to block this information from my brain as to not ruin Anup’s chance at a romantic proposal.
In the end, I would do it all again. I’m now the wearer of a nearly perfect art deco engagement ring that was purchased online for half its appraised worth. And I feel really good about that. In fact, the entire online purchasing experience would have been perfect if I hadn’t clicked that damn Pinterest link.
Buying engagement rings online is by no means a mainstream trend. In fact, most couples rely heavily on online sources, including Pinterest, for research but opt buy new rings at local retailers. I, however, fell into the small percentage of women who prefer vintage. For ethical reasons, I didn’t want anything new. Vintage rings are often one of a kind so buying online became an obvious option.
Let this be a lesson to any small business or retailer that sells engagement rings online: Even if the item is no longer listed, the notes and details you add stick around. I’m sure women far more engagement-giddy than I click through to check out their favorite pins on an almost daily basis. So for the sake of happy couples everywhere, keep that shit anonymous.
Update: Pinterest’s cache has since updated and regardless of whether I clicked the repin link, I would have seen the ‘on hold Anup’ note displayed as the ring’s title on my Pinterest board.