Imaginale Design
So two days ago was Jose and I's 3 year anniversary. But you know what is really cool? On our 3 year anniversary, it was exactly 3 months until our wedding! Isn't that crazy?!

We decided to "gift" each other our wedding bands for our anniversary and boy, I can't even begin to tell you what an experience that was!

SO, as most couples, Jose and I set ourselves a budget for our bands. Unfortunately, we soon realized that $150 for a men's band was laughable. We bumped it up to $250 and that was STILL a struggle. I mean, yes, we could find a nice simple band -- but there's a difference between the girl's band and the guy's band. The guy has nothing else for his finger, so he better really like his band because he'll be wearing it for the rest of his life. And while I mentioned the idea of "upgrading" later on -- Jose is not the "upgrading" type. Once he picks his ring, that's what he's sticking to. At least that's what he says now ;)

I realized that Jose didn't want a simple band, but this was very hard to find with $250. The budget for my band was $350, and since my engagement ring has such a unique band, I actually didn't mind getting a relatively simple band to match mine.

Here's my ring:




Most jewelers were telling me to get a "curved" band and I thought that was a good idea. Until... Here's where the story starts.

Our friends Tom & Meghan had mentioned that they had bought their bands at America's Mart. America's Mart is -- um, INCREDIBLE. Oh sorry, that's not a good explanation. They're basically a mart with 6 floors where businesses of all kinds (jewelry, linens, gifts, fashion, furniture, etc) have set up their stores to sell at wholesale to other vendors that have their business open to the public (i.e. they mark up the price to sell to us). You can only go in by invite and thanks to Tom & Meghan, we were able to get in!

Yesterday we set up a time to meet with one of the jewelers there and a really nice lady greeted us inside. We first looked at Jose's bands and he found a ring that he really liked. It was over our budget for his band, but not by much. Then it was my turn and I told her I was open to trying both the curved and straight rings. She put a ring on my finger that looked like this:



I loved it! Unfortunately, the coloring was a little different. The band was a lot lighter than my ring because my engagement ring has more prongs = you see more metal. This band I just showed you is called the "floating diamond" band because they look like floating diamonds. I almost wanted this style of ring for my engagement band!

I bit my lip and felt so torn. When I'd slip another ring that "matched" perfectly, it made the contrast from the other band stand out even more. The lady was so sweet and really loved how the floating diamond band looked on me as much as I liked it. AND the price was exactly on budget! Normally it would retail at $600! Though I didn't want to regret my decision later...

The nice lady ends up telling me that she could re-size my ring in 2 hours. I felt like this was "the one" but I still had this hesitant feeling. Jose wants to keep looking around and since this was the first store, I decide I should come back to it. So we tell her we'll come back and we start looking at other stores.

Next store = older man in his 50's? with gelled hair and a diamond earring like he is trying to look 20. When Jose describes the sleek look of the ring he just saw the guy says "Oh, we can add that to any ring here." Then when he mentions some other type of design, the guy says that AGAIN "yeah, we can add that to any ring -- just pick one you like." THEN he pulls out a catalog and it is very obvious the man has just lost Jose's business.

I don't blame him. It felt shady. So Jose thanks them abruptly, turns around, grabs my hand, and marches out. We start judging stores by what they look like. Jose points to one of them and I notice they have a little stand with sweaters to which I wrinkle my brows and say "Um, we are not going to look at wedding bands in a store that also sells sweaters." Come on people! What kind of marketing is that?!

We walk into one that looks pretty nice and hello-mr-talker. This man was the EPITOME of a sales man. He looked and sounded VERY reputable, but the problem is that he wouldn't let Jose say a WORD!! UGH. I wanted to yell "shut up for a second!" If your products are so good, why are you trying so hard to inform us about how your jewelers are trained for "20 years" and you only acquire "the best quality" ??!

And then -- I saw this ring (men's band). It was beautiful. So different, so intricate, and -- suuuuch a good price! Jose ended up really liking it too (especially the price). But I couldn't shake this feeling off. I really disliked this guy and I couldn't help but question the quality.

Also, since these stores sell to bigger businesses (like Scott Kay), they don't have a 'maintenance' program. With Jose and I moving out of Atlanta, we'll be stuck going to other jewelers to get our rings cleaned. And if something happens to our bands such as getting dented, or for whatever reason broken, we're pretty much screwed.

We leave mr-talker and keep walking around. It's getting a bit draining at this point and I can't stop thinking about the "floating diamond" band. Maybe it is the one after all?

The next store is quite the pleasant experience. The sales lady is nice, patient, and not over-bearing. FINALLY! We end up finding two REALLY nice rings that Jose loooves. One of them has this "leaf" pattern similar to this:



However, the leaves don't look as detailed -- they are more shiny. I tell Jose that I think they are too "blingy" and I thought it was so funny because he wouldn't put that ring down! I was a bit surprised, but hey -- let the man have his ring. We go ahead and move on to me and I try to describe the "floating diamond" ring. This one? No. How about this one? Hmmm, no. This one? That's okay. Let's try this one: Not really. I don't find any I honestly want. We decide to think about it way more and take her business card. After walking out, we sit on the bench and look at each other. This is kind of tough.

We go to one more store.

It looks really elegant from the outside and our spirits feel lighter as we walk in. The sales lady greets us as we walk in and my first thought is "aw man, she's going to be one of those fake-overly-happy people." She offers us beverages: water, tea, coffee. I end up having tea with HAZELNUT milk (YUM!) because apparently the owners and on-site jeweler are Turkish! LOVE tea with milk and the fact that they offered it. I'm starting to like this place already.

THEN, she asks if she can steam my ring so when I compare it to the bands, they have a similar shine. I am impressed. These people are no joke. Of course, I let her and sip on my delicious tea. My eyes grow wide and I point to the glass: "JOSE! Look!"

It's a leaf-like wedding band, WITHOUT the bling, and with a beautiful white-gold color! The woman comes back with my ring and pulls out the band for Jose. Ohhhhh, he's in love. I smile, remembering the same confident feeling of "YES! THIS feels right" when I put on my wedding dress for the first time. People -- he doesn't try on any other rings! He stares at the mirror with the ring on, hands held up by his face. He has to think so he fumbles out "let's go look at the women's band." Haha.

I tell her about my "floating diamond" band and I spot one right away. She pulls it out. !!!!!!. Not only does this one actually MATCH my band, but it's slightly smaller and has the most beautiful, delicate look to it. The three of us at the same time say "wow." The band was meant to be.

Fast forward to Jose asking 30 questions (to which I tell the sales lady "He's doing this because he's really interested), she guesses he's an engineer -HA!, and finally Jose says "These are the ones." OH! And guess what else we find out?! They offer a LIFE TIME WARRANTY! YES!!!! If anything dents, breaks, or diamond falls out, they will replace it with a NEW one! The jeweler at the store actually hand-custom makes all of the rings on display. Jose has to ask a lot of questions because his ring ends up being over budget by a little over 100. Though we discuss the fact that the amount over budget ends up paying itself out by having FREE cleaning and lifetime warranty!

Right as we are sealing the deal (via words on confirmation), the jeweler walks in and the saleslady calls him over. She explains that I want the floating diamond ring but that I need it smaller. Earlier she had mentioned that you can't reduce the size of those rings because if you cut out the gold, bend it, and weld it together -- diamonds will pop out. Granted, we have a lifetime warranty so we would get them back, but she warned me that a jeweler should never tell me they'll "resize" the ring for me (that particular one).

Long story short (oh wait, it's too late for that ;) -- the jeweler REFUSES to resize the ring. He says I will come back in 1 month, crying that the diamonds have fallen out, and "no, no no, that is a headache for me!" I'm shocked and the saleslady looks frustrated at him. He finally says "the only thing I can do is make that ring IN your size. That would be $650." PFFT. Yeah, right, that's not happening. Disappointed, Jose doesn't even want to purchase his ring anymore. :( :( Man! It was going so good.

Though, I have to admit I appreciated his honesty. Brutal as it was, did I REALLY want to invest in such a problematic ring? Yes, I would have a lifetime warranty and have every right to march in there every month for him to fix it (and NOT care about his headache) -- but what about when I'm not in Atlanta? We look at other rings, and they don't compare. Though I have to tell myself over and over "LET GO of the floating diamond" -- it is NOT meant to be.

[Enter God's plan]

The jeweler marches back over to us and says "Here, try this ring on." I look at it and it is a BEAUTY. There is so much detailing, and little diamonds around it. It is like a leaf engraved, antique-like, diamond band. SORT of like this:



SO much detailing! Apparently he made it TOO small to be a sample ring = VERY hard to sell. He then tells me it's PLATINUM. I can't help but roll my eyes and start slipping this ring off. Why would he tease me like that? Have me try on a platinum ring knowing that's out of our budget! As I'm fiddling with it, I ask "Okay, well, how much would THAT be?" And since I don't want to cross blog/wedding-etiquette rules, I won't say the number -- but I WILL say that not only was he selling it to me HALF the retail price, but it was BARELY over my budget!

I didn't understand -- why so low? The saleslady, who is taken aback by how low the jeweler is willing to sell it to me, says that because that ring was so small, it would cost him MORE to make it bigger for a customer, than to actually find someone with a small finger like mine and sell it for that price. He screwed up by making it that small to begin with. Making it bigger for a customer would mean he would have to add MORE platinum + more labor = less likely to sell because it would end up being even more expensive. To be blunt - it was the perfect accident at the perfect time (i.e. God's plan). When I looked at the ring, it was so classic and elegant looking by itself that my first thought was "I can inherit this to my daughter one day." And I knew it was the one. We bought our rings.

I just can't believe it!! What a blessing to have been referred to this place by our friends and for God to step in and make this happen. And if you have read this far... thank you for being so involved with the wedding. This whole experience has evolved into something more amazing than I have ever imagined. The comments, advice, friendships, and support. AHH- so amazing! Thank you!!!
8 Responses
  1. Kristin Says:

    Both of your rings are gorgeous. And woop woop for good luck. It's prob karma coming back to you!


  2. fabs Says:

    That is one freaking awesome story!
    :D

    God is totally with you guys. <3


  3. Jessica R. Says:

    God is definitely with you guys!! He amazes me all the time!! YAY!!! That is one awesome story that you can tell your kids!!!!! :) :)


  4. Ale Says:

    Thank you Kristin! I just want to hold on to this feeling -- especially the month of May!

    Yeah Fabs! I completely agree :) :)

    Jessica, do you not have Facebook anymore?! And I do plan on telling this story whenever I give the ring! :) Thank you :)


  5. Meghan Says:

    Wow, those rings are gorgeous! You must be so excited! I love that it all worked out so well! And PLATINUM. Good gracious.


  6. Jenn Says:

    What a great story! It definitely was meant to be ;)


  7. Lenora Says:

    I'm reading an old book, Eternity Ring, right now (1947) that talks about the first type of ring--"an old fashion which has come back--a circle of small stones set continuously. Extremely pretty but not very practical. The stones are sadly apt to fall out." I've always loved that style of ring, too, but apparently it is really vulnerable to losing stones, unfortunately. So definitely a good choice on your part--I mean, it's something you're probably going to wear every day, so it needs to take a beating. And I LOVE the second ring.

    So, a little random, but I couldn't sleep->was reading->thought of this post.
    ~Jenna


  8. U R Still Says:

    Actually just reading this wonderful story and by now you are married. Congrats are in order. Would you mind sharing the name of the final store where you made the purchase with me. Thank you in advance. thestills4@bellsouth.net