The choice was certainly impressive with a seemingly endless row of jewellers (which oddly reminded me of a road in Cardiff which was almost entirely takeaways). However, the prices at Hatton Garden seemed to start at £1000 and go up significantly for larger carat diamonds. The prices were competitive in a high street context, but there didn’t seem to be anything on offer at the cheaper end of the engagement ring market (such as under £500).
And so I headed online (remember, this was six years ago when you didn’t instinctively start a shopping search by Googling it from your smartphone).
The online jewellery market was not quite as established in 2010, but there was still a much better price range than at Hatton Garden and I managed to pick up a really good quality engagement ring from a diamond seller with lots of good reviews for well under £1000 (from memory I think it was about £800). Similar rings in the high street at the time were going for about £1500 - £2000.
Now, here’s the interesting part:
In the last few years, the online diamond ring market has diversified and grown extensively so that diamond rings of a similar quality and carat (weight) to mine are now going for less in 2016 than they sold for in 2010 - despite inflation.
The result is that buying a diamond ring online is better value than ever. Also, there are now many more long-established online jewellers which have built up decent reputations from years of reviews.
Let’s look at value first.
Amazon now has a pretty vast selection of diamond rings which significantly undercut the traditional independent high street jewellers. In my view, Amazon is changing the jewellery market in the same way that it changed the high street bookselling market.
Even if you only include items sold direct by Amazon (as opposed to Amazon Marketplace sellers) you’ll find a choice of 1000 engagement rings. Our comparison of prices of 0.25 carat rings found Amazon was offering rings from £221 whilst Beaverbrooks' cheapest 0.25 carat ring was £950. Of course, no two diamonds are the same, but you are certainly paying a premium for a) a ring box and bag with a fancy label and b) the convenience of returning to a store rather than returning by post.
Other affordable online diamond ring sellers in our 0.25 carat comparison included The Jewellery Channel (£250), Diamonds Factory (£285), whilst an eBay second hand ring was just £55.
We also looked at the price of a 1 carat diamond - a very large diamond which would have been way out of most people's engagement ring budget 10 years ago.
Amazon Marketplace sellers were offering 1 carat diamond rings for well under £1000 (£816 when we searched) making it the cheapest UK based seller we could find. The cheapest 1 carat ring at H Samuel was £3799 and at Beaverbrooks it was £7500. Again, it is worth noting that there were differences in grading of the diamonds (more on diamond grading here) but it does show just how ferociously competitive the online diamond engagement ring market has become.
Other online jewellers offering cheap 1 carat diamond rings included Diamond Jewelery United (£919), Diamond Heaven (£1750) and Diamonds Factory (£1796).
Secondly, let's look at reviews and customer service from online jewellers.
Ten years ago, buying online was something of a gamble in my view. Companies came and went so your warranty could become worthless and there were far fewer reviews around. Nowadays, everything comes with a rating out of 5 stars, including jewellers.
For example, Diamond Jewelery United and Elma Jewellery have gained 35,000 reviews between themselves as two of the biggest and best reviewed jewellers operating through eBay stores. Amazon has overtaken John Lewis and Waitrose for customer service and any company falling short of what buyers expect nowadays is reviewed and destroyed online.
Also, the vast majority of online jewellers offer a 30 day returns option if you decide you don't like the look of your diamond ring, or even if you don't get the answer you were hoping for (I'm sure that won't happen).
So, if you decide to buy online, where should you start? Take a look at our guide to 10 of the best online engagement ring sellers, do a bit of research yourself and then pop the question... Sounds simple doesn't it?