Bit of a long time reader but first time poster. At the start of the year I started the process of engagement ring shopping, and read a number of reports from other users on here about their various experiences which I found very helpful. So I figured I'd do the same and maybe help the next person
I'm a fairly technical guy and always like to read up to the nth degree before committing to any purchase, especially for something so life changing as an engagement ring! I spent considerable time reading about various stones, metals, ring types, looking at hundreds of designs, all sorts. I was adamant that I would choose the ring myself, so I kept it a secret from my other half right up until I asked the question. I also wanted something a little unusual.
After reading a lot of resources about diamonds I decided that mined diamonds were absolutely out of the question, for a vast number of reasons (the blood diamond angle, the huge pits that need to be dug, the De Beers marketing, the false concept of their rarity stemming back years etc etc). This led me to Moissanite/Amora and lab grown diamonds. To me, both can stand on their own as true alternatives to mined diamonds, in fact I would say they are far preferable.
So I checked out MoissaniteCo and a few other retailers, as well as the handful of true lab diamond vendors (there are only a few) including Gemesis, Chatham, Takara and of course D.NEA.
Eventually I fired off an email to D.NEA and promptly received a response from Eric, the CEO. I understand that D.NEA is based in the eastern USA, while I myself am in New Zealand. I did the math on the timezones and from what I can tell Eric has some serious dedication to his business and customers, as I received responses at all hours - certainly outside what I would expect to be standard business hours.
Anyway, we exchanged a number of emails, with me asking what I'm sure were a few newbie questions. Eric was more than willing to work with me to accomodate both my financial constraints as well as what I wanted from the ring itself. He suggested a couple of potential designs and outlined a few options that would suit my situation.
At this stage my partner and I had a trip coming up so I put my plans on hold for a couple of months while I put money aside for the trip.
Fast forward to the past month or so and I was back and ready to purchase. My choice of ring had changed slightly from what I originally had in mind after re-reading Eric's emails and taking another look at the D.NEA selection. My partner isn't a fan of anything too flashy and prefers a slightly understated look. In the end I opted for one of D.NEA's own designs, a palladium solitaire ring with 0.41ct fancy intense blue diamond. I really liked the unique look of the blue diamonds on offer, it doesn't seem to be something you see very often. Eric was very helpful and informative throughout the entire process, keeping me up to date on my order and ensuring everything went smoothly. I had to do a bit of legwork such as grabbing some digital calipers from my workplace to secretly measure up another ring my partner owns in order to get an accurate sizing, but we worked through that without any hassle.
The ring itself was made on order based on the particular diamond I had chosen, so I was comfortable that the sizing and setting of the diamond itself would be great. A few weeks later the ring was complete, and shipped off to me (actually a friends house - had to keep it secret!) via FedEx. Under a week later (last Thursday) I had it in my possession; for delivery between the US and NZ with customs clearance fees and an irregular importer that isn't too bad at all.
The packaging, well, it was immense (a good thing!). The box was much larger than required, with another box inside, followed by more packaging, inside which was the ring box and documentation (including a nice EGL pouch with the diamond lab report). The packaging certainly took care of any knocks and abuse by FedEx along the way, everything arrived in perfect condition. The actual ring box was very nice, a sturdy light blue cardboard box with a shiny black ring box inside.
As for the ring, it looks incredible. I never really knew much about jewellery before all of this but I was blown away by it. The craftmanship was excellent and it was exactly what I had hoped for. It really does look amazing. I couldn't wait to show my partner, so on the Friday (the day after it arrived) we went out for dinner, followed by a walk down to a nice spot by a piazza we have in town (I told her I had to check something for work, haha). Part way down I stopped and asked her, to which she said yes
She absolutely loves the ring, as do those we have told. I couldn't be more satisfied with the purchase.
I must say, I am probably on the slightly lower end of the scale in terms of pricing compared to perhaps some other purchases from D.NEA but from what I saw, Eric put every effort into ensuring I was a happy customer. I have to applaud him for his customer service and would absolutely recommend D.NEA to anyone else considering purchasing through them.
I know this is quite wordy but I had hoped to get across details throughout the buying process for those that are interested. It's difficult to sum up the entire journey with a few words and I am bound to have missed or left out various details. I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
PS: I know, no pictures! If people are interested I'll see if I can get one organised, let me know
Edit: Updated with some pics below!