So you’ve made the decision to tie the knot, congratulations! But getting the perfect ring in Japan can be quite a daunting task. With all the different jewelry shops and the overwhelming selection, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a bit lost.
Hopefully, here we’ll demystify the process a bit and help you find a great ring you’ll be proud to wear every day.
How to start
Before you consider visiting a ring shop, you should have the basics figured out first.
Some good things to think about before going ring shopping are:
- Budget (factoring in costs per ring)
- Who’s paying
- By when do you want the rings
- How do you want to propose
You don’t have to have specific answers for each, but it’s good to at least have an idea. There’s no use heading to an expensive shop if your budget won’t allow it, or if you’ve suddenly realized you didn’t budget for the engagement ring, only the wedding rings.
It’s also good to know roughly when you’d like the rings by. Although larger retailers might be able to get the ring to you in as little as a few weeks, shops focussing on customization will take a few months.
Ring-buying options and types
The world of rings and diamonds is seemingly endless, so we won’t go into too much detail here but instead give you an overview to get you started.
Before buying the rings, you may not realize that you can rent a ring purely for the proposal. Once you’ve proposed, if the ring doesn’t suit your partner’s finger or tastes, you can change it. This has a few names in Japanese, but these are the most commonly understood:
- プロポーズリングを貸出し purpozu ringu o kashidashi (renting out a proposal ring)
- レンタル婚約指輪 rentaru konnyaku yubiwa (renting an engagement ring)
As for the types of rings themselves, they are usually separated into wedding rings and engagement rings. How you do it is up to you, but typically, the engagement ring is the one with the diamond and is given to the bride-to-be before the wedding. Then the wedding rings are exchanged at the wedding, and both partners get one.
Japan is a member of the Kimberly Process…Thus, all diamonds should be conflict-free.
In Japan, the main types of metal for these rings are:
- Yellow gold
- Rose gold
However, you’ll also come across many other materials such as black gold, pink gold, and white gold.
As for diamonds, there are too many different cuts and colors to get into here, but one thing you might be wondering about is where the diamonds come from. Japan is a member of the Kimberly Process, an organization with “a commitment to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain”. Thus, all diamonds should be conflict-free.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to talk with your jeweler to find out what’s going on, but if you would like to know whether your diamond has been lab-grown or not, these are the phrases to use in Japanese:
- Lab-grown or “artificial diamonds”: 人工ダイヤモンド (jinko daiyamondo)
- Non-lab-grown, or “natural diamonds”: 天然ダイヤモンド (shizen daiyamondo)
Department stores and jewelry districts
Now you’ve got an idea of what’s going on, you can actually get out and buy your rings. One of the easiest ways to do that is at a department store.
Rings at department stores are pre-made and often come with brochures or a smiling staff member who is happy to help. You may even find somewhere that speaks English!
Everything is laid out in front of you, along with the prices. You can also order adjustments or variations, but overall you have fewer options for customization.
Popular department stores in Japan for ring browsing:
Tokyo neighborhoods known for jewelry stores:
- Ginza: Known for high-end stores and accompanying high prices
- Omotesando: Still on the high-end of things, but with a few more reasonably-priced stores and boutiques for custom orders
- Okachimachi: Known for its cheaper ring shops and custom ring designers
Customizing rings to order
If you’d rather get something with a more personal touch, you can go to a ring specialist and make your own creation.
If you’re able to create your own design, the price is usually more reasonable. But if you have an idea and need someone else to make the design, it will take a little longer and will get more expensive. These places are much more catered to what you want and will offer you different plans and options based on your needs.
Everything is customizable, from the color of the band to the style of engraving. However, because they are done at boutiques, it can take longer to receive your final product, most typically around two months.
A few places that offer made-to-order rings:
You might consider getting your rings online if you’re pretty sure of the design and want the most budget-friendly option. This way, you can get something from outside Japan or keep it simple without trapping from store to store. You can get custom or premade rings online, and many of the stores mentioned above have online shops too.
The only thing to keep in mind with online stores is that you won’t be able to see the ring or try it on beforehand. Many of the catalog images online are taken in a situation you’ll never have in real life – everything around it is white, and nothing is being reflected. This means the catalog images may look an entirely different color to what you perceive in real life. It is also hard to gauge size, so what might look like a huge diamond online may be less impressive in person!
These are some good options for buying rings online:
You can often make adjustments and have options for customization online, too.
While there will definitely be many specific details you’ll want to get into when buying your rings, hopefully, we’ve at least given you a good enough base to make a start!
Have you bought a ring in Japan? Let us know your advice for ring shopping in the comments below.