Valentine's Day isn't just about the flowers or the candy - it's also when an estimated 6 million couples will get engaged.
Buying a diamond is one of the biggest commitments a couple ever makes, and that's even before saying "I do," but there are somethings to keep in mind when considering the cost of that shiny rock.
Boston Consumers' Checkbook recently investigated how much loose diamonds sell for at various retailers in the Boston area, and the prices were wide-ranging.
Amanda and Brian are planning for a summer wedding, and when Brian picked out a solitaire ring, he had the help both moms and a local jeweler - and shopping locally may have helped him get the most bang for his buck.
"I didn't really know anything about what I should be looking for until I got there," he said.
Boston Consumers' Checkbook recently had undercover shoppers call various jewelry stores in the area to find out how much they charged for a 1-carat loose diamond, which also had to have a VS1 or VS2 clarity, a color of either E or F and contain no fluorescence.
"We found prices ranging from about $11,000 to more than $20,000 - and for essentially the same stone," Kevin Brasler, Boston Consumers' Checkbook, said.
They found that Costco Wholesale online sells a 1 carat diamond for $6,000, but their stones are all pre-set, meaning you can't select a custom band for a diamond of choice.
The undercover team also discovered a number of smaller, locally owned stores such as Barmakian Jewelers sell 1 carat gems for around $9,500.
"We're not a middleman like some other companies. We are really a direct manufacture of them, so that helps in our own cost," Janice McCullough of Barmakian Jewelers said.
They also learned that at Tiffany and Co., a 1 carat diamond will run about $12,600, and even more surprising, at big chain stores such as Zales or Kay Jewelers can be just as expensive - if not more pricey than Tiffany's. At Zales, prices range from $12,000 to more than $21,000 for a 1 carat diamond.
"Another thing that surprised us was that very, very small differences in quality from stone to stone represented hundreds of dollars of price difference - sometimes thousands of dollars of price difference," Brasler said.
NBC Boston reached out to Zales and Kay Jewelers, which is owned by the same company. In a statement, a spokesperson said, "While it's not possible to comment on the survey given the number of potential pricing variables involved and unknown survey participants, we recommend that customers should always shop at a trusted jeweler."
That's something Brian did - and he said it's the best investment he's ever made.
"When I saw the look on her face, it was definitely worth it," he said.
Consumers' Checkbook found low price didn't equate to a low quality diamond; conversely, a high price didn't equate to a high quality diamond. They also acknowledged that diamond grading is highly subjective, since two people may grade the same stone different and there could be other variables that impact price.