Never in my life, I would have imagined myself searching for the best place to buy engagement rings in Tokyo, Japan. Yet, one perfect, sunny day, during our 2 weeks in Japan, I sat down with G and turned the internet upside down in the hope that we will find the right answer to our question.
We just got engaged on Mount Hiei, in Kyoto a few days before and we were ready to go on a diamond ring hunt. Naturally, we went to Ginza and marvel at all top-notch stores, enquired about quality, price, and craftsmanship.
The problem? Most high-end brands offered very expensive diamond rings in comparison to the quality offered. Besides, the turn around time for the wanted diamond ring would have been a couple of weeks. Note that we were due to leave in two days back to the UK.
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Problem with engagement rings in Japan
We looked at forums and we found that most people recommend that we try either Ginza, or Shinjuku. People kept on saying that it might not be cost-effective to buy a diamond ring in Japan, as it is an expensive country.
We almost gave up, when, a Japanese friend of ours recommended that we try Okachimachi.
Apparently, this small area is some sort of Japanese jewellery heaven which few foreigners know about - for now! The moment we heard about it, we embarked on an adventure...
Okachimachi means "Jewellery town" in Japanese. The area is very close to Ueno Park, and you will find about 30 jewellery stores here.
Getting to Okachimachi
You need to take the subway to Okachimachi Station. From the station, you literally need to walk about 2 minutes to the West, until you will see the first jewellery stores. The good news is that the place is packed with all sorts of jewellery stores.
Literally, you can find anything and everything in this quarter. The bad news is that it's very time-consuming to go from store to store, so you should start early in the morning.
Okachimachi jewellery stores
We literally went from shop to shop for hours and asked about prices, quality and turn around time. We also took lots of business cards and wrote down the names of the shop and all the information received so we can compare everything at the end of the day.
We found very few English speaking sellers which made our journey very difficult. Some sellers were very happy to try and help, whilst others were a little more reluctant due to the language barrier.
Overall it was a very nice experience. We weren't afraid of getting a bad deal, as we tend to trust the Japanese. As people, they are honest and very proud of what they do. As a general rule, if a Japanese person tells you something, they mean it.
Okachimachi diamond ring!
After hours of search, we came across a cute store where we found a Japanese gentleman who spoke English. He took his time to show us rings, find the perfect diamond and also agree to get everything ready for the afternoon next day! He offered engraving included in the price, plenty of discounts and a most beautiful wooden box for the ring. All that walking around has paid off.
The next day, we went to pay for the ring and pick it up. IT WAS AMAZING!
Should you buy diamond rings in Tokyo?
Absolutely! I couldn't have found a better place to buy my engagement ring. I am pleased with the quality, the weight, the price and the service. We all know Japan has the best service in the world, and this made it easier for us to want to purchase this from Japan. As a keen traveller, I love that my engagement ring is from Tokyo, my favourite necklace from New Zealand and my wedding ring from London.
A final word of advice
When buying a diamond ring, irrespective of the country, you should expect to receive a document of authenticity. Some country will have different one according to their own laws and regulations.
We did receive a certificate in Tokyo and we could easily check the validity of our purchase online. Yet another reason why purchasing a diamond ring in Tokyo makes sense: minimises the risk of receiving false certificates or counterfeit diamonds.
It's your turn to tell me the story behind your favourite piece of jewellery. Where did you buy it from? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does an engagement ring cost Japan?
On average, a traditional diamond engagement ring in Japan can cost anywhere from ¥100,000 ($800) to several million yen. As always, there are engagement rings available at various price points, and it's possible to find options that are more affordable or significantly more expensive.
A good idea is to consider your budget, what kind of diamond you are after (there are so many!) and what type of ring you want. Based on these criteria, you will find it easier to look for the perfect ring.
Is $1000 a lot for an engagement ring?
I would say, a $1000 is an average price for a diamond ring in Japan in 2023. You can find cheaper and more expensive options as well. Department stores and popular western shops will sell the rings for a lot higher price and local shops that trade diamonds will give you a better price.
A good rule of thumb is that the more specialised the store is, the better the price and higher the quality of the diamonds they sell. It's a good idea to learn about diamonds before you go shopping, so you can recognise what makes them classed "high quality" or "low quality".
Do they wear engagement rings in Japan?
In Japan, engagement rings are not traditionally a common practice. Unlike in Western cultures where engagement rings are often exchanged, the focus in Japan tends to be on the wedding ring. The wedding ring is typically a simple band that is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.
However, with the influence of Western customs and globalization, the popularity of engagement rings has been growing in Japan in recent years. (The number of couples who exchange engagement rings grew from 5% in 1966 to about 60% in the 2020s.) Some couples now choose to exchange engagement rings as a symbol of their commitment before getting married. This trend is particularly seen among younger generations and in urban areas.
It's important to note that while engagement rings are becoming more popular in Japan, they are still not as widely recognized or expected as they are in Western cultures. Ultimately, the decision to exchange engagement rings or not is a personal choice for the couple based on their preferences and cultural background.
What finger does the ring go on in Japan?
Similar to many Western countries, the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. The fourth finger is known as the ring finger, and it is believed to have a vein directly connected to the heart, hence the significance of wearing a ring on that finger.