Being the super internet sleuth that I am, I was able to track down the ring that Tom wants, and save over 50% off the list price...
While most people are afraid of using the internet for expensive purchases, I do not shy away. It's a fantastic medium that allows for easy price comparing, provides extra information, and can offer some great deals.
The trick to buying jewelry on the internet is to research and know your product. Check out the product in-stores, get the prices, try it on for size, then head to the internet. Read reviews of the product, the stores, check out the Better Business Bureau, etc.
Before purchasing Tom's ring, we visited several stores. We first determined the style that Tom likes --- white gold, simple, no design or diamonds. Then, we sized his finger. (We promptly forgot it, so in the end, he had to print off a sizer and do it himself...). I searched for about 2 months, reading reviews of various vendors and websites, watching the Christmas sales, signing up for promo codes, etc. I'd send him links to different rings, and he'd reply with what he liked and didn't like about them.
In the end, he chose this ring:
It's the exact ring he tried on at a jeweler's, and even with their "20% wedding jewelry" sale, it was completely out of our budget. While we realize that rings are not something to skimp on, since we'll be wearing them the rest of our lives, we still did have a budget that we had to stick to. By searching out the ring online, I found a Chicago-based store that had an online shop. Then, I searched for the store on eBay, finding the ring to be $30 cheaper (and included free shipping) than was listed on their website. In the end, I saved more than 50% of what the jeweler quoted us. Before I purchased it, though, I read the terms and conditions, refund and exchange policies, and the warranty and appraisal information. Since all checked out, I went ahead with the transaction.
Tom opted for white gold, as it holds up better than most other metals against scratches, but can still be easily buffed. Because he uses his hands so much with weightlifting and throwing, we needed to be sure that the ring could be cut off at any point in case of an injury. We'd heard many conflicting reports about titanium, palladium and tungsten, so we just decided to be on the safe side and choose gold.
All in all, we're both pretty happy with our ring selections. Hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures once they're in! :)