Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wedding Ring Shopping

School is back and I have found myself surprisingly busy. I have some free time today (my students are sitting some kind of national test today) so I thought it time I caught up on my blog. 

A couple of weeks ago Jihyeon and I traveled to Seoul to go wedding ring shopping. Shopping for jewelry can be intimidating and stressful for a man when he can speak the language, let alone in a different country dealing with potentially shady sales people that for all I know could pack up shop a week from now and be gone (with my money). Luckily I had Jihyeon to help me, but that said, I wasn't particularly looking forward a day of sitting quietly out of the loop while Jihyeon did all the talking only to be asked to hand over the cash at the end of the discussion. 

As I said, we headed to Seoul to a district (Jongno-gu) that was recommended to Jihyeon by friends and colleagues who recently got married. The area is a hot spot for all things wedding related and there were jewelry shops EVERYWHERE! We got off at Jongno 3-ga subway station and set about looking for a ring.

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Jihyeon's friends had recommended a jewelry shop to go to, but we thought it prudent to check out at least one more place first. We stopped at pretty much the first classy looking jewelry shop we came across after exiting the subway (about 20 meters from exit 1). It was a pretty nice up market looking place, but sadly they wouldn't let me snap any photos (unless I handed over cash for a ring) because they were afraid I would steal their "unique designs". They all look the bloody same to me. Anyway, the sales person was really nice (she even spoke a reasonable amount of English which was good). We almost bought the rings there as the price seemed good, but we decided to do the sensible thing and check out the place that was recommended to us before laying down any cash.

If you head east from Jongno 3-ga subway station and walk about 500 meters (past jewelry shop after jewelry shop) you will come to a large intersection and see this building on the corner. 

The bottom couple of floors are packed with wedding shops selling Jewelry, Hanboks, wedding cards and more. We headed up to the second floor and found the shop that had been recommended to us. It was not as fancy as the first place which had a private waiting room and gave free drinks and fruit to snack on while waiting, but it was still professional and the staff were friendly.

In contrast to the first store we went to, the woman that served us spoke zero English. Jihyeon found some designs she liked AND they had just a plain band for me (the first store struggled with the idea of a plain band) so we set about discussing the price. I don't really understand the ins and outs of it, but in Korea if you pay cash they will knock 10% off the price straight away because you can (legally) avoid the sales tax. As an added bonus to seal the deal, because someone had recommended the store to us, the store gave Jihyeon some free ear rings and a free necklace. I decided to just pay for it all there and then, so I walked down to the ATM on the first floor and withdrew a rather large wad of 10,000 won (~AU$10) notes (annoyingly often the largest denomination available at ATM's in Korea) and returned to the store. 

Happy wife, happy life.

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