John NC

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About John NC

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  1. Hi there- Seems like the only 'cheap' diamond is a used diamond- estate sale, broken engagement, someone selling off an heirloom? Otherwise you are paying retail, but online retail is a whole lot less than mall/ jewelry store retail in my opinion. Use the diamond search on this site, you'll see the same diamond offered by 3-5 dealers at slightly different prices, capitalism at it's best. Some dealers have a diamond in stock so they're the only one's offering that particular stone, but you can still compare it to similar diamonds on the market and see if it looks like a fair deal. Good luck!
  2. John NC

    In The Market For An Engnmt Ring

    John here- GIA top cut is Excellent then VG 2nd, and then you have polish and symmetry- personally I considered VG to Ex on both symmetry and polish to be a requirement AGSL top cut is Ideal, then Ex. 2nd, then vg. -same for polish and symmetry. GIA Ex. = AGS Ideal. There is a whirlwind of thoughts and graphics on my thread if you want to see how I suffered through trying to figure out the perfect numbers to shoot for- truth is there are a variety of combos that can be awesome, but I chose to stick with numbers within GIA's EX cut tolerances, which I believe are 58.6-63% depth and 52.4-59% table (from my handwritten notes, could be off a hair). Some people think a 63% depth is too deep and 52% crown too narrow, so I went with 58-62% depth and 53-59% depth, and would occasionally search the 60% crown diamonds... As a caveat I got paralyzed trying to analyze the numbers (not normal for me) and the pros tried to set me straight about 10 times, so try not to let that happen to you. The diamond I ended up going with had a crown % of 56.1, depth % of 61.5, crown angle of 33.9 and pavillion angle of 41. Then you get into a few other numbers on the grading report, but those are the basics. Girdle I was told and read to stay away from very thin or very thick. Medium is best, thick to very thick just hides carat weight in the middle so you pay for a deep girdle instead of properly utilized carat weight, and thin to very thin can chip. I think the extremes can also undermine the way the angles work together? "I" color worked for me, no trace of yellow... "G or H" will cost you a premium over "I or J", but may be worth it considering your budget. D,E,F gets a little crazy on the wallet. SI-2 also worked out for me, but VS-2 might be "mind clean"- the reason I say that is I think to myself, "Did I cheap out with an eye clean SI-2?"-and I'll stare and stare at it and every now and again I think I see a small inclusion, then I lose it and can't find it- I guess that's OK, but it's not 100% mind clean that's for sure. SI-1 might be safer but I've heard of SI-1 diamonds that aren't eye clean. VS-2 from what I've learned should be totally eye clean, but you pay a nice premium over SI-1... which costs you over SI-2 (obviously). For culet you want none or very small... none is preferred (perfect pointed base). I like looking at the stone under FL lights- regular old office lights, produces a neat light show. I'm a beginner so the pros might give a counterpoint, I'd take their opinion over mine 100%. I personally wouldn't buy from a local brick and mortar retail jeweler seeing the prices the stores offer on IGI, AGA diamonds (less reputable or well known grading labs). I've seen several diamonds like mine in the store for over $20K... and if they offer a GIA/ AGS... the price tag grows. Go to the tutorial on this site (diamond.info) and read the advanced cut guide. And check this out: http://www.gia.edu/diamondcut/05_diamond_anatomy.html http://agslab.com/diamond_buying101_consumer_brochure.php http://agslab.com/diamond_buying101_4cs_of...grading_cut.php There are more GIA graded stones than AGSL, at least that's what I found, 95% of the stones I reviewed were GIA and I would have bought GIA if this AGS hadn't come along. OK gotta get some work done, thinking about diamonds is making me sweat a bit... good luck! Don't rush it, with that budget you should be able to find a KILLER stone. John
  3. John NC

    In The Market For An Engnmt Ring

    Hi there- Just thought I'd throw in my $0.02 since I just bought a 2 carat round. I would go with GIA or AGS graded stones- EGL looks great for the $$$ but they are soft in grading on color, by as much as two grades I've heard/ read, and can be a bit soft on clarity? EGL USA is a bit more inline wth GIA/ AGS, but to me too risky especially at the budget you're at. In house jewler graded stones are unreliable, and I ran into some doozies for high $. I READ a ton on the tutorials, and the advanced cut tutorials are great. Cut to me was the most important factor, then clarity and color ("I" was my floor on color). I ended up with an AGS 2.058 ideal cut/ symmetry/ polish (triple ideal), SI-2 eye clean, no culet, no fuorescence, and I color- looks icy white and has killer fire and sparkle, even in low light. $13K for the stone which I thought was very reasonable after seeing how quickly a 2 carat can jump in value with one clarity grade or color grade improvement, add two upgrades combined with EX or Ideal cut and you get past $20K in a hurry. If you want to read my very steep learning curve in action feel free, I included some websites to learn about cut quality, although the folks here are right that you (or your chosen rep) have to see stones in person to make a judgement: http://www.diamond.info/forum/index.php?showtopic=4751 Cathy also just bought a 2.2 or so round, and has a great thread going with several educational debates included: http://www.diamond.info/forum/index.php?showtopic=4753 I also bought a GIA ex/vg/ex, I, SI2, 2.27 carat for $10,600 to compare to the AGS that was strong blue fluorescent- and it was a KILLER stone, a feather just under the table visible in certain lights (direct sunlight especially) killed the deal, and the AGS beat it in several other areas (except $ and size) so I went with the AGS. Returned the GIA. Took them both to an appraiser for evaluation. Point is don't be afraid of fluorescence unless the ring will be in an environment with blacklights more than a few days a year, unlikely unless you own nightclubs, and even then a glowing diamond might be cool. I'd avoid VERY strong FL personally. Cathy ended up with a medium blue FL. Great way to get a discount on a large excellent or ideal cut diamond and it can help the diamond face up a color grade or so 'whiter' than stated on the grading report, I believe it but that's debated by some. I may be addicted to diamonds now... they're like crack! HA! GOOD LUCK and congrats! John
  4. Hi Cathy! Sorry I thought I'd posted to you my results... Here goes: OK... drumroll please! ... Went with the 2.058 AGS-000 over the GIA 2.27 Ex, vg, ex (feather in the table foiled it). Took them to the appraiser (DCA Diamontologist/ GIA Gemologist/ Appraiser) and he sat down with his microscope and various lights and tools and reviewed both stones with me. The AGS won out in most categories so I went with it. He pretty much immediately pointed out a feather under the table to me (GIA stone), which I hadn't seen... but once he showed it to me I could pick it out without too much trouble. Both stones I color SI-2 clarity. He said the AGS was just better all around. Under magnification you can see a couple small inclusions in the AGS, but nothing major and nothing you can see with the naked eye. Speaking of the STRONG FL- NO IMPACT on the color or clarity of the GIA even in direct high noon sunlight. They both throw off the same level of blue fire (along with all the colors of the rainbow it seems). You mentioned your GIA medium blue had a lot of blue fire in sunlight? Well the GIA SB and AGS no FL both looked the same as far as blue fire/ brilliance... so I'd say it's just a killer way to save some money, and if it helps a I/J/K/L or lower color stone look whiter that's a bonus. OH almost forgot- asked Amanda Friday night and she said YES! Very excited. The band is a thicker white gold band with integral tulip setting, and the sides kinda sweep up just a bit to cradle the tulip setting? I've tried to add photos but for some reason it's not working. We'd looked at settings and she liked the thicker settings and loved the tulip design of the sides, and loved the round solitaire, so it was easy for me, I thought, until I got into the diamond search- wow the learning curve is intense. It also came with a "GCAL Audit" accompanying the AGS triple ideal grading report. Includes photomicrographs, optical symmetry analysis (EX), optical brilliance analysis (EX), Cut stats (all top ranked). Pretty cool- hadn't run into this GCAL report before so probably not a big deal, but neat to see. Seems like a pretty good deal for such a well cut, eye clean, 2+ carat diamond- $11,943 (stone only). Larger fluorescent GIA was $10,621 for reference, but that stinkin' feather! :-) I'll have the appraisal in by Friday. Anyways, thanks to ALL! Thanks Cathy! John
  5. Hi Guys, been following Cathy's thread closely... and thought I'd comment on the latest happenings with Cathy's post (her not looking at diamonds by Barry and David and others that have posted replies). I know she has expressed her gratitude for your advice, guidance, and help, and I've found it invaluable as well. OK- If you are a pro offering help and have a productive dialogue going with a potential buyer, and you have diamonds for sale that match the specific parameters they are looking for- I think you should feel free to offer them up for review. Also in your signature line you might write a blurb about your business and what you specialize in so that folks like Cathy and I can see plain as day that you can offer us not only valuable guidance but great stones as well. David and Barry: I reviewed both of your websites, David seeing that you offered primarily diamonds of a different variety than I was wanting I didn't inquire- but again the advice and commentary was awesome. I will remember that you were very helpful and if I have a pal looking for that type of diamond, sure enough I'll send them to you. Barry I reviewed your site and saw some great diamonds, and asked about two in my thread (the first I may have confused your company with another Ideal/ Excel?), you asked that I register on the site which I did, and attached to my registry I believe 3 diamonds that looked promising- don't know if it was the junk mail filter or if I got lost in the shuffle but I never heard back and by then I'd zero'd in on the two diamonds I picked so I didn't inquire again. Your system of business definitely has it's perks so I will tell friends who are looking about it in the future if they don't want to go the drop-ship route. I also inquired with 2 of the leading online dealers- one never responded and one just sent me a packaged list of all the 2+ carat AGS and GIA diamonds they had in the system under my specified price ceiling, some of good cut, and I'd specified EX or Ideal cut. The company I ended up going with was responsive to any questions I had, and checked on any diamond I inquired about eagerly. Of course being a drop shipper there were added risks to me as the consumer such as the selling company not seeing the diamond in person, the drop shipper having to rely on the source to determine "eye clean", no sarin/ ideal-scope images etc... but in the end I felt like I had two winners to choose from so I went with them. The market transparency of seeing the same diamond offered by 3+ companies is very attractive, feels like true capitalism and that you are paying (low compared to B & M) fair market value. So I guess the bottom line is that when shopping for a diamond there is a sense of mild terror probably due to the high price tag/ tiny item/ lack of knowledge/ black magic involved, and in the whirlwind of emotion and the steep learning curve a buyer may be obtuse to some things that seem obvious to the pros and those posting responses on these threads? Plus a buyer is looking high and low for guidance and is shopping at boutiques, mall jewelers, maybe estate sales, resales, drop shippers, online, NY, who knows where so they may not know to click on the link by your name to check out your diamonds, they may just assume that if you have a great stone in their budget you'll offer it up for review. That same buyer, if they are lucky, runs across these message boards or a helpful honest pro, and sees the light, learns, and makes an informed decision. Anyways, don't know if I helped at all to give the consumers side of what happens but I felt compelled to comment. Again what you guys/ gals do writing total strangers and giving your expert opinion is very much appreciated by beginners (me), novices, and I'm sure even experienced purchasers- so thank you very much. John
  6. Hi folks, Barry I was joking about that not so scientific test of the two diamonds side by side and the blurred eye/ shade deal- but oddly it did seem that the AGS outperformed the GIA by a tiny bit looking at them like that. Of course I looked at them in every light and at every angle imaginable.. I tried posting the photos but for some reason it wouldn't take. They basically look the same- the camera wouldn't focus readily for a close up, and a shot of them further away doesn't show much? Maybe I need to reduce the size of the pics. John
  7. Hi Cathy, Wow your thread continues to pile up the pages, it will be very helpful for future RB buyers. Concerning the fluorescence, of my two stones the GIA is strong blue, the AGS negligible... they look the same in every light, just the AGS seems to put off maybe a touch more fire/ brilliance? The SB didn't look any blue(er) than the AGS in any light. I wanted the SB 2.27 to win of course because it was bigger and less money. But a feather under the table ruined the party for the GIA (very hard to see but once you do it's easier to pick out), and the slight overall edge of the AGS (per the appraiser) got me. If somebody wants a killer 2.27 GIA Ex cut it will be coming back on the market shortly- that white feather will get you though if your eyesight is sensitive. Thanks! John
  8. OK... drumroll please! ... Went with the 2.058 AGS-000. I came up with a new highly scientific test to judge light return. In diffused lighting cup your hands around the 2 stones side by side mounted in a folded piece of paper, use a hole punch to make 2 holes about 2 inches apart in white paper to display the diamonds. Well while shading the diamonds blur your eyes to the point of getting a headache, and get real close and you can judge which diamond has a better light show. OK so not so scientific but I did notice that the slightly smaller AGS seemed to have a bit more brilliance. Otherwise they are both awesome. Candle light does make them look yellow but it's a neat effect. Fluorescent lights might be in your garage or in your kitchen ceiling... you know the old tube lights? Really gets the diamond going. Took them to the appraiser (DCA Diamontologist/ GIA Gemologist/ Appraiser) and he sat down with his microscope and various lights and tools and reviewed both stones with me. The AGS won out in most categories so I went with it. He pretty much immediately pointed out a feather under the table to me (GIA stone), which I hadn't seen... but once he showed it to me I could pick it out without too much trouble. He said the AGS was just better all around. Speaking of the STRONG FL- NO IMPACT on the color or clarity of the GIA even in direct high noon sunlight. They both throw off the same level of blue fire (along with all the colors of the rainbow it seems). OH almost forgot- asked Amanda Friday night and she said YES! Very excited. Her coworker is a diamond nut and wants me to send over all the specs. Amanda said she keeps coming over and checking it out. I have the "GCAL Audit" accompanying the AGS triple ideal grading report, says it qualifies for the GCAL "Zero Tolerance" 4 C's consumer quarantee. Includes photomicrographs, optical symmetry analysis (EX), optical brilliance analysis (EX), Cut stats (ideal cut, ex. light performance, ex. finish, ex. proportions etc). Pretty cool. Seems like a pretty good deal for such a well cut diamond- $11,943 (stone only). Anyways, thanks to ALL! John
  9. OK, got both stones.... the GIA 2.27 definitely faces up a bit bigger than the AGS 2.058... and I took both up onto the balcony in direct high noon sunlight, no oily and hazy appearance out of the GIA strong blue, and they both appear to have the same level of blue fire (as well as other colors). In FL lighting (not UV) they both sparkle like mad. I've attached a couple photos, but it's hard to capture what's going on. With my hands cupped around them, shaded the AGS seems to have an ever so slight edge in brilliance maybe? But maybe 5%. Cupped with hands/ shaded the GIA seems to have more visually eviden arrows. Crown is wider so maybe the larger 'window' in to see the arrows helps that effect. 59% crown on the 2.27 and 56.1% crown on the AGS 2.058. A cool effect is holding something shiny and black above them to shade them from the diffused sunlight and fluorescent office lighting- lots going on. Anyways, any opinions? Remember the larger GIA is a savings of $1,322 over the AGS. For some reason the pics won't upload... but they look the same in the photos, just the GIA is a bit larger. I'll try again later. Thanks- John
  10. John, I am so glad one of your stones looks like a success!! I have an appraisal tomorrow on my stone so I am hoping to hear good things! I did take photos but wanted to post them when I was sure if I was keeping it. I actually did find a lower price on another site for the stone and WF matched it! Bonus! Can't wait to hear about the other stone! Hi Cathy, Yes so far so good... have you viewed your stone in the dark near candle-light? Brought out a good bit of yellow tint in my AGS I, dont' have the GIA I yet... but I should have it any minute (Fed-ex comes at 10:30 usually)- so I'll repeat the test in a dark corner of the office with both stones side by side. I wonder if the flame imparts a yellow tint. But in bright light and especially under fluorescent lighting the stone is clear as ice, shows no tint of yellow so that's good. Probably beside a "D" I'd see the difference, but in everyday situations looks darn good. I'm starting to wonder if I should have went with a 1.7ish G/H color... but I'm sticking to the plan. Have you looked at your stone under a fluorescent light as the only light source (not UV, just straigh old school fluorescent tubes)? The fire and color show is pretty cool. Just read your latest post, I'd e-mailed a couple of companies too with no or very slow response, and I too saw diamonds getting snapped up. Katie with Abazias was great to work with, she put a hold on these 2 stones and tried to get a 3rd for me but it sold, and she was very responsive by e-mail and the phone. I didn't realize this but jewelry stores REALLY want to charge you to set a loose diamond, and I could tell they were a bit put off at first that I didn't buy the diamond through them, but then I'm buying the setting, paying for the mounting, and paying to have the 2 stones evaluated today so I guess they're making out OK. The guy is great and has a great diamond education and sales background so I'm excited for the review. NERVOUS! GIA 2.27 should be here any minute! Can't wait to see what the big bad strong blue fluorescence does to it, probably nothing, and then if it outperforms the AGS I'll just need to decide if I'm OK with the strong blue fluorescence. Wish it was 'slight'- but then that stone would have been $18K+ probably. Thanks- John
  11. Ahhh... yes I should have the second stone (2.27 GIA SB, Ex, Vg, Ex, I, SI2) in the AM and will try to snap some photos of both and get them on asap. So far the AGS looks great to me, but I'm just comparing it to what else I've seen in person, going to check it out tonight at home in the dark, candle-lit etc. Just went by the jeweler to finalize the setting choice, and looked at some IGI 2 carats while I was there, $18K, $20K +... H, I, J color- retail is a bit scary $$$$ wise, to me at least. They were pretty stones though. I can tell they aren't thrilled I'm buying online but couldn't pass up the savings over retail. I'm sweating and drooling I'm so nervous! HA! Thanks- John
  12. Ha! I know Barry.. the numbers nut strikes again. I just wanted to make sure the info folks were looking at was correct. Waiting on the 2nd to show up. Yikes! Thanks- John
  13. Hi Folks, I added the AGS doc, but had to reduce it a bunch so may not be legible... but I made couple mistake writing down the specs and the right info is (underlined mistakes): 33.9 CA, 41 PA, 56.1% crown, 61.5% depth, and down the right side the numbers are: 14.8%, 1.6-3.9%, 43.3%... where I messed up is that the star or upper % number is 53 and I think I wrote 55%, the lower is 82%. Got the stone, and it looks awesome so far, eye clean and using my office magnifying glass I can barely pick out what appear to be a couple internal characteristics... probably 5X magnification. Looks icy clear white, no tint of color as far as I can see. Still waiting on the 2.27 GIA Strong Blue Ex cut. Will report back, if those couple numbers above raise any red flags please let me know. Thanks, John
  14. Hi there! AGS is similar to GIA but their criteria for Ideal is a bit more strict than what GIA requires for Excellent- otherwise equal from what I've read. And yes we're in nightcubs with blacklights at least 3 times per week and have blacklights in the house- just joking! HA! No we're not in clubs too often, but yeah if it glowed and people wondered if they were taking on radiation that wouldn't be good. The first GIA is taken so having the 2.27 GIA and 2.058 AGS shipped, just ordered them- yikes! If neither is eye-clean and/ or they do funny things concerning light return I'll be on to plan "C" or "D"- not sure where I'm at. Thanks- John
  15. Hi Cathy! I'd love your input... here they are if you can't find them on my thread: #1 This first one is out with a customer and they may have purchased... 2.01 GIA 8.1-8.18-4.99 I Si-2,ex,ex,ex, no culet, no fluorescence, thin to medium girdle, 58% table, 61.3% depth 55% uppers 80% lowers, 35 CA, 41.2 PA Scored 3.6 on the HCA, "eye clean" $11,590 #2 2.27 GIA 8.49-8.56-5.12 I Si-2 Ex cut VG polish Ex Symmetry, no culet, strong blue fluorescence, 59% table, 60.1 depth, 50% upper, 75% lowers, 33 CA, 41 PA, girdle thin to medium, 1.1 on the HCA "100% eye clean" $10,621 #3 2.058 AGS 8.17-8.22-5.04 I Si-2 triple-0 pointed culet 56.1% crown, 61.5% depth 33.9 CA, 41 PA, 55% uppers 82% lowers- 1.6-3.9% girdle, Negligible Fluorescence. Said to be eye clean to most at the office which is a bit scary, 1.3 HCA. $11,950 I know you like big stones too so the 2.27 may be your pick, of course the strong blue fluorescence will scare some folks, and does me too, but if it looks great in person in varied lighting conditions/ sunlight I certainly will strongly consider it. AGS-0,0,0 is mighty tempting too even though it's $1,300 more- but it may have a slightly visible inclusion, so who knows! Should have them tomorrow (#2 and #3). Thanks- John