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Hrd Grading Reports & Choosing A Diamond Dealer In The Uk


Gide
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Hi

 

First of all, thanks to everyone in the industry who contributes here.  I've found the FAQ's / pinned threads on this site helpful as I work out how to set about this purchase.  

 

Everything I've read (on here and other sites, e.g. pricescope, prosumer diamonds) over the past month emphasises cut - sadly the hardest thing to judge as a novice.  I understand that just seeing an "Excellent" cut grade in a GIA report isn't enough as there's a great variety within that class and, indeed, many branded diamonds claim to be "Ideal" or "Superideal".

 

Most of the advice on the internet seems to be US-centric and it looks like the UK and EU are somewhat behind in consumer education and focus on cut quality (certainly from the couple of high street shops I have visited).  Branded cuts also seem to be much rarer here (Whiteflash, Solasfera, etc.).

 

In the Hall of Fame thread on choosing a diamond dealer to help you pick a well cut diamond, I noticed how everyone emphasises that the dealer should stock diamonds with GIA or AGS reports.  However, a few UK/Antwerp-based diamond dealers I have found use HRD reports and say they are equivalent to GIA.  Does anyone have a view on this?  

 

I am thinking of working with Designs by Indigo (http://www.designsbyindigo.co.uk/) who, I believe, stock Crafted by Infinity "Superideal" diamonds.  Assessing them against the criteria in the Hall of Fame thread, the negatives are that I'm struggling to work out if they're a virtual dealer and whether they have a trade up policy. They also use IGI reports.  On the other hand they seem to let you come to a showroom by appointment to select a diamond once you have sent them criteria. 

 

Are there any other factors / quirks I should be aware of when looking for a non-US dealer?

 

Thanks in advance

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HRD is a fine lab.  That said, I’m pretty sure ALL CBI branded stones are graded by AGSL because they like their cut grading system.  That is to say, they don’t use either GIA or IGI (or HRD). 
 

The burden of proof on ANY claim of ‘superideal’ is on the person making the claim.  If you don’t understand or they can’t explain what they mean, assume it means nothing. 
 

I don’t know the first thing about Designs by Indigo, which means nothing at all.  Assess them in the same way you would any other dealer.  Check out the reviews.  Check out the terms and conditions.  Look at their history.  Contact them directly and get a feel if you want to be doing business with them.  

Edited by denverappraiser
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Thanks for the reply. One dealer's site postulated that HRD are much more common in Europe because of a gentleman's agreement with GIA not to encroach on each other's turf...

 

Is it fair to say that of the branded diamonds (CBI, BGS, GOG hearts and arrows, Whiteflash ACA), while people have preferences, there is no recognised hierarchy? This is the impression I have from reading a few forums. I imagine all come with a brand price premium.

 

If so, I think my choice will be guided by what I can get. It seems only CBI are sold in the U.K. Do you know of any other dealers?

 

The reason I'm focusing on branded diamonds is I don't trust myself to be able to pick two different Excellent cut grade diamonds apart. Paying a premium for a brand which seems to be acknowledged as providing great cut seems worth it for the piece of mind.

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I think that's basically correct although I"ve never heard if it's an informal agreement or something contractual.  GIA doesn't have a lab anywhere in Europe although there are very reasonably priced 3rd party options for Belgian dealers who want submit stones to them.  Something tells me this is subsidized by GIA and the consolidators get some sort of a cut.  It's simply not correct to say they can't do it, they just choose not to and, until the rise in Internet educated customers, there wasn't much reason to. 

Brand heirarchy?  Well, any brandholder that is worth a lick would put themselves at the top, no?  You've mentioned several of the big players in terms of Internet presence but Tiffany, for example, outsells all of those combined.  Blue Nile is the biggest Internet diamond house by far, and they have a branded line, as does JamesAllen, the #2 player.  Yes, brands sell at a premium.  That's why they do it. No, they are not all equal.  I'm not going to give you my preferences because of the inherent conflict of interest as an appraiser but that other forum you mentioned is chock full of people with strong opinions on this matter.  Do be aware that sometimes free opinions from strangers are worth less than they cost.   :o

 

I know LOTS of other dealers.  Hundreds. Most will sell in the UK although few carry inventory there.  I think it has to do with the way y'all assess inventory taxes.  

FWIW, I personally wear a branded cut diamond and I DO trust myself to tell the difference.  I'm a very picky customer (as you can probably imagine). The problem is that it takes extra time and effort to do a superb cut, and the ones who are willing to do that are the ones who are being paid for it.  I would have been thrilled to be a little cheaper but I couldn't get what I wanted by dropping the price.  I wanted the best-cut stone period, and the way to get that was internal to the brands. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Neil has given you some excellent advice. A couple of points from a "European" perspective:

 

1. Pretty much all the vendors you mentioned will happily ship to Europe. Bear in mind that duty and VAT will be payable, and figure out whether a trip to the US may instead be worthwhile...

 

2. One of the key reasons for people (me, at least) being concerned with "foreign" dealers is having to deal with returns in case anything is not as expected. One advantage of premium lines is that they have significantly more information than "run-of-the-mill" lines, and that decreases the likelihood that something will go wrong. A second layer of "guarantee" is that some premium lines (not all!) are actually stock/property of the retailer: they have them to hand, they can take more photos/video and give you a professional opinion on what the stone actually look like.

 

3. Crafted by Infinity is a cutter/manufacturer, and does not sell directly to the public but through authorised dealers - the list is here: http://www.craftedbyinfinity.com/web/locations/. Many of these will ship anywhere in the world (though as far as I know the prices are the same, plus or minus local tax differences), and of course it's possible that there are CBI diamonds being sold on the secondary market by dealers that are not part of the "CBI authorised" network.

 

4. We were a CBI dealer for a while (until ~2015), and at the time all CBI diamonds had AGS reports. Given AGS is still given a prominent place on CBI's site, I would find it surprising if things have changed in the last 2 years. Be very cautious if someone is selling a stone as "Crafted by Infinity" without an AGS report (and a lot of reflector images: CBI takes them when they are finished cutting the stone, so all dealers have them...).

Edited by davidelevi
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Thank you both for your advice.

 

A trip to NY would be great but I'd struggle to come up with an excuse for why I'm flying there for a weekend without raising suspicion!

 

I'm meeting Diamond House who sell CBI diamonds in the U.K. so I'll see what the diamonds and prices are like and then work out whether it's worth a trip to NY. The James Allen hearts and arrows line might be an option too. Not sure I like the idea of the Blue Nike drop ship method.

 

A question on colour - I have read some things saying that if you want a yellow gold setting, you should choose a K or L colour diamond as the yellow gold would reflect through a D-I diamond anyway. Would you agree?

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Nope. The amount of colour that gets "picked up" depends on a lot of factors beyond the main material used for the setting.

 

I would however encourage you to go and see diamonds in different colours - perception of and taste in colour are highly individual things. Often people think they "need" D-F for a white diamond, and are quite surprised when they find what a well-cut I colour looks like.

 

Oh, and you are not flying to New York for the weekend: you are going to see your aunt in Little Snoring (or Llandudno, or Ullapool - anything works as long as it's fairly remote!), who is unwell.

 

Or you are taking her (the fiancée, not the aunt) to NY for a weekend of sightseeing before Uncle Donald starts building his wall around the USA - and you are staying in a wonderful little hotel in CT, NJ or PA, not in NY state (this avoids a few issues with local sales taxes... though it doesn't exempt you from declaring the item when you return to the UK). You may even decide to propose on the trip. ;)

Edited by davidelevi
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Thanks. I'll take a trip to Hatton Gardens to have a look at a few colours.

 

I've been looking at a few on James Allen. I quite like the following diamond:

https://www.jamesallen.com/mobile/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.15-carat-i-color-vs2-clarity-ideal-cut-sku-2430901

 

However the AGS report doesn't show any inclusions on the diamond. This is the case for a lot of the diamonds on James Allen, even those with SI grades. Can anyone else see the inclusions on the AGS report or is this just an IT issue for me?

 

Any thoughts on this diamond would be most welcome.

 

Thanks!

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It's an IT issue with the way in which JA loads the reports (and I think it's largely AGS's fault/problem, BTW - it used to be an issue a few years ago, then it went away, but now it seems to be back...)

 

If you go to the AGS site and check the report, you'll find the inclusions plotted: http://www.agslab.com/pdf_sync_reports/104091280051-PLDQR.PDF

 

Late edit: the diamond looks very nice - in as much as these things can be assessed through a lab report and a couple of reflector images.

Edited by davidelevi
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