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Overwhelmed Novice


operamom
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I am looking to upgrade my ring (just celebrated 21 years) and have absolutely no experience, but have been reading blogs and looking at rings online. I am looking for a 2 carat, F, VS1, low flourescence, with a spectacular cut and sparkle. I really want something on fire. From my research, it would seem that Whiteflash's "A Cut Above" series is reliable and puts out an excellent product. But what about the fact that they are all EGS certified (I guess because they are the only ones to offer the imaging)?? I also have been reading that GIA is where it is AT, and had my heart set on a GIA diamond, yet finding a spectacular cut at the same price outside this line seems pretty difficult. James Allan's "True Hears" collection, though GIA certified, does not seem to compare.  I am hoping to stay in the neighborhood of $25-$30k.

I could really use some guidance. When I reached out to The Diamond Pros for guidance (they advertised that they offer free consults), I shared some links; two from James Allen, two from Whiteflash, and two from Blue Nile. They responded and one of their comments was, "Regarding Whiteflash, we will not comment on them under any circumstances. We have had terrible personal experiences with them that a) make us feel no one should ever buy from them and b) precludes us from being objective about them. I'm really sorry." Now, I have only heard great things about Whiteflash so far...is this because they don't get kickbacks from them perhaps?

Here are some rings I'm considering (two from each of said companies):

https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-4149994.htm 

https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-4305836.htm

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/2.02-carat-e-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-10357182?a_aid=dmnd1357&chan=je

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/2.01-carat-f-color-vs1-clarity-true-hearts-cut-sku-8112548

(Screenshot of Certificate attached)

https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD02545359?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&click_id=286125062&utm_source=Michael+Fried&utm_campaign=Online+Tracking+Link

https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD14967918?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&click_id=17219715&utm_source=Michael+Fried&utm_campaign=Online+Tracking+Link

Anyway, any/all advice is welcome and much appreciated!

James Allen True Hearts.png

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@operamom I'm unable to give professional advice. I can just say that I've had an excellent experience with Blue Nile. Their sales associates are salaried (no commission). BN allowed me to order two diamonds and compare. One of them was a BN signature (now called ASTOR) and another unbranded diamond. When I compared the two side by side, they looked close to the same but the price of the signature was twice as much.  I ended up buying the signature because I wanted to (nobody told me to).Their sales associate never tried to tell me that the signature is better or a special cut, etc. like what you hear from some vendors during their "free consult".

Please be aware that there are forums where you might be steered by "helpful members" to buy from certain vendors. You guessed right in your message above. I would question any advice or review I hear unless it is from a family member or someone I personally know well.

It might be a good idea to limit the information you provide when you request advice to ensure that there's no bias. I don't think you need to reveal the vendor, GIA or AGS certificate number, exact carat weight, etc.

You still can reveal other information like measurements, color, etc.

Most importantly, the diamond should be visually appealing to you. You are not going to wear a certificate. Most vendors have a return policy so you can order a diamond or two to compare.

Edited by nkc
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@nkc thank you kindly for your response. That is very helpful. I didn’t realize there would be folks here with the same agenda. I’m nervous because in order to save money I’ll be purchasing the diamond online (therefore not able to see it in person). Interesting that Blue Nile allowed you to compare two! I’ll ask about that! Thanks again!

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36 minutes ago, operamom said:

@nkc thank you kindly for your response. That is very helpful. I didn’t realize there would be folks here with the same agenda. I’m nervous because in order to save money I’ll be purchasing the diamond online (therefore not able to see it in person). Interesting that Blue Nile allowed you to compare two! I’ll ask about that! Thanks again!

This mainly happens on another forum but a few of these "members" lurk here.

Most people buy online now. I would choose a reputable vendor that has a return policy of at least 30 days. Please remember to use your credit card if you want to be safe. Some vendors will give you a discount if you wire money but I would never wire.

I don't think you need to ask BN but you certainly can if you want to. You could just buy the two diamonds you want to compare and return the one you don't want or both. Customer service is excellent.

You can also go to your local jeweler and look at F, G, H color diamonds just to figure out what your preference is and if you are able to see the difference in color... Looking is free.

Edited by nkc
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@operamom - welcome to DiamondReview!

To cover some more of the points that you have raised in your initial post:

9 hours ago, operamom said:

But what about the fact that they are all EGS certified (I guess because they are the only ones to offer the imaging)?? I also have been reading that GIA is where it is AT,

Both AGS and GIA provide an excellent and reliable grading service. AGS's grading of cut is a notch or three above GIA's both in sophistication of the grading algorithm and in terms of its selectivity. There are minor differences in the way they grade colour and clarity, but they are both very consistent (AGS more than GIA, lately, but that's another story).

9 hours ago, operamom said:

Regarding Whiteflash, we will not comment on them under any circumstances. We have had terrible personal experiences

Well, speaking professionally of a competitor here (WF), but my experience has always been the opposite.

Many diamond 'advice providers' are marketing affiliates of particular companies, but they don't disclose it... and claim that their advice 'is for free'. No it isn't - it's paid for by the marketers; you may or may not pay extra for it, but it doesn't change the fact that they have an interest in recommending someone they have an affiliation to.

FWIW, I disagree with @nkc's advice that it may be 

9 hours ago, nkc said:

a good idea to limit the information you provide when you request advice to ensure that there's no bias. I don't think you need to reveal the vendor, GIA or AGS certificate number, exact carat weight

By any means don't disclose the vendor if you don't trust the people you are asking advice to be unbiased, but the more complete the disclosure of facts on the diamond the more likely it is that the advice will consider those facts. For example, 'Exact carat weight' can have a significant effect on fair price of a stone if the weight is around a critical threshold. A 2.00 will be priced differently from a 1.99 (if you can find one of the latter at all - the price differential acts as a big incentive for the cutter to reach that 2.00 threshold even if it means compromising the cut).

Edited by davidelevi
tpyo
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One other point re: comparisons. Be careful what you disclose to Blue Nile (or anybody else) about your intention to return one or more of the stones. There have been reports of people being told that they would not be able to return stones ordered specifically for comparison purposes - vendors for obvious reasons are not keen on encouraging shipping that they pay for (and credit card commissions, and cash flow consequences, and return processing costs, and missing opportunities because of out-of-stock, and ...).

Edited by davidelevi
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My assumption was that @operamom is looking for advice regarding diamond specification/ performance and not necessarily price. She then would be able to figure out pricing based on what she knows about each diamond and by comparing the pricing of several online vendors.

Once she discloses the GIA or AGS certificate number, it will be possible to identify the diamond and the vendor. I believe she can achieve the same goal by disclosing the measurements and information on the certificate without needing to disclose the certificate number. Exact carat weight together with measurement will also identify the diamond and the vender.

I feel that, on another forum, people are steered to buy from WF and this is a good reason for me to not buy from WF (this is just my personal opinion).

I usually read the negative reviews when deciding whether to buy from a vendor or not. This is because: 1) they help me determine the worst case scenario. 2) they reflect how a customer truly feels since they're not a false review written by the vendor or his affiliates and no customer will take the time to write a negative review unless they truly believe that they had a negative experience.

I have seen a few negative reviews about WF on Yelp and what makes things worse, in my opinion, is the response from WF.

I think I should mention that I'm not a competitor and am not affiliated with any business. 

Edited by nkc
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14 minutes ago, nkc said:

Once she discloses the GIA or AGS certificate number, it will be possible to identify the diamond and the vendor.

Not necessarily true. Not least because the majority of diamonds advertised e.g. by Blue Nile are not Blue Nile's property and are advertised by other vendors as well.

In addition, in 12+ years providing advice on this forum, I have seen very few people actually providing all the info on a report... so I continue to disagree with your advice, I'm afraid.

It would also be nice if before casting aspersions on the reasons of others who post on this forum you took some time to read through the advice they have provided for several years.

Edited by davidelevi
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1 minute ago, davidelevi said:

In addition, in 12+ years providing advice on this forum, I have seen very few people actually providing all the info on a report... so I continue to disagree with your advice, I'm afraid.

If she does not provide all the information needed, one can ask her for the missing piece that they need.

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Just now, nkc said:

If she does not provide all the information needed, one can ask her for the missing piece that they need.

I do this every day because I enjoy helping people. If you don't mind, I think I have earned the right to ask people to help me to help them in the most efficient way possible - and you really have no say on what that way is.

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2 minutes ago, davidelevi said:

Did anyone mention price?

I thought you said that 'Exact carat weight' can have a significant effect on fair price of a stone and this is why it is important to disclose exact carat weight. I agree with you that exact carat weight can have a significant effect on price. I just wanted to clarify that my assumption was that she's looking for advice regarding performance. If that's the case, she might not need to disclose the exact carat weight.

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6 minutes ago, davidelevi said:

I do this every day because I enjoy helping people. If you don't mind, I think I have earned the right to ask people to help me to help them in the most efficient way possible - and you really have no say on what that way is.

I agree. I'm just giving my opinion to a consumer (like me) and why I think what I think. I never said my opinion is the only way to do things.

At the end of the day, it is up to @operamom to decide what she wants to disclose and it is up to you to decide how you want to help people.

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3 minutes ago, nkc said:

At the end of the day, it is up to @operamom to decide what she wants to disclose and it is up to you to decide how you want to help people.

It is also up to me to encourage posters to provide the information that is required...

On weight: if I provide advice, I try to make it comprehensive. Telling somebody who is a novice that "be warned that the price of a 1.97 stone should be lower than the price of a 2.01 in a (highly) non-linear way" would be valuable, would you not agree? I can't do that every time, and I may forget to do it if people keep talking in very general terms of 'about this weight'.

Secondly, one part of "well proportioned" is spread/diameter - and that generally tends to go in steps. It's pretty tough to find a 0.9x RBC that is above 6.4 mm (and those that are are usually not cut that well), and a well cut full carat should be around 6.5 - again, simply having the diameter is not enough.

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Hi Mom.

Whiteflash is a fine company with tons of happy customers. They use the AGS grading service on their branded line because they prefer the cut grading system used there. FWIW, so do I.  That said, The industry is increasingly driven by GIA and the advice of "It's GIA or nothing" isn't complete madness. There is a middle ground if you want to go there. They (or you) can send it to GIA before it's set.  If GIA doesn't give the results you want you can still return it. Bear in mind that GIA (and FedEx) do charge for this so it's not completely free of risk on your part and it's going to come down to how badly you want that ACA and GIA branding. There's another potential wrinkle. GIA and AGS are direct competitors and it benefits GIA to make AGS look bad.  It's easy to do if there's an AGS girdle inscription on the stone when they inspect it. Anecdotal does suggest that it matters. 

A solution is to pick a vendor and follow their advice. Tell them the whole truth and think of them as an ally in the hunt rather than an opponent in the process. There are a ton of them out there to choose from.  Tell them your concerns. If you get an inkling that they're lying to you, don't just pass on the stone, pass on the vendor. Competition abounds. I too am cautious about anonymous forum posters and supposed independent experts who offer 'free' advice on the affiliate advice sites (ex. rarecarat or diamonds.pro). It doesn't make them wrong but free consults aren't free. These are commission salespeople.  

You seem to want an AGS 000 and you want GIA grading.  Fine. Get a GIA graded stone and use an independent gemologist to apply the AGS cut grading system for example. Not to sound self-serving but I do this regularly. If the seller is doing it there usually isn't even a fee (to you). It's your call. Going this direction the GIA/AGS rivalry benefits you. AGS has a strong incentive to agree, and it's easy to look up if there's already a GIA number on the girdle. As with the above, anecdotal evidence suggests that it does matter. I have no clue if WF will offer this but I wouldn't be surprised. Ask. It may even save a few bucks because it gets outside of their brand. I'm pretty sure JA doesn't do much in terms of providing actual gemological advice or services beyond reading the report for you. 

 

Edited by denverappraiser
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@davidelevi thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I am posting seeking advice on diamond performance. Since I can't see these diamonds in person, and don't really know what I should be looking for in the photos/videos (since I'm so uneducated on such matters), I was seeking any thoughts on my post - including the specific diamonds linked. To be perfectly honest they all look great to me....so I need an expert to show me what's what! :) Spending this much on a stone is a big deal for me...I want to get the very best I can!

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@denverappraiser thank you very much for your thoughts. Very interesting points you made. I did ask WF about getting a GIA certification in addition to the AGS, and was told it would cost me $436 including shipping. That doesn't sound super enticing to me. I like the idea of having someone like yourself apply the AGS grading system, but I've already combed through tons of "excellent" cut GIA diamonds online and haven't found any that fit into the parameters specified by say, WF, for a hearts and arrows diamond. Everyone seems to have a slightly different opinion on what makes an amazing cut,  but this seems close:

Table: 54 - 58

Depth: 58.5 - 62.5

Crown angle: 33 - 35

Pavillion: 40.6 - 41

Star Facets: 50 - 55%

Lower Girdles: 75 - 80%

Girdle Thickness: T -M - ST

Not many of the reports even have all of this information listed, so I get even more lost. I just want something that performs really well.

Any thoughts about the linked diamonds in my OP?

 

 

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I don’t advise on specific stones I haven’t seen.  I’ll keep it generic and let others make comments on individual stones if they want.

That’s not the way the AGS system works, and that’s one of the big reasons it’s better. It requires an optical scanner called a Sarine and there’s an optical raytracing program to get to the final cut grade. That’s also why it’s helpful to have an expert you’re working with.  It’s not that it’s all that hard but there is not enough information on a GIA report to do it. The other direction, AGS-> GIA is easy, because GIA-x is a very broad category. I’ll venture a guess that not even 10% of GIA-xxx’s would get AGS-000 and close to 100% of AGS-000’s will get GIA-xxx.  That’s not quite as critical of GIA as it sounds. Nearly every stone you see online was sent to the lab directly by the manufacturer. They knew what lab they were aiming for when they started and they cut to their standards. If they were cutting for AGS rules, they send it to AGS. If they’re cutting to GIA, it goes to GIA.  GIA is a lot easier and they lose less weight so it’s a LOT more popular. For cutters, weight and money are very directly related. Popular is not a synonym for better but GIA outsells AGS by a factor of 100.  That’s why it’s hard. Pretty much any dealer can do this if they have a Sarine or access to one, they have stones in hand, and they understand the question.  For example, try Davide who has been posting above. They’re a much more ‘boutique’ style firm than the ones you’ve listed but then you’re asking boutique sorts of questions.

 

Edited by denverappraiser
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2 hours ago, operamom said:

I want to get the very best I can!

Well... the problem is then 'what is best'? A WF ACA is cut very consistently and to a very symmetrical standard; for example, it will never show in an ASET asymmetry like the stone from JA.

image.png.24a083ff0a5b107325caa5c88404ca71.png

Does it matter? I don't know - I like symmetry, but sometimes there is something very appealing about a less structured reflection pattern, and to be honest I suspect you would not see this asymmetry without a reflector and a loupe.

Which brings up the other problem: we are looking at 6 stones with different sets of information for each... and they all look good enough that the differences are in the minutiae.

I think you can rule out a few of the 6 and rank the others based on various attributes.

The first one to go out is the 2.02 from BN. It's a nice stone, but it's priced too high in this company; you could get the WF 2.03 which is definitely better cut for $1000 less.

The second one to leave is the 2.01 from JA. It is cut marginally (very marginally!) 'worse' - as per discussion above - than WF's 2.01 and it's a smidgen larger. It's possibly a little cheaper - but if you buy via wire transfer (which may or may not be the only option you have, unless you have a credit card with a $30k+ limit) it actually is slightly more expensive. Plus, JA's service package is (in my opinion) less attractive than WF's. Things could change if the $1,500 rebate offer is of interest to you - in which case, the one to leave first is the 2.01 from WF.

This doesn't change much, since the 2.01 WF is the next one to go. In the sense that while it's a very nice stone (like all of them, BTW) it's dominated by the other 3 in different ways, and I don't see a reason for preferring it unless budget is a constraint.

The JA 2.02 is the budget champion. It's also - by some length - the less precisely cut (and - to my taste and as far as one can tell from the very limited information that JA gives out nowadays - the least well-proportioned).

The BN 2.30 is the size champion - it's going to be visibly larger than all the others, although it's also the most expensive. It's reasonably well cut - again, very little info is available, but depending on your priorities for upgrading it may well be the top stone.

The WF 2.03 is the cut champion. I think it's going to outsparkle and outfire the larger BN stone significantly, and it's slightly cheaper (especially "not on a credit card").

Ultimately, it really depends on your reasons for wanting to upgrade (and what you are upgrading from).

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@davidelevi wow, thank you so much for all of that! That is very, very helpful. I currently have a 1.3  EGL Ideal H VS1 so any of these options are going to be a tremendous upgrade. I prefer sparkle and fire to any other characteristics, but I am tempted by that size champion. Getting that little bit of extra size in the same qualuity cut looks like it's going to cost me $6K - so not sure it's worth it. I'm definitely leaning toward that last one! 

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@davidelevi I've decided to go with WF ACA. I just can't stop staring at those sparkle and fire videos :). I am really digging this one. Just shy of 2 carats and a big savings: https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-4109161.htm  I currently have a 1.3 with measuring 6.95 -6.87. This one is 8.05 - 8.06. Will I see a definite difference? 

Then there's the option to sacrifice some color for size in these three options: https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/compare/?idnos=3905122,4172768,4273464 

If it were you, what stone would you pick of these four? Remember I currently have a 1.3 EGL Ideal H VS1.

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6 hours ago, operamom said:

I just can't stop staring at those sparkle and fire videos

That's good, but remember that those are marketing... and the other vendors simply haven't got the lighting setup and time invested in producing them. While those videos aren't 'dishonest' and WF (or Brian Gavin, or...) really does cut its diamonds much better than average, don't expect that level of visual difference (BN's video vs. WF's video) in real life.

6 hours ago, operamom said:

I currently have a 1.3 with measuring 6.95 -6.87. This one is 8.05 - 8.06. Will I see a definite difference? 

From below 7 mm to over 8 you will definitely see a difference; whether it's as much as you hope (and as much as you expect for thirty thousand $) is another question. Simple experiment: open Powerpoint or Google Slides or whatever other drawing package you have, and draw two circles, one 6.9 mm the other 8.1 mm diameter; fill them with whatever colour you like, but make it light; draw the outline of the circle in the same colour. Put them next to each other and set zoom to 100%: that's the difference. And while you are at it, add an 8.6 mm circle so you can see what a 2.30 - 2.40 ct looks like.

6 hours ago, operamom said:

Then there's the option to sacrifice some color for size

Bearing in mind that you are coming from an EGL 'H' - which might mean AGS/GIA H, but is much more likely to be J (or even N - depending on the EGL lab, the phase of the moon when grading and whether you prefer cats, dogs or gerbils), and you are going for a super-well-cut stone that will make the face-up appearance look whiter anyway, I think this is very sensible.

The question is what is your sensitivity to colour and how you are going to set the stone. A larger stone has larger side section as well as a larger face - and side-on is likely to be where you see colour, especially on a very open setting. Does this bother you? If even the thought does, play it safe and go no lower than H. It will certainly be no more tinted than your current diamond.

If it doesn't, then go the whole hog down to I. For my money, I'd save $3,000 and go for the 2.32 - an extra 0.1 mm is still going to be visible (just!), but it isn't much, and $3,000 is a lot of money for it.

ETA - if you add back the 1.92 (or 2.03) F/VS1 into the equation, a lot depends on how you intend to set the new diamond, your personal sensitivity to colour and what other jewellery you wear. For what I (my wife) probably would do, which is one single ring and set as a solitaire, I would definitely save myself $5k (or 10) and go for the 2.32 I/VVS2.

Edited by davidelevi
added last paragraph
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@davidelevi Thank you for the information you provided.

For learning purposes, can you tell me if fire, brilliance and sparkle are measured quantities or not. In other words, if someone tells me that one diamond has more fire and sparkle than another and both are well cut, how do I verify that one truly has more fire and sparkle than the other?

Also, at what point would the difference become visible?

Edited by nkc
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