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kevindd992002

Buying an engagement ring noob

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So I'm trying to find for an engagement ring here in the Philippines and have a relative that sources these. I have maybe close to a $4000 budget and aiming for a bit under or over a 1 carat round diamond. I'm new to this and I've been researching for a couple of weeks now. These GIA certificates and videos are what I have so far:

1ct ($4635)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2s103993dgp3uhf/2201103810_1.00.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0rmx09av5ou9jgo/1.00.mp4?dl=0

 

1.03ct ($4759)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/esfbnwg51qov2zf/2368189435_1.03.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/m0ziem31v55wagy/1.03.mp4?dl=0

1.08ct ($6119)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/erro819ct7l3k8e/2213251875_1.08.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/djwfztpxbn1w4n8/1.08.mp4?dl=0

*** I apologize for the videos because their quality was sacrificed when they were sent to me compressed. I'll try and ask for better quality ones but I figured I still attach these low quality ones for now.

Realistically, I can only afford the 1.00ct or the 1.03ct options as their price difference is very small. The 1.08ct option is too expensive for me considering I will still have the diamond set to my liking. Between the 1.00ct and 1.03ct, which is a better buy? They both have excellent cut ratings and their table and depth are within the ideal ranges.

What are your thoughts? TIA!

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None of those meet your requirements because of the price and they're all a bit on the high side for what they are. Is there a VAT tax or something in the Phillipines that's driving them up?  Over/under a carat is a big deal. If price is your hot button, this is where you will find your biggest savings.  Play a bit with the 'diamond finder' at the top of the page. It's free and anonymous and it'll give you an idea for what changes when you tweak a particular attribute a bit.  I/J and VS2/SI1 are important boundaries as well.  $4000 should be plenty to do what you want and maybe have some change left over. 


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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I'm not sure what's driving them up but what I can tell you is that for their price, they are very much cheaper than what I can get if I go the retail store route because of my relative'a direct connections to various suppliers. I will try to use the diamond finder but assuming I find something here, my problem would be shopping and import tax which would drive the cost further up. Do we have brand new stones here too?

Based on my research, I should be able to get away with a J and a VS2. What's a good carat value with a good price if I wanted to go under a carat?

Let's make my budget $4000 to $4800 or so.

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Ok, so I tried using the diamond finder and it's really very intuitive :) Thank you for that tool. Now that I have it at my disposal though, what specs do I want to prioritize? From my research, I concluded that these are the lowest ratings that I need to go for:

Color - J

Clarity - VS2

Cut - Excellent

Table - 53 to 58%

Depth - 59 to 62.3%

Are those the only specs that I need to be aware of? Also, I just asked B2CJewels and they said they ship to the Philippines, so there's that. It's just a matter of paying customs taxes for the item when it arrives here which I' not sure yet how much it would cost.

 

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5 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

Are those the only specs that I need to be aware of?

Yes and no. Ultimately you are buying a diamond because it looks nice, not because it has a certain set of specifications which are rather meaningless aside from "fair price" considerations. Get as much information as you can, and go out and look at diamonds from other sellers - for example, I would prefer H or I colour even if it means having SI1 (or even SI2) clarity, and there is a lot of variation in what GIA 'Excellent' cut looks like. 

As far as custom duties go, I have looked up the Philippines customs tariff, and neither loose stones nor jewellery attract any customs duties - there may be sales taxes (VAT or other types), but you'll know this better than anyone else.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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The Diamond Finder dealers are mostly shipping from the US but the dealers in the Philippines are going to be supplied by the same sources, most of whom are in India FWIW.  It's possible they can even get the exact same stone(s).  How much they want to charge for their time and talents is, of course, up to them and none of these people are charities. VAT and import duties are the same for them as they are for you. I don't know much about retailers in the Philippines but in some places, the UK for example, the costs of operating a retail store are fantastically high in terms of rents and local taxes and permits and this obviously ends up in the prices.  Others, like Singapore, have super high import taxes.  Local conditions vary quite a bit. I pointed you to the Diamond Finder less to find an absolute vendor as to see how all of these various attributes relate to each other. Search for a 1.00-1.03/VS2/J/GIA/xxx and you'll get a list of a few dozen offers. Change one attribute, say raise the color to I, and see what changes.  Spend a half-hour playing with it and you'll learn a lot about what has to do with what. What variables make a big difference and which are tiny. These connections will be the same with your local dealers even if they are, overall, a little more expensive. 

I would use a different list of specs if it were me. Table and depth, for example, are both already covered in the cut grade. I would be fine to drop clarity to SI1 in exchange for better prices and size would become a big issue for me (over/under 1.00 is a big deal).  Personally, I would and have paid a premium for superb cutting. I'm ok with J and even K colors although it's an acquired taste. It's not that icey white that some people are aiming for.  I also rather like fluorescence, which tends to drive down price a little bit. 


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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On your budget.... Don't forget that the diamond is just a component. Rings can add anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand to the deal.  Labor, meaning setting the stone and sizing it, can be a hundred or two. You know your taxes better than me but, around here, sales taxes add about 10%.  Shipping, even from overseas, is usually less than a couple of hundred.  


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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6 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Yes and no. Ultimately you are buying a diamond because it looks nice, not because it has a certain set of specifications which are rather meaningless aside from "fair price" considerations. Get as much information as you can, and go out and look at diamonds from other sellers - for example, I would prefer H or I colour even if it means having SI1 (or even SI2) clarity, and there is a lot of variation in what GIA 'Excellent' cut looks like. 

As far as custom duties go, I have looked up the Philippines customs tariff, and neither loose stones nor jewellery attract any customs duties - there may be sales taxes (VAT or other types), but you'll know this better than anyone else.

Right, but wouldn't you want to see the specs first before deciding if it looks nice? That's why those certification reports are there, right? So you can at least have a good basis of what's what especially if you're new to this (like me).

As far as GIA vs AGS goes, is AGS certification generally more accurate/preferred than GIA? If so, are AGS-certified diamonds more expensive than GIA-certified ones?

28 minutes ago, denverappraiser said:

The Diamond Finder dealers are mostly shipping from the US but the dealers in the Philippines are going to be supplied by the same sources, most of whom are in India FWIW.  It's possible they can even get the exact same stone(s).  How much they want to charge for their time and talents is, of course, up to them and none of these people are charities. VAT and import duties are the same for them as they are for you. I don't know much about retailers in the Philippines but in some places, the UK for example, the costs of operating a retail store are fantastically high in terms of rents and local taxes and permits and this obviously ends up in the prices.  Others, like Singapore, have super high import taxes.  Local conditions vary quite a bit. I pointed you to the Diamond Finder less to find an absolute vendor as to see how all of these various attributes relate to each other. Search for a 1.00-1.03/VS2/J/GIA/xxx and you'll get a list of a few dozen offers. Change one attribute, say raise the color to I, and see what changes.  Spend a half-hour playing with it and you'll learn a lot about what has to do with what. What variables make a big difference and which are tiny. These connections will be the same with your local dealers even if they are, overall, a little more expensive. 

I would use a different list of specs if it were me. Table and depth, for example, are both already covered in the cut grade. I would be fine to drop clarity to SI1 in exchange for better prices and size would become a big issue for me (over/under 1.00 is a big deal).  Personally, I would and have paid a premium for superb cutting. I'm ok with J and even K colors although it's an acquired taste. It's not that icey white that some people are aiming for.  I also rather like fluorescence, which tends to drive down price a little bit. 

I see. But why are others saying that the cut proportions are important individually but they should also complement each other? Are you saying that if the GIA cut grade is excellent, then I don't need to look at the table and depth?

For dealers, is their a list of recommended dealers here that I can check? Blue Niles does not ship to the Philippines so it's off my list.

14 minutes ago, denverappraiser said:

On your budget.... Don't forget that the diamond is just a component. Rings can add anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand to the deal.  Labor, meaning setting the stone and sizing it, can be a hundred or two. You know your taxes better than me but, around here, sales taxes add about 10%.  Shipping, even from overseas, is usually less than a couple of hundred.  

Yes, I think for now I need to be able to find a diamond first. My sister and another relative said that the setting is a bit easier and not too expensive so I'm thinking a couple of hundreds. The import tax is what worries me because I have never imported such a high-valued item. When I buy stuff from the US, I usually use freight forwarders which don't charge import tax.

Edited by kevindd992002

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Proportions are terribly important. Those two don't mean much on their own, and the GIA 'excellent' grade already includes them. The advice you're getting is trying to get the 'most' excellent because GIA-x is a big target. That's true, and it's a good goal, but you can't do it with just two parameters. You can't even do it based only on the lab report. There's quite a bit of information on the GIA site directly about this if you care to dig deeper. I'll warn you, it's a rabbit hole where the deeper you dig, the more you're inclined to dig further. 


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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You should be able to figure out the taxes from the customs office. Davide, who posted above, is pretty good at this sort of thing. I'd be willing to bet he's right. Your freight company may be able to help you too if there's someone there to talk to. Lastly, most diamond people I know ship by FedEx.  Call the local FedEx office and see if they can tell you.  


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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1 hour ago, kevindd992002 said:

As far as GIA vs AGS goes, is AGS certification generally more accurate/preferred than GIA? If so, are AGS-certified diamonds more expensive than GIA-certified ones?

I'll pick this one up, since I haven't got much to add to Neil's responses on the others!

AGS has a significantly more sophisticated and selective cut grading system than GIA. On colour and clarity there are minor differences with GIA, but by and large they are comparable.

Are AGS-graded diamonds more expensive? All else being equal, no. The issue you have is that cutters/wholesalers/dealers choosing an AGS report do so because they are generally cutting them to a higher standard (and AGS 'recognises' this, unlike GIA who would bracket them all into 'Excellent'), and thus tend to ask higher prices because of the cut, not because of the report!

1 hour ago, kevindd992002 said:

My sister and another relative said that the setting is a bit easier and not too expensive so I'm thinking a couple of hundreds.

It all depends on what you want. On settings - more than on diamonds, in my opinion - you get what you pay for!


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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I rather like AGSL, for the reasons outlined by Davide.  YMMV.  GIA is more popular, by a wide margin, but MY wife's stone, as well as my own, are AGSL graded.  


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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On paper, cut-wise it's looking a lot better than the 1.00 and the 1.03 (and also better than the 1.08, but that's a different price band in any case).

Knowing Brian and his reputation for uncompromising cut quality, I'm pretty confident it will look very nice in reality too!

It will look a bit smaller - partly compensated by being brighter and more lively. Enough? That's very much in the eye of the beholder.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Yeah, that's what I thought. I have it on hold for me until I make a final decision and waiting for the actual advanced images to see for myself. Will the size difference between a normal 1ct diamond and this 0.903 be significant/noticeable? What's your comment on the price? After all discounts and shipping, it boiled down to $3,553.83 but that doesn't include import tax (if any) yet, of course. I would have to call FedEx to ask about the possibility of import tax as I have no clue.

Is Jann Paul from Singapore a reputable vendor?

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Well, the question is 'what is normal' and 'what is significant/noticeable'. For example, the 1.00 and the 1.03 are a bit smaller than what I would consider a truly well cut '1 carat diamond', and the 1.08 scrapes by.

Most people would see the 0.3 mm easily with the two diamonds loose and next to each other; I also think they will see that the 0.9 is significantly more bright, sparkly and lively. If shown both rings separately, they would probably have significant difficulty in telling you which one is bigger.

The price is a premium price, but you are getting a premium product. A 'normal' J/SI1 could cost you less, but you need to do (or get the vendor to do) a lot of legwork to figure out if the cut is really nice and whether the inclusions are (not) visible. That work has been done upfront.

Import taxes are frankly irrelevant if you bring in the diamond loose. First of all, because they are zero, as far as I can work out: https://finder.tariffcommission.gov.ph/index.php?page=tariff-finder3 (search for commodity code 7102.39.00 and read note j). Secondly, because if there are duties they will apply to all diamonds and therefore will be re-charged to you in any case if you were to buy from another vendor. They may make this transparent to you or not, but any duty/tariff cost is there and you will be paying it.

28 minutes ago, kevindd992002 said:

Is Jann Paul from Singapore a reputable vendor?

No idea. Which means nothing one way or the other - except that I'm unable to help here. Sorry!

FWIW, their site doesn't seem to work too well (a lot of 'coming soon' pages), and I am allergic to CAD renderings of jewellery, unless someone is designing a custom piece for me.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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11 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Well, the question is 'what is normal' and 'what is significant/noticeable'. For example, the 1.00 and the 1.03 are a bit smaller than what I would consider a truly well cut '1 carat diamond', and the 1.08 scrapes by.

Most people would see the 0.3 mm easily with the two diamonds loose and next to each other; I also think they will see that the 0.9 is significantly more bright, sparkly and lively. If shown both rings separately, they would probably have significant difficulty in telling you which one is bigger.

The price is a premium price, but you are getting a premium product. A 'normal' J/SI1 could cost you less, but you need to do (or get the vendor to do) a lot of legwork to figure out if the cut is really nice and whether the inclusions are (not) visible. That work has been done upfront.

Import taxes are frankly irrelevant if you bring in the diamond loose. First of all, because they are zero, as far as I can work out: https://finder.tariffcommission.gov.ph/index.php?page=tariff-finder3 (search for commodity code 7102.39.00 and read note j). Secondly, because if there are duties they will apply to all diamonds and therefore will be re-charged to you in any case if you were to buy from another vendor. They may make this transparent to you or not, but any duty/tariff cost is there and you will be paying it.

No idea. Which means nothing one way or the other - except that I'm unable to help here. Sorry!

FWIW, their site doesn't seem to work too well (a lot of 'coming soon' pages), and I am allergic to CAD renderings of jewellery, unless someone is designing a custom piece for me.

I see what you're saying. So there's really more to it than just the carat spec alone.

When you say there is more work to figure out if the cut is really nice for a normal J/SI1 diamond, what exactly would that extra work be? Is this something that has to be done outside of the GIA/AGS report that is already given for a specific diamond?

When I was researching the other day, I was trying to use this calculator: https://customs.gov.ph/boc_tax_calc_informal.php and also used the exact same commodity code in the tariff finder you've linked to. I was using 3% as I thought that was the applicable tariff rate that resulted in the tariff finder. Do you happen to know what does the value "3" exactly mean there?

JannPaul was one vendor that was recommended to me by people in another forum (PriceScope). And yes, their webpage is broken. I emailed them and they told me that their website is being revamped and is estimated to be completed on September. I'm asking them if there's a faster way to communicate as I don't want back-and-forth emails. But from what I've heard, they have lots of super ideals too. This is what I've been provided in the meantime:

The Decagon 10 Hearts & Arrows Diamond: A New Generation of Super Ideal Cuts

https://youtu.be/VT_YDf_zbuE

 

Is your diamond... really Brilliant?

https://youtu.be/myRWAglxAnk

 

How to Choose a Diamond with the ASET Scope the Correct Way

https://youtu.be/F5mKxOO8R54

Are you saying that they you saw in their website that they only provide CAD drawings of their diamonds and not advanced images/videos?

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1 hour ago, kevindd992002 said:

what exactly would that extra work be? Is this something that has to be done outside of the GIA/AGS report that is already given for a specific diamond?

Short, snarky answer: looking at the diamond, and you definitely cannot do that if you are looking at the report.

If you read through this GIA article that explains how they built their cut grading system, you'll get an idea of the amount of information that they tried to boil down to a few parameters, and those to one (the cut grade). The AGS system is significantly more sophisticated, but basically tries to do the same thing (although the information that I find most useful on the AGS report is the computer-generated ASET, which contains way more than 'one parameter'). The problem with that is that by definition a grade is a range, and there will be variation within that range.

https://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/fall-2004-grading-cut-quality-brilliant-diamond-moses

GIA (nearly 20 years ago) set out - for some good and some less good reasons - a deliberately wide range of parameters for its 'Excellent' cut grade, with the result that nowadays about half the (round) diamonds graded by GIA are classed 'Excellent' (and some 'Very Good' can look better than some 'Excellent'). That's good in a sense, in as much as none of them looks bad and average cut quality has improved in the intervening 15-20 years by having been made transparent to the consumer; it's bad in another sense because those that look 'really good' are not distinguished from the rest. AGS is much more selective in awarding 'Ideal' cut grades, but there are still differences within that.

1 hour ago, kevindd992002 said:

Do you happen to know what does the value "3" exactly mean there?

It means that there is a duty rate of 3% applied to a diamond imported from a place with which the Philippines don't have a specific Free Trade Agreement (i.e., as far as I can tell, pretty much anywhere diamonds are likely to come from).

image.png.e4702775c619f2e37bca979851a970c1.png

However, in the tariff schedule there is a note j, which says

image.png.d6fa76a5a82fe3876ce6759401363d06.png

which I read to mean that the duty is zero until 2022 under some legislation. However, that concession may apply only if you import the stones as a jeweller; this is where you need to call customs and understand from them what conditions apply. Or look up the JIDA of 1998 and see what it says.

2 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

But from what I've heard, they have lots of super ideals too. This is what I've been provided in the meantime:

[snip]

Are you saying that they you saw in their website that they only provide CAD drawings of their diamonds and not advanced images/videos?

That's educational stuff (and some marketing about a 'non-standard' cut with 10-fold symmetry). Nothing about specific diamonds!

No, I'm saying that all the images I have seen on their website are CAD renderings, and I don't like renderings unless someone is designing a custom piece of jewellery: I'd rather see real examples of what they do and real photos and videos of the diamonds they have for sale. I have no idea what they provide once you engage with them beyond the website.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Short, snarky answer: looking at the diamond, and you definitely cannot do that if you are looking at the report.

If you read through this GIA article that explains how they built their cut grading system, you'll get an idea of the amount of information that they tried to boil down to a few parameters, and those to one (the cut grade). The AGS system is significantly more sophisticated, but basically tries to do the same thing (although the information that I find most useful on the AGS report is the computer-generated ASET, which contains way more than 'one parameter'). The problem with that is that by definition a grade is a range, and there will be variation within that range.

https://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/fall-2004-grading-cut-quality-brilliant-diamond-moses

GIA (nearly 20 years ago) set out - for some good and some less good reasons - a deliberately wide range of parameters for its 'Excellent' cut grade, with the result that nowadays about half the (round) diamonds graded by GIA are classed 'Excellent' (and some 'Very Good' can look better than some 'Excellent'). That's good in a sense, in as much as none of them looks bad and average cut quality has improved in the intervening 15-20 years by having been made transparent to the consumer; it's bad in another sense because those that look 'really good' are not distinguished from the rest. AGS is much more selective in awarding 'Ideal' cut grades, but there are still differences within that.

It means that there is a duty rate of 3% applied to a diamond imported from a place with which the Philippines don't have a specific Free Trade Agreement (i.e., as far as I can tell, pretty much anywhere diamonds are likely to come from).

image.png.e4702775c619f2e37bca979851a970c1.png

However, in the tariff schedule there is a note j, which says

image.png.d6fa76a5a82fe3876ce6759401363d06.png

which I read to mean that the duty is zero until 2022 under some legislation. However, that concession may apply only if you import the stones as a jeweller; this is where you need to call customs and understand from them what conditions apply. Or look up the JIDA of 1998 and see what it says.

That's educational stuff (and some marketing about a 'non-standard' cut with 10-fold symmetry). Nothing about specific diamonds!

No, I'm saying that all the images I have seen on their website are CAD renderings, and I don't like renderings unless someone is designing a custom piece of jewellery: I'd rather see real examples of what they do and real photos and videos of the diamonds they have for sale. I have no idea what they provide once you engage with them beyond the website.

Ok, got it.

It looks like we have the Excise Tax of 20% for imported jewelries :( I don't know how this works but I'd have to ask FedEx next week. But here's a link to Excise tax for our country in case you understand better:

https://www.bir.gov.ph/index.php/tax-information/excise-tax.html#taxrates

I'll take JannPaul with a grain of salt but won't hurt for me to continue asking them for information.

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Mmm... interesting

It says:

F. NON-ESSENTIAL GOODS

Twenty percent (20%) based on the wholesale price or the value of importation

But there are further rules:

RMC NO. 33-2004
Revised Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 8502, Otherwise Known As, The “Jewelry Industry Development Act Of 1998”

... in any case, excise and sales taxes will be due regardless of origin; it's not only for imports, so again they are chargeable to all diamonds:

APPLICABILITY:

On goods manufactured or produced in the Philippines for domestic sale or consumption or for any other disposition; and
On goods imported.

Edited by davidelevi

Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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In terms of durability - not at all

In terms of interfering with sparkle/brightness/liveliness - not at all

In terms of it being visible - not to me in the photos. However I don't have the stone in hand, and my eyesight isn't yours (fortunately for you). The only person that can answer this reliably is you by seeing the stone; a good vendor is a close second.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Ok. Yeah, I mean I talked to Brian personally a few days ago and he gave me the assurance to not be worried with the feather in this diamond as it does not even break the surface. I just wanted to get a second opinion from you guys.

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