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First Time Buyer - Advice on GIA/.70ct/VS2/F


TheCarGuyFL
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Hi there everyone! I‘ll admit, I’m newer to the game, and I’d love and appreciate any advice this community is able to offer! 

I’ve been shopping around (with and without my girlfriend, but she is adamant that she doesn’t want to pick out the ring), and the time has come for me to get serious and find the right one! I’m located in the Tampa FL area, if that helps/makes a difference.

I’ve mostly looked at mall stores (yes I know, overpriced and seemingly less quality), stand alone jewelry stores, as well as dabbling a bit with Blue Nile, James Allen, etc. I’ve come to really like the Leo Diamonds at Kay, but the stuff I read online and on here about them worries me just a bit. Recently I found a really nice ring I like at a Helzberg Diamond Outlet store. It’s part of their “Maple Leaf” collection, which appears to be their high-end collection. 

I was hoping to see what you all thought about the following ring:

https://www.helzberg.com/maple-leaf-engagement-ring-2158297/?cart_added=1235373

GIA Cert: https://www.gia.edu/report-check?reportno=5171415018

The woman I worked with, had pulled the very for it, and (not surprisingly) ranted and raved about how this was truly a gem and pretty rare one for them to get in, due to the minimum 4Cs ratings for this item/on the tag/site. The actual GIA cert listed slightly higher specs, which are .70ct, VS2 clarity, F color, and a “Very Good” cut. The ring itself is beautiful, I really like the setting, as well as the center stone, but the current “It’s a Deal” (no other offers/coupons) price is $5999. 

I was really hoping to stay under $5k for a 3/4ct ring, and it seems I can get a much better stone online through Blue Nile, etc., but all of the settings seem to be rather plain. My girlfriend lives a simple single stone with side stones/pave setting. She does like some design on the actual side of the band, which is what drew me to the lines/stones set on the actual side of this Helzberg ring. The one other concern I had, was that I noticed in the store that the GIA cert was from 2015, so six full years ago at this point. Is that normal? It seems kind of a long time for a diamond to go unsold, unless this was some kind of pre-owned/traded in stone. What do you all think about this? I did have an “Adrianna Papel” ring from Kay’s that I liked (had a touch of rose gold accent under the stone/band that my girlfriend liked, but the stone itself was really bad.. Either I1 or possibly I2, uncertified, so that options out unless I get a new stone for it, but that would make it not cost effective to go that route.

 

I’ll add some photos I grabbed at the store, and truly appreciate any help/advice you all can offer! 

FACB97A3-7C4C-4B33-9E24-ED33225C9A5B.jpeg

E1CD57D8-023C-43D9-884C-C2BF027D635B.jpeg

1F5D9F9B-32D0-4B28-8236-FCDA1981EE6B.jpeg

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A few things I forgot to mention. I really liked the specifications of the stone in the case, although I did notice that the cut was graded as “Very Good”. Most of what I’ve looked at (or maybe just what I’ve looked at online) have been Excellent/Ideal cut. Does Very Good vs. Excellent make a big difference, to the human eye? 

Additionally, I noticed while typing this up (I’m sorry it’s a novel lol), that the center stone is .70, vs the state “estimated” center stone weight of 3/4ct. I assume that could be why the specs on this ring are higher than the listed/minimum specs, due to it being slightly smaller then estimated/average?

Lastly, here are some of the others I’ve looked at/peaked my interest:

https://www.kay.com/leo-diamond-engagement-ring-118-ct-tw-roundcut-14k-white-gold/p/V-993246800 

https://www.kay.com/adrianna-papell-diamond-engagement-ring-115-ct-tw-roundcut-14k-twotone-gold/p/V-993965300 

https://www.zales.com/zales-private-collection-1-ct-tw-certified-colorless-diamond-engagement-ring-14k-twotone-gold-fi1/p/V-20306815 

https://www.bluenile.com/build-your-own-ring/french-pave-diamond-ring-white-gold_44725

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Welcome to Diamond Review, TheCarGuyFL!

I'm not sure where to begin... so I'll kind-of-follow your post, except that I'm going to leave the discussion of specific items at the end.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

I’ve come to really like the Leo Diamonds at Kay, but the stuff I read online and on here about them worries me just a bit.

I think the only 'worrying' thing about the Leo - and other proprietary/branded cuts - is that they aren't directly comparable to others (in looks), which means prices aren't either, and reliable information about them is more scarce (e.g. GIA or AGS will not attribute a cut grade). If you like a Leo (or a whatever), Kay's or another authorised retailer is the only place you can get it - with all the attendant overheads, marketing and usually lack of knowledge from pushy salespeople. As with all other diamonds, there are good, bad and indifferent Leos, and you have no independent, reliable opinion from a good lab on what you are getting.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

truly a gem and pretty rare one for them to get in, due to the minimum 4Cs ratings for this item/on the tag/site.

I have no idea whether that diamond's spec is common or uncommon for them. Aside from the certified Canadian origin (which may or may not be important to you), the only thing that is uncommon about it is the "Very Good" cut grade - on which more below. There are literally hundreds advertised for sale on the Diamond Finder here https://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds - most of which have 'Excellent' cut.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

it seems I can get a much better stone online through Blue Nile, etc., but all of the settings seem to be rather plain.

I'm not actually sure about that... a good 0.70/0.75 round of similar colour and clarity will set you off somewhere between $3-3.5k. A good quality setting with a fairly elaborate design is easily going to cost you $2k+. On that basis, and considering that geographically certified diamonds are usually more expensive than the rest, the $6k Helzberg are asking for this don't seem to be excessive.

You can certainly spend a lot less on the setting, and have something of nice quality but a plain design - which honestly would be my choice and recommendation: that ring is going to be worn 24/7 for a (hopefully) long time; with formal clothes and with jeans; on a night out to the theatre and on a walk in the countryside. A plainer, classical setting is going to accommodate all of those more easily than something very fancy- and it is going to be more robust and resistant to everyday use and abuse. This said - nothing wrong at all with preferring something else.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

the GIA cert was from 2015, so six full years ago at this point. Is that normal?

No, it isn't "normal", but it isn't "abnormal" either. At the moment the price is competitive with "other" rings of similar specs; the original price (nearly double) was quite overblown, and that probably caused it to sit there for a while. Also, while 10 years ago the emphasis for "caring" (?!?) people was still on getting diamonds from known sources in "developed" countries like Canada and Australia, and avoiding 'blood diamonds' (whether that makes any difference - and whether the difference is actually positive in terms of overall impact - is a totally different story), nowadays synthetic diamonds are more popular for the same purpose, so I suspect that this got stuck in store as 'out of fashion, but expensive'.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

Does Very Good vs. Excellent make a big difference, to the human eye? 

It depends on the 'Excellent' and on the 'Very Good' - both cover a fairly wide spectrum of looks. In the specific case of that 0.70 F/VS2 diamond, the reason why it gets the VG rather than the EX is because the girdle is too thick. This makes the diamond diameter - and thus its 'visual size' - smaller than it could be, by about 0.15 - 0.20 mm, which is easily visible side-by-side. Otherwise it's a nicely cut diamond.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

the center stone is .70, vs the state “estimated” center stone weight of 3/4ct

Ignore any and all 'estimate' or 'typical' weights; just look at actuals, and if the vendor doesn't provide you with an actual - or at least a clearly specified minimum - weight at the moment you order, skip the vendor. There isn't a common, agreed standard for what a commercial '3/4 ct' stone is; some vendors will call a 0.60 ct "3/4", and some will have a higher threshold (but pretty much anyone will call a 0.70 "3/4"). One of the issues is that the way cut diamonds are priced is not linear - or even continuous - at all, and there are jumps. One of the notable jumps is at 0.70; a 0.70 ct is commercially worth quite a bit more than a 0.69.

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

here are some of the others I’ve looked at

The problem is that all of those aren't 'specific enough' to comment on; I don't trust the specifications provided by Kay's or Zales unless they are backed up by a good lab report - which most often they aren't - and what you could get as a centre diamond when they choose it, is pot luck. With Blue Nile you can control what you get, and clearly you can spend (quite) a bit less than $6k, getting a nicer stone - but there is a trade off in terms of the plainer setting.

Incidentally - be very wary of CAD renderings. All the images on the sites you linked are NOT images of the real ring you would get; they are computer-generated renderings which may or may not (usually will not!) look like the real item. Workmanship, symmetry and finish are perfect in a rendering; not so in real life. Even worse with the diamonds, where there is a huge amount of variability especially in SI / I clarity grades, and - as you noted - an I2 diamond doesn't usually look like the one in the image. 

12 hours ago, TheCarGuyFL said:

What do you all think about this? [The Maple Leaf ring]

It is not a bad diamond at all. The price is fairly reasonable, and the side stones are decently sized and seem pleasantly proportioned in the photo you posted. The negatives in my opinion are the relatively small visual size of the centre - which is noticeable - and the bad design of the setting: apart from aesthetic considerations, the centre diamond sticks out so much that it begs to catch into clothes, bang into furniture and generally get into trouble - including, but not limited to, losing or breaking the diamond. Depending on how active and careful your girlfriend is - and on how much she (not you!) likes this setting - this may be a non-issue or a total deal killer.

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