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We have heard that purchasing diamonds in Beligum will get one the least expensive; highest quality diamonds outside of the USA in Europe. Is this true? Is it worth purchasing a ticket to Europe and then buying diamonds in Belgium or can one get the same deal in the USA (and, if so, where????).....Signed...Cheap Husband

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Diamond prices are essentially the same worldwide. It's a worldwide market.


In fact, the consumer protection laws in the U.S. are in your favor, particularly since you live here and have the courts at your disposal. Think about it -- in the event of a problem, would you rather sue in a U.S. court, or in a Belgian court? Do you speak dutch? Do you know anything about the dutch legal system?


Bottom line, if you live in the U.S., buy in the U.S.

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Dear Cheapo,


There are some fine dealers in Belgium but there are also some shiftless shonks. I think there are more of the latter but this is true everywhere. Diamond dealers are, for the most part, smart and well connected people. They are interested in selling their stones for as much as they can get and if this involves shipping the stones into a different marketplace, they have no trouble doing this. FedEx will carry a stone from Belgium to Boise for under $50, overnight. US import taxes on unmounted diamonds are zero. Any Belgian dealer with friends or relatives in the United States would be crazy to sell at a significant discount over what they could get in the US (or Japan, India, Mexico, etc.). This means that in the wholesale market, meaning the market where the dealers buy their goods, the prices are extraordinarily similar worldwide. The only differences are the shipping, the taxes and the dealer markup.


Shipping is nominal.


Taxes, at least in the US, are also nominal. For customers in other countries this can be an important consideration.


Dealer Markup. This is the category that’s the most interesting for aggressive shoppers. Different dealers have different approaches and some offer more streamlined operations than others. Employees and advertising are expensive and stores with big showrooms, lots of people and serious advertising tend to charge more than the smaller operations. The big and well-established stores, on the other hand, offer a certain level of confidence and security that is difficult for a small dealer to replicate. It’s hard to beat the shopping experience at Tiffany’s but this does come at a cost. I mention this because this in unchanged in Europe or any other market. Premium space in Antwerp is very expensive as are knowledgeable employees.


The super aggressive, high volume – low margin dealers tend to base themselves in the US because it gets them close to their customers and the business infrastructure is easy here (this means things like business taxes, regulations, security, access to shipping and banking services, etc.). The result is exactly the opposite of what you postulate in your question. Quite a few European customers find that it’s less expensive to shop in the US than at home.


As Ben points out, there is a certain amount of value added associated with shopping at home. It’s much easier for local dealers to offer things like repair service, trade-in’s, financing, giftwrapping and general handholding than it is for someone far away. It’s comforting to be familiar with the laws and the currency. This is every bit as true for Belgian customers as it is for anyone else. As a US based customer you gain both ways and there is really very little incentive to shop overseas other than the romance associated with buying a treasure in an exotic place. For non-US customers, including Belgian’s, there is some financial incentive to buy in the states but they have all of the same reasons that you do to shop at home. In the end, it will depend on what they consider to be most important in the deal. For rock bottom pricing, the US is the place to go.


Neil Beaty


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The US definitely has a competitive market. Many diamonds are cut in the cutting centers such as Antwerp, Israel, New York and India, but unless you are a dealer and are buying more than 1 you won't be in the same place as the dealers purchase diamonds from. It is best if you:


1. Get a stone with a GIA lab report

2. Learn all you can about the cut grade of diamonds

3. comparison shop and *look* and see a lot of diamonds to find out what shape, color, clarity that you prefer

4. Look for an upgrade policy in the future

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