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HELP! Does my jeweler sound honest or shady?


Hench
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Hey everyone, this is my first post to this forum, but I'm afraid I should've come here first. I'm a young man in college trying to find a diamond for my girlfriend of many years.

 

I've been to a lot of places and learned a lot about diamonds from the salespeople, but I'm afraid I may have been ripped off by a local jeweler. First off, this jeweler doesn't think highly of certified diamonds. He says that grading is good, but he thinks certificates shouldn't make or break a purchase for the average consumer. He acted like an honest guy, and revealed some "inside information" about the industry that made me feel like he was looking out for me. He wasn't pushy at all, he was courteous and tried to let me come to a decision on my own while simply stating the facts and letting me use the microscope to see the differences in each stone.

 

I finally decided to go with one of the diamonds he showed me, it would have to be sent off to be put in the band(a tension setting) and because I didn't have any checks with me, he agreed to send it off as soon as he received my check in the mail. He sent me home with an info card and a receipt for the transaction. I wasn't really unhappy with the experience until about 2 hours after I left the store and it hit me that I had bought a Color "L" diamond. The band is yellow gold, and I've been told by many that the coloration in a yellower diamond isn't as noticeable in a gold band. Would the yellow in a .80 "L" diamond be noticeable if it was in a gold band?

 

Here's the info that was on the card I received:

Cut: Round Brilliant

Carat Weight: .80 L VS2

 

It is a South African Diamond (www.southafricandiamonds.com) the information above was taken from a little card they gave me and the diamond's girdle has a laser cut image of two lions facing the african continent and an ID number for the diamond.

 

The diamond was listed at $3700, but I got it for around $2900. The band was listed around $1600, but I got it for about $1000. Every other jeweler I went to said they couldn't lower the price on the designer band at all, much less $600. So I'm sitting here with this little card, but no Certificate, the jeweller said he would get an appraisal of the diamond for me if I wanted it. He is a member of AGS, but an appraisal isn't the same as a certificate, right? The diamond looked pretty good compared to all the other places I've been, but after putting it all together in my mind I'm not so sure. I haven't payed this guy yet, so the question is, should I back out while I can? Please help! I'm really uncertain about this!

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Hench,

 

Many interesting questions here.

 

First off, this jeweler doesn't think highly of certified diamonds. He says that grading is good, but he thinks certificates shouldn't make or break a purchase for the average consumer.

 

I basically agree with this. A lab report is an opinion about some of the important value characteristics of a diamond. It’s not a complete analysis and they aren’t ‘certifying’ anything. An opinion is only as good as the person or company giving it and this holds true for labs every bit as much as it holds for salespeople and appraisers. When they are issued by a lab that you’ve got some reason to trust, they are a useful piece of the shopping experience but they shouldn’t make or break the deal unless you feel that the lack of a report is an effort to conceal something.

 

He acted like an honest guy, and revealed some "inside information" about the industry that made me feel like he was looking out for me.

 

Cool. Can you share some of this inside information with us please?

 

I didn't have any checks with me, he agreed to send it off as soon as he received my check in the mail. He sent me home with an info card and a receipt for the transaction.

 

This strikes me as pretty reasonable as well. Did you get a due date when you ring would be completed?

 

It is a South African Diamond (www.southafricandiamonds.com) the information above was taken from a little card they gave me and the diamond's girdle has a laser cut image of two lions facing the african continent and an ID number for the diamond.

 

Girdle etchings are kind of handy for being able to recognize your diamond but otherwise they don’t make a lot of difference. The value of the South African origin will depend on you. It’s not a big issue on the price but if you are inclined to think good things about South African products and would like to support their companies, by all means shop for them.

 

The diamond was listed at $3700, but I got it for around $2900. The band was listed around $1600, but I got it for about $1000.

 

The listing price is irrelevant. It’s easy to say that something is regularly $50,000 but, today only, it’s $1,000. Not that this even makes it worth $1000 but at least this is the price being asked. Ignore the ‘list’ price, ‘comparable retail’ prices, ‘regular’ prices and similar nonsense as fluff. $2,900 for a 0.80 L-VS2 RBC is a bit on the steep side for most US stores unless there is more to the deal than just the diamond. (You didn’t mention where you were so I’m just assuming it’s US. If you’re somewhere else, this is an important issue because of taxation issues). $1,000 for a mounting will depend on the mounting itself. Some designers charge quite a bit for their skills while others are quite modest. There are plenty of mountings that cost more than this and there are plenty that are less. Again, ignore the 'regular' price entirely and focus on the actual deal at hand. Can you tell us more about the mounting?

 

..the jeweller said he would get an appraisal of the diamond for me if I wanted it. He is a member of AGS, but an appraisal isn't the same as a certificate, right?

 

Right. And a report by the seller or one of his lackeys isn’t the same as an appraisal, even if it’s labeled as one. Seller supplied documentation is useful and yes, you should get it but if your concern is that the seller has misrepresented or omitted something important, how will this help? Seek out an appraisal from an independent 3rd party, preferably one who isn’t in the business of buying or selling diamonds.

 

Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ISA NAJA

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Thanks for all the info, Neil. It's nice to be able to talk to a jeweller without any pressure, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

 

"Can you share some of this inside information with us please?"

 

Well, he told me that a lot of diamonds that look great on paper look horrible in reality. He said that branded diamonds are very pretty, but most of the time they aren't worth the extra money(you pay for a lot of advertising, not just the diamond). He said that maintenance agreements offered by mall stores are almost always a ripoff, and that you have to read the fine print before you sign up for any of them.

 

He also told me that national chains tend to carry more ugly stones than family owned stores because smaller stores have more control in the stones they buy and sell. There were a lot of other things, but those really stood out in my mind. The first time I talked with him he gave me some really good tips and no hard-sell, which I found refreshing.

 

"Did you get a due date when you ring would be completed?"

 

Yes, he said it would be about 3 weeks before I would receive my ring(depending on how soon he gets the check). It is a tension mounting, so the diamond has to be sent to the designer and then sent back to the store. An additional week's shipping would send it from the jewelry store to my apartment(I live out of state for college and the jeweler is from my home area).

 

"Can you tell us more about the mounting?"

 

The mounting is a Gelin Abaci(sp?) tension set mounting, TR-164. Everywhere I've shopped before this said that they couldn't lower the price on the band, it lists for $1600 and the jewelry shops don't get much of a markup on them. I've been told this by 4 or 5 other family-owned shops, so how can this guy do it? Could it be he just knocked more money off of the diamond? I live in the US, and the price I gave you was before tax, so is he just overpricing everything? The receipt says $1K for the band, $3K for the diamond. I know this is probably expensive compared to online jewelers, but how does it compare to other privately owned jewelry stores? Everywhere else I shopped seemed more expensive than his store.

 

Another thing, he had me sign this little sales slip thing before I left. I have the little folder for the diamond, so if I were to cancel the deal because this guy's gouging me, would I have to pay him anything? The diamond is still in his possession, he hasn't even sent it off to be put in the ring, and I haven't paid him. Is there any way he could legally get some kind of finance charge or restocking fee or something?

 

The reason I'd like to buy everything from this jeweler is mainly because of location. His store is the only one that carries Gelin Abaci rings within an hour of my parents' house, so it would be convenient to take the ring to his store for any future maintenance.

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This sounds like a pretty legitimate jeweler and your reasons for shopping there are sensible. It’s correct that Gelin Abaci doesn’t leave much room for discounting. The jeweler is making money on the diamond and is about breaking even or even losing on the ring. In the end, he’s making out just fine and how the money gets divided between the two is of no real importance although it usually goes the other direction because loose diamonds are so competitive. I suspect that if you told him that you’ve decided to buy your diamond elsewhere and only wanted the ring, this price would change.

 

Retail pricing will vary quite a bit depending on the marketplace and the store so it’s very difficult to make a fair comparison without a lot more information. A guild store in Paris France would not be expected to have the same pricing as a pawnshop in Paris Texas, even for similar merchandise. If you’re in a town with a collection of discounters and ‘wholesalers’, you should have little difficulty finding something of those specs for a better price if that’s a priority issue for you although the shopping experience is usually a bit of a pain. You also may also be able to get a better price from the jeweler if you present an alternative offer that you are considering. AGS stores are not usually the cheapest places to shop but they tend to be excellent in other ways. Their grading is usually reasonably close, they are financially stable, they offer good support both before and after the sale and they are generally trying to build a customer for life. Another concern may be that the cheapie stores usually have a hard time getting Gelin Abaci and will offer you a knockoff or some other alternative which you may or may not want.

 

I wouldn’t worry very much about your ability to nix the deal if you change your mind before you send in your check. I don’t think they would have a case anyway but I would be very surprised if there’s any real problem here. I encourage you to be upfront with him about your concerns. If you change your mind after they have the piece built it will be a different story. You can expect at least a restocking fee and possibly a ‘no refunds’ policy. It will depend on the store. Ask ‘em. Changing a tension set stone for a different one is possible but it’s decidedly a pain so resolve your concerns about the acceptability of the stone before you have it mounted.

 

Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ISA NAJA

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