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buying a diamond


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I’m not all that keen on some of the advice given in the tutorial but I agree that it’s a good place to start. Not everyone is looking for the same deal. For starters, I recommend choosing your dealer first, then choosing the diamond and not the other way around. Finding a dealer that suits your style goes a huge distance towards making the whole shopping experience less painful.


Start with the absolute rock bottom prices. Everybody wants this. Most people actually want a fair amount more than this and are willing to pay a little more to get it. This is where the value-added at the dealer comes in and not every dealer offers the same bundle of benefits. Popular items include:


1) Local sales. The least expensive dealers are almost always out-of-town. Expect to deal with a package by fedex, post office or some similar service. For some this is a hastle, for others it’s more convenient. This makes it a little hard to see lots of stones and compare them head to head but it opens up a whole new competitive market to allow this. What this is worth will depend on your style.


2) Grading. The least expensive dealers will require you to rely on a ‘certificate’ for the grading that is issued by one of several different labs. They know nothing beyond what’s printed on the lab’s report and they don’t care. Many people want additional information and want to be able to have the dealer supplied grading checked by their own experts. For aggressive customers, the lab report is the beginning, not the end. Others don't really care.


3) Returns. The least expensive dealers don’t take returns. If it’s the same stone as the one described on the lab report, it’s yours. Sometimes not even that. Many people find this unacceptable because there are so many cases of both inaccurate lab reports and there is so much important information not contained on the report.


4) Quantity. The least expensive dealers require you to buy a large number of stones at one time or agree to buy a large number throughout the year. Many people only want to buy one at a time.


5) Settings. Most customers are really looking for a ring and the diamond is just a component. This means that they need a piece of jewelry and some assembly labor. Some dealers will offer these things while others will leave you on your own. The ala carte approach to jewelry can be an effective way to get a better price but some people find it frustrating and they don’t like the potential risks involved.


There are more, but you get the point. Assuming that you’re current mission is to buy an unmounted diamond, that your primary criteria is the relationship between quality and price, and that you aren’t in a huge hurry I would suggest you start by researching the quality characteristics of diamonds. Knowledge is power. Learn the language and don't neglect the parts that are not on the lab reports. Develop a feel for how the various attributes relate to one another and what it does to the prices when you modify one. A lot of this information is in the tutorials of the various dealers sites and from playing with their search tools. Start at the top of the page with ‘find an online jeweler’ and enter a few requirements to search for a stone. Notice who the dealers are and surf through to their sites. Don’t worry too much about the stone but head for their education sections. The best material is usually under 'cut' but this will vary somewhat from site to site. Read through the forum here and notice who is presenting what seems like good advice and use the link at the bottom of their signature to see if they have more wisdom on their own sites. Many of the best posters are dealers and not all of them advertise here. Do a Google or Yahoo search for things like ‘discount diamonds’, ‘certified diamonds’ etc. and look for sites with educational material. Expect to spend a few days at this but at the end you’ll be amazed how much you understand about diamonds. You’re also likely to have a pretty good idea of what dealers you want to do business with, what characteristics of a deal you count as important and what you should expect the deal you want to cost.

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