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First Time Buyer, Please Give Me Some Advice.


jpayad
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Hello all,

 

Well it has come to that point in my young life were I have finally found the courage to commit myself to one woman, but at the same time I have gained a fear of buying jewelry. My girlfriend does not wear jewelry at all, and so I decided that this one ring that I plan on getting her will be the best piece I can buy. I have been scouring the web and trolling this board trying to get an idea of what is the best bang for my buck. Right now I am looking on James Allen, as they seem to have the best price on the settings and the diamonds. But, it is choosing the diamond that is very difficult. I have some idea of what I am looking for and here are some rocks that I feel are good for the price, can you guys give me advice on the following (all are round, brilliant diamonds):

 

Rock 1: AGS certified Ideal (H&A); Measurments 6.56 - 6.58 x 4.08 depth 62, table 55.9; H, VVS2, 1.08cts. Polish/sym: ID/ID $6,770.

 

Rock 2: GIA cert Ideal (Cut grade: EX); Measurements: 6.52-6.56 x 4.04 Depth 61.8, table 57; G, VS2, 1.06cts. Polish/Sym: Ex/Ex. $6,830.

 

Rock 3: GIA cert Ideal (cut grade: n/a); Measurments: 6.86 - 6.92 x 4.28 Depth 62.1, table 57; H, VS2, 1.24cts. Polish/Sym: VG/VG. $6,880.

 

Rock 4: GIA cer Ideal; Measurements (cut gd: EX); Measurements 6.47-6.50 x 4.02, Depth 62, table 57; E, VS2, 1.04cts. $6,880.

 

All these rocks are withing my price range, can any of you tell me if these rocks are good for the price I'm looking at?

 

Thanks,

jpayad

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You need pictures.

 

Slight variations in facet size and alignment in the windmill facets at the diagnol Pavillion positions as well as the step facets in the Crown have a great impact on the visual face-up look of the stone. No way you can discern this from the lab reports.

 

Ask BN and Union if they can photograph your selections and e-mail the pics to you.

 

Good Luck.

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They’re probably all pretty nice stones. AGS-ideal and GIA-excellent are both great starts, VS2-VVS2 is likely to give you no problem, E-H color will all be nice and white. I disagree with Barry here that photographs are unlikely to tell you much that would be helpful. I think maybe he’s answering a different question (about Asscher cuts maybe?).

 

Narrow down your specs a bit. You’ve got quite a range. Carved in stone seems to be AGS-0 or GIA-excellent and a budget in the $6,800 range, right? This means you’re playing with clarity, color and size. As I’m sure you know, if you push on one thing it pushes back on another and what you’re looking for is a balance. H/VS2 will get you to the 1.20 range, E/VVS2 will drop you below a carat.

 

Are you willing to pay a premium for H&A?

Are you willing to pay a premium for higher color?

Are you willing to pay a premium for higher clarity?

Are you willing to pay a premium for more weight?

 

Neil

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They’re probably all pretty nice stones. AGS-ideal and GIA-excellent are both great starts, VS2-VVS2 is likely to give you no problem, E-H color will all be nice and white. I disagree with Barry here that photographs are unlikely to tell you much that would be helpful. I think maybe he’s answering a different question (about Asscher cuts maybe?).

 

Narrow down your specs a bit. You’ve got quite a range. Carved in stone seems to be AGS-0 or GIA-excellent and a budget in the $6,800 range, right? This means you’re playing with clarity, color and size. As I’m sure you know, if you push on one thing it pushes back on another and what you’re looking for is a balance. H/VS2 will get you to the 1.20 range, E/VVS2 will drop you below a carat.

 

Are you willing to pay a premium for H&A?

Are you willing to pay a premium for higher color?

Are you willing to pay a premium for higher clarity?

Are you willing to pay a premium for more weight?

 

Neil

 

Neil,

 

I have to ask, is there a big difference between a H&A cut and an ideal cut? Also is there a big discerning difference between an Ideal/Exellent symetry and polish to a VG rating? Because if there is no big difference in these two variables than I would be more inclined to go for the bigger 1.2k.

 

Also, can you recommend some good online dealers that may have a better price.

 

Thanks,

jpayad

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H&A is about a specific pattern in the symmetry. ‘Ideal’ is mostly about proportions (although the AGS definition requires both polish and symmetry also be ideal to get the AGS-0 cut grade). Not all H&A stones are ideal and not all ideals show the pattern. Most H&A customers also demand ideal proportions so in most cases, what you see sold as H&A will also have ideal proportions . The premium over ‘regular’ ideal cuts for an H&A ideal cut ranges from 5%-20% for otherwise similar stones.

 

AGS-0 and GIA-Excellent are not measuring the same things. For starters, AGS is far more specific about what is required and it’s considerably more difficult for the cutters to achieve it. There are stones that would qualify for both, and most of these will have AGS paper and there are knockout stones that won’t be eligible for the AGS-0 which will generally come with GIA paper. AGS has been selling for a premium over GIA for several years but with the advent of the GIA cut grading, this seems to be narrowing a bit, at least in the top grades.

 

Very Good, Excellent and Ideal polish and symmetry are indistinguishable to most people without the use of tools.

 

It would be inappropriate for me as an appraiser to recommend particular dealers. Not everyone is looking for the same things. I must say, in my opinion, a promise of low prices, although important, would not be my primary criteria for choosing a dealer. The best dealer is not the one who promises the most for the least, it’s the one who delivers the most for the least. Unfortunately these can be quite different. (Note: This is a general statement of the importance of selecting the right dealer. In no way should it be taken as disparaging of JA.)

 

Neil

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Well today I finally got a chance to see diamonds in person. The first real nice one I saw today was an EGL certified 1.07 carat, EX ideal cut, G/VS2, which is what I was orginally aiming for. It was certainly nicer than other rocks with similar ratings but lower grade cuts, as it looked more flashy than the others. However, now I am debating on wheather or not I should sacrifice my original standard of clarity from a VS2 to a SI1 and look for a rock with a "perfect" cut or maybe jump up in color to an F. Should I stick with my original target, or would a jump up in color make the stone flashier? I figure since I am giving up clarity, the price should be around the same.

 

On another note, all the brick and mortar stores i visited today had EGL certified diamonds and one place even laughed at GIA certs and yet another said AGS is at the bottom of the totem pole. I understand that certain labs hold more prestige than others, but would you recommend some labs over others?

 

Thanks,

jpayad

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You’re off to a great start.

 

The whole lab business is a mess. Bear in mind that you’re hearing this from a guy who’s in the lab business! The problem is one of a massive conflict of interest and a misunderstanding by the public about what the labs do and don’t do. Let’s start with what they don’t do – they don’t certify things. Certain attributes, like the weight, are pretty easy to agree upon and are fairly consistent from grader to grader. Other attributes, especially clarity and color, are measured using scales that any real scientist would laugh at. We’re all trained at the same few colleges, mostly GIA in the US, but we don’t all use the same grading scales, we don’t all use the same methodology, and we don’t all apply the scales in the same way. It comes with no guarantee that another grader will agree with the information presented or even a guarantee that it will be graded the same if it’s sent back to that same lab a 2nd time. They are also not everything you could want to know about a diamond before buying it. The ‘missing’ information ranges from a lot to a little depending on which lab you are using and which product you buy but they are NEVER the complete story, nor do the labs claim that they are.

 

What they are in an opinion from a particular grader or group of graders on a few of the key attributes about a particular stone as of a particular date. This isn’t as useless as it sounds from all of those qualifying words but it underlies one key concept of the grading business. An opinion is only as good as the people giving it. If you’re going to rely on an expert for the difference between a G and an I, a VS2 and a SI1, an ‘Ideal’ and something else, it’s only prudent to first assess the merits of the grader.

 

Who are they and who was their client? Not you, right? Why was that particular stone sent to that particular lab? Why does that store or their supplier prefer one lab over another?

 

Here’s an example. AGS assigns a ‘cut grade’ to round brilliant cut diamonds on a report they call the Diamond Quality Document. They also offer a report called Diamond Quality Report that contains most of the same information without mentioning the cut grade. Guess what? Stones with cut grades that the dealers want to advertise tend to get DQD’s and stones where they don’t want you to pay attention to that get DQR’s. That’s just within a single lab! EGL doesn’t use the same definition of ‘ideal’ as other labs. If a cutter has a stone that GIA would call ‘good’ and EGL would call ‘ideal’, where do you suppose they’ll send it? There are tons of examples of this. EGL and GIA will often disagree on both color and clarity by a grade or more for the same stone. It doesn’t make the stone any prettier to send it to a different lab but it sure makes the stats look better and it sure makes it difficult to shop.

 

My advice: Stick with GIA and AGS for the preliminary grading and, even then, hire an independent expert who is working for YOU to make the final assessment. Buy the diamond, not the paper and use the initial shopping process to choose the dealer, not to choose a particular diamond. They are not all the same and you are far more reliant on the decisions made by the dealer and their suppliers than is immediately obvious.

 

Neil

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Once again thanks Denverappraiser.

 

I was very suspicious of the local dealers who had EGL cerified rocks as opposed to GIA or AGS. I think I will make the purchase online and have it reviewed by a local jeweler as soon as I get it to make sure the stone is up to spec. Also, since you are in the industry, can you PM me a list of reputable jewelers that you know in the southern california area so I can get a proper inspection of my rock.

 

Thanks,

jpayad

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For this purpose, I much prefer independent appraisers, meaning appraisers who don't buy or sell diamonds or jewelry. There's not all that many of us out there but some good places to search for one are:

 

National Association of Jewelry Appraisers

American Gem Society

American Society of Appraisers

International Society of Appraisers

 

Most appraisers are associated with jewelry stores, auction houses and other selling venues but the ones that aren't generally proudly advertise this fact.

 

Neil

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Hi everyone!

 

A lot of important issues raised here.

I will add one thing I find to be important:

Having to use a third party to verify a purchase invalidates the possibility of buying for me.

If one is not comfortable with the seller directly, why risk sending them money at all?

 

 

Sure, take the ring to someone, get their opinion.

But this step should just be a re-affirmation of what you aleady feel.

 

When I'm purchasing an expensive item online, I talk to the seller.

If there's a .000001% doubt in my mind- I move on.

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David,

 

I would have more than a .000001% of doubt if I was buying from my mother. Stones get shuffled in the papers and sold with the wrong report, stones get damaged after the lab examines them, labs make mistakes and dealers, quite reasonably, want to describe their merchandise in the best possible light which may exclude information that certain buyers may find important, especially if they don’t know enough to specifically ask. I would not buy an expensive diamond, a house or any other major investment without verifying the key issues through an independent 3rd party expert. It is not a slight to the seller to check the facts and they should not take it as such. Trust but verify.

 

Neil

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You're correct Neil, I wrote a little fast.

If the buyer is taking the item themselves to a third party to get their opinion, that makes very good sense.

Sending the diamond to a third party to get a second opinion was what I was talking about, and have objection to- and I can see this is not the case here.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey all,

 

I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful advice and I just wanted to tell you guys that i have finally settled on a diamond and ring! The rock itself can be viewed here:

 

http://www.jamesallen.com/diamond.asp?find...amp;item=898708

 

The rock I have choosen is acutally much cheaper than I expected and at the same time I feel I am getting a much better diamond. All measurements are up to AGA class 1A standards and although it is an SI2 it is hard to see the flaws of the diamond (as you can see by the photographs). With the huge savings, I was able to upgrade the setting to platinum with round diamond accents on the side, all of which only came out to a little over $6400!

 

Once again I thank you all for all the advice and I will surely recommend this board to others looking to purchase a stone.

 

jpayad

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