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Replacing Cz's With Diamonds


blameitonblue
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Hello, everyone. I'm new here and quite thankful I came across this forum right now, as I'm facing this dilemma with my engagement ring. My original engagement ring from 8+ years is a 14 K gold setting with all diamonique cz's. The center stone is a 3/4 carat size Heart stone, and there are 3 channel set princess cut stones on either side of the center stone. It is quite pretty and I am obiously attached to it for sentimental reasons. Now, the cz's are definitely showing their age (scratched up, etc), and we now can afford to replace the stones with diamonds. From what I gather from talking to my local jeweler, the ONLY stone that can replace the center stone is another heart of nearly the exact same dimensions--I can't go for a larger stone or any either shape. So, from searching the internet, using the search engine on this site and others, I have found two great sounding stones--one is 0.73 ct and the other is 0.76. They're both hearts, are both D in color and IF, both with ideal cuts. Here are my questions: 1. Is it possible to replace these cz's with diamonds (my jeweler indicated the old tips of the center stone would have to be broken off, and then the ring would have to be retipped--all sounds dicey to me) and 2. Is there any point to replace the center stone with a $4000 diamond while there will still be the channel set princess cz's next to it? (to be replaced later) 3. Can you replace channel set princess stones, or does the entire setting get destroyed in the process of removal?

 

I guess the crux of my question is does it make any sense to salvage this setting (which is a beautiful setting and means a lot to me), or should I scrap the whole idea and start fresh?

 

Then, if it does make sense to start replacing stones, I have several further follow up questions about that process.....

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Usually this isn’t all that difficult a job to do although it does generally involve replacing the prongs and channel walls and the work can get a little time consuming (read expensive). Whether you can change stone size will depend entirely on the design of the mounting, some it’s easy while others it’s a serious pain. With enough work it’s always possible.

 

I would probably address the princesses while you’re at it. This too will depend on the details of the mounting and it can be a significant job but it’s not usually impossible. In the end this all adds up to a pretty significant amount of work. Depending on the craftsmanship of the original mounting, you may be better off custom making a ring with the same design but using natural diamonds. Many CZ mountings are overly lightweight and have marginal craftsmanship in order to keep the prices down. This makes it harder for the person doing the retrofit and, in the end, you still have a overly lightweight piece. You may be able to get a better ring for about the same price by starting over from scratch while keeping the design theme. Obviously this also has the side benefit of removing any limitations on your choices for the center diamond.

 

D/IF diamonds come at a pretty steep premium. Are you considering this grade for symbolic reasons or something else?

 

Neil

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Thanks for the response!! Well, when I first started looking at them, I thought I was going to be limited to the 3/4 carat size. Then I started searching on gemsearch for stones, having zero clue how much they were going to cost--when I saw that I could get a .72-.76 carat size in D/IF (which I had never considered before) for around 4000 (which is less than I thought)--I kind of thought, well, I can't go big, so I might as well go perfect. Plus, when I was looking at the other heart shapes on that ballpark size (again, thinking I had size constraints), the difference in price between those and the G-H and VS1-2's was less than I thought, so I kind of figured what the heck, I never guessed those stones would only be 4 grand. Now, DH and I need to figure out what we want to do with it. It's at the jeweler right now being sized (had a baby--4 years ago), so when I go pick it up, I should probably sit down with him and have him assess whether or not it's a heavy enough setting to mess with, and how much work would be involved.

 

I know you haven't seen the ring, but it sounds like it's likely that major renovation to the ring and making a fresh custom piece would probably run about the same?

 

Thanks for your help!!

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Quoting other peoples prices on labor is problematic at best and for similar reasons I can't really assess the chances that this job is a major reconstruction but it certainly might be. The jeweler should be able to give you a much better idea of what can and should be done, what the alternatives are and what you should expect to pay for the various choices.

 

Neil

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Thank you Neil for all the help! Now I have a better idea what to ask the jeweler when I go in.

 

I do have another question, though. If I do go ahead and make a diamond purchase online, be it one of the ones I was looking at, or a different one, all I'm getting to see are numbers--table, depth, etc, etc. I know from looking on this forum at various posts that it's vital to get to see the diamond to know for sure if you like it, etc. As I've seen these particular diamonds listed when I've searched on different vendors' websites, it's clear that none of them actually have the diamond--it's in a database, and actually is physically somewhere else. Do I just pick one of the vendors who has access to the diamond and then ask them to obtain a photo of the diamond? I'm not sure about what the next step would be after I like a diamond's numbers online. I've also observed from seeing one particular diamond on several different vendors' searches that the price can vary as much as several hundred to even a thousand dollars from site to site (HAS to be the same diamond, has the same everything), so how do I pick a vendor, or do I have my jeweler order it?

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I’m not nearly as much of a fan of photographs as others here seem to be even though I take a ton of them. The problem is that an out of context photo tells you almost nothing because the lighting, camera details and post processing are so important to the final image. Good photos are pretty hard to take and a crappy photo of a good stone can be remarkably difficult to distinguish from a good photo of a crappy stone.

 

You’re quite right that most of the stones you see listed in the internet databases are owned by a 3rd party that is sharing their data with multiple dealers. This is often the case with local stores as well when they order in a stone from one of their suppliers after interviewing you about your requirements. The same stone gets advertised in multiple locations. Different dealers will apply different markups and will include different offers to make the deal more attractive to you. This can include things like offering tradeup programs, warranties, financing, access to special designers, or it may be simply a matter of providing a more comfortable shopping experience. These sorts of things are all valuable but not everyone wants or is willing to pay for the same things. Finding a dealer that thinks the way you do and that offers the kind of program that you like goes a long way to making this a successful experience.

 

Buying online virtual diamonds, meaning buying from a seller who hasn’t seen it either, significantly increases the risk that you will find something unsatisfactory about the stone. The tradeoff is that this is a pretty efficient distribution system for the dealers and it allows them to offer more attractive prices on superficially similar stones. The process of ordering in a stone, examining it and/or getting it examined by a pro and returning it in exchange for another selection can be a bit tedious and some people have little patience for it. Others enjoy the hunt and find that it can result in a significant savings, even after you include the shipping and appraisal fees.

 

Protecting yourself in this brave new world isn’t all that tricky but there are a few keys.

 

#1 The deal isn’t over until you are happy. Never buy from a dealer who doesn’t take returns, even if you have no intention of going through with it. You must have the right to inspect it, show it to your appraiser, your astrologer and your mother and if you decide you are dissatisfied you can get your money back.

 

#2 Buy from dealers you otherwise are inclined to trust. Research the dealer, not just the stone. The best deal isn’t the one from the dealer who promises the most for the least, it’s the one from the dealer who DELIVERS the most for the least. Unfortunately, these are rarely the same. Get references, check the BBB, JVC, the forums and similar 3rd party crosschecks to get a feel for whether these people deserve your money. If they don’t pass this test, don’t be blinded by attractive looking prices. Buy from dealers who are themselves experts in what they're selling.

 

#3 Use credit cards. The bank charges a few percent in fees for using your credit card and some dealers will pass on all or some of this to you as a savings in exchange for paying by cash or bank wire. Be very cautious about accepting this offer unless you have a well established relationship with the dealer. Remember that often the shipper is a completely unknown 3rd party and a serious discrepancy will boil down to your word against theirs. The credit card company is your best ally.

 

#4 Use professional assistance. If you aren’t personally an expert, and maybe even if you are, seek out and use an equipped and credentialed appraiser. It provides a standardized viewing environment, a disinterested set of eyes that have seen a fair number of diamonds before and it often will allow you to know far more information than what is available on the lab reports. Some dealers, both on the street and over long distance, will order in the stone to their own labs and do quite a bit of this as a ‘free’ service while others require you to do it yourself as a separate piece of the transaction. There’s a lot more to know about diamonds than is listed on even the best of lab reports.

 

Neil

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I just wanted to comment a bit on the remaking vs making new prospect on your ring.. It really does come down to how the stones are currently set, and how good a job (quality) of the work done previously.. You can take the same ring and one day the setter had a bad day and it's cheaper to start over, and on another day he had a great day and the stones can be easily replaced..

 

A photo of the ring would at least give a starting point for the discussion though..

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Thanks everyone for the help! I really appreciate the help. I will include photos of the ring, once I get it back from being sized. I was having multiple pieces sized, so it should be another week or so. I would like definitely to have as many opinions as possible, because what I don't want to do is go overboard with redoing this ring because I got carried away due to my emotional attachment to it--I would like objective opinions about whether or not it's worth redoing vs starting from scratch. Thanks!

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Well, I got my ring back from the jeweler yesterday (getting it sized, that is), and while I was there I spoke with their bench jeweler. This jeweler does a LOT of custom work, has been in business for decades, is a generational business, and is kind of known around our city of 80,000 people as doing great work. So, I asked him the same question I posed earlier and he answered that in looking at the ring, he certainly COULD take out all the stones, replace them with genuine, we could change the shape and size of the center stone, etc if I really wanted to, but that he feels like we'd have a better end piece to just design a ring from scratch, modeling it after the first ring if I'd like to. He said that if my sentimental attachment to the ring is overwhelming, we can certainly do that, but that it was probably going to cost more in labor than just designing one and starting from scratch. I felt like that was a pretty honest answer. He said further we could melt down the present ring and give me a credit toward the ring based on how much gold was in it. I forgot to ask him though, I wonder if he could melt down my present ring and use the gold in the new ring? It sounds like he was being straight up with me and I appreciate that. I'm a little disappointed (not overly so) but I appreciate it.

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I'm not a big fan of reusing gold.. There is too much chance of contamination or the original metal using a strange alloy that could affect the final look of the new ring.. We've done it here before, but won't take responsibility for a poor casting caused by unknown metal issues.. Add to that, when casting an average ring of 6dwt, we usually use 20dwt of metal to make the casting.. This includes the button, sprue, etc that is cut off after the casting is done.. So, a contaminated meatel could go on to contaminate even more metal.. It's just not fun..

 

Then you have the issues or remelted gold and burning off ally, etc.. I'd pass on that as well..

 

Giving you scrap value for the original ring is a fair thing to do, but don't expect a lot of money from the process.. The vast bulk of the cost of a ring is not the metal, it's the labor to make it..

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Proper refining and removing impurities is an involved process. We leave it to companies who specialize in this as a primary function. Ditto what Steve said above; all good information. People are surprised when we show them how much material we start with to make a ring.

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Great guys!! That's really helpful! I always find out such helpful and interesting information that I didn't know from you all, it's great! Here's one last, admittedly RANDOM question: since now I'm considering waiting a year or more to do this ring design project, I have another year or more to wear my old (again CZ) engagement ring. Now, it's a lovely ring and I love it, but the whole problem that started this conversation is the large amount of scratches on the table. They are noticeable if one really stops to look closely at the ring, and really diminishes the sparkle which acutally previously was pretty sparkly for a CZ. Is there any way on God's earth to get rid of these scratches? Are there any lapidaries that anyone is aware of that might be willing to try and buff these out? I would like to have the ring a little more presentable than it is, since I'll probably be wearing it a little while. Random question, I know, and not really in the line of diamond folks, but hoping someone has an idea.

Thanks!

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