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A Few Questions About Rings And Diamonds.


CuriousBuyer
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I am looking to have a custom ring made. I have been given three quotes. Two of which were very close to one another... and the third was nearly half of the other two. The inexpensive one would be in-house work and the other two are contracted out.

 

I got a good vibe from the inexpensive guy (knowledgeable, patient, etc) but I want to get your opinions. Is there anything to be careful of with custom work? I'm trying to get this taken care of sooner rather than later.

 

He has a no return policy, which makes me a little wary... but custom pieces aren't returnable anyway I suppose. He said his policy is because he was dealing with too many people trying to return swapped diamonds... but I don't know about that.

 

He said he's cool with taking a deposit (I was going to use an AmEx card so I can chargeback if need be) just to get the ring made and I can pay the balance when it's done (so that I can verify integrity, etc).

 

What do you think?

 

Obviously I'm inclined to go with him based on price, and he showed me (what he claims) to be some of his work and it was quite beautiful. That being said, if it's wasted money then it's not exactly a good deal then is it?

 

I will probably get the rock through him if he does well with this custom piece. I have done a lot of research on diamonds and know exactly what I want - so I don't need help there :).

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by CuriousBuyer
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Curious,

 

That ‘good vibe’ feeling is worth a lot and you’ve already answered most of your own questions. He seems to have the skills, he's willing to work on your schedule and he is willing to work for your price. This sounds like a hit to me.

 

Let me tell you a story of my youth:

I used to work as a bench jeweler in a custom jewelry store in downtown Boulder Colorado, a college town with a lot of money. The store was owned and operated by a cranky old drunk who was just unbelievable skilled at the bench. He was the best benchman I’ve ever met. It was a pretty odd looking store and customers were put off by the peculiar décor and the liquor that was often on the bosses breath (the showroom had pink wallpaper). There were about a half a dozen other jewelry stores within a few blocks and the people who ran those stores knew full well that we were the place to get work done right and done cheaply. Customers didn’t. Not once but repeatedly, a customer would come in and ask for an estimate to make a ring and then go away to think about it. About an hour later we would get a call from the store across the street asking for a bid on the same piece because their guy wasn’t skilled enough to make it. The boss would give exactly the same quote. An hour later we would hear from another store down the block with the same question and this process would be repeated 3 or 4 times. At the end of the day, someone would show up and order the ring. More often than not, it wouldn’t be the consumer, it would be one of these other jewelers who we know full well would be doubling the price and delivering the exact same ring - our ring. At the time this process irritated the crap out of me. How could people be so stupid? Since then I’ve mellowed out a bit. We got our sale, and we got our full asking price for it. What those other jewelers were offering that we didn’t was that ‘good vibe’ feeling that you mentioned. The customers got what they wanted too - a high quality ring and an excellent shopping experience. The boss knew that people thought the showroom looked a little odd but he didn’t care. It was HIS showroom and he was going to make it look however he wanted. He took incredible pride in the quality of his work and he was offended at the whole idea that the 20 year old displays and the scratched glass on the showcases had anything to do with it. For him it was only about the craftsmanship. Anyone who didn’t like his showroom or his hairstyle could shop across the street.

 

In most cases, choose the stone first for a custom piece. It’s a lot easier to make a setting that fits a particular diamond than the other way around.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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Can you elaborate on this:

 

"In most cases, choose the stone first for a custom piece. It’s a lot easier to make a setting that fits a particular diamond than the other way around."

 

He suggested this too, but I wanted to do it the other way around - for financial reasons. He said he could make the ring to fit a .75-1.25 carat stone.... of which I will probably end up in the middle, for budgetary reasons, unless I can find a great deal.

 

My main concern is the "no return" policy. Is this unusual?

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A carat is a unit of weight, not a measure of face up size. The jeweler needs to decide how far apart, how tall and exactly where to place the prongs and this decision will be different depending on the details of the stone. The problem is that not all 1.00ct stones are the same size or shape. With some designs, the prong assembly is a separately purchased component and it can easily be changed at the end but for some designs, the prongs, channels or whatever hold the stone in are an integral part of the setting.

 

No, a no return policy for custom work is not unusual.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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Well he said he can do it without the stone... so I don't know. And as far as the return policy goes - his whole store has a no-return policy - not just the custom work.

 

And I see what you are saying about the stone... so maybe he knows something we don't?

 

I also wanted to ask about longevity - I am worried about durability. How will I know if the ring was made well and will last for years upon years to come?

 

I have also sent you a message with the link to the ring and the price he quoted me.

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What can be done without the stone in hand depends on the design of the mounting. Take his advice about what will and what will not work. Similarly, ask him about the durability question. There's no way to give a straight answer to this without seeing the finished piece and he is in a much better position than I am to give you good council about what to expect. You may want to have a professional appraiser with experience at this inspect it and answer your craftsmanship questions when it's complete but a theoretical discussion would do more harm than good.

 

Personally, I would not consider buying a diamond from a store with a 'no refunds' policy. Period. In the case of custom work it makes sense because they are making something to your specs and if you don't want it, it may be unsaleable to another customer leaving them in the position of needing to salvage the piece at a fraction of what it cost them to produce it. With diamonds and unmodified stock items this is not the case. If you don't like it for whatever reason, they are in the same position they were in before you walked in the door. They've got the merchandise, you've got the money and all that's been wasted is a little bit of time trying to convince you to buy something that it turns out you don't want. Too much of that on the sales floor may be a symptom of a bigger problem but it's their problem, not yours. Buy your diamond somewhere else.

 

Neil

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Yes, I got your PM.

 

I can’t comment on whether your particular jeweler is a good craftsman but they seem to have convinced you of that. I'm just taking your word for it. This is really the heart of the issue. As a general rule, the cheapest craftsmen are rarely the best but there are definitely exceptions to this rule in both directions.

 

Neil

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I look at things like thickness of the shank and whether it is hollowed out or not.. It is possible to make a durable light piece, but more metal usually makes a ring able to take more daily wear and tear..

 

You will see on some rings that the underside of the top of the ring will be mostly hollow making the ring lighter and less expensive since there is less metal used.. And there is nothing wrong with this.. But one of the things I look at is if that hollowed out section continues down the inside of the shank.. This makes the shank thin and less likely to stand up to an imapact..

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That's correct, now regarding the discussion above, i think Neil is right on the button ( as usual), you should purchase the diamond first then the ring, so you jeweler works around the diamond, not the other way around. Even the jeweler could arrange that the ring should look good together with the diamond, it is still better and comes out nicest if he works with the diamond n hand while making the ring.

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I don't get it if you don't feel comfortable not buying the diamond only the ring after you ask about diamonds, what will it help you that you are make the ring before purchasing the diamond, don't you think he will ask you why you are making a ring before purchasing the diamond, what will you tell him then.

Another thing let's say he will make the ring for you, then you will buy the diamond who will set it for you then, I think you should ask the place where you are purchasing the diamond to make the ring for you to. That what we do to most of our costumers.

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So I understand that it is better to do it your way... can you tell me real quick what the detriments would be for doing it 'backwards'?

 

The bench jeweler is going to have to make some assumptions about the stone in order to put the prongs in the right places, make the correct distance between them, make it the right hight from the finger, etc. If these assumptions turn out to be wrong then you will need to retrofit the ring to accept the stone you actually end up with. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it involves a complete remake of the piece but it's unnecessary in either case. This sort of thing can both raise the price and reduce the quality when compared to doing it right the first time. For what?

 

Neil

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