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Diamond Upgrade/trade-In Policies And My First Diamond Purchase (Help)


Nootherids
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For starters, this is my first post. I found this web site 2 days ago and in that time I am very impressed with the helpfulness of you very knowledgeable people. So a huge thank you in advance for the education that you provide everyone.

 

My question is regarding upgrade or trade-in policies in the industry. I am looking to buy my first diamond as an engagement ring for my special lady. Being that she is picky, coupled with a very limited budget that keeps being stretched, I have to weigh the options of buying online for a much lower price and based only on pictures or data, or buying at the local store for much more money but getting to see it in person. Obviously the cost factor is steering me towards online but what I'm finding much more enticing about going online is that I found a company called Lumera Diamonds that has a Lifetime Trade-In Policy at the full price of the original purchase. Copied from their site...(the in-depth details are valid enough such as "once every 5 years" and at least "20% more expensive")

 

"Lifetime Trade-In: Change your mind or upgrade and receive the full price you paid for the original purchase."

 

This sort of policy makes me more comfortable about buying a "lesser" diamond than I would prefer for now, and then upgrading it when money is not so tight later. So this is steering me away from buying at a local store and instead buying the setting from one online retailer (for less money), the diamond from Lumera (for trade-in reasons and less money), and the work of putting the two together at my local jeweler. I would like to later upgrade to a better larger diamond or hopefully a Hearts & Arrows or "Hearts on Fire" diamond.

 

I wanted to know your thoughts on the concept of Lifetime Trade-In, if it's really worth it, are there other retailers (online/offline) that also offer this, and if I should expect a local store to offer the same benefits?

 

 

Side Question: Obviously buying local is preferable since you get to see the item, try it on, and build a relationship. But buying online can be a huge cost difference of hundreds to thousands for basically the same item when all is said and done. Is it possible/advisable to print something out from online and bring it to the local jeweler to use as the basis for terms of negotiation? Or is that likely to backfire on me? (I know it's all dependent on each particular store, I'm asking for generalizations and your experience)

 

 

P.S. I'm glad I took her into a store the other day to look at rings because if I would've surprised her I would've failed miserably. I was shocked that the style she likes is 180 degrees to what I like or thought she would like. Whew! But as every successfully married man knows.....she's the boss! ;)

 

P.S.2. My desired minimum stone to start with right now would be:

Shape: Brilliant Round

Carat: .70 - .80ct

Clarity: VS1 - VS2

Color: H - I

Cut: VG - EX

Symmetry: Good - VG

Price: $2,000 (+/- $150 - $200 preferably much less)

 

P.S.3. This is the types of rings that she likes apparently, and I am concerned whether a .70 - .80 diamond would look bigger in these settings or seem to disappear in them. BTW, I found these online for under $2K each for the bridal set, I wish the local store would offer them that low.

 

RHJGJe1_26rw.jpgRHJGJeww62rw.jpg

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Many retailers - whether online or not - offer "lifetime trade in" policies. Their value depends on your real intention (and ability) to upgrade later and on the fine detail of the policy: for example a policy that asks you to double your budget every time is really putting a limit on your ability to upgrade; 10 upgrades equal a factor of over 1000. Of course another limiting factor is whether the store or dealer is still going to be around when you decide to use the trade-in...

 

As to buying online vs. on the street: bear in mind that many "online" dealers are actually on the street somewhere; they use the internet as a channel to reach a broader base of customers. Provided the dealer has a clear return policy, look upon your "online purchase" as the opportunity of seeing the merchandise in person and returning it for a shipping fee, and everything becomes easier.

 

Bargaining is accepted, and competitors exist to provide pressure, whether they are online or next door - the worst that can happen is that the dealer says: "sorry, but I won't do any better than what I have already done". Do bear in mind, however, that having a store and letting you see the merchandise in a pleasant, well-appointed environment with lots of (hopefully) expert attention has a cost, and one of the reasons why online is cheaper is precisely because that cost isn't there.

 

PS1: Remember - it's the man who always has the last words. They are: "Yes, darling".

 

PS2: I think you need to reset your expectations. A properly graded 0.7x I VS2 diamond is going to be at least $2200 for anything decent. And that's just the centre stone, never mind the pave setting and the wedding band.

 

PS3: If your budget is at $2000 for the lot, I think you need to work on resetting her expectations as well. While it is possible to find elaborate settings which are apparently priced very cheaply, good quality metalwork is not cheap, and neither are good quality pave stones. Don't buy something that will fall apart in a few months (engagement rings have a hard life, as jewellery goes, because they are worn for most of the time) or that looks like it's just come out of a Christmas cracker. And beware of stock photos.

Edited by davidelevi
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Trade in programs are about the jeweler, not the diamond, and they vary a lot from one to the next. It's ALWAYS about the fine print and your expectations. The zingers tend to be:

 

You have to spend more on the new item than the old one. Usually it's 2x.

 

Often there are limits on what items in the store elligible for the program and it's usually not everything in the store. Usually mountings are excluded for example. For example, if you buy a $2000 diamond and a $2000 mounting, you can end up 'trading in' the $2k stone and another $2k go go along with it to get a bigger stone that doesn't fit in your mounting so you have to buy a new $2k mounting as well. The designs you are showing, by example, are pretty specific about the size and shape of center stone that they'll accept.

 

There are often rules about how and where you have maintainace done. They may or may not be where you want your repairs done, especially if you move to a new city. Watch the rules about how often you have to have it inspected by that particular store. You may or may not be able to comply and it's easy to forget.

 

Full analysis of these things is a bit of a chore and it includes evaluating what you have, what you have to do to keep the policy going, what you can get for it if you just sell it on your own,. what they are offering in terms of the new item, and what you would have to pay for THAT if you bought it elsewhere. As you point out, there's value in having a local jeweler to work with and it's a bit of a personal decision to decide if they're worth the extra cost but usually the tradeup program isn't one of the huge value adds.

Edited by denverappraiser
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See... What did I tell you. You guys are awesome! :rolleyes:

 

Thank you for informing me that these types of policies are common-place in the industry as a whole so I will bring it up to my local jeweler next time we talk and see what their policy is. Paying particular attention to the "maintenance" and "up-cost" requirement. I think Lumera has a very fair program of once every 5 years and a 20% up-cost, but you get back 100% of what you paid for the stone. Which is why I was thinking about getting the setting in one place and the stone at Lumera. Does that kind of policy also sound good to you guys? I do look forward to hearing what the jeweler has to offer as well though. I'd be more ok with doing a trade-in deal for the setting though when the time came for that in the long run. I hope I will be able to upgrade the diamond sooner than the setting.

 

And good point on the settings though. I was not expecting that anybody had a similar trade-in plan for the setting but if some do I want to hear about it from my local jeweler too, I will ask. Thankfully neither my girl nor I care too much about the details of the setting at this time. She's ok whether it's 10, 14, or 18k white gold. And she's ok with the pave stones not being anything amazing. But you provided another good point about the quality of the workmanship itself. I have seen rings before that appeared very big but look at them up close and you notice that what looked like a lot of gold was only the empty shell of a mold that "looked" like it was full of gold. So I will be careful with that. Luckily most online retailers have a 30 day policy like you mentioned. Although I would rather buy local I already saw some settings online that were $2000-$2600 but at the store the exact or similar ones were $3600-$4800. That's a big jump for negotiations. And yes I would be willing to pay more to a local shop but there comes that point where too much of a difference makes that choice an obvious one.

 

As far as price, I initially started with a hopeful budget of $3k, which then jumped up to $4k, now it's creeping up on $5k, and has even scared us to think that if it keeps up like this we're gonna pay more for the rings than the wedding itself. My girlfriend is even looking into Moissonite and Lab Diamonds as an alternative. You're right that a .7 I VS2 VG starts at $2200 so maybe an SI1 will keep it at the $2k mark. Then the setting, and wedding ring, and men's wedding band. Hopefully I can score all of those for under $3k, but it's not looking very likely.

 

Getting into the details of the "right setting" is too much to discuss on a forum and up to very differing personal opinion. But regarding the diamond itself. Tell me what you guys think about the following two options. Does either one seem of particularly "better value" than the other? And if so, why? Plus, overall based on current industry are they priced normal, well, or very well? And what would the very rough ballpark cost for one of these be at a bricks and mortar store?

 

Brilliant Round

.70 - VG - I - SI1

$1,894

SPECIFICATIONS:

Length: 5.71

Width: 5.73

Depth: 3.53

L/W Ratio: 1.00

Depth %: 61.0

Table %:57.0

Culet: None

Girdle: Thin - Slightly Thick

Carat Weight: 0.70

Polish: Very Good

Symmetry: Good

Fluorescence: None

Item #: 33886046

Total Price: $1,894

Price-per-carat: $2,706

 

Brilliant Round

.72 - VG - I - SI1

$2,077

SPECIFICATIONS:

Length: 5.71

Width: 5.76

Depth: 3.58

L/W Ratio: 1.01

Depth %: 62.4

Table %: 58.0

Culet: None

Girdle: Medium - Thick

Carat Weight: 0.72

Polish: Good

Symmetry: Good

Fluorescence: None

Item #: 32917420

Total Price: $2,077

Price-per-carat: $2,885

Edited by Nootherids
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I'll probably chime in on some other things later but I wanted to point out that there's a significant price bump in diamonds at 0.70cts. You might consider looking at 0.6x sizes as a way of bringing down the budget.

 

I'm a big fan of supporting local jewelers but you're right they usually have a more expensive business model. That said, be careful of claims of the 'exact same' ring online as in the store. Maybe so but there are subtle details at play just like there are with the diamond itself.

 

I don't know any jewelers at all who have a tradeup program on settings. That doesn't mean yours won't, but don't hold it against him if he doesn't. The problem is that they can't resell it to someone else the way they can with diamonds. Diamonds don't deteriorate with time and wear, settings do.

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One more thing. Stand by your budget. You can get a fine ring for $4k. Actually you can get a fine ring for $500. Your specs will change but it's easy to see a serious creep in this and find yourself undermining other things. The same thing happens with the other wedding costs as well by the way. Spend where your comfortable, not more than that.

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I'll chime in on the setting once more because I think you may have interpreted some of my words the wrong way, and I apologise if I caused offence. The issue is not the design, but it is durability. Particularly pave work requires (expensive) precision or it is doomed to be a source of pain in the neck: lost stones, broken stones, broken prongs, problems with plating etc. By any means get whatever design you (plural) like, but the old adage (invented I believe about cars) "what is not there is not paid for and doesn't go wrong" applies to jewellery too. And once again: beware of stock photos.

 

On trade ins: some jewellers will accept trade-in settings (we do, for example, for 100% credit), but generally impose more onerous conditions (e.g. a significantly higher starting price, or - like us - 2x the cost of the original purchase to upgrade). Whether something like that is more appropriate than restricting trade-ins to once every 5 years is entirely down to personal plans and circumstances. One thing to note is that there are advantages in having one firm supply both the centre stone and the setting: clear responsibility for getting things right, and some greater negotiating power in your hands.

 

Finally, your two candidates: I don't particularly like either, on paper. In reality, they may both be stunning, but... good polish or symmetry on a small stone, and particularly on the first one a highly variable girdle thickness are not good signs. And they are both VG cut SI1, which is not a killer but requires some caution.

 

The issue with SI1 is that in some cases (say 1 in 3), the inclusions are visible, and you have no way of knowing if they are short of visual inspection. If I were you, I'd stick to VS2, go below the 0.70 threshold (in a way that is not going to be visible to the naked eye) and get an Excellent cut stone as well. For example http://www.diamondre...8824&cid=diamrw

Edited by davidelevi
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey guys, your advice was spot on! Lifetime Trade-ups are common enough in the industry (for the diamond itself) and going just under .70 did make a difference of a couple hundred dollars.

 

So allow me first to give a big thumbs up to the people at Good Old Gold (goodoldgold.com). I found them while looking up videos of diamond options and turns out their entire web site is like a mini but very thorough crash course in diamonds. I feel like a pro now, well at least a smidge better than an amateur. They are online but also a brick and mortar so I called them and in one conversation with the diamond specialist (Matt) on the first try he found me an amazing diamond (I think), and one conversation with the rings/settings specialist (Marie) and on the first try she somehow found me a ring that I think my lady will love. And since I mentioned to her that I'd like a ring where I can grow from a .70 now and upgrade later to a 1ct stone she offered a great suggestion of making a milgrain type of insert in the bezel area which will eliminate the "gap" with the .70 stone and can be taken off later to accommodate a 1ct stone later.

 

So first let me share with you the diamond that was chosen and tell me what you think. It is a .68 Hearts & Arrows Round with apparently top notch brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Now it is an I / SI2 which was not my ideal choice but the inclusion is not in the center "window" (?) so it's not easily visible and supposedly not noticeable unless it's like 4 inches from eye and specifically looking for it. But it is an absolutely ideal cut and at $2,100 the price range seemed right on point. I care more about the cut (brilliance, etc), second that the window is clean, then the overall clarity, and then the color. So at least I got my first two priorities covered. For full details on the stone and pictures and all please give it a quick look here: www.goodoldgold.com/diamond/8904/ Tell me what you think. If you don't think it's that great that's ok, be honest so I can learn from you. I plan to upgrade to a 1ct in 3-5 years and I hope that one will have the same cut and performance qualities as this one but maybe like a G-H, VS1-VS2. Yeah, I'm thinking that'll be like $8-$10k :(

 

PIC1.jpgASET.jpgLTSC.jpg

 

As far as the setting, I sent her the same pictures I posted on my original post and she sent me an e-mail back in 2-3 days and offered the Gabriel: Style # ER7806W44JJ as the first option and I was intrigued, then when I went to the Gabriel site itself and saw the different pictures and the 360-view showing off the details and craftsmanship I was sold. You can see it on their web site here: www.gabrielengaged.com/style/ER7806W44JJ What do you guys think of that design and from your experience is Gabriel a good quality company? They have a seemingly never ending selection. I would recommend people to their site for options. I'm not gonna say the actual price GoodOldGold offered it to me because that might be competitive advantage information, but I will say that their price was at least a 25% discount from the price quoted on the Gabriel site. I ordered it together with the matching band which I think has a nice unique curve to match the ring. I'm hoping the final product will look just as beautiful.

 

ER7806W44JJ-1.jpgER7806W44JJ-2.jpg

 

My overall investment is in the $4k - $4.5 range. Now I have to find a men's wedding band. :wacko:

 

David C

Edited by Nootherids
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Although I would rather buy local I already saw some settings online that were $2000-$2600 but at the store the exact or similar ones were $3600-$4800. That's a big jump for negotiations. And yes I would be willing to pay more to a local shop but there comes that point where too much of a difference makes that choice an obvious one.

I'm a big fan of supporting local jewelers but you're right they usually have a more expensive business model. That said, be careful of claims of the 'exact same' ring online as in the store. Maybe so but there are subtle details at play just like there are with the diamond itself.

 

Hey Guys,

 

I think its great what you're doing with this site in educating us rookies. I was reading this thread and my question sort of got touched on by you guys, wasn't sure if I should post here or start a new thread. My apologies if this is not proper.

 

I'm aware that online jewelers are often less expensive than local jewelers, And that makes sense because of all the costs of a local jeweler that the online guys don't have. My local jeweler quoted me a price for a diamond (same certificate #) that I was able to find using the diamond finder. His price was substantially higher than the online guys selling the same rock via diamond finder.

 

Based on what I've read, amongst other things it seems important factors include what you might gain after the sale by using the local jeweler. Here is the summary: Lifetime warranty (i haven't seen the documentation so i don't yet know what this includes), lifetime cleanings and adjustments, i don't believe I qualify for his 30 day return policy because he is custom making the setting. So basically I would get lifetime cleanings, adjustments, and possibly some sort of lifetime warranty, which is nice but doesn't seem like all that much compared to some other shops I've been to. If I can get a fair price for the goods and services received, I would like to go with this guy as he's been the most helpful throughout the process and spent a good bit of time educating me, showing me stones, and maximize my budget . At the same time, I of course don't wish to be taken advantage of in terms of price.

 

My question is, how much more is a reasonable amount for a local jeweler to charge me? Lets say for example that I was quoted $10K and I see the exact same stone (same report #) online for $9K (both numbers include sales tax). Over a 10% difference seems a bit excessive to me, so I would like to negotiate and maybe meet in the middle somewhere. I don't want to push him too far where I sour our presently comfortable relationship, so it would be great to hear some input as to what the typical difference in price between online and local shops are. This would be very helpful in terms of setting realistic goals for the negotiation.

 

Thanks for the help!

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@nootherids: much better choice than your initial options. Well done, and congratulations!

 

@goober: interesting question. However, it is a bit like the "how long is a piece of string" one. $1k on a 10k stone may be a little too much, but bear in mind that the margin particularly on "smaller" stones (say below 3 carats) isn't very high to start with. Having said this, Tiffany "gets away" with prices which are 30-50% higher than competitive retail, and they are pretty successful at what they do - high price, high service.

 

At the end of the day, if as you point out all you get is "free cleaning" (the other stuff most people will provide - with the added inconvenience of shipping), the value is not in the after-sale service. The value that you are getting is in the pre-sale part of the transaction: the ability to see things, discuss face to face, draw sketches, get a custom setting made, compare diamonds live etc. - all these cost money, and it is up to each individual to decide whether they are getting value out of the whole package or not. The individual item prices (x for the stone, y for the setting, z for the design) are a bit of a red herring IMHO.

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Goober,

 

Free cleanings you get anyway, whether you but the piece there or not. Stores do it for free becasue it brings you in the door, it keeps you there for a while as their sales people talk to you and it helps sells repairs. I've got on problem with any of this but it has nothing to do with buying a diamond from them. Who knows, you might even find something you like. :) Similarly, 'lifetime warranties' are usually so full of holes and restrictions that you're better off buying an insurance policy that covers these details and won't end up using the 'warranty' anyway, even in the case of a problem.

 

What you gain is a hopefully better shopping experience. You get a convenient showroom, you get cheerful salespeople who will show you things in person and help educate you. You get to look at lots of merchandise quickly rather than deal with shipping things back and forth. You gain confidence that you're doig business with a 'real' store. You are supporting a member of your own community instead of a member of someone elses. If something goes wrong you've got someone to go in and talk to and if something goes REALLY wrong you'll get to argue about it in local courts. These are all fairly intangible benefits and some are offered 'free' and in advance. Are they worth what they cost? Maybe. Something like 80% of the diamond business in the US happens in specialty jewelery stores so obviously a lot of other people think so, but the fastest growing sectors in the industry are the Internet dealers, TV sellers, and big box stores like Costco and Walmart. That's not good news for the people at the mall.

 

This all applies to nearly everything we buy from shoes to insurance by the way. The long distance business model usually comes with lower prices and the local business model usually 'feels' better. I would not describe either one as better than the other and it's possible to shop at both under different circumstances. I would not want to own a bookstore or a local travel agency these days but they still exist and they still have loyal customers.

Edited by denverappraiser
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@ Davidelevi: Yesss! Thank you! You can see the inclusion in the ASET and the DiamXray at the 8:00 position. But the design and reflectors seem in perfect symmetry from my untrained eye. When I get the final work of art I will definitely post it up here to share with you guys.

 

Does anybody else have any comments, feedback, or opinion on the diamond and ring that I am purchasing?

 

@ Goober: I'm a consumer not an expert but I'll chime in. I've gone to 6 different sources. 1) this forum which is fantastic, 2) internet videos comparing diamonds and other lessons on diamonds and jewelry in general, 3) a local strip mall store where the people were nice but the store displays looked like they didn't give it the attention it deserved, 4) a local full mall store which had more option but felt "cheap", 5) another local strip mall store which was beautiful with great selection and great service, 6) the online store I mentioned above (I don't know if I'm allowed to "advertise" for others on here) with a boatload of free education on everything about diamonds.

 

My local option would've been #5 because it felt like a place I wouldn't mind creating a long lasting relationship with but their prices were high and I realized they basically mostly carried the same jewelry lines that can be found throughout the internet. I am sure that if I would've started negotiating with them I would've been able to get prices closer to those online but I never got to that point. Remember that most local stores tell you the price when you look at the item but then when you show interest they quickly pull out the calculator to show you how much it would be after they "discount" it for you. Sometimes I've seen this go down as much as 50%.

 

I ended up with the online choice primarily because they surpassed all my expectations (so far). I received more information online than I have ever received from any local store. Granted, some people just want to trust the words of an expert and some want to educate themselves further. Both are fine but I'm the latter one, so all the plethora of information overload that the site provided was enough for me. Their service seemed pleasant through their videos and I was pleasantly surprised that the actual sales people are equally friendly and professional, and they have a thorough understanding of people's needs/desires (which I'm sure any good local store would have too).

 

Initially I thought that online shopping was basically gonna be select - order - receive - move on. So I was preferring the idea of finding a local store I like, going online to price shop, then coming back to negotiate and planning on paying a little more than online as a loyal customer. But I guess I was lucky to find the non-local store I did (they're on the internet but also a brick and mortar store in a different state. I got the best of both worlds and then some. My recommendation to you is that if you really like your local jeweler and you think you'll be one of those people that shop for or at least browse through jewelry often enough (once a year +) then stick with him/her and become a loyal customer but definitely do some internet price shopping before negotiating. If you're not likely to keep going back for more jewelry stuff regularly enough then either online or local is pretty much the same thing so long as you feel good about who you are working with.

 

But like I said, I'm not an expert and I'm merely providing my own biased insight. B)

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Thanks guys, extremely helpful! Great to hear the expert opinions as well as some excellent insight from a fellow consumer.

 

I was giving it some more thought, and I realized that my local jeweler thinks i'm paying with a credit card. I was doing a bit of research and found that merchants get charged on average about 3% of the sales price when they accept a credit card payment. I think what I will propose is that I pay with a bank wire instead of a credit card and drop the sales price 3%. This way he doesn't lose anything money wise and keeps me as a customer, and I benefit in the price reduction.

 

@nootherids - I'm a big online shopper and I thought for sure I would be buying this ring online. If it were just the diamond, sure I would just pop in my payment info and have it shipped to me. The thing that changed this for me was the custom setting. Admittedly I haven't contacted any of the online guys to see what my options are in terms of having them make a custom setting for me, and theres a good chance that they could do the same job for less. I also have a specific date requirement that falls smack in the middle of the upcoming busy holidays, so I would hate to have some sort of mix up with the setting and not have the ring perfect in time. Theres a certain comfort level that I have with being able to stop by the shop and view the setting and give the thumbs up before the mounting or make any adjustments if something doesn't look right after mounting without having to worry about turnaround shipping times. I wish I had started the process early enough where I would have had time to find a great online retailer to take advantage of the great pricing. But for me, with my time constraints and doomsday scenario paranoia, my local guy will get my business if he accepts my proposal which I think is more than reasonable. The cheapskate in me is still whining about the 7%, but all things considered I think its the best route for me at this point.

 

Thanks again guys and good luck!

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