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Overseas Purchase Advice Needed - Emerald Cut 3 Stone Setting Engagement Ring


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First I'd like to provide a quick background then I'll leave some questions for discussion. I'm looking at purchasing an engagement ring for my girlfriend and after plenty of fishing I have a pretty good idea of what I (she) want(s). Okay, it wasn't really fishing, it was blatantly asking for some of the details. Either way, I know what I'm looking for and that it's proven a bit difficult to find.


I've been living overseas for 2 years now in Qatar and while visiting back home a few months ago I started looking at rings to get the basics. Most of my research now is done online and I stumbled onto this site while using Google to check reviews on Blue Nile and came across an article started in 2007. I was intrigued as I haven't even thought of using message boards for consumer guidance and I wish I had found it sooner.


The ideal specifications range of what I'm looking to purchase are:


Setting: 3 Stone platinum setting (1ct. center with around .4-.5ct.side diamonds - center should separate itself)

Cut: Emerald

Color: G or better

Clarity: VS1 or better

Girdle: Slightly thin to Slightly thick (Medium is ideal)

Depth - 59-65%

Table - 53-65%

Ratio - 1.30-1.65

Girdle - Thin to Slightly Thick

Fluorescence - None

Polish - Very Good or better


The exact style she fell in love with was a relatively thin band which narrows towards the setting. Identical to this setting ( www.dbof.com/jewelry/tacori-ladies-platinum-diamond-semi-mount ) just without the engraving.


I have heard from quite a few people that the best value for your money is through smaller, family owned Jewelers where you can purchase the diamonds at lower prices than your standard shopping mall Jewelry stores but I'm not sure the cost vs. the online markets. I've read through some threads and it gives good advice as for what to look out for and 'red flags' but it doesn't quite feel the same as actually seeing the diamond.


I have family members back home that can help me out by physically purchasing the items and seeing them first hand, but even after making some inquiries online and in stores, I still feel like I don't know where to go. Even though I know tons more now than when I first walked into a jewelry store a few months back, I feel like I'm in the same spot. Sooo now it's time for my questions..


1. Are my specs. going to get me a good quality diamond? Also, should I adjust them at all and would I still get a great quality diamond (example: narrowing girdle range to Slightly thin to medium or changing my range of ratio to 1.5-1.75 etc.)


2. Is it advisable/worth it to buy diamonds and settings separately?


3. Will the smaller jewelers have a large enough inventory to find what I want?


4. Is it possible to find this style ring in 6-8k range?


I've had a long day and I'm sure I left out a few things, but this should be enough to get started for now. Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing your opinions!

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1. Quality is in the eye of the beholder... to some extent. For example, many people would have difficulty in distinguishing a G from an H colour diamond, except in particular conditions (loose stones, seen through the side against a white background and in controlled, diffused lighting). And no-one is going to tell a VS1 from a VVS2 without a loupe. Heck, most people would have a problem telling an SI1 from a VS2 without a loupe.


Also, with a fancy cut (non-round), there's a lot more to the cut than the few basic ratios that you have listed - for example, the extent to which the corners of the emerald shape are canted. Length/width ratio is a very personal preference. Somewhere around 1.50 is "safe", but there are beautiful stones that are long and thin, and differently beautiful stones that are nearly square. In any case, I would recommend against using table and depth to discriminate "on paper"; they aren't meant for that.


Some other criteria that you listed also need more information than what is available on a report. For example, a very thin or extremely thin (or thick) girdle indication is not necessarily a good reason to eliminate the stone. If the "extreme" refers to a small portion of girdle in a non-exposed position, the stone may be perfectly "safe".


One point that you do not mention but is crucially important: the lab grading the main (and possibly the side) stones. Not all reports are equal, and I would strongly advise you to stick to GIA or AGS graded stones.


In short: you may be able to come up with a shortlist based on those criteria, but a] the shortlist may well have discarded some really beautiful stones (and left in some so-so ones), and b] you will still need to see the stones (in person, in photo, through the eyes of your chosen expert) to decide what you like most. You may as well short-circuit the process by choosing a good dealer to act as your initial filter, to take photos and help you come up with a choice.


Final point on aesthetics: if you want the centre stone to stand out in a 3-stone ring, a good rule of thumb is to usetotal weight of the sides between 1/3 and 1/2 of the centre. Getting 80-100% of the centre weight on the sides results in the sides looking almost as large as the centre.


2. No. Or at least, not unless you require something out of the ordinary in terms of setting design or stone quality. With a pretty standard 3-stone setting, the advantages of having one person/firm responsible for the delivery of the finished item outweigh any minor benefits you may get from shopping one thing here and the other there.


Incidentally - I agree that most mall chain jewellers are "poor value" for most people. However, the definition of value varies from one person to the next. Some that are after "the lowest price" may well find that their "best value" supplier is quite different from that of someone that wants "the highest quality".


3. Most jewellers can call in stones from their suppliers for you to evaluate. Only a very small (and possibly remote) jeweller will have problems in getting access to stones. The issue is to what extent can they do so at competitive prices... On the other hand, large online stores (e.g. Blue Nile) will have huge apparent choice and competitive prices, but next to no information on the stones beyond what is on the site. Which is also fine, if you adopt a different purchasing process where you treat shipping costs as "viewing fees" to see the stones until you find the right one for you.


4. For the setting yes. For the whole ring, not if you assume a 1 carat G/VS1 as the centre. The centre stone alone will set you off a minimum of $4500, and then you'll have to assume about as much (if not more) for the setting and sides. The Tacori setting you posted goes for a premium at $6500, but if you want quality side stones and quality metalwork you won't spend much less even without a "brand".

Edited by davidelevi
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks, Davidelevi. I think my biggest concern is finding the setting I like. After that, finding the diamonds "should" be easier.


1. I noticed that the smaller side stones are in fact nicer and I see your point with the 1/3-1/2 size of total center diamond weight. Thanks for that. I think this opens up my range a bit more on the diamonds, but I've noticed that I put more emphasis on clarity, when color seems to impact cost a bit more. Is this correct? What do you recommend for a 1-1.2ct. emerald cut diamond? It is my understanding that with the openness of the Emerald it is a bit more noticeable on this type of diamond so is an H color noticeable? What is the noticeable color threshold for 1-1.2ct. Emerald?


2. This is the tough part, finding the setting I like. I have had some quotes from jewelers back in the States but I'm not pleased with the results thus far. For a 1ct. center and two 1/3ct. side stones and a basic platinum setting I was quoted at about $9,500 but initially he told me that he couldn't find anything lower than 1/2ct. for each side stone. I found this difficult to believe and I wanted smaller so he then came back with 1/3ct. side stones. I still prefer smaller (maximum of .24ct. on sides). Also, the picture he sent to me that I asked for is exactly the same picture I have found off the internet myself. I'm not impressed. By the way, he is a jeweler from a mall store I met with before I left.


3. Also, I know of someone that purchased a supposedly FL princess cut 1.2ct. diamond from South Africa and had it shipped and set in Bahrain for all less than 7k. Does that seem unlikely to you? I live right by Dubai. I have heard both positive and negative reports of buying from there so I was considering making a trip but I don't know if it's worth it if the quality of diamonds aren't certified.


Thanks again for your response. I greatly appreciate it!

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1. Well, clarity above VS2 is purely a matter of rarity. You won't see the difference without a loupe. Colour on the other hand is more visible (usually, but not always: D to E to F is practically undetectable on mounted stones, yet D-E can be 20% or more). As to what you should go for, if you want colourless, H is about as far as I'd go - but a lot of people like the warmer tones of J-K (and they do cost a lot less!).


2. I don't like trumpeting my wares, but have you seen this? http://rockdiamond.com/index.php/jewelry/ring--gia-109-gvvs1-emerald-cut-diamond-w-emerald-cut-side-stones Whether you like this particular ring or not (and it fits with your original criteria), we can get this style done with whatever stones you like, and it would cost far less than $9500 (plus the centre stone).


3. It is possible. The question is what colour and clarity was the princess cut in reality... You can get a GIA-graded, decently cut J/IF 1.20 for about $4500, and an EGL-graded H/IF for about the same price. A top-flight solitaire setting (or a middle-range three-stone) for $2500 is a reasonable price too.


South Africa is not actually a particularly good place to shop for diamonds, by the way. The diamond was probably cut in India, and the difference between shipping it back to South Africa and shipping it to the USA is probably about $50... in favour of the USA. Having the setting made in Bahrain may actually be slightly less expensive - much of the cost of a ring is work, and it may well be cheaper in Bahrain than in the US or Europe, for a comparable quality.

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The clarity ratings make sense, and again, it comes down to seeing the diamond itself. Paper can only get one so far.


I am all for finding as many different settings as possible. I am actively seeking and know I haven't found the right one yet. The one shown is nice, but the only difference is probably smaller side stones. It just doesn't seem like the center stands out enough. Even a design that may have similar sizes and is unique can center attention on the diamond like this one http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Diamond-Stone-Engagement-Ring/dp/B004V7PQXY/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_3. I gladly welcome other options so please let me know if you have something along the lines. I'm still looking for that perfect simple, yet unique setting and it feels like it could take forever. :-)

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I think you are confusing two things - one is the setting, the other is the stones (side or centre) that you want to put into it. The two are independent to a large extent if you choose someone that makes custom settings. If you look on Amazon or go for stock production, then I agree you are stuck, but you needn't be.

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  • 2 months later...



Just as a follow up, I had the ring created that I had hoped for and am now engaged. It is the most beautiful ring I have seen (and most importantly she also feels the same way). I went with a 1.07ct. EC VS-1 H with traps on the sides, 18K White Gold band with 12 tiny diamonds (6 per side) on the sides of a thin band. The ratio for the center diamond is about 1.26:1 and everything fits together so well. The overall ct. weight is around 1.8ct. Everything came together perfectly and I'd like to upload a picture on here if possible. Thank you for taking time to explain some of the details as it was a tough procedure to do without being able to physically see the diamonds. Luckily I had a friend back home help me out and visit the jeweler I worked with. Thanks again!

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Congratulations on the purchase - and if I get your gist right, bigger congratulations on the engagement!


Posting pictures here is strongly encouraged. The easiest way is for you to upload the pic to somewhere like Picasa or Photobucket, then put the address in a post enclosed in [ img ] tags (without the spaces) - most sites will provide you with a ready-formatted string to paste into the post


Let me know if you need step-by-step instructions on how to attach a file, if this is the route you prefer. It's not difficult, but it's a bit convoluted.

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