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Buying From A Local Jeweler


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After researching a few stores, including Tiffany’s and Blue Nile, for 1 ct. diamond ring, a friend of mine suggested a local jewelry shop. Prices are 2-3 times cheaper, however, some stones are not certified. I understand I can ask the jeweler to get the GIA certification but once the rock is back, how do I know he didn’t switch it with a similar rock of lower quality? Also, is it a good idea to buy from a local jeweler vs. spending 2-3 as much at Blue Nile? The jeweler has been in business for over 25 years, that’s not to say he’ll be there tomorrow, but as long as I’m getting a solid rock for a great price, should I really care?



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1. The retail US diamond market is highly competitive and fairly transparent in price - not to mention much lower margin than it used to be. You can be assured that no-one is making 200-300% mark ups any more on diamonds, which in turn means that if someone is offering you a diamond for 1/2 or 1/3 of the price of another one the two diamonds are NOT equal in some important respect. A 0.98 E/VS1 and a 1.01 D/IF are totally indistinguishable to an expert with a 10x loupe once set in a ring, unless additional tools are used. However, the 1.01 is worth about 3-4 times as much as the 0.98.


2. The cost of a GIA report is less than $250 for the vast majority of diamonds sold on the retail market. GIA prices are public, and available here: www.gia.edu/lab-reports-services/fees_payment/lab_fees/Lab-Fee-Schedule-Diamond-US.pdf. If all there is between a diamond being worth say $5000 and $15000 were just a $150 fee to GIA, every single diamond would be graded by GIA. As to whether the jeweller would switch - yes, it's possible in theory. In practice most diamonds can be distinguished relatively easily from each other by people with good training, and an independent appraiser is also not at all expensive. In any case, at some point you have to trust someone (or train yourself, which in turn implies trusting the trainer) - what tells you that what the jeweller is selling you in the first place is not a $5 CZ but a $5000 diamond?


3. Is it a good idea to buy local? It depends on what you value. In general for pure pricing of diamonds online dealers are difficult to beat. However, there is more to value than just the price of the item: service and courtesy, availability of someone to answer your questions, ability to see the stone in person and compare it to others rather than becoming a "serial shipper" are all worth something, and so is the fact of having a town centre which is not purely dominated by chain stores.


4. Around for 25 years, gone tomorrow. Again it doesn't matter much if you see this purely as a one-off purchase. It matters more if you think you may want to upgrade or change the ring, or buy more jewellery. It matters even more if something goes wrong (rarely, but it happens).

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I love it when people support local business but, I have to say, your story raises some serious quesitons. Apples for apples, the local merchants are nearly always more than the Internet houses like the one you mentioned and coming in 3x cheaper is absolutely out of the question. Something else is going on and your comment about unreliable grading is the key. DO NOT buy a stone without taking them up on the GIA grading first. IF it grades out as claimed and you're worried about the jeweler switching on you, include an appraiser in the loop as part of the delivery process but, frankly, I think this is the least of your issues. Then again, if you're seriously worried that they're going to be stealing your stone at the back end, are you sure you want to be doing business with these people?

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Great comments and thank you both. I'm trying to educate myself and although I’ve grasped and understanding of the “4 c’sâ€, I’m still uneasy about comparing various diamonds, as I have hard time finding apples to apples to compare. I agree 100% right about the service and having the upgrade option with a store, although bluenile offers upgrade service too.

My questions are as follows:


1) Is bluenile a good benchmark for pricing and would their pricing be comparable to local stores?


2) If you had to rate the 4 c’s, or 3 C’s, cut, clarity, color, what is my order of priority for best looking/good value purchase? I’m more concerned with quality than quantity.


3) Is there a pricing guide that I could follow? ex. I’ve selected a ring with an F rating, all else holding constant, how much less/more would G/E cost? May be there's a chart sort of, listing X and Y axis one with clarity one with color for example?


4) Lastly, what does “include an appraiser in the loop as part of the delivery process “ mean?

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Blue Nile has an easy search engine and makes a pretty good benchmark, as does the 'diamond finder' utility at the top of the page here. Most local jewelers are a bit over this but it's a good place to start.


Tell the jeweler this: I will take it and immediately get it inspected by my choice of appraisers. If it comes back lacking for ANY reason, I want a 100% refund. It's reasonable for them to put restrictions on how much time you have to do this and, of course, you have to bring it back undamaged but any jeweler worth doing business with, including the Internet folks mentioned above, should have no problem agreeing to it. Other than schedule they should have no input into who you choose as your expert. I haven't a clue if there's an appraisal service in Guadalajara that does this but it should be that hard to find if it exists.


Personally I would rank the C's as:







Other people see it differently and there are obvious outliers that I would avoid.


No, there's not a reasonable pricing guide although there are LOTS of attempts at it. Your first suggestion of using Blue Nile as a benchmark to work from is a good one. Note, by the way, that EVERY stone for sale by BN is graded by either GIA or AGS. That's an important stat in your comparison shopping.

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I am relatively recently engaged to be married. I bought a largish, J/SI1/AGS ideal. Like most people, price was driving the bus and I still paid a premium for that AGS pedigree. take that for whatever you think it's worth. Jewelry appraising doesn't pay nearly as well as people tend to expect, I"m pretty well connected in the business but the discounts that produces aren't as big as you think, and my bride wanted a big honking rock since she's marrying a diamond guy. That's where I landed when I compromised between these issues. You may choose something different.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Neil - super congratulations!


ytka98: FWIW, my personal hierarchy is pretty similar to Neil's; I would put colour after clarity, in the sense that I like them all, from D to Z and beyond. Colour comes before clarity in the sense that it's going to be far more visible as long as clarity is SI or above. Again, all sorts of caveats apply.


Looks-wise, the greatest impact is going to be cut, so my advice is not to skimp on that. Some GIA "very good" stones to me look better than some GIA "excellent", but it's again a matter of personal preference and perhaps even more of having the opportunity to sift through things (and seeing quite a few diamonds). If you don't have the time or inclination, stick to the GIA or AGS cut grade and don't compromise on that; a well cut diamond will look larger, whiter and more lively (and this is not sales patter; there are good scientific reasons why it is so).

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