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Am I Getting A Good Deal?


pugsly8422
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Hello, this is my first post. I've been searching for a while, and think I've finally found the one, the first one listed. I wanted to hopefully get some expert opinions.

 

#1

1.53 carat

D color

Excellent/Excellent/Excellent (hearts and arrows) cut

SI1 clarity

Table - 55%

Round

EGL-USA certified

$8300 tax included

 

#2

1.7 carat

H color

Very good/Very good cut

VS2 clarity

Table - 58%

Round

EGL-Europe certified

$8000 tax included

 

#3

1.62 carat

H-I color

SI2 clarity

Round

Not certified

$7800+tax

 

 

I wish they were GIA certified, but I can't seem to afford any that meet the specifications I want, and are GIA certified (maybe I should lower my expectations and get a GIA certified?). #2 seems to be out of the question because it is EGL-Europe, and I had to basically force the guy to let me take a picture of the certificate. I'm thinking the stone is probably smaller than 1.7, and the color is probably worse than H. #3 isn't certified, but when I saw it in person it was very impressive. I realize it's difficult for anyone to give an opinion without seeing it in person, but I'm hoping to get pointed in the right direction and find out if I'm even getting a decent deal.

 

Thanks for reading.

Edited by pugsly8422
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You can lower your specs or the seller can lower them for you. In this size range, the difference in the cost of lab fees between EGL-USA and GIA is under $100. The entire remainder of the difference in price you're seeing is in the grading. What EGL calls an SI2 is not necessarily the same as what GIA calls an SI2, H doesn't mean H, etc. EGL branded stones are not cheaper, and GIA branded stones are not better. It's a rock and it is what it is. The difference is in the way they're described.

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Yes.

 

I'm telling you that the specs ARE lower, you just don't know exactly what has been lowered. That's why the stone was sent to EGL in the first place. If you need to flex the grades in order to accomodate a budget, so be it, everyone does, even people with gigantic budgets. I generally find you're better off if YOU choose what to give up and what to keep rather than letting the dealer or the lab do it.

 

The person who sent the stone to the lab, CHOSE to send it to EGL. Why? They're a little bit cheaper but the difference is in the dozens of dollars. They're also faster and more pleasant to work with but these don't come even close to offsetting the alleged price drop of thousands of dollars for getting the wrong pedigree. That just doesn't make sense. EGL was chosen because they could 'discount' from a higher grade and the end result would still be more money. That doesn't make EGL stones bad but it does mean that you need to be careful if you're going to use the report for comparison purposes. It's simply not an apples to apples situation.

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Thanks again denverappraiser. I've been looking at some GIA stones online, but am hesitant to buy. I've read that one SI1 stone may be colorless to the naked eye, but another may not. So if I purchase an SI1, how will I know? I just don't want to get one, then have to send it back and cancel my payment, if I can avoid it.

 

I've managed to find a few stones, they're not what I was hoping for, but after learning about GIA vs. EGL and lowering my standards, it looks like I'll have to settle. I'm looking to spend about $7,000 and the specs I am looking for are:

 

Round

SI1 or better

I or better (if it's colorless to the naked eye. It will be a solitare, so this is important)

Excellent or Ideal Cut

Excellent Symmetry

Excellent Polish

1.2+ carats

Prefer faint or no fluorescene

Table 56-60 (could I be more flexible on this?)

Depth 58-63 (could I be more flexible on this?)

 

Obvsiously I'd just like to get the most for my money. I've found a couple on the diamond finder here that have very similar specs, but are are priced about $300 apart.

 

http://www.bluenile.com/diamond_LD02612771?click_id=455067081

http://www.bluenile.com/diamond_LD02563012?click_id=839530308

 

I've mostly been looking at Blue Nile. Excel didn't seem to have anything, and neither did Union. It seems as though everything I see has almost the same specs, but can vary by up to $1,000. The only differences I usually see are the girdle, which I try to keep around medium, and the measurements. The only thing I really look at when it comes to the measurements are the first two numbers, to see if it is 1:1 or 100%. I hope I'm doing that right.

 

I'm probably overthinking all of this because I want to be sure I get the best I can afford.

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I think for $7000 you need to lower a little further. Either go for a 1.00, or go down to SI2 clarity.

 

I don't understand your question: "I've read that one SI1 stone may be colorless to the naked eye, but another may not. So if I purchase an SI1, how will I know?" If you mean eye-clean, it's not the same as colourless. The only way to be certain is to see it, but good photos, a chat with the vendor (if he/she has the stone in hand) or having the stone sent to your chosen appraiser help. Colour is largely independent of clarity.

 

Re: table and depth: ignore them if you follow GIA/AGS cut grades. They are far more complex than taking into account table and depth, which are not even the most important variables.

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A correctly graded SI1 will almost certainly be eye clean to the naked eye, even for an expert under optimum conditions..

An SI2 probably will be eye clean.

Even an I1 might be eye clean.

 

It's a lot of money. It's good to think about these things. I would drop both table and depth from your parameters entirely. Both are inculcated within the GIA cut grade. It's decidedly more complicated than that but, frankly, I think the range of possibilies is less than what you've chosen. Consider also flexing on polish down to VG. The same holds for symmetry with some limits over WHY it's only VG. xxx comes at a premium and x-vg-x or even x-vg-vg will be visually indistinguisahable.

 

With highly price competitive vendors like you're considering, a $1000 difference on a $7000 stone is going to be more than about girdle thickness. Give us some examples of what you count as similar other than girdle thickness and price and we'll try to help. Betcha there's something else going on. Tiny details make big differences in this business and this is a useful exercise in teaching yourself what to look for.

Edited by denverappraiser
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I think for $7000 you need to lower a little further. Either go for a 1.00, or go down to SI2 clarity.

 

I don't understand your question: "I've read that one SI1 stone may be colorless to the naked eye, but another may not. So if I purchase an SI1, how will I know?" If you mean eye-clean, it's not the same as colourless. The only way to be certain is to see it, but good photos, a chat with the vendor (if he/she has the stone in hand) or having the stone sent to your chosen appraiser help. Colour is largely independent of clarity.

 

Re: table and depth: ignore them if you follow GIA/AGS cut grades. They are far more complex than taking into account table and depth, which are not even the most important variables.

 

Well, I would "like" to stay at or below $7,000. If I have to go a little above, I will. I would definitely consider going down to an SI2, but would be hesitant due to what denverappraiser said in his post above about how an SI1 will "almost certainly" be eye clean, and an SI2 will "probably" be eye clean. Oh, and you're right, I meant eye clean, not colourless, sorry about that.

 

 

A correctly graded SI1 will almost certainly be eye clean to the naked eye, even for an expert under optimum conditions..

An SI2 probably will be eye clean.

Even an I1 might be eye clean.

 

It's a lot of money. It's good to think about these things. I would drop both table and depth from your parameters entirely. Both are inculcated within the GIA cut grade. It's decidedly more complicated than that but, frankly, I think the range of possibilies is less than what you've chosen. Consider also flexing on polish down to VG. The same holds for symmetry with some limits over WHY it's only VG. xxx comes at a premium and x-vg-x or even x-vg-vg will be visually indistinguisahable.

 

With highly price competitive vendors like you're considering, a $1000 difference on a $7000 stone is going to be more than about girdle thickness. Give us some examples of what you count as similar other than girdle thickness and price and we'll try to help. Betcha there's something else going on. Tiny details make big differences in this business and this is a useful exercise in teaching yourself what to look for.

 

Coming from 2 experts, I guess table and depth are as good as gone. I will also look into dropping down to VG on polish and/or symmetry. It seemed that everywhere I read said that Cut was the most important, that's why I figured I wanted X/X/X on anything, but if it's nothing noticeable by the naked eye, I'd be happy to go down to VG.

 

The examples I was looking at were the links I listed from Blue Nile. Does the Girdle and the fluorescene really make much of a difference in the price? These all seem fairly similar to me. Here are some comparisons:

 

Edit - Sorry, I just realized how difficult this is to read. I can just type out everything to make it easier if you'd like me to.

 

Diamond Details

 

Stock number: LD02563012 Price: $6,086 Bank wire price: $5,995 Price per carat: $4,989 Carat weight: 1.22 Cut: Ideal Color: I Clarity: SI1 Depth %: 62.2% Table %: 59% Polish: Excellent Symmetry: Excellent Girdle: Medium to Slightly Thick Culet: None Fluorescence: None Measurements: 6.80 x 6.85 x 4.24 mm

 

Diamond Details

 

Stock number: LD02612771 Price: $5,726 Bank wire price: $5,641 Price per carat: $4,732 Carat weight: 1.21 Cut: Ideal Color: I Clarity: SI1 Depth %: 61.4% Table %: 58% Polish: Excellent Symmetry: Excellent Girdle: Medium Culet: None Fluorescence: Medium Measurements: 6.84 x 6.87 x 4.21 mm

 

Diamond Details

 

Stock number: LD02559927 Price: $6,727 Bank wire price: $6,627 Price per carat: $5,560 Carat weight: 1.21 Cut: Ideal Color: I Clarity: SI1 Depth %: 62.1% Table %: 57% Polish: Excellent Symmetry: Excellent Girdle: Medium to Slightly Thick, Faceted Culet: None Fluorescence:

None Measurements: 6.82 x 6.79 x 4.23 mm

 

Diamond Details

 

Stock number: LD02166832 Price: $6,998 Bank wire price: $6,894 Price per carat: $5,736 Carat weight: 1.22 Cut: Ideal Color: I Clarity: SI1 Depth %: 62.4% Table %: 58% Polish: Excellent Symmetry: Excellent Girdle: Medium to Slightly Thick, Faceted Culet: None Fluorescence: None Measurements: 6.88 x 6.83 x 4.28 mm

Edited by pugsly8422
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The most obvious outlier is this one so I start with it:

 

 

http://www.bluenile.com/round-diamond-1-carat-ideal-cut-i-color-si1-clarity_LD02612771

 

 

The deal is fluorescence and the ‘cloud not shown’. Neither one of these is a deal killer but they raise red flags with the internet shoppers. The effect of these two is it makes the stone harder to sell and whoever owns it is discounting it to move it. It seems to be about 10% below the median.

 

here’s outlier #2 going the other direction

 

http://www.bluenile.com/round-diamond-1-carat-ideal-cut-i-color-si1-clarity_LD02166832

 

This one is a bit curious and I don’t see much of a reason it’s a little higher than the competitors. It may be as simple as the fact that BN doesn’t own either of the stones and someone else set they price. They’re just adding a markup and selling it. Whoever owns this one wants more for it than the competition. As an odd feature of the diamond business, I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells. There’s a market of people out there who will buy the expensive one just because it’s the expensive one. As a budget driven buyer, I would duck this one. If you're one of those guys who buys the most expensive brand of vodka at the store, this might be the one for your.

 

 

You’ll notice that my advice is peppered with ‘most’, ‘many,’ ‘often’ and similar qualifiers. The problem with eye clean definitions is that they are highly dependent on lighting conditions, vision, background colors and the colors of the inclusions, stone cleaning and whether you know what to look for. These aren’t gemological properties. To my grandmother a sugar cube is eye clean. That’s why it’s not part of the GIA grading definitions even though nearly every customer asks about it and always have. The Internet is chock full of definitions saying it is but this doesn't change doodly. There’s just no reasonable way to quantify it and Liddicoat knew this 80 years ago when he designed the scale. For most people, most Si1s are eye clean. Certain stones have inclusions that are eye visible to certain people under the right conditions. Sorry, that’s the closest I can come to an absolute. Will it be visible to YOUR eyes (or hers)? Maybe. Probably not. First, ask the selling dealer to take a look at it and tell you what they see. Second, order it in and look at it yourself. Show it to your friends and neighbors, get it appraised, maybe even show it to some competitive jewelers and see if they want to beat the deal. Only after you’re satisfied is the deal done. If you have an issue, return it. It’s a pain, and it eats a little bit of freight, but it’s not all that much of a problem, especially if you’re in the same country as the seller.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Once again, thanks denverappraiser, that's a great and very informative breakdown. So where I think I stand now, and maybe you wouldn't mind giving me your expert opinon on it, is to:

 

1) Only consider GIA certified diamonds (be sure to check for additional information like "cloud not shown").

2) Clarity - If all I'm worried about is "eye clean", then it would be in my best interest to settle for an SI1 or even an SI2 if I can confirm it is in fact "eye clean". What would you say is the best way to determine this?

3) Color - The ring is a white gold or platinum solitare, so color may be a bit more important than usual. I know I is usually the minimum, but should I make my minimum H, or even G just to be safe?

4) Cut - Excellent cut, Polish - VG/Excellent, Symmetry - VG/Excellent.

5) Fluorescene - Faint/none

6) With these minimums, get the biggest one I can afford.

 

Basically, all I'm worried about is it being "eye clean" and then as large as possible. I guess that makes me the same as most others.

 

Oh, and one other question. When it says "additional clouds not shows", I realize that's not a good thing, but how bad is it? I've also seen some that say pinpoints, twinning wisps and surface graining as well.

 

Thanks again for all of your help!

Edited by pugsly8422
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Colour - there is a significant premium for G over H, and H over I. Given the budget constraints you have, I would prioritise a nice cut - which means that an I diamond will face up white no matter the conditions, and it will be sparkly and lively - rather than get a so-so cut with a stone that looks white but is rather dark or dull.

 

I would relax your constraint on fluorescence to avoiding very strong/extremely strong blue and avoiding (it's rare anyway) yellow - if anything, medium/strong blue is going to help (in natural light) to make a slightly yellow tint disappear.

 

Clarity: both Neil and I have told you: there is no way to insure an SI stone will be "eye clean" for you (or your fiancée). The best you can do is ask questions (and/or photos) of the vendor, and see what happens later. Worst that can happen, is you are out of a return shipping fee. No other costs. And some vendors even provide you with a pre-paid return label.

 

Don't worry about the metal - it will make no difference to the visibility of an I colour - on the other hand, if you are planning a very "open" setting on the sides of the diamond, be aware that some yellow may become visible against a white background when looking through the sides.

 

The "additional X not shown" refers to inclusions that are usually difficult to detect and are not the grade-setting ones, but if plotted they may make the plot look very confusing. As to "how bad is it?", most times it makes no difference at all: you'll never see those inclusions without a loupe. The reason why people are cautious is that in some - rare - cases these inclusions may make the diamond look dull, but yet again there is no way of knowing without direct observation. A big discount on what would be a "normal" price may be a sign that something is amiss - but again it is not a guarantee one way or the other.

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Wow, very imformative davidelevi, I really appreciate it. The only things I was wondering are:

 

1) When you say to prioritise the cut, are you just referring to the cut? or also the symmetry and polish?

2) When I was asking the best way to tell if a stone is actually eye clean, I was really thinking of when I'm looking in person. I realize that when ordering online you have to do it other ways, but when you can actually see it in person before buying/shipping/ordering, is there something I should look for? Other than yellow and clouds?

 

Once again, great explanation, very informative, and much appreciated. Thanks again!

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You’re dancing on the edge of the cliff. A lot of people do this. I do this. You want to push the boundaries of what is visible in terms of cut, clarity and color, you want to maximize size, and you want to minimize price. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. It’s a VERY common set of objectives but that carves off the easy shopping stones. Things like the ‘cloud not shown’ on the report include the possibility of a problem. That’s what drives down the price. It doesn't mean there's an issue and, in face, there probably isn't. That’s where your balance happens. The downside is a bit of wasted time and shipping costs and the upside is the possibility of a better bargain. Only you can decide if you want to play that game or just go for the sure thing. There’s about $500 on the table for playing these sorts of things. Going from I to G is going to cost you on the order of $1000. That’s a considerably bigger topic. SI1/SI2 is a similarly big issue.

 

 

Given your objectives, I wouldn’t go for a G and probably wouldn’t even go for an H. Have you gone to a store and actually looked a real diamonds or are you trying to do this whole thing online? You may be surprised at where the boundary is for where you start to see color.

 

FWIW, I’m recently engaged and my shopping specs were pretty similar to yours. I ended up picking a J/SI2/AGS000 with medium blue fluro and with pinpoints and a cloud not shown. For the standard Internet shopper, that’s pushing the limits of what’s acceptable in 4 different places. Yeah, it was about the money. Unfortunately, jewelry appraising doesn’t pay nearly as well as people seem to expect but they still expect my bride to have a huge and fabulous rock. It's decently likely I could have found a lab that would call it H/SI1 or even G/SI1 but there's no point. I wanted to know what it really was. If I want a glamour cert for some reason, I can always get one later.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Heck, Neil, you could make your own glamour cert... ;)

 

pugsly:

 

1) I was meaning cut/proportions. Polish and symmetry are different animals, and I agree entirely with the advice that Neil gave you on this, though see the third article linked below (and why Neil is rightly cautious about symmetry: it hides a lot of things, though with VG/EX you are OK).

 

2) The best advice I can give you is to see the stone in as many different lighting environments as possible. Spotlights are fine, but they hide a lot of stuff under glitter and sparkle. Try to see the diamond in overhead/diffused lighting (in the back office/storeroom) and in natural light, both direct and diffused. Particularly for assessing clarity, diffused light is going to be key.

 

Read these 3 GIA articles on cut - there may be some interesting things in there...

 

http://www.gia.edu/diamondcut/pdf/cut_fall2004.pdf

http://www.gia.edu/diamondcut/pdf/Fall_2001_Cut.pdf

http://www.gia.edu/diamondcut/pdf/WN11A3.pdf

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You’re dancing on the edge of the cliff. A lot of people do this. I do this. You want to push the boundaries of what is visible in terms of cut, clarity and color, you want to maximize size, and you want to minimize price. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. It’s a VERY common set of objectives but that carves off the easy shopping stones. Things like the ‘cloud not shown’ on the report include the possibility of a problem. That’s what drives down the price. It doesn't mean there's an issue and, in face, there probably isn't. That’s where your balance happens. The downside is a bit of wasted time and shipping costs and the upside is the possibility of a better bargain. Only you can decide if you want to play that game or just go for the sure thing. There’s about $500 on the table for playing these sorts of things. Going from I to G is going to cost you on the order of $1000. That’s a considerably bigger topic. SI1/SI2 is a similarly big issue.

 

 

Given your objectives, I wouldn’t go for a G and probably wouldn’t even go for an H. Have you gone to a store and actually looked a real diamonds or are you trying to do this whole thing online? You may be surprised at where the boundary is for where you start to see color.

 

FWIW, I’m recently engaged and my shopping specs were pretty similar to yours. I ended up picking a J/SI2/AGS000 with medium blue fluro and with pinpoints and a cloud not shown. For the standard Internet shopper, that’s pushing the limits of what’s acceptable in 4 different places. Yeah, it was about the money. Unfortunately, jewelry appraising doesn’t pay nearly as well as people seem to expect but they still expect my bride to have a huge and fabulous rock. It's decently likely I could have found a lab that would call it H/SI1 or even G/SI1 but there's no point. I wanted to know what it really was. If I want a glamour cert for some reason, I can always get one later.

 

At first I was only looking at wholesalers in person. I've only started looking online the past few days. I've seen quite a bit in person, but it has started to all look the same. One place I went did have a 1.63, H-I, SI2 that is not certified. He said we could take it to an appraiser in his building that he would pay for, and when I asked if we could take it to one of my choosing (that I would pay for, and then we could deduct from the cost if I bought it), he said no. This was because he wouldn't let me take it to someone outside the building without paying for it in full. When I put it up to another stone, this one looked great, but I was still hesitant since it wasn't certified and don't fully trust myself.

 

Congrats on your recent engagement! Did you buy your stone online? So you're saying you could have found a lab to call your stone one thing, but you wanted to know what it really was when you bought it? Isn't that kind of contradicting? Or am I just misunderstanding?

 

 

Thanks for that input David, and especially those articles. I never would have thought it would be this difficult!

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If you can't have it inspected by your own expert, and they aren't providing credible grading, meaning GIA or AGSL, don't buy it. Period. Calling themselves a 'wholesaler' makes no difference at all. Hiring one of their friends to grade it makes no difference at all. It's reasonable for them to put some time pressure on you, it's reasonable for them to get payment in full up front so they have security while you're running about with it, but they should have no vote whatever in how you make your decision. Show it to your astrologer if you want, and get a refund if it doesn't measure up.

 

Try this offer if you really love that particular stone: Leave a token deposit for earnest money and THEY send it to GIA for grading. That way it never leaves their control. If it comes back as represented, you'll pay the asking price, plus the shipping and insurance both ways, plus the GIA fees. If it comes back short, the deals off, you get your earnest money bach, they eat the fees, and they keep the stone. Heck, offer to throw in a $100 'handling' fee. They now have a 'certified' stone to show the next customer so they're better off than they were before even if they lose the deal. Sound fair? Dollars to donuts they refuse. Why? They're insisting that you rely 100% on their grader but they're unwilling to rely on him/her themselves when it's THEIR money at stake. Hmmmm.

 

RE: My own purchase.

 

I bought from a broker. He bought it from a private party. I actually had it recut to get what I wanted. It's not a procedure I would recommend for non-professionals.

 

I wanted to know what the specs are on the diamond. For me that was the whole point of the lab exam. I'm a pretty good grader but it's changes your perspective when you're the buyer or seller yourself. At least weekly I have two people come in together with a diamond and they want me to help them decide some attribute, usually color or clarity. 'We can't decide if it's an H or an I." Without even looking at the stone, if they tell me who thinks it's an H, I can tell them who is the seller. It's not that either one is necessarily lying and both can be fabulous graders themselves, it's just human nature. For my own purposes I wanted an unbiased reporting of certain facts. Realistically that left me with two options, GIA and AGSL. If I wanted someone to produce a document that would make it look good on paper, I know plenty of labs would have done it and I could get pretty much any results I want. They still will. I know plenty of 'appraisers' who will tell me that there's some hypothetical retail market somewhere where it's 'worth' 4x what I paid. So what? How is this helpful? More importantly for this conversation, how would it be helpful to YOU for the seller to do this for yours?

 

I'm a big fan of shopping with local dealers and I do encourage you to do so but the reason I asked if you had seen real diamonds was to callibrate your eyes. This is a completely different task from looking to find a good deal. For this purpose you need to be specifically looking at correctly graded stones in as close as possible to standardized lighting. You've made several contentions about what can and can't be seen with the naked eye and it's important to actually look and see for yourself. It's your naked eyes we're talking about after all. It completely screws your callibration if the uncerted J you're looking at as a benchmark is really an M. This is more common than you think.

Edited by denverappraiser
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pugsly: You are very welcome.

 

You know, it's only as difficult as each of us (meaning you in this particular case, but see Neil's story above...) is willing to make it.

 

To some extent, it would be so simple for you to lower your sights to a 1 carat (or smaller) stone, or shop for an X/X/X whatever it is, or buy the "D/SI1" that you first posted about here. The fact that you are prepared to inform yourself and understand what you are going to buy is something that indicates the importance of this purchase for you - and I'm sure it's not just because of financial considerations.

 

Once again, I agree with Neil that not being able to show the stone to an expert of your choice, and return it for whatever reason getting your money back is a sufficient cause to drop the deal. I was involved in something like this - though about a piece of antique furniture, not a diamond - a few years ago, and had to go to court to resolve the situation. I won the case, but still ended out of pocket by several thousands. Never again.

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Well, here's the update. I parted ways with the "wholesaler" after he wouldn't let me take it to an appraiser of my choosing, outside of his buiding, without actually purchasing the diamond. I actually spoke to the appraiser on the phone, and he recommended me to someone else, so I went and spoke with them. It's looking more and more like I'm going to make my purchase online, unless I find one online, take the certificate in, and they're able to find something similar and are able to give me a similar deal. One advantage this new place I went to has is that they allow 100% trade ins, which is obviously an advantage over the internet. I'm ONLY looking at GIA stones now. I'm tired of the drama, and although I'd love to get her a big stone, and she will probably never ask about the C's, it will definitely give me peace of mind.

 

I found this site that measures the light return, fire, scintillation and spread:

 

http://www.pricescope.com/tools/hca

 

Is it worth it to use that fairly strongly to help determine which diamond to purchase?

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I think I may have found a great diamond and wanted to see what you guys thought. The only things that scare me are the feathers(?) in the stone when you look at the certificate.

 

http://www.bluenile.com/diamond_LD02568611?click_id=869672863

 

Here's another one I found that I'm tempted to buy right now!

 

http://www.bluenile.com/diamond_LD02602890?click_id=177486700

Edited by pugsly8422
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Bear in mind that there's plenty of online merchants that allow 100% trade-ins (some ask that you upgrade by $1, some that you upgrade by double the starting amount, some that you upgrade on 2 out of the 4 Cs, ...), so don't feel this is a limiting factor.

 

HCA: see comments on depth and table% above. In my opinion, it's a lot better to rely on the GIA cut grade: it is significantly more sophisticated, and it relies on actually seeing and measuring the stone. In addition, the HCA was NEVER meant or described as a choice tool - only as a reject tool.

 

The first diamond that you found on BN: it may be OK, but I don't think it's particularly well cut (and neither does GIA - "very good" means in the lower 50% of cut quality, nowadays). And your question remains whether it has visible inclusions - which the second one almost certainly does (hence why it's trading at a discount).

 

I know you want a big stone (by the way - does she?), but you are not doing yourself any favours by pushing it closer to 1.50 - bear in mind that diamonds are sold by weight and a 1.45 is 20% ($1500 at your price level) more than a 1.20, which in turn is - doh - 20% more than a 1.00. "Invest" your money in something you are going to see like cut, and not on 0.1 mm in diameter...

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Ohh, I was unaware that some of the online merchants allowed 100% trade ins. That is definitely good to know because I was allowing that to sway me toward possibly buying in person.

 

As far as the HCA, I definitely won't rely solely on that. I figured it was just another way to see if it was/is a good stone. When I have put in the numbers, they have come directly from the GIA certificate. I've basically tried to find stones that meet my specifications, then use the HCA to weed some of them out. That was part of the reason I was so excited about the two I listed. They both met my specifications, and came up very well on the HCA.

 

I didn't realize, according to GIA, Very Good was in the lower 50%. When I spoke with a jeweler today, he was saying that you can't really tell a difference in very good and excellent/ideal with the naked eye, so I figured that may be a good way to spend a little less on the quality, and upgrade on size. Going by what you have said though, it looks like I should go back to my original train of thought and stick with excellent/ideal.

 

As far as a big stone goes, I flat out asked her what the most important thing to her was. She was honest and said she'll be happy with anything, but did say the most important thing to her is the size of the stone. It's really me that wants to be sure she gets good quality. That's a great breakdown regarding the weight. I know you can't tell much, if any, difference between a 1.5 and 1.45, but I'm sure you can tell a difference between a 1.45 and a 1.2. Not that this is going to sway me because I will definitely take your (and Neil's) advice in regards to purchasing one with an excellent/ideal cut. It is more of a curiosity question.

 

I will continue my search, and see if I can find out what Blue Nile's upgrade policy is as well. As usual, I appreciate your input, it has really helped me in my search!

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HCA: I'll just stand behind what I said above: the HCA is not a bad tool, but it makes a number of assumptions, whereas a GIA (or AGS) cut grade relies on far more sophisticated and complete measurement of the stone - the lab has had the stone in hand; the HCA didn't...

 

Cut grade: one of the "issues" with GIA's cut grades is that they are pretty broad - which is good, because it allows different looks to be classed as "excellent" or "very good" or whatever. It is also bad, because it does not allow the consumer to discriminate on those looks without a fair amount of extra information (much of which is not even on the GIA report). Further complication is that sometimes GIA (and AGS) will downgrade a stone "purely" because it faces up relatively small (it is not the case in either of the two stones above), which means you could have a superbly cut stone from all other points of view, but with a thick girdle, getting a lower cut grade than a marginally "excellent" stone which is not really cut all that well.

 

Third point which may cause confusion: GIA introduced its cut grading system in 2006. At that point in time, probably 1 diamond in 10 would have qualified as "Excellent" and another 2 in 10 as "VG", leaving 70% or so in G, F, P categories. Very quickly the cutters adapted their cutting styles so that nowadays about 45% of stones is "Excellent", another 45% is "Very Good" and the remaining 10% is Good, Fair or Poor cut... which leads us back to the first point above about "Excellent" not being discriminating enough (for the anally retentive like myself).

 

My criticism of the famous "VG cut" diamond is mainly based on the pavilion angle - it is probably going to be a very bright diamond (which I don't particularly like, but Garry Holloway does), with a relatively large table (again a dislike for me). You may well find it totally beautiful; there are such things as personal preferences even in diamonds.

 

Size/weight: I did a bit of analysis using data from the Diamond Finder. I used G/VS1 so as to avoid any issues of price reflecting colour or visibility of inclusions, and here are the results:

 

DiamondGraph.png

 

As you can see, there is a definite difference in size between 1.00, 1.20 and 1.40. In all cases, there is a slight tendency for lower priced stones (right hand of the graph) to be smaller - i.e. the cutter is cutting a visually smaller stone but with a higher weight, and the market tends to price these stones less. For 1.20 and 1.40 stones, this is barely perceptible (but it is there mathematically).

 

For the 1.00 stones, the incentive to "cheat" is massive: there is a very high premium going from 0.99 to 1.00 - which causes a "tail" of stones (the last 20) which are significantly smaller in looks and thus drag down the overall trend.

 

So far, so obvious (perhaps). What is not necessarily obvious is that the "typical" (median) stone doesn't look so different to the naked eye. The circles in the inset are in 1:1 scale to reality when the image is sized at 100% on the screen - on the forum (and on my PC) it is smaller, but you can always save it and open it in a program that has variable zoom (e.g Windows Image Viewer).

 

Median prices are around $9000, $11000 and $15000 (and similar ratios would apply to pretty much any other combination of colour/clarity) - I am not sure that a difference in size like the one between the blue and the green circle is worth 50% more money; that's all I was trying to say.

 

ETA: Blue Nile upgrade policy - 100% if you buy something worth at least 2x the original amount. See http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-upgrade-program

Edited by davidelevi
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Wow david, what great information. I am definitely a visual person, and that graph made what you were saying much easier to understand. Thank you!

 

I'm to the point now where I would almost definitely like to purchase from Blue Nile because I do like their upgrade policy, although $1 more versus 100% more would be nice, and I can get 5% back from them on top of the 1% from my credit card.

 

With that said, I'd almost like for you and/or Neil to find he stone for me! I could search for hours (which I've already done) and think I've found the one I'm looking for, only to find it actually has flaws. It sounds to me like you're suggesting I go with something around 1.2 versus 1.5, mostly due to the 50% savings (makes total sense). That should help narrow it down. After that I'm back to the hard part. H/I and SI1/SI2 and trying to figure out which ones are best when it comes to eye clean, and then possibly call on those. If I could get away with spending less than $7k that would be great as well, but it's not mandatory. Of course, I'll keep looking myself to see if I can find anything and hopefully get more expert opinions on here.

 

I can't thank you guys enough for the time and effort you've put into helping me with this big purchase!

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