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happysparkles

Pricescope Biased?

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I have spent a bit of time on Pricescope recently and have come to the conclusion it is an extremely biased forum. One of the owners of the site is Gary Holloway and the site appears to have become a promotion of his thinking and his creation - the Ideal Scope. Whilst there are learnings to be had, try to educate yourself and then make a decision independently. The idea of 'cut' is subjective to the author. What is most misleading is that the site advocates vendors that pay to advertise and who utilise the idealscope. For example, James Allen. If an opinion is given about another vendor posters will steer them to JA. If advice is asked about a non JA diamond rarely help will be given. If you post about a negative of JA ie the price compared to another vendor or the customer service, you are treated with disrepect, vitriol, caustic responses and irrelevant attacks.

 

It appears the posters are people who seem to be affiliated with companies to promote their diamonds or have a group mentality due to lack of understanding, gifts from the site or to fit in (eg one lady was given a tiffany and co ring for posting 10000 posts from one of the site owners). It is not an objective/independent site. It does not discuss cut in regards to AGS, GIA or AGA standards. It does not even discuss an ideal cut diamond, yet they have a fanatical obsession to what they consider well cut. Which can be a GIA VG stone with a good HCA, not what I would want or would recommend to a friend. It is based on a tool created ten years ago that even the creator has admitted he needs to update.

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I"m a fairly regular poster on Pricescope so feel free take my opinion with a grain of salt as well. The HCA and the Idealscope are well entrenched over there and I doubt this is going to change any time soon. They are basically unused anywhere else. A fair number of the advertising dealers have become skilled at promoting goods using these tools and the regulars on the forum are experienced at looking at them. That certainly gives an insular sort of feel to the place but I don’t think it’s any sort of conspiracy. That site is MUCH larger than this one and the dealers want to give the customers what they want. That’s the way you get sales.

 

There’s a pretty small group of very loyal customers who post regularly and a huge pool of ‘lurkers’ who read. Each poster has their own preferences, and a few possibly have hidden agendas but as with the IS, I don’t think there’s a conspiracy as much as people who are loyal to the dealers who have treated them well in the past and who want to see others have similar experiences. Within some broad limits, anyone who wants to can say nice or mean things about any dealer or shopping methodology they wish. Actually, some of the favored vendors aren’t even advertisers and some of the advertisers get treated pretty poorly in the forum. They do have some rules about criticizing the site or the way it's run, and you wouldn't be allowed to post this very thread, but you can endorse whatever vendors you like. I probably wouldn't pick on the IS or HCA over there if I were you unless you just like to fight but it's not against the rules. :)

 

FWIW, I know the owners and admins personally and they're pretty up and up people, inclulding Garry Holloway. It's against the rules for a vendor to pay kickbacks to forum posters for saying nice things and they've gone so far as to kick off advertisers over this. That doesn't guarantee it doesn't happen, but I'm confident that Pricescope isn't in on it if it does.

 

FWIW #2. It's actually against the rules HERE to be talking about another diamond forum. This thread may or may not be deleted for that reason but this too isn't a conspiracy. It's a competitive thing.

Edited by denverappraiser

Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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From what I've read about Garry H he seems like a top person. My concern is as you say the 'regular posters' who are very set in their ways. I thought it would be a place that people would be open to getting the best deals on diamonds. Just on a search I can see JA being approximately 15-20% more expensive than Blue Nile. I even suggested to use the HCA and buy an ideal scope for 25 dollars potentially saving 2000 dollars. I found it strange that would not be met more positive response and was disregarded as being an unsafe option! Which is outrageous, BN has a return policy and you can ask a BN rep if the inclusions are visible and they do say if they are. There was another situation where a customer bought a 25k ring from JA and the 2 carat diamond fell out after 7 months. People did not think JA should be responsible to pay for the repairs.

 

Kick backs may be too strong a word, but they certainly have provided gifts for people to encourage posts, jewellery cleaners and the ring from tiffany I mentioned. They have an annual get together with free drinks and door prizes sponsored by vendors for members. Admittedly that is not getting an agenda pushed but to encourage site participation. However, I do suspect some association with JA is occuring from those examples I posted and the same posters always trying to sway people away from another diamond to a JA one.

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Yes, Pricescope is "biased" in the sense that there is a strong if informal clique that has - erm shall we call them "definite" - views about what a well cut diamond is. Then again, DiamondReview is biased in as much as Neil and I (and we make up the vast majority of response posts on this board) also have definite ideas and we see largely eye-to-eye in many matters, including the use/appropriateness of the HCA and of reflector images. BTW precisely this situation is at the origin of my choice not to post on PS, but that doesn't take away anything from the advice you can get here or there.

 

No, Pricescope is not biased in the sense of having a corrupt team of owners or a team of heavy posters that are on the paybook of a set of dealers.

 

I'm not sure JA is consistently more expensive than BN. Actually, looking at the situation where both are advertising the same stone, there is generally a slight advantage to JA. One other advantage is that JA will look at the stone for you, and get extra info (including the blessed IS images), whereas BN will not. Any information that Blue Nile provides on e.g. clarity is second hand from their suppliers. Which may be fine, but it does introduce more uncertainty than talking to someone who has the stone in hand. FWIW, there are competitors that provide much more service than JA (at comparable but slightly higher prices), and there are those that charge a fair amount less than both JA and BN - not necessarily reasons to choose any of them over the other.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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The difference is that I (the owner of the corporation that runs this site) largely stay out of conversations and really have no agenda whatsoever related to the industry, other than to provide a useful venue to consumers and jewelers alike, while making enough money to cover the costs of running the site, including compensating me for my time to maintain it.

 

We don't sell anything here (including idealscopes or other similar tools). My rule of thumb has always been: Profitable or not, if it's not useful to both consumers and jewelers alike, then it doesn't belong on DiamondReview. That's the reason we don't allow banner advertising. The only banner-like advertising allowed is the coupon feature, which I view as being useful to consumers.

 

This site has been running for 14 years now, so we even though we're not the biggest, we must be doing something right!


Hermann

Moderator

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Thanks so much for the honest and refreshing replies to my post. One of the things here is the open nature of the responses. I know Neil is friends with Gary, Herman is the moderator and Davide is from DiamondbyLauren, hello! Very transparent and professional.

 

As a new person to a forum, on PS you see people with 20k posts who just appear to be that, a poster. Whether or not they are prosumers, professionals or just bored you don't know.

 

The cut and paste responses, the formula they stick to when choosing a diamond, directing someone to go to JA, use the HCA, determine eye cleanliness, get an idealscope...why not summarise that in one page than write the same post over and over again? The group mentality, the inability to read an entire post of carefully constructed logic to just jump on you because you forget a fullstop. I think the place has grossly deteriorated since what it was like 8 years ago. Cliquey definitely yes, wannabe parrots yes, uneducated learners yes. Some experts and professionals, but not like it was years ago.

 

They also claimed Hearts on Fire diamonds were not cut for light performance - that is outrageous! I know its a priced brand name but they are definitely exceptionally well cut diamonds and beautiful. Someone had an HCA score of 2.4 for a Hearts on Fire diamond and I said they were ideal cut diamonds with optimal symmetry. The other posters said they were not cut for light performance and they needed an idealscope image. Crazy!!!

 

PS: At the moment, whether its the changing diamond market, Blue Nile definitely appears on average 15-20% lower. I've compared a few diamonds, all equal in size, colour, calrity, no fluor, ex cut, ex sym, ex polish and looked at the detail ie crown/pav angles, table/depth percentage, the types of inclusions, plotting of inclusions etc and BN seems the better deal - at the moment.

Edited by happysparkles

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I understand the frustration - but you have a choice: ignore them.

 

Also, to be fair, there is an obligation on PS (and here) to identify yourself as part of the diamond/jewellery industry or a consumer. I don't think there are too many people that flout this rule in either forum.

 

On the cut-and-paste: again, I appreciate the point. On the other hand, we get the same questions again and again (and there is far less traffic here, for a number of reasons), because many posters seem to be unable to do a little search or unwilling to browse the forum. Referring them to an FAQ section is more efficient, but also prevents the start of a dialogue, which at the end of the day is what I think many (most?) people want. It's often not so much about the technical side of things, but about the reassurance or the ability to discuss what goes through one's head in thinking about an emotionally and financially important purchase.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Thank you for your candid advice and empathy. I know to ignore :) and after the last few ludicrous claims (e.g the Hearts an Fire example) and the caustic attacks I have received I have not gone back.

 

I have read some of the advice this site gives and you are much less absolute in your responses. To me thats more real. That's what is so creepy about Price Scope, they are so absolute in their answers and invested in their beliefs.

 

In sales and marketing if you repeat the same message more than 7 times to a customer it becomes a memory and the customer begins to think it. Once they do an 'action' on that message it becomes a reality. Confirmation bias kicks in after the action, confirming that retrospective message as right. If it is repeated the belief is solidified even more. One week on Price Scope and you have heard the same message 50 times. Group think, befriending new posters and fear mongering = brainwashing!!! After one month on there even I was beginning to think I needed an Ideal Scope!

 

Thanks to those who have replied and let me write this. It has been cathartic. Thank you Herman for chiming in and allowing my thread :)

 

My husband will be grateful. I even had a nightmare the other night that someone with a diamond ring was yelling and screaming at because I forgot to comment on her very large princess cut diamond (I like round brilliants). My reply was I just want to read the newspaper, please, no yelling, just stop. Then I got really upset because I tried to explain what a newspaper was and they wouldn't listen to me, for some reason they couldn't comprehend what a newspaper was. Lol :)

Edited by happysparkles

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Nice discussion. I've had similar feelings about "that other forum".

 

HappySparkles, I have weird dreams too, mostly of all those stones at DBL.!!!!

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Thanks Satbeachbill! It would be interesting to know if more people have noticed that about PS.

 

What is DBL?

 

I admit I did start a controversial topic on GIA, AGS and HCA. Interestingly though Gary Holloway chimed in himself, and in a nutshell acknowledged it could have some updating.

 

Luckily the screaming banshee with the five carat princess cut has stopped :)

 

I'm scared one will find me on this forum and start attacking me here!

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I'm scared one will find me on this forum and start attacking me here!

 

Not here. See Forum Rules.

 

If you (or any other poster for that matter) feel attacked, just report the post (click the "Report" link at the bottom of the post). I prioritize reviewing all reports quickly and taking action when warranted.

  • Like 1

Hermann

Moderator

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Thanks Herman.

 

In my opinion, it should be known very openly on PriceScope that Gary Holloway is:

1. A part owner of Pricescope

2. In partnership with Andrey

3. The creator of the Idealscope

4. That the HCA indicates his preference of what an ideal cut diamond is and predates GIA and AGS current standards.

 

I would be much more comfortable if I had known that the site had its preferences from the beginning and that information had been upfront. I had thought it was a place for open discussions and questioning. I read old, partly deleted threads, when I got the creepy feeling to even find out that information.

 

People can then make up their own mind about their Tiffany, Hearts on Fire, Harry Winston, GIA ex, AGS0 etc diamond if they know PS advocates their 'opinion' of ideal, which is not an 'absolute' ideal. And yes they may very well choose to buy a PS type diamond, great, but they need to know that they are buying that preference, not necessarily the best cut in the world. If they can say Hearts on Fire are not cut for brilliance...they can't claim their preferences are.

 

Yes, they have good info and good advice but they should be transparent. To me its misleading otherwise.

 

The other ridiculous part is when they say to a poster, hmmm, this 'static' pictorial scientific analysis I just generated from your '4 dimensions', I can see the diamond is a VG performer on fire but an ex for scintillation and brightness. Are you okay with less fire? Ludicrous!!! Maybe some very high tech equipment can predict that and I would love to learn more if that is the case, but for a static graph with four variables to be taken so literally? :?

Edited by happysparkles

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Again, to be entirely fair, facts 3 and 4 are easily available following a link on PS's HCA page. Facts 1 (and 2, which is a corollary) take a fair amount more effort to find, and I agree they should be more transparent.

 

There are plenty of discussions on the HCA limitations, and to be fair (again) Garry never said or implied that it should be the be-all and end-all in diamond evaluation; in fact he specifically says that it should not be used as a select tool but only as a reject tool on each HCA web page. The information on how and when the HCA was developed is freely available on Garry's site, again one link away from the PS HC page. I agree that the talebans on PS make life difficult for anyone outside the orthodoxy, but I'm always reminded of the 1993 cartoon by Peter Steiner:

idog.jpg

 

If you are interested in a good analysis of the HCA's limitations, here is the best one I know of http://www.goodoldgold.com/technologies/aconsumersguidetothehca/


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Most companies, including this one, mine, and probably your own employer, don't pubicly advertise their ownership, nor are they expected to. To the extent that Garry and any other owner chooses to participate in the forum I agree that it's appropriate that they should have some sort of statement to this effect in his signature the way Andrey and Hermann do and although I disagree with this decision I wouldn't call it scandalous that they’ve chosen not to do it. I think the reason they haven’t is that they don’t want Garry’s words to be labeled as somehow ‘official’ positions of the site. Andrey (and Hermann) are pretty careful about what they say and take a decidedly administrative role when they post. What they say *IS* an official position. Garry is much more of a participant.

Edited by denverappraiser

Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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I suppose the difference is that online e marketing is pretty much unregulated at the moment. There is really no official policing of what goes on. No it's not scandalous, there are many more other things in this world to worry about. Though from a consumer/new poster point of view I had no idea until later, and felt personally that did change things for me.

 

Please also note I have no issue whatsoever with Garry, and I appreciate the loyalty within the industry.

 

I can also now see the business side as to why the posters are so loyal to James Allen. 1) JA uses the idealscope and 2) is probably one of the biggest advertisers on the site. It's a win/win for the owners. It makes sense why the posters are so anti BN and also defend JA despite a 2ct diamond falling out after 7 months. No the posters are not 'shills' but they have a vested interest in the functioning and running of their community. It's pretty clever business really at the end of the day and puts food on the table for the owners and business partners. It also sells a lot of J SI2 diamonds that may be harder to sell otherwise.

 

My industry is very different. We are under a microscope for sales and marketing. We can be heavily fined and any sponsorship is very open and transparent.

 

Thanks so much to everyone for replying, your honesty and the wonderful loyalty to each other as well.

 

PS: To the cartoon, very pertinent and true. When a poster is arguing with you, getting all emotional - potentially not the most intelligent person you have come across (likely ever) and they have this dogmatic approach (no pun intended) with cut and paste reasoning, oh, how, frustrating. Personally I like validated responses and debates. Otherwise it just sounds like random ranting to me and I can't even read the post :)

Edited by happysparkles

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Thanks Satbeachbill! It would be interesting to know if more people have noticed that about PS.

 

What is DBL?

 

I admit I did start a controversial topic on GIA, AGS and HCA. Interestingly though Gary Holloway chimed in himself, and in a nutshell acknowledged it could have some updating.

 

Luckily the screaming banshee with the five carat princess cut has stopped :)

 

I'm scared one will find me on this forum and start attacking me here!

 

 

 

DBL is Diamondsbylauren dot com

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Whoops. Sorry, I missed that one. Thanks satbeachbill!

 

BTW, one comment on warranty/reliability issues. I don't have any more info on the JA case that you mention, but it is not completely out of bounds that the setting has been subject to significant "exercise" in 7 months. The current fashion for delicate, elaborate, pavé settings makes things even worse: what a robust 3mm shank solitaire can stand with impunity will shatter a thinner piece. This puts the dealer in a very unpleasant situation: is it acceptable that a piece of expensive jewellery supposed to last forever fails after "only" a few months? No, of course it isn't. But is it reasonable to admit fault or otherwise compensate someone that has clearly (ab)used an item in a way it was not supposed to? I don't think it is either.

 

We regularly find that people are much harder on their jewellery than they think, and can in good faith claim that "I didn't do anything unusual", but the shank is out of round, the prongs look as if they have been in the company of a psychotic pair of pliers and there are scratches all over the piece that make you wonder whether the legends about werewolves are only legends. I exaggerate, but not by much.

 

Think about a car dealer that has to contend with an upset customer who has totalled his brand spanking new car against the nearest available wall outside the precinct. The dealer can sympathise, offer a cup of coffee (or chamomile), help the customer remove and dispose of the wreck and even pay his taxi ride to get home. Offer him a new car, free of charge? I don't think this is appropriate; there is such a thing as personal responsibility. And yet, there would be those who complain about poor service. I would not call anyone who takes the side of the dealer a misguided loyalist or a shill - simply someone who applies common sense and understands that a business cannot survive under those conditions, however "nice" this would be to the customer.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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It was a 4 prong peg head that had pave in the shank - the diamonds in the shank were fine. The central diamond was a 2ct cushion cut - it looked a bit like he was going for the Tiffany Novo? The site had advertised that the ring could hold cushion cuts and even had an image of a 1.5ct cushion cut of a real life picture. Apparently the SA did say it may not be the best setting but the buyer sounded like a pretty laid back person. He probably doesn't think about ring settings, not dissimilar to most males. After it fell out, the conclusion was he needed a basket. So he had to pop the ring back in the mail, pay for that, and the new setting (he got a refund on the peghead).

 

He did mention the ring was askew when he bought it, so whether he accosted it with pliers??? Though he had pictures as well and it didn't look like werewolves had got to it. It just looked like the diamond popped out.

 

Valid point about running your car into a post when you leave the car yard, but on the other hand you wouldn't expect your windscreen wipers to fall off or be missing your airbags. Especially if the sales man had been buzzing about it in the background when you were thinking, red or white, four door or two door, and then he sold you one without airbags and unnattached winscreen wipers because you were focussing on the things you understood. In addition the car was advertised with airbags and windscreen wipers.

 

I get these things happen, though I guess I thought it could have been avoided as JA knew exactly what the problem was as soon as it happened and knew exactly how to fix it. However, maybe cushions are a lot more complicated to set, especially 2ct ones.

Edited by happysparkles

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It appears I was barking up the wrong tree before - for which apologies. I have seen quite a few cases of people being unreasonable (both dealers and customers) around "fair wear and tear", so I assumed...

 

With more details, I would see it as neither-black-nor-white. Should JA have advised the customer that a 4-prong peg head designed for a round is not the best setting for a (possibly rectangular) cushion? Yes, and they did. Did the customer want to spend upfront the $x00 more for a proper basket setting? Likely not. Did he understand the consequences? Probably not. Did the SA point them out? Most likely not - he wants the sale. Should JA have offered to make it right at zero expense? Perhaps yes, and perhaps not. Do I think JA's behaviour has been totally above reproach? No. Do I think they breached significant ethical (never mind legal) boundaries? Neither. Would I have behaved differently? Yes, and probably lost the sale (I would not have given the customer a peg head setting in the first place)... so the customer would have ended up in a tiff in any case. Sometimes you can't win.

 

And BTW cushions aren't complicated to set. But I wouldn't try to set one in a three-prong martini setting... ;)


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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I'd guess most reputable jewellers would know how to set one :)

 

Price Scope is clearly not the place for me, they've dropped their standards so so much, they were even pushing visible inclusions in S12 and I1 stones because, wait for it.....they said they looked more authentic, and not like cubic zirconias??! They said if they wanted perfection they could get a CZ so that they like the visible birth marks on their stones becuase they know its real. Roflmao!!!

 

 

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Mind you - some inclusions are decidedly nice. A year ago, one poster put up a photo (since removed, alas) of an inclusion that was a transparent, perfectly formed octahedral diamond crystal. On the edge of the crown, visible but not reflected. I would have almost bought the diamond just for the inclusion!

 

http://www.diamondreview.com/forum/topic/7443-tiny-octahendral-chrystal-inside-diamond

Edited by davidelevi

Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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For the record,

 

1. I'm a jeweler but I don't sell diamonds any more.

2. I got banned from Pricescope for several reasons, but the final one was posting a picture of a ring I made for my daughter and back then "vendors" weren't allowed to post pictures of their own stuff even when "asked" to by readers.

3. And more importantly, I love inclusions. They are the best part of a diamond IMO. I have a collection of inclusion photos that I've collected over the years. I love this one of a space shuttle

 

tumblr_m8danbEWHK1rdob2oo1_400.jpg

 

4. I love a lot of the women on PS. But yes, it can be very Cliqueish and if you aren't one of them it can be rough. I wonder if they will let me come back now that I've been away for several years.


Steve

Gear Head - Designer - Bench Jeweler - Artist - Web Developer

AnimalCharms.Net

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I assume so. But I never saw it myself,

 

Paul Reiser sent me that one years ago. I have this long term goal to build up a huge collection of photos of cool inclusions, but it's hard to get the diamond guys to shoot the photos of inclusions when the goal for them is to be moving diamonds out the door. ;)


Steve

Gear Head - Designer - Bench Jeweler - Artist - Web Developer

AnimalCharms.Net

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