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Advice Much Needed (Round Brilliant Engagement Ring)


Dustin
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Apologies in advance for a very long post, but I've spent countless hours searching for the best value-for-money engagement ring (round brilliant), and have reached the point where I am completely stuck and need some advice - maybe even therapy at this point :)

 

My criteria...

 

- Carat: Roughly a 1.3ct diamond - I am willing to compromise but have previously established with my girlfriend (by visiting a few local jewelers) that a 1.3ct looks good on her hand (not too big and not too small)

 

- Cut: A diamond with lots of fire and brilliance, so cut is by far my most important criteria

 

- Clarity: Based on reading through many posts on this forum and others, I would be happy with an eye-clean diamond, so SI1 is perfectly fine I think

 

- Color: H would be preferred, although maybe I could work as well?

 

- Budget: Looking for something in the $10-13K range preferably (setting included)

 

My journey...

 

I figured Blue Nile was a good place to start (I live in Canada so given the fairly positive reviews and not having to deal with customs/duties was appealing). I looked through their Signature Ideal collection and was close to purchasing one. However, after more research I learned that a GIA Excellent is a very broad definition and is no guarantee that your diamond will sparkle. Also, I wasn't comfortable with the idea of buying a diamond from a vendor who has not seen it themselves!

 

This led me to look for AGS000 certified diamonds, so I started looking into James Allen True Hearts and Brian Gavin Signature Collection. I found these two diamonds that have fairly comparable specs and are just on the upper limits of my price range:

 

1) James Allen 1.15ct H-VS2 (H&A Ideal AGS000) - $9,210

http://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/H-VS2-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1418796.asp

 

2) Brian Gavin 1.134ct H-VS2 (H&A BG Signature AGS000) - $10,658

http://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.134-h-vs2-round-diamond-ags-104055873006

 

Few questions...

 

Would love everyone's opinion/advice on the following:

 

1) Is the Brian Gavin diamond worth the $1,400 premium? The two diamonds have very comparable specs (at least the basic ones that I can understand - I don't quite have a handle yet on the more advanced specs like table/depth etc).

 

2) Is the premium associated only with Brian's excellent reputation - you'd be hard pressed to find a single review of BGD's craftsmanship that is not glowing - or are there other differences involved?

 

3) At the BGD price-point, how close am I to the price of a similar diamond from one of the brand-name big box stores (like a Tiffany/Cartier)? I don't care much about brand and that's why I chose the online route thinking that I will be able to get better value BUT if I am suddenly in range of a brand name box store I might reconsider (given the bonus of being able to see the diamond in person). I am not a fan of local jewelry stores (turned off by the lack of transparency)

 

4) Are there any notable differences between the two retailers in terms of service and policies? Both seem to have great reputation. JA return policy seems superior (60 days vs. 15 days for BGD). JA also does free international shipping with insurance - BGD charges extra.

 

5) Are there other reputable online retailers that I could consider? Again, something comparable to JA or BGD, where I can find an AGS-certified diamond in-house.

 

6) Is Whiteflash a potential option? I looked at them (albeit very briefly) and it seems like they are somewhere in-between JA and BGD in terms of price. Any suggestions or insights on their business model and service?

 

Thanks in advance - any advice would be much appreciated!

Edited by Dustin
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The value add for Brian Gavin is that he personally inspects and is the quality control for every stone in his branded line and that he and his staff are pretty good at 'hand holding' throughout the process. JA is a drop shipper and is relying on their manufacturers to say what things are. BG has very high standards, JA less so. That doesn't make BG goods better but they are more consistently superb. Whether or not his assistance is desirable and worth the price is up to you. JA is a large and well oiled machine, BG is more of a boutique.

 

I don't think JA has much of anything in-house by the way although they have fairly seamless relations with some of their suppliers and can tell you more about their things than most of the dropshipping types of competitors.

 

Whiteflash is a well regarded outfit. They were founded by Brian Gavin and have a fairly similar business model to his although they actually have a retail storefront as well as the Internet presence. They're good people.

 

Tiffany/Cartier are selling a lot more than just diamonds. In fact, I don't think either of them will agree to sell you a loose diamond at all. Actually neither one of them sells AGS graded goods in their rings as far as I can tell so they aren't prepared to meet your specs at any price. Both charge a significantly higher premium than any of the stores you're considering above. I'm sure the Tiffs people would be happy to give you pricing and I think they even have a certain amount offered online but, obviously, the shopping experience at their stores is part of what makes them Tiffany&Co.

 

Nearly every one of the big diamond houses can get you AGS goods but I'm not sure who features them in their onlne ads. Try some of the advertisers in the database like DiamondsByLauren, DiamondBrokersOfFlorida, Union diamond etc. I don't really know their inventories but I'm sure they'll be happy to talk to you about it if what you want isn't in the database. Do a search in the 'diamond finder' and you'll get offers from a variety of dealers. Click through to their website and it should be a straightforward process to contact them.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Hi Dustin, welcome to Diamondreview!

 

Please allow me to take exception with the second part of your statement: "GIA Excellent is a very broad definition and is no guarantee that your diamond will sparkle." Yes, GIA Excellent will cover significantly different looks - whereas AGS 0 will be significantly more consistent - but no GIA Ex is going to look bad or not sparkle (not to mention that a fair number of GIA Ex would qualify for AGS 0).

 

Other than that, I entirely agree with Neil on the other points.

 

FWIW, Diamonds by Lauren is now a "Crafted by Infinity" dealer, and we have access to all Infinity stock (all AGS-0 grade).

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Hello Dustin, just a consumer here, not a Jeweller. So just speaking from personal experience. If you want to buy a Tiffany and Co ring you will be able to get one over 1 carat with that budget 10-13k US dollars (I don't know what the exchange rate is for Canada) in the simple 6 prong platinum Tiffany and Co setting. Up to 13k, you could even get to your 1.2-1.3 target as well, possibly I/VS2 though. Tiffany and Co selects their diamonds for their inventory, so there is that component that helps you know the diamond will be beautiful and you will get the setting as well.

 

However, if you want the absolute precision of an AGS0 HnA, from reviews I have read Brian Gavin will meet that standard. There was a review comparing a Hearts on Fire diamond vs a Brian Gavin AGS0 HnA signature diamond and both were concluded to be spectacularly performing diamonds of equal performance... but the Brian Gavin diamond was cheaper.

 

Not sure if that helps :)

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Hi Davide,

 

You mentioned in your above post, 'Diamonds by Lauren is now a "Crafted by Infinity" dealer'...is that the case for all their loose diamonds/diamond jewelry? I'm looking in to one of their rings and I thought this might help me in my decision. Thank you!

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No, we use quite a few suppliers, not least because Infinity Diamonds only cuts (at the moment) rounds and princess cuts in relatively colourless rough (say D - N), and the majority of our stock is fancy colour diamonds. If a loose stone or a piece of jewellery contains Crafted by Infinity diamonds, it will be clearly listed as such, and the photos will carry both the DBL and Infinity logos.

 

If it can help, I have seen quite a lot of the DBL stock in person, and I may be able to give you an opinion on what you are considering. Feel free to pm or email if you don't want to discuss "on the public forum".

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Thanks everyone for the great advice and suggestions. It's been extremelly helpful!

 

After some more research, shopping around, and comparing different jewelers, I decided to go with BGD. Now I am in the process of picking out a diamond and have narrowed it down to 2 from Brian's Signature Collection:

 

Option 1: 1.098ct G SI1 ($9,093)

http://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.098-g-si1-round-diamond-ags-104059545075

 

Option 2: 1.208ct I SI1 ($8,574)

http://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.208-i-si1-round-diamond-ags-104059919018

 

Is the upgrade in color from I to G (with Option 1) worth the $500 premium and the slight decrease in carat size?

 

Also, do the AGS reports/specs and images on the BGD site point to any significant differences between these two?

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! thanks

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Size: you will just see the difference with the two diamonds sitting next to each other. Once they are set on two rings, you'd be hard pressed to remember which one is bigger.

 

I will look warmer than G, but 1) colour sensitivity (and preference) is a very personal thing, and 2) it will hardly be noticeable once you don't have the two stones right next to each other.

 

They are both stunningly well cut. If you have the extra cash, I'd splash out for the G, but that's because I prefer "icy" white to "warm" white - your (and your fiancée's) preferences may be exactly the other way.

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From personal experience I could see a visual difference on my finger between a 1 and a 1.2 carat diamond. I have quite small fingers though so whether the relative difference is more pronounced for me...

 

I think there will be a slight diff between the G and I too though both diamonds are excellent cuts so it will ultimately come down to your own and personal preferences.

 

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Hi Dustin. You are so romantic and I commend you for wanting the best for your lady. I have brand new, 14K white gold, round brilliant sparkling diamond. A little less than 1 carat with G04S clarity. Appraised for close to $6K---I will make sacrifice to sell for less, I have the paper work for it. I want to help my sister, whose home sustained moderate damage from earthquake that frequently occured on Java island.post-131258-0-13635600-1346300534_thumb.jpg

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