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Buying An Engagement Ring In The Us


kingjas
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Hi,

I currently live in the UK and am looking to purchase an engagement ring in the very near future. While I am still currently researching and researching in terms of finding the perfect ring (didn't realize it would be this hard!), I thought I would ask – does anyone know if would be better off purchasing a ring from the USA rather than UK? I will be travelling there in June for a few weeks (San Fran, Vegas, New York).

I've had a look at Blue Nile, and their rings seem to be a lot cheaper than the equivalent I can find in retailers in the UK. They have said they are able to ship direct to a Fed Ex location in San Francisco, meaning I can pick it up while I’m over there. My budget is around $10k for diamond and setting and I had something like this in mind:

 

Your Diamond:

Ideal-cut, G-color, VS2-clarity, Round, 1.07-carat Diamond

Stock #: LD04322212

Your Setting:

Petite Nouveau Solitaire Engagement Ring in Platinum

Stock #: 19009 Size: 7

Diamond: $8,415.00        Setting: $890.00                Price: $9,305.00

 

Stock number:  LD04322212

Price:     $8,415

Bank wire price:

$8,289

Price per carat:

$7,864

Carat weight:

1.07

Cut:        Ideal

Color:    G

Clarity:  VS2

Depth %:

61.7%

Table %:

58%

Polish:

Excellent

Symmetry:

Excellent

Girdle:

Medium to Slightly Thick, Faceted

Culet:

None

Fluorescence:

None

Measurements:               6.55 x 6.57 x 4.05 mm

 

I’m still getting my head around ideal table/depth/Girdle, once i fully understand it's likely the diamond will change… But do you think I would be able to find something similar, for a similar price, in either San Francisco, Vegas, or New York?

If I could, it would obviously have the added advantage of me being able to see the ring first as opposed to Blue Nile, where I won’t see it until I’ve parted with my money… Would it be an idea to find the ring I want from Blue Nile, print off the specs, and see if any of the brick and mortar jewelers can do something similar it in terms of price/quality?

 

Thanks in advance for your help with this!

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I have recently been through a similar process of purchasing an unsighted diamond. I too, also had some concerns about purchasing online something of significant value that you have not physically seen in order to make a judgement.

 

You are very fortunate that you have the option to purchase your diamond from the US whilst you are visiting.

 

Within your budget, you should be able to obtain exactly what you're after. Although, not knowing exactly how strict customs are in the UK, have you also factored in import duty taxes/VAT on your overseas purchase? (that is, if you plan to declare it). It does add considerably to the cost.

 

The main problem with the diamond you have chosen is you're making a judgement solely on its statistics/proportions. Even though you can get somewhat of an idea on how the diamond might perform, there is no definite, hard data showing how it is performing in terms of light performance.

 

You mentioned you are going to NY. Good Old Gold - Jonathan is considered to be very reputable on many online diamond forums in terms of the service they provide in assisting their customers in obtaining high quality diamonds. It might be worthwhile getting in contact with them in order to arrange your diamond and ring purchase. I am sure that if you have your mind set on a particular setting (like the one from blue nile), you could purchase that setting, get it sent over to GOG, and have them set the diamond in your setting prior to picking it up. 

 

Have a look at some of GOG's videos to see the differences between an average and premium performing diamonds. 

 

http://www.goodoldgold.com/Diamond_Videos/

 

As you will be in a particular part of the US for a set time/dates, it will be crucial for you to communicate and arrange everything so it falls within that time frame.

 

Have a look at GOG's current stock in the size you're after here: 

 

http://tinyurl.com/motpdzv

 

 

You will notice that for the same price outlay as the Blue Nile diamond, you can get something very similar but with one main, significant difference.....they have all been thoroughly tested for cut, proportions and most importantly, light performance. 

 

I am sure if you take in diamond specs to most brick and mortar jewellers, they will be able to find something comparable or even the same diamond, but you are still stuck in the situation where you are judging a diamond solely based on its numbers. 

 

N.B GOG was solely recommended since you said you were going to NY. There are also other reputable US-based online retailers who could also arrange something similar to what Blue Nile were by allowing you to pick up from a FedEX location.

Have a look through some of the more recent topics on here to see what other retailers you can consider while in the US that are reputable. 

 

All the best!

Edited by MrRevhead
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Thanks MrRevhead - that's extremely helpful!

 

Just so i know - are you affiliated with GoG in any way?

 

My partners favorite city in the world is New York, so could work out perfectly if i am able to get the ring in time and propose while we are there!

 

'Technically' I would be required to declare the ring on return to the UK and pay 20% of its value in VAT on re-entry...

 

Setting I'm not too fussed - I know the GF wants a platinum 6 claw setting with a round diamond, leaving it up to me to chose the rest. I can see GoG stock a couple similar. Budget as i said is around 10k, so still looking into the best bang for buck re the 4 Cs - i.e bigger carat i assume is definitely noticeable, but is it worth the downgrade in cut/clarity/color (which may not be noticeable to the naked eye) in order to get a bigger carat? This is where i need to do some more research...

 

Will have a look through the forums to see what other retailers are recommended in the US..

 

Thanks again for your help!

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Just so i know - are you affiliated with GoG in any way?

 

Setting I'm not too fussed - I know the GF wants a platinum 6 claw setting with a round diamond, leaving it up to me to chose the rest. I can see GoG stock a couple similar. Budget as i said is around 10k, so still looking into the best bang for buck re the 4 Cs - i.e bigger carat i assume is definitely noticeable, but is it worth the downgrade in cut/clarity/color (which may not be noticeable to the naked eye) in order to get a bigger carat? This is where i need to do some more research...

 

 

No affiliation at all! I'm in Australia, not NY. Also, my recent purchase was from James Allen, not GOG, although from my research they are a credible source and I used their videos to learn a lot prior to making my diamond purchase.

 

One thing I should clarify though, is GOG is in NY, but not NY City/Manhattan. They are in Massapequa Park, which is about an hour drive from NY City (according to Google Maps). Just something to keep in mind.

 

The setting you're after is rather simple and widely available. Many different retailers will sell/supply that style of setting.

 

With a well cut diamond, you have more flexibility with colour and clarity. Try and aim for G-I and VS2-SI2 (eye clean). 

 

Re: colour, have a look at some of GOG's videos about this particular topic here:

 

 

 

Also, don't associate carat directly with physical size. You can get a larger carat stone that is bottom or girdle heavy and therefore the size won't reflect it's carat weight. For example, in my search for a 0.7-0.75 princess cut, I found some 0.7's having the same physical dimensions of '0.83-0.86' ct and 0.75's with a face up dimension of well cut 0.86-0.9ct. 

 

If you're coming back with the ring on the finger, it makes it harder for them to prove it was purchased overseas and make you pay VAT (providing you 'creatively' pack associated paperwork)  ;)

 

Best of luck!

Edited by MrRevhead
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Thanks - I've emailed GOG but obviously being a weekend haven't heard back from them yet.

 

I've been doing a bit more research and think I will be aiming for an excellent cut, VS2 clarity, G Colour, round diamond. Does this sound reasonable, or is there any benefit in say, upgrading the colour to colourless for example, and sacrificing something else?  

 

I’m also starting to lean toward purchasing on line… I figure I will be saving at least a few thousand compared to buying in the UK, and worst case scenario if it turns out to be something completely unexpected I have the 30 day return option (although I would assume it can’t be that unexpected, a GIA graded round diamond in solitaire setting??)

So this brings me to the diamonds, currently looking at the below three, all very similar in price:

 

 

Diamond 1:

 

1.06, G, VS2, Excellent, Excellent, Excellent

Depth %=61.9, Table %=57, Crown angle 35.0, Pavilion Angle= 40.8.

 

Price: $9,032 USD

 

GIA report number 5146091453 date of issue 10/10/2012

 

Diamond 2:

 

1.14, G, VS1, Excellent, Excellent, Excellent

Depth %=62.4, Table %=55, Crown angle 34.5, Pavilion Angle= 41.0.

 

Price: $9,368 USD

 

GIA report number 5166661560 date of issue 01/15/2014

 

Diamond 3:

 

1.19, G, VS2, Excellent, Excellent, Excellent

Depth %=61.5, Table %=55, Crown angle 32.5, Pavilion Angle= 41.0.

 

Price: $9,436 USD

 

GIA report number 1169383330 date of issue 12/13/2013

 

Can anyone see anything in the above three diamonds which would make them not a good choice? Any the clear leader? My first instinct is to go for the bigger carat unless there are mitigating factors.

Or finally, are they overpriced for what they are, and I could get something similar much cheaper elsewhere (these are all from BlueNile).

Any opinions anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated!

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Thanks - I've emailed GOG but obviously being a weekend haven't heard back from them yet.

 

I've been doing a bit more research and think I will be aiming for an excellent cut, VS2 clarity, G Colour, round diamond. Does this sound reasonable, or is there any benefit in say, upgrading the colour to colourless for example, and sacrificing something else?

"Benefit" depends on the beholder. For most people, G/VS2 is a safe choice. I cannot reliably distinguish G from D once set and in ordinary circumstances (ring on someone's hands); some people claim they can, and some people like the idea of "colourless" (or "flawless") as a symbol. On the other hand, I cannot distinguish reliably G from H or I (in 1 carat stones) in the same circumstances, so unless you dislike "warm white" there is no particular reason to stop at G.

 

Identical discussion for clarity, however this is where having vendor that own or at least see personally every stone they put up for sale has significant advantages to a pure "drop-ship brokering" approach á la Blue Nile. SI1, SI2 and I1 diamonds can all be eye clean, but aren't necessarily so; the only way of finding out is to see them. Do you want to take on that job, or do you want the vendor to? Do you and the vendor agree on the meaning of "eye-clean"? Is the price the vendor charges for checking things out reasonable? (You won't necessarily see this as an explicit charge, but it is one of the reasons why people will quote you different prices on the same diamond - shipping back and forth is cheap but not free, and neither is their time and expertise).

 

Cut - and the rest (effect of fluorescence, transparency) - is subject to the same constraints: GIA "excellent" covers many types of look, and there is no knowing precisely what you are getting without seeing it. Not to mention that what I am summarily dismissing above as "the rest" is not graded and can have a massive impact on the appearance of the diamond.

 

I’m also starting to lean toward purchasing on line… I figure I will be saving at least a few thousand compared to buying in the UK, and worst case scenario if it turns out to be something completely unexpected I have the 30 day return option (although I would assume it can’t be that unexpected, a GIA graded round diamond in solitaire setting??)

I don't want to scare you away from online purchasing; heck, I'm here representing an online dealer... but there are plenty of unexpected things that can happen:

 

1) VS2 is not a cast-iron guarantee of invisible inclusions under all and any circumstances. It's 99.9% safe but not 100%.

 

2) Appearance of the diamond is not what you expect; there is only so much you can pick up from a lab report, particularly in respect of optical symmetry and stone transparency.

 

3) Same for metalwork, where you have in fact far less information than with a lab report.

 

Don't get me wrong: 99.99% of people are entirely happy with what they get, but then 99.99% of people buying a diamond don't bother to register and ask questions on a forum.

 

So this brings me to the diamonds, currently looking at the below three, all very similar in price:

Can anyone see anything in the above three diamonds which would make them not a good choice? Any the clear leader? My first instinct is to go for the bigger carat unless there are mitigating factors.

Or finally, are they overpriced for what they are, and I could get something similar much cheaper elsewhere (these are all from BlueNile).

Any opinions anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Nothing on paper rings an alarm bell. Whether it's worth you going for the heaviest is a slightly different question: the diameter difference between the 1.06 and the 1.14 will be easily visible; not so between the 1.14 and the 1.19. And again, while they are all fine cuts on paper, there isn't enough information available to know whether you (or I!) would prefer one or the other in reality.

 

On pricing: Blue Nile is competitively priced, but usually not the cheapest. It may be worth checking at least some multi-vendor diamond listing engine, such as the Diamond Finder here: http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds since you can often find the exact same stone listed for cheap with someone else (NB: this does not apply to premium cut stones held by high-service vendors like GOG; they buy these stones and they own them).

Edited by davidelevi
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Thanks, appreciate your detailed post davidelevi. 

 

I wont jump into buying online just yet. Will check out the local jewelry stores again this week now i know a bit more, and wait and see what GOG can offer before making a decision.

 

When you talk about unexpected things that could happen if purchasing online, would selecting a VS1 diamond (i.e Diamond 2) effectively mitigate the first risk you mentioned? Would the possibility of inclusions in a VS2 graded diamond be one of the most common problems when ordering online (in your opinion) - or have i missed the point completely, and you were simply pointing out one of the many things that could possible go wrong!

 

I've just noticed the first diamond is a 'signature ideal', which from what i can gather means Blue Nile actually stock the diamond. They also make available a GCAL report - http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-search?pt=setform&track=NavDiaSeaRD#diamonds_pid=LD03031678 - which goes into optical light performance profile and has actual pictures of the diamond. Is there anything i should be particularly mindful of in one of these reports? If they stock the diamond, would i be able to request additional photos etc. do you think?

 

Thanks again for your input and advice MrRevhead and davidelevi, it is greatly appreciated!

Edited by kingjas
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To your first question: bit of both. Yes, going to VS1 would avoid the problem altogether, but in my view it's not worth it: an otherwise unexplained discount price in a VS2 is a pretty good signal... and a VS2 with visible inclusions is very rare.

 

Actually, I think the "solution" to the online buying problem is to consider the "buying" to happen once you decide to keep the stone; before then, you are paying a modest access fee in the form of shipping costs.

 

Blue Nile stock no stones. They have exclusive marketing/retailing rights to some ("Signature" lines), and they provide more details (whether useful or not) on them, but they still never handle the diamond, and as far as I know they cannot provide more information such as additional photos. However these things change, so call BN and check with them.

Edited by davidelevi
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