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Another Pending Engagement Ring Purchase :)


1animal1
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Morning all.

 

I've been hovering for weeks reading many opinions on several different sites, most notably this one (by quite a margin). Noticing how friendly and freely experts offer advice to us mere novices.

 

Typically I am a sales person myself and so I fully under the concept of 'You don't get something for nothing' and if you do, question it! Which brings me here.

 

My search started (as most no doubt do) on the High Street here in the UK. Visiting chains and viewing their stock. Since that point I've been on many an online site noticing the obvious price differential (and import costs associated). Now, I think I have found the setting I want for which I cannot find any other vender offering, this setting is with Zoara. I've read many a good thing about Zoara themselves, the downsides generally being the inferior EGL graded diamonds and lack of pictures to accompany. Here is the setting I have in mind. 

 

http://www.zoara.co.uk/engagement/rings/p_four_prong_side_stone_diamond_setting#p=121866

 

I have opted for the 18k white gold as the platinum falls slightly out of my budget. Theory being that I'd prefer the 18k to the 14k (due to gold content), but I wouldn't sacrifice the stone for the platinum material. My total spend that I am contemplating is £3600 including the stone - I will note however that this started life out as (As I imagine many do) at £3k and will probably hit £4 if I find the right combination (including taxes).

 

Now for the stone - I had the foresight months ago to do some preliminary research with the better half, touring the high street and getting a feel for the ideal style and diamond size. We found one particular shop that had a lovely 0.8 carat which was illustrated next to a 1 carat, both of which she was allowed to try on. The 1 carat was obviously of a poorer quality being available for not a huge amount more, but I got the feeling she was leaning more towards that as it had no obvious marks. The reason I explain this is so that we don't question my motives of a 1 carat diamond ;). One further thing - I do not have the gradings for the above diamonds as at the time my knowledge was virtually zero despite the saleswoman showing us on the usual charts etc.

 

Since then I have read myself into what feels like 'oblivion' noting the normal measures right down to the 'girdle' and diamond actual 'measurments'. I'm sure there are less obvious measures that you experts use but as an amatuer, this to me is mind blowing. Luckily I'm very much into my statistics.

 

Now as a starting block I've used the Zoara site to look at EGL diamonds finding VS2/G's with excellent cut for around the $2400 average mark. I've also found GIA's on their site of SI1/F-G-H of 'good' cut for around the $2700 region. Looking on the likes of James Allen and Bluenile I find that theirs seem to be quite a bit more expensive - James Allen particurly as they obviously stock their diamonds and are able to photograph as a result.

 

I'm quite a risky person, I say risky, not stupid and so I understand the risks associated with buying a diamond that I cannot see (or assume I do to a certain level) - However I have also been looking at the dates of the reports along with various other details to reach my conclusions.

 

Question is, if you were purchasing from the likes of Zoara and looking at the EGL and GIA instances above. Is it a no brainer to consider the GIA over the EGL for the extra premium. For me I'm reading the grading and thinking that even if the EGL is 2/3 grades away from the GIA, it's still a good buy as the GIA could (much less likely) be over rated too.

 

Thank you in advance for any help offered here - I am off to the High Street again shortly to use my new found knowledge and see the differences between such diamonds. My only issue is that most of our chain don't use the GIA/AGS gradings to compare against.

 

:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Realize that in buying EGL you are paying more and getting less; depending on which EGL lab it is_the color/clarity grades can be, at a minimum, 1-3 grades off. If you insist on EGL, then stay with EGL-USA.

 

Since budget is an important factor in your deliberations, seriously consider IGI graded diamonds. We find that their color/clarity is comparable to GIA.

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Thanks for the quick reply Barry and for the suggestion of IGI. I hadn't previously read much about them?

 

Searching it appears to have opened up another avenue inbetween the EGL/GIA.

 

Another question I have - I've been searching exclusively for 'Eye Clean' and ideally '3X' to help reduce the risks. I presume with the potential for EGL to be 'out' so much, would bring a question to their 3X rating?

 

also is there much truth in Zoara's claim of an ideal depth being around the 58%-64% mark?

 

Edit: It appears that Zoara offer mainly European EGL's - food for thought :/

Edited by 1animal1
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"Eye clean" is a wide range, my friend.

 

SI-2 clarity grades (GIA, IGI) can often be "eye-clean" defined as inclusion(s) that are whitish-gray and blend in with the facet structure of the stone, i.e.; do not reflect. The only way to determine your tolerance of "eye-clean" vs. "mind-clean" is either to personally view/compare diamonds at your local jewelers or work with an on-line vendor that can serve as your 'eyes" to describe the face up l@@k of the diamond(s). Of course, 10X magnified photos and videos are helpful and an eyes-on observation by an experienced on-line vendor is very helpful.

 

In our own selling experiences, we have interestingly found that an initial shoppers very favorable "eye clean" review of a diamond(s), rapidly becomes a Mach-1 speed no fly zone, no purchase, no mas to buy it_once they have viewed the diamond with a 10X loupe.

 

The mind is a powerful force.

 

You need to determine your tolerance/objectivity after you have made your examination(s) under magnification. In the real world, no one walks around with a 10X loupe strapped to their eyeball.

 

Insofar as 3X is concerned, that is all well and good but you should also consider VG Cut/Color/Clarity grades as well. In most instances, the visual discrepancies are nil and you will save money that can be used for the setting.

Edited by barry
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My thinking  (and I'll confirm this with my pending shop visits) would be to have a diamond that she will love and shines as much as possible (blah blah ;) ). Once on her finger it will never see a magnifying glass as I'm sure most don't except when being appraised.

 

However....

 

Using your words, I need to yet determine my tolerance/objectivity to this. My worry has in part stemmed from viewing some of the James Allen (and other possibly magnified) pictures online. A lot below the VS mark appear to be riddled with marks of one kind or another...

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Exactly my point.

 

Photographs and Videos are magnified to a minimum of 10X and several on-line vendors indicate theirs to be at 40X.

 

Normal eyesight is not even at 1X.

 

Decide which camp you're in.

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A few comments:

 

1) Zoara. While they may be the only ones to have a setting that you like, note that the images of the setting are CAD renderings, and the object may well look very different in reality - read this and decide the amount of caution you need: http://www.diamondreview.com/forum/topic/8128-zoara-anyone-bought-from-them/

 

2) EGL - Barry has already answered this, but search the forum. A diamond will be largely priced for what it is, not for the paper that it carries. If an EGL (say) E/VS1 is the same price of a GIA G/SI1, it is because it would be graded by GIA (and the trade) as G/SI1, not because it is a bargain.

 

3) EGL/IGI and cut: don't assume that there is one definition of "excellent" cut either. The EGL cut grading system is very opaque and in my opinion totally unreliable. I don't have enough experience of IGI (and what I have isn't as positive as Barry's), but I would be very surprised if their cut grading system were aligned with GIA's or AGS.

 

4) James Allen do not own the diamonds they advertise; they simply have found a way of getting their suppliers to provide them with photos and videos.

 

5) By definition a diamond graded SI clarity will have inclusions that are easy or obvious to find with magnification. The "problem" is the extent to which this preys on your mind, not the extent to which you can see the inclusion with your naked eyes.

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And 6) Girdle: there is a trade off between how large a diamond appears and how much you pay for it - at the end of the day, the things are sold by weight. Take a look at the diameter, and decide whether you want to pay a premium for a 1 carat stone that is no larger than a 0.90.

 

Beyond a certain level, a very deep diamond/very thick girdle will also affect optics, but the point at which that happens isn't fixed: it depends on the rest of the diamond's geometry. In general, pavilion angles over 41° can be a sign of a less bright stone. Does it make them "bad"? No, but not everyone likes them (just like not everyone prefers super-bright cuts with large tables and shallow crowns, which are at the opposite end).

 

7) Photo magnification: a 1 carat or thereabouts is roughly 6 mm or 1/4 inch diameter. Anything larger than that on your screen is magnified - which basically means that any image other than a few hand shots showing the diamond on a hand is magnified.

 

There is also another effect to bear in mind - photographs are by definition stills. A hand wearing the diamond moves, and a hand holding a loupe moves too (as does the one holding the diamond). It's usually easier to see inclusions in photos than in reality - from the same observation angle and using the same lighting (and therein lies the potential for a lot of trouble - which is why I entirely agree with Barry that an expert eye looking at the diamond and telling you what it sees is a very useful thing).

Edited by davidelevi
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Two categories:

 

1. For the current age popular "Ideals":

 

Table ranges:  54-57 %

Depth ranges: 60.6-62.5%

 

2. For the spreadier look fine cuts:

 

Table ranges:  58-62%

Depth ranges:  59-62.5%

 

Compare 1 vs. 2 and you will note visual differences; which catches you most strongly visually and viscerally?

 

Girdle thickness should be in the range of Thin to Thick. Stay away from extremely thin and extremely thick.

E. thin can lead to fracturing; E thick in rounds is often associated with "squeezed' stones ( described affectionately as a "Nail Head"), i.e.; the Cutter has achieved the target carat weight but the diamond is visually smaller than it should be for that weight. For example, a properly cut 1 carat diamond should have a millimeter measurement range in the 6.4-6.5 MM range.

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More reading, thanks David (much appreciated for the bullet points too) ;) I hadn't previously found any bad words from Zoara, obviously this post you've link me to has opened my eyes somewhat.

 

What sort of measurements would an ideal 1 carat have, obviously this is open massively to interpretation. I'm seeing anything from 3.8 to 4.2. I'm also conscious of ending up with a 1 carat that is cut to the size of a 0.8.

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Realize that in buying EGL you are paying more and getting less; depending on which EGL lab it is_the color/clarity grades can be, at a minimum, 1-3 grades off. If you insist on EGL, then stay with EGL-USA.

A good point that many don't realise.

 

If you haven't seen it already, this video thoroughly explains how a customer will be paying significantly more for an EGL stone as opposed to a GIA stone with similar colour/clarity.

 

 

Animal, I take it you're looking into Round Brilliants.

 

Consider using the following tools in assisting in your decision to find a good diamond.

 

The first is the HCA Tool.

 

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

 

Use the HCA as a rejection tool, not a selection tool. 

 

Read the diamond reports and enter the parameters. 

 

If the diamond passes, then you know that you are on the right track in terms of angles and light performance. If you score Under 2, it's a pass, between 2.1-2.5 a maybe and over 2.5 is a no. 

 

Once you have used the HCA to reject stones and have a short list of potential stones, use a more valid selection tool. In this case, request the dealer to provide idealscope images. Once you get them, post them up here and people can provide feedback or research online on what some good idealscope images should look like.

 

The other option that is also more safe, is to purchase an AGS graded stone. They do usually have a premium, but at least you have the peace of mind that all the hard work re: cut and light performance has already been done for you.

 

If you are prepared to do your research, find a cooperative retailer that is willing to assist you with your purchase, you should be able to find a good performing stone within your budget. You might need to make minor sacrifices in terms of size, colour, clarity, but just think the end result should be a better performing stone than just an average, common cut stone. 

Edited by MrRevhead
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Morning all.

 

I've been hovering for weeks reading many opinions on several different sites, most notably this one (by quite a margin). Noticing how friendly and freely experts offer advice to us mere novices.

(...)

I have opted for the 18k white gold as the platinum falls slightly out of my budget. Theory being that I'd prefer the 18k to the 14k (due to gold content), but I wouldn't sacrifice the stone for the platinum material. My total spend that I am contemplating is £3600 including the stone - I will note however that this started life out as (As I imagine many do) at £3k and will probably hit £4 if I find the right combination (including taxes).

 

Hello 1animal1!

 

You are doubly fortunate -- to have easy access to High Street; to have your initial replies here furninshed by Barry of Excel Diamonds, a gentleman I hope to meet in person in the next several days.

 

I'm a fellow customer, attempting to replace two diamond earring pairs which were lost/stolen in December.  We have opted  to try 4 different cuts of earrings, which means we have to gain some knowledge of each cutting and hope/demand that this somehow works together.  Our purchases to date have been one trillion and one marquise.  Still to come are a stone which loooks good in a 4-point setting, and finally a traditional "round".  Because these diamonds will be worn as earrings, our criteria are slightly different than as a ring: we expect them to be unfortunately more subject to loss; the lighting for an earring is never as good as on a ring, so one needs be less concerned about the best-achievable cut and quality.  Both of our first purchases are GIA (of course) and VS-to-strong blue fluorescent.

 

Stone grading: you will learn that GIA, AGS, and in Europe, HRD, are the most consistent and accurate grading bodies.  EGL and IGI (Europe) have far more elastic grading criteria.  Others you may run across aren't worthy of consideration, as a "GIA-trained" gemologist providing a color grade that may be nowhere near GIA's own metrics, for example.  Without the proper grading report, you have only a guesstimate of a stone's value.

 

Your concern involving the metalwork -- I have very recently discovered "findings" are the term used for such -- examine the websites of ottofrei.com and troyfindings.net.  I don't know how many companies produce standard settings; this is a new area for me and apparently something that has not been aggressively discussed in these fora to date.  Platinum is only a 10% premium over gold as a raw material, but is harder to work, so your finished settings may cost 40% more and involve a specialist taking several weeks.  Gold, particularly 14K, is widely available in "stock" settings, as you'll see from these two companies' catalogs, and could be as simple as prongs heated and bent to secure a stone in a jeweler's back office.

 

Remember that when you are shopping, the stone is the primary cost.  Side stones, often referred to as melee, may add glitter, and to unsophisticated buyers the "total carat weight" may seem to indicate better value, however these small faceted chips are low-cost to most jewelers and then you are paying for workmanship, not something of resellable value.  (BTW, don't think of resale with diamonds!)

 

For a ring with GIA-graded solitaire, G color and SI1 clarity are probably threshholds you should shoot for.  Consider buying your own inexpensive 10X loupe so you can examine your purchase candidates with equipment you are comfortable with.  And if you are shopping online there are essentially two tiers of diamond merchant: those selling a rather standard grade of stone, and those selling premium cuts.  (Barry at Excel is in the latter group.)

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Great video, thanks Rev. I hadn't seen that. :) I don't however see this as a massive eureka moment. I understand the differences between the two EGL/GIA in this instance and fully acknowledge how the costs relate.

 

What I want more than anything is sparkle which is why I am considering the cuts, 'Excellent' EGL's vs the more precise 'good' from the notoriously more accurate houses. That said you could argue that unless I lift on several other measures then I will be out of pocket regardless, such like a G rated EGL obviously could be easily 3 grades lower leaving me with a nice yellow brick to build my garage with.

 

case in point fior the sake of comparison

http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_excellent_cut_g_vs2#p=3071597

 

versus

 

http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_good_cut_h_si2#p=2777935

 

What you guys have shown me is that the cut/polish isn't as far away as I once thought when comparing these two, unless I'm missing something. The GIA stone also has a better colour classification.

 

How do you think these compare looking at all the info present?

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So in the instance of a diamond of 3.97x 6.3x 6.36 versus say a 4.2x 6.3x 6.36

 

What would the first figure relate to and is it significant?

The first number - that is usually listed last, is the depth of the stone (from table to culet). The other two, more similar if not identical, are length and width; by convention, the larger of the two is called length. Lengthb and width are

 

Depth is significant in as much as described in my point 6) above - it determines the volume (and thus the weight) of the stone, and it has an impact on optics since it is part of the geometry of the stone. This said, pretty much any cut grading system takes depth into account as one of the parameters, so don't obsess about it - the grading lab and the way in which they "measure" cut is far more important!

Edited by davidelevi
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I can't thank you all enough for the comments above. It's helping me look at things from a different angle. I'm finding it's very easy to get bogged down in the detail and miss something right in front of you by focussing on something that may not matter.

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Great video, thanks Rev. I hadn't seen that. :) I don't however see this as a massive eureka moment. I understand the differences between the two EGL/GIA in this instance and fully acknowledge how the costs relate.

 

What I want more than anything is sparkle which is why I am considering the cuts, 'Excellent' EGL's vs the more precise 'good' from the notoriously more accurate houses. That said you could argue that unless I lift on several other measures then I will be out of pocket regardless, such like a G rated EGL obviously could be easily 3 grades lower leaving me with a nice yellow brick to build my garage with.

 

case in point fior the sake of comparison

http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_excellent_cut_g_vs2#p=3071597

 

versus

 

http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_good_cut_h_si2#p=2777935

 

What you guys have shown me is that the cut/polish isn't as far away as I once thought when comparing these two, unless I'm missing something. The GIA stone also has a better colour classification.

 

How do you think these compare looking at all the info present?

I think you are missing quite a few things. Let's proceed with order:

 

1) Colour: we know that the GIA stone is graded H. This means white to pretty much all observers, especially after setting in an open setting and observed from the top. The EGL stone is graded G by EGL-International. It could mean G, it could mean J, it could mean O-P. It may appear white, or with an obvious yellow tint; there is no way of telling without seeing it.

 

2) Clarity: same as above. A large number of (GIA) SI2 stones are eye-clean, and this one could well be: twinning wisps are usually quite benign. EGL VS2 could - as you saw in the video - mean I1. Or it could mean VS2 (unlikely). EGL does not provide an indication of what the inclusions are, so it's particularly difficult to guess whether it would be eye-clean or not.

 

3) Cut: based on all the information on the reports (not just the cut grades), the EGL diamond seems to be better cut than the GIA one - however, three very important points to note:

 

i. The critical information about crown and pavilion angles is not reported by EGL, who instead provide crown and pavilion height.

 

ii. The GIA diamond is graded "Good" for cut. That means it's in the bottom 10% of GIA-graded diamonds... despite the apparently promising "Good" grade.

 

iii. Assuming perfect symmetry and calculating crown and pavilion angles for the EGL-graded stones, the most the EGL stone would get as a GIA grade is "Very Good". Does it make it badly cut? Perhaps not, but finding something that is better cut wouldn't be very difficult.

Edited by davidelevi
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Thanks David - I didn't realise that  'The GIA diamond is graded "Good" for cut. That means it's in the bottom 10% of GIA-graded diamonds'

 

I actually provided the wrong 2nd link http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_good_cut_f_si2#p=2799747

 

Despite this and after this thread, I need to go away and do more research in the shops and then view the site suggestions above before making any sort of cast iron decision. One thing is for certain though, IGI is now at the forefront of my mind along with the top two. It's more about what's missing from the EGL reports and antisipating from their renowned lack of accuracy that's killed it for me - it really is impossible to tell without seeing.

 

With an EGL prior to this thread - I for one took the worst case 2-3 point drop in each of the gradings and compared against the 'other' houses.

 

I love forums :P

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Thanks David - I didn't realise that  'The GIA diamond is graded "Good" for cut. That means it's in the bottom 10% of GIA-graded diamonds'

 

I actually provided the wrong 2nd link http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_good_cut_f_si2#p=2799747

Exactly the same observation on cut, of course (actually, this one is worse cut than the H/SI2), plus another one potential zinger:

 

"Clarity grade based on clouds not shown" - this is generally because the clouds are so large and diffused that plotting them on the graph would tell you nothing useful for ID. On the other hand, it could also mean that the transparency of the stone is affected. Again, no way of knowing without seeing.

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The first is the HCA Tool.

 

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

 

Use the HCA as a rejection tool, not a selection tool. 

 

Read the diamond reports and enter the parameters. 

 

If the diamond passes, then you know that you are on the right track in terms of angles and light performance. If you score Under 2, it's a pass, between 2.1-2.5 a maybe and over 2.5 is a no. 

 

Once you have used the HCA to reject stones and have a short list of potential stones, use a more valid selection tool. In this case, request the dealer to provide idealscope images. Once you get them, post them up here and people can provide feedback or research online on what some good idealscope images should look like.

 

 

Rev, that site is pure gold - How accurate is it in your opinion? I've ran a few diamonds through from different vendors. astonished at the results!

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How did you decide that the 'worst case' for EGL is 2-3 grades difference from other labs? 

 

I was generalising - obviously a very expensive past time ;)

 

 

Thanks David - I didn't realise that  'The GIA diamond is graded "Good" for cut. That means it's in the bottom 10% of GIA-graded diamonds'

 

I actually provided the wrong 2nd link http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_good_cut_f_si2#p=2799747

Exactly the same observation on cut, of course (actually, this one is worse cut than the H/SI2), plus another one potential zinger:

 

"Clarity grade based on clouds not shown" - this is generally because the clouds are so large and diffused that plotting them on the graph would tell you nothing useful for ID. On the other hand, it could also mean that the transparency of the stone is affected. Again, no way of knowing without seeing.

 

 

I clicked on one on that same site earlier and noticed it was quite cloudy! Is this a good instance of that?

 

http://www.zoara.co.uk/diamonds/p_round_good_cut_f_si1#p=2714441

 

I've also been looking at a few AGS stones, most of which seems to have a strong blue fluorescence, will this be noticeable to the untrained eye under normal light conditions?

 

Edited by 1animal1
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