Jump to content

Help Selecting 2Ct Oval Diamond


ckckck
 Share

Recommended Posts

In an attempt to maximize my budget I have been reading extensively on diamonds, grading, and the industry altogether. From that, I have collected plenty of advice, opinions, etc. as well as a wide range of prices (even for similarly graded diamonds). However, it seems the more I read the deeper I want to dig... which hasn't been conducive to making a decision.

 

Over the past two weeks, I have been working with a local diamond "wholesaler" in Los Angeles while diligently searching virtual inventories online. My main dilemma is whether to buy local or take a chance on the seemingly better prices online. The local dealer is someone who was recommended to me who seems honest and trustworthy. He has shown me nice diamonds and has always been willing to answer my questions. But his prices are nowhere near competitive with the vendors online. He says he is already working on a thin profit margin and I (1) believe him and (2) respect he is running a business and shouldn't do it for free. Moreover, he says he personally inspects the diamonds he sells and wouldn't misrepresent the quality. His warning to me is that he is suspicious of diamonds being sold online for lower than what even he pays from his distributor, because the certificate cannot tell the whole story (and many don't offer images). He says some diamonds have an inherently better quality material because of the mine from which they are sourced; this can only be determined upon visual inspection, despite optimum proportions, comparable clarity grades, etc.

 

Ultimately, I am trying to increase my chances of getting the best quality for my budget. I am looking for an oval diamond, 1.95-2.15 carats and would like to keep total cost for the diamond under $13k, although I can be flexible if it means getting a better value. I have been looking at G-I/VVS2-SI2, but ultimately specific grading isn't an absolute factor if I can get a good value on something that is eye clean.

 

I am hoping to get a few questions answered and maybe even opinions on the diamonds I have included below (whether I am on the right track or need to reevaluate).

 

1) Can diamonds have good certs, proportions, etc and still not look as nice as others with similar ratings?

 

2) Can online vendors (Solomon Brothers, Whiteflash, USA Certed Diamonds) really be trusted?

 

3) Should EGL INTL be avoided altogether?

 

As a baseline, these are some of the quotes I have gotten from the local vendor:

 

LOCAL 1: 2.01 GIA I/SI2 9.75 x 7.33 x 4.52 Pol EX Sym VG -- $13850

Notes: brilliant, nearly eye clean except for one inclusion visible up close.

 

LOCAL 2: 2.01 EGL USA G/VS2 9.47 x 7.24 x 4.65 Pol EX Sym EX Depth 64% Table 61%-- $14285

Notes: Comparable to a GIA H, very brilliant, very clean

 

In my search online, I have become quite interested in the following:

 

ONLINE 1: 2.02 EGL INTL G/VS2 9.91 x 7.26 x 4.56 Pol EX Sym EX Depth 62.8% Table 56% Girdle Med(Faceted) FLOUR None -- $10413

 

ONLINE 2: 2.07 GIA I/VS2 9.77 x 7.35 x 4.61 Pol EX Sym EX Depth 62.7% Table 60% Girdle SlThk-Thk(faceted) FLOUR MedBlue -- $12900

 

I apologize for all the extra information and thank you for reading through to the bottom. Ay comments will be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In response to your questions:

 

1. Yes.

2. Yes.

3. Not necessarily. Review by a Pro with Diamond knowledge/experience can possibly find for you a diamond in the rough, e.g., a diamond that is more closely graded to the GIA standard, resulting in you saving significant money.

 

In fancy shaped diamonds, "numbers" are non-predictive in telling you how the diamond presents. You can have two Ovals with the same exact "numbers"/specs that can/will l@@k diametrically different. You need the Internet equivalent of your home town jeweler who can physically review the diamond(s) for you and provide accurate information.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over the past two weeks, I have been working with a local diamond "wholesaler" in Los Angeles while diligently searching virtual inventories online. My main dilemma is whether to buy local or take a chance on the seemingly better prices online.

Why "seemingly"? Prices will typically be better; value may well be a different question, particularly if you open the field to fancy shapes and non-GIA/AGS reports.

 

His warning to me is that he is suspicious of diamonds being sold online for lower than what even he pays from his distributor, because the certificate cannot tell the whole story (and many don't offer images). He says some diamonds have an inherently better quality material because of the mine from which they are sourced; this can only be determined upon visual inspection, despite optimum proportions, comparable clarity grades, etc.

A couple of comments here:

 

1. Whether he gets the diamond offered at the same, higher or lower price than someone else is neither here nor there. Clearly the leverage that someone like Blue Nile (selling hundreds of millions of $) can get is different from that of a smaller operation. What matters is what he can get to you and at what price.

 

Sometimes, goods online are priced impossibly low because they don't exist, but with reputable vendors this problem is minimised.

 

2. I agree that there is a lot of "information" about the quality of a diamond that doesn't make it on a lab report - and some has a very significant impact on the beauty and visual appeal of the stone. Mine of origin is not (in my view) particularly relevant, and I would discount any claim that he has more information about that than anyone else (i.e. in most cases nil).

 

1) Can diamonds have good certs, proportions, etc and still not look as nice as others with similar ratings?

Yes, absolutely. First of all, the information on GIA reports for any shape other than round modern brilliant is effectively limited to colour, clarity and basic dimensions: there is no useful information on cut, nor is there a cut grade (AGS has one, but the number of ovals with an AGS report is just above negative numbers). Secondly, there are plenty of things - such as visibility of inclusions, level of transparency, symmetry of pattern - that aren't there even on a round.

 

2) Can online vendors (Solomon Brothers, Whiteflash, USA Certed Diamonds) really be trusted?

"Trusted" to do what? To provide you with the goods as described on their site, and with a fair return policy? Yes (certainly the 3 you mention). To provide you with more information with which you can make your mind up, such as photos, videos, 3D scan data, reflector images? Some of them will, some won't.

 

Note that exactly the same applies to brick-and-mortar retailers. If you read through the forum, you will come across the occasional horror story of misdescribed items, with dodgy reports, sold with no recourse etc... on the high street.

 

3) Should EGL INTL be avoided altogether?

It depends on what you mean by "avoided". An EGL report is not useful to determine anything other than macroscopic absence of treatments (and even then...). Colour and clarity grades are hugely variable within the same EGL lab, never mind across labs; same for cut (and anyway they don't grade ovals for cut), and this has a huge impact on the range of prices. Any vendor that tries to sell you an EGL-graded stone based on the report grades is - in my opinion - not trustworthy; count this against the vendor, not against the diamond.

 

A diamond isn't "bad" because it has an EGL report. You can find perfectly nice stones, that someone has decided are better marketed with an EGL paper than with something else. However, unless you are entirely confident in your own ability to grade them correctly, you are basically relying on the vendor to tell you what they are (and thus what a fair price is).

 

The counterpoint to this is: if you buy a stone not graded by GIA or AGS, get an independent expert to see it, and evaluate it for you, unless you have reason to trust the seller fully (which is kind of tough on the first transaction...)

 

As a baseline, these are some of the quotes I have gotten from the local vendor:

 

[snip]

 

I apologize for all the extra information and thank you for reading through to the bottom. Ay comments will be greatly appreciated.

Not much to comment on... other than the information you have is not enough to say anything about cut. Your direct visual inspection is a very good test - though it doesn't solve the problem of comparison across stores (online or otherwise), and it doesn't help someone to give you an opinion remotely.

 

For prices, the Diamond Finder at the top of this page gives you access to the inventory of quite a few reputable vendors - anonymously and without any commitment.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would avoid EGL Int’l entirely. 

 

There’s a game afoot here.  Diamonds do not come out of the ground with lab paperwork attached.  Someone CHOSE to send it to EGLI.  That was probably the cutter but possibly some dealer in the middle.  They were chosen for one reason only.  Money.  They felt that they could get more money with an EGLI pedigree than a GIA pedigree.  How so, since EGLI trades at a discount?  Because the discount is from a higher grade.  You’re not comparing apples to apples.  You may indeed be happy with a lower grade, many people are, but calling an SI2 a VS2 doesn’t make it any better.  Calling a K an H doesn’t actually change the color. 

 

What you’re betting on is that someone screwed up.  That they would have done better by sending it to GIA but they made a choice, messed it up, and are now leaving money on the table.  Thousands of dollars.  It happens, but bear in mind that who you’re betting AGAINST here is a full time professional diamond cutter who has made similar choices hundred times before. He made the choice with the stone in hand and he has unlimited do-overs by simply shredding the paper and sending it to a different lab.  You’re going blind based on a report from a lab that you’ve already said you don’t’ trust.   To say the least, that’s a competitive disadvantage.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your comments. It seems as though the quote function isn't working properly for me so I will address you all below. Most importantly, I really appreciate your taking the time to help.

 

Barry: Thanks for answering the questions I presented. Even though they are merely photos, I have been looking at similarly graded diamonds within my specific range and have noticed quite a bit of difference. Could you elaborate more on what causes that or what you would usually look for?

 

Davide: Your comments about the mine of origin not being a big factor is comforting. Still -- as many have pointed out -- similar stones on paper often look quite different. Is this due to a material difference? Your comments about the online vendors are assuring even though I guess it was a vague question altogether.

 

Neil, Joshua, and Satbeachbill: Well said. I think you all made a clear point and I don't think I am really in a place to bet against professionals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do not go with the EGL diamonds in any case. I think everyone above me has elaborated on that greatly.

 

Do you have the depth and tables or cert numbers for the GIA certified diamonds?

I finally got a quote to work. The cert for the GIA is 1189064774; Depth 62.7% Table 60%.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am strongly considering one of the diamonds I mentioned in the first post. While it has been determined already that the minimal specs aren't enough to go by, is it possible to determine a fair price range if it truly is eye clean, near colorless and looks good overall? Does anything stand out as especially concerning? I am assuming it can be compared with a GIA H/VS2 or H/VS1 after discussing with the vendor.

 

EGL USA G/VS2 9.47 x 7.24 x 4.65 Pol EX Sym EX Depth 64% Table 61%

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A fair price range can probably be determined, but it's going to be so broad as to be useless:

 

http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds/?sortOrder=price&sortDesc=1&fShape=Oval&fCaratLo=2.00&fCaratHi=2.10&fColorLo=G&fColorHi=G&fClarityLo=VS2&fClarityHi=VS2&fCutLo=&fCutHi=poor&fDepthLo=50.0&fDepthHi=80.0&fTableLo=40.0&fTableHi=80.0&fSymLo=&fSymHi=poor&fPolLo=&fPolHi=poor&fCulLo=&fCulHi=vlarge&fFlrLo=&fFlrHi=vstrong&fPriceLo=0&fPriceHi=1000000&fLabEGL=1&adv=1

 

How does $16k to $10k strike you? Note that cut, as well as colour and clarity is a significant factor - which is why the price for similarly graded GIA/AGS stones is also broad, going from $16k up to $25k. The difference in cost between an EGL and a GIA report is $50 or so, so it's not due to the different cost of each lab...

 

Funnily enough, the "best" indication of what clarity/colour the diamond is, is probably the price asked: it's no chance that this is marketed with an EGL report, as Neil explained, so it's probably selling at a premium from what a comparable clarity/colour GIA grade would do - which is NOT H/VS, but more like I-J/SI1.

 

**************************

 

There's nothing that stands out as especially concerning other than the absence of (reliable) information. Put it this way: it's the equivalent of buying a car knowing that it weighs 1300kg, it has wheels size 225/55 R17, it has 5 doors and is white. All good to know, but not particularly relevant. You then find something that says "mileage is between 20 and 70000, engine size between 1.5 and 3.5 litres and it may be a Toyota, a Lada or an Audi". Perhaps more relevant, but still not very useful in coming to a decision. You need to see it, and if you don't trust your judgement on the conditions of the car (or the salesman's judgement), then get a professional working for you to inspect it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Barry: Thanks for answering the questions I presented. Even though they are merely photos, I have been looking at similarly graded diamonds within my specific range and have noticed quite a bit of difference. Could you elaborate more on what causes that or what you would usually look for?"
_______________________________________

 

Items to look for are:

 

1. Shape definition, symmetry, length to width ratio,

2. Contrast brilliance,

3. If the Oval has a center bow-tie, is it extensive or minimal.

4. Whiteness/brightness of the diamond. Is the light refraction evenly distributed across the entire face of the stone or is it concentrated in just one or a few specific areas, leaving the rest of the diamond dark?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am strongly considering one of the diamonds I mentioned in the first post. While it has been determined already that the minimal specs aren't enough to go by, is it possible to determine a fair price range if it truly is eye clean, near colorless and looks good overall? Does anything stand out as especially concerning? I am assuming it can be compared with a GIA H/VS2 or H/VS1 after discussing with the vendor.

 

EGL USA G/VS2 9.47 x 7.24 x 4.65 Pol EX Sym EX Depth 64% Table 61%

 

Curious to know how much they are asking?

 

The diamond should have a fairly minimal bow-tie, but it could be better still - but IF the price is right, it could be a great deal. 

 

Why not go with a GIA certified diamond?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I am strongly considering one of the diamonds I mentioned in the first post. While it has been determined already that the minimal specs aren't enough to go by, is it possible to determine a fair price range if it truly is eye clean, near colorless and looks good overall? Does anything stand out as especially concerning? I am assuming it can be compared with a GIA H/VS2 or H/VS1 after discussing with the vendor.

 

EGL USA G/VS2 9.47 x 7.24 x 4.65 Pol EX Sym EX Depth 64% Table 61%

 

Curious to know how much they are asking?

 

The diamond should have a fairly minimal bow-tie, but it could be better still - but IF the price is right, it could be a great deal. 

 

Why not go with a GIA certified diamond?

 

Based on a lot of this discussion, I think I would be a lot less concerned with a GIA certified diamond, but I haven't seen any comparable in my price range (even considering the EGL USA to be graded lower (he is guaranteeing that it won't come back lower than GIA H/SI1 if I send it out). No bow-tie, no noticeable yellow, only a couple specs of carbon near the edge. I've seen lower prices for similar certs, but I feel more confident trusting what he says after seeing his selection versus gambling paying bottom dollar on the internet.

 

$13600 and one of the best quotes I have received on a custom setting. What do you think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it’s H/SI1, there are 8 GIA stones in the database that already have the pedigree but you're right, that price is reasonable.   If it’s ‘really’ I/SI1, that goes up to 47 and the deal is decidedly more spotty..  I/SI2 goes to 233.  It's a pretty important difference.  These are all stones that you don’t need to send in.  No costs, no risks, no wasted time.  It’s up to you, of course, and the fact that you love it is a strong selling point but what EGLI had to say about it adds very little to that.   You’re now betting on HIS grading, not EGLIs.

 

Offer him this:

 

He sends it in, not you.  He probably has an account but it’s easy enough to do if he’s not familiar with the process.  Instructions are at http://www.gia.edu. If it comes back H/SI1 or better, and if it meets or exceeds whatever specs you mutually agree on for polish/symmetry/fluorescence, you’ll buy it as well as pay for the shipping and the lab fees (That’ll come to about $450 including the rush charge and insurance).  If it comes out below that, he pays the fees, he keeps the stone, and the deal is off.  He’s welcome to offer a new deal and you’ll consider buying it based on what it really is but there’s no obligation on either one of you.  He’s says he’s willing to guarantee H/SI1.  Maybe it is.  Here’s the test of that guarantee.  He has nothing to lose and a big sale to gain if he’s right.  (BTW, you learn some useful things about the dealer by asking this question, even if you don't end up going through with it.  If he's not willing to bet on his own grading, why should you?)

Edited by denverappraiser
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreeing with Neil here - if it does come to an H SI1 its still a good deal - but if it comes to less, the deal isnt so sweet anymore. 

 

Have the jeweler send it out, and you pay for it if it comes back as at least H SI1 - everyone wins here. Also have them laser inscribe it while its at GIA!

 

Joshua

Edited by Joshua Niamehr
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it’s H/SI1, there are 8 GIA stones in the database that already have the pedigree but you're right, that price is reasonable...

Neil,

 

Thanks for the response. To what database are you referring and is it available for me to see? I know there are databases like Polygon, but I have been using basic public searches. And you say they don't need to be sent in but then I am also lacking judgment on eye appeal (despite specs) if I really don't consult with anyone else(or perhaps I am overestimating the margin of visual difference possible between diamonds with the same certified characteristics).

 

About the offer you mention, I have heard of others doing that and think it's a great idea. Whether or not $450 is worth peace of mind, I agree that it will be a good way to judge his apparent confidence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To what database are you referring and is it available for me to see?

Totally public, free and a click away on this site: http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds

 

[Y]ou say they don't need to be sent in but then I am also lacking judgment on eye appeal (despite specs) if I really don't consult with anyone else(or perhaps I am overestimating the margin of visual difference possible between diamonds with the same certified characteristics).

The visual differences on colour and clarity (SI1 and above) will be very small; the visual differences in cut are much more difficult to predict (I'd say impossible - there isn't enough information on a lab report to build even a wireframe outline) without having access to the stone.

 

On the other hand, all decent online vendors will provide you with a generous return period. All you are committing to is shipping costs (and with some vendors not even those).

 

As professional(s), do you really see EGL USA certed diamonds coming back 3-4 grades lower often? Although ten years old, this report (below) seems to show a closer gap.

"Often" is relative. Here is one (EGL-I, not US) that was way off (H -> N) recently:

 

r5514-cushion-diamond-n.jpg

r5514-cushion-diamond-EGL.jpg

R5514-cert-1.jpg

 

In many cases people - including us - don't resubmit the diamond even if they know the grading is off (though the cutter/wholesaler may well have done soand thrown away the 'unsuitable' papers, but he ain't gonna tell you or us), so whether you see 3-4 grade differences "often" is also a result of commercial practices, not just of the level of difference actually existing. But yes, 3-4 grades is perfectly possible

 

The PS report is statistically meaningless. The other "study" they refer to (carried out in the 1990s) came up with different results on an equally small sample, and any attempt to come up with averages is frankly useless in one-off transactions of high value:

 

There's two of us, we eat two chickens. Average one each.

 

One of us dies of indigestion because he eats both, the other dies of starvation because he doesn't eat.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Davide mentioned, 'often' isn't the issue.  As recently as yesterday I saw an EGLUSA that I agreed with on every line item and, within the last week, I've seen stones where I disagreed by 3 grades.  That's just this week.  The problem is that you're doing this blind so you don't know where your particular stone sits.  If ONLY 10% are off by more than 3 grades, is that acceptable?  You're only buying one stone after all.  The solution is exactly what you're doing.  Rely on someone you believe to be reliable, in this case the jeweler.  That's fine but get out of your head trying to convert the EGL.  They might be right.  But they might be seriously wrong too, and given that the way you're telling the difference is 100% dependent on the jeweler, that means that you're relying on EGL for 0%.  

 

This same logic holds for GIA by the way.  The purpose of the GIA is to confirm, support and document the good advice you're getting from your jeweler, not to replace it.  Particularly with fancies, there are quite a few off-report features where you're relying on the jeweler's guidance.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m a big fan of pricescope and I have lots of friends over there.  That said, the study you linked has some serious issues but, to me, the biggest is that it eliminates the dealer behavior from the equation.  (By the way, PS is a direct competitor of this site and they’re a forbidden topic of discussion so I won’t get into the details of their particular study.  I’m talking in general.)

 

Imagine a lab.  We’ll call it XYZ.  They grade identically to GIA 60% of the time, 20% are too high and 20% are too low.  Half of each of those outliers are off by more than one grade.  On average that’s identical and, in practice, that’s a decent enough lab, at least in this area.   Further, they’re 10x the speed and a quarter of the price.   There's room for improvement but that's a good enough lab, right?  Now add the dealers.  Stones flow.  The ones that are too low are immediately shredded and resubmitted to GIA (or somewhere else).  Those documents never see the light of day.  What about the 60%?  Shred those too.  They’re cheap, remember?  Send them to GIA or some other off-brand lab and try again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Now, look at the marketplace.  100% are wrong, all are too generous and half by more than a grade!  That's dreadful.  There are no hints whatever as to what’s been going on.  What we just agreed was a darned good lab suddenly is terrible, even though a study like this would show them to be, on average, dead on to GIA.  That even if the study DID have a large enough sample size to be statistically useful.

Edited by denverappraiser
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
  • Create New...