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Diamond Engagement Ring Buying Guide Part 2
How To Buy Diamond Engagement Rings & Avoid Scams
Other Jewelry Stores To Shop for your diamond ring
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Diamond Jewelry Exchanges and Diamond Districts
Everyone thinks diamond districts like the Seibold building in Miami or the 47th Street Diamond District in New York will save you thousands on your diamond engagement diamond ring. I found these "wholesale" jewelry stores do not have wholesale pricing. Like car dealer auto malls, it's just more chances for you to get scammed in one multi block area. So heed our warnings here on BridalTips.com, I'm skeptical about district shopping. When you cram together all these jewelers it's like a flea market, ripe with double talk. There's plenty of honest hard working family owned jewelry shops selling diamonds, but you must be diligent, and ready to walk out. Well known authors have stated that the New York Diamond District is the worst place in the world to buy a diamond. These shops pay high rent in the district which translates to a higher price for your diamond. So be careful, some are good, some are bad. You'll be treated like a human being at sites like Blue Nile Diamonds, and DiamondIdeals.
Financing your wedding rings do and don'ts
I like some of the newer finance options that you have available today, which are alternatives to credit cards. The newest wave of easy and quick financing that I have been recommending is a personal loan from sites such as LendingClub. You are not borrowing from a bank, but rather you are tapping into a cash rich social network of people eager to lend you money. LendingClub is one of the better known sites, pairing member investors and borrowers together, allowing you to directly invest in and borrow from each other. It's very simple, by the people, for the people. Since they don't have the high rent or cost overhead of banks, you get a lower interest rate on your loan. Banks are very difficult to deal with since the financial crisis, so this is the perfect way to finance your engagement ring. You can also charge it instead, but don't do it on mall store credit cards with 25% APR. Use your own card and pay it off immediately or a few months. Avoid paying cash at diamond jewelry stores, it can't be traced, but credit card transactions can. If something goes wrong you'll never get your cash back, but you can dispute a credit charge. Leave your cash safely in the bank, pay your credit card bill in full. The credit cards charge jewelers 3-6%, so some jewelers offer you a lower price for cash. But if something goes wrong, they already have your money. Do you trust them? If a store requires cash or check only, just leave. Any legitimate jeweler takes credit cards.
Diamond Jewelry Stores at Strip Shopping Centers
You may get your best diamond ring deal in a family owned jewelry store with years of experience, at least one GIA graduate, in a strip shopping center. I bought before the days of Blue Nile and DiamondIdeals. The jeweler I went to was suggested by a friend who knew him for years, his store was at a shopping center. He showed me the Rap Sheet and made $400 on my 1.03 Ct, H color VVS2 diamond engagement ring. I had no problem with that. I paid a total of $5400 for the loose diamond and the ring setting combined. I designed the custom diamond engagement ring which he built. It was ready a week later, he appraised it at $7200, gave me the GIA certificate, and suggested that Mayor's Jewelers appraise it, they give honest appraisals. The same 1 carat H color VVS2 diamond rings at mall jewelry stores were $10,000 - $12,000. Mayor's appraised my ring at $9300! I knew then that I got a bargain. You'll get good discount diamonds at strip shopping center jewelry stores because their rent is half of the mall stores. If they do their work in house, it's done sooner than mall jewelers who send diamonds out to be fitted. There's less chance of something happening to your diamond when work is done in house, if the jeweler is honest.
Diamond Jewelry Stores at Shopping Malls & Outlet Malls
Besides Tiffany's, Worth Avenue, and Newbury Street, mall diamond jewelry stores like Kay Jewelers, Zales Jewelers, Mayor's Jewelers, and Gordon's Jewelers are the most expensive to buy engagement rings. They are reasonably honest but sky high in price, less diamond for the buck. An employee of one of these stores told me if you're buying engagement ring diamonds at a chain store, never accept the manager's or salesperson's inability to haggle. There's always someone higher up the food chain to approve it if they want the sale. They always want the sale. The employee also told me that they were instructed to hide diamond rings. Only show one of each ring in the case and always say it's the last one. That creates need.
The problem with mall jewelry stores: your loose diamond is sent out to be fitted to the engagement ring you choose, no work is done on the premises. I was nervous, now it's out of their control. What if it gets switched? For the same money, mall jewelers are 2-3 levels below in color and clarity, than what I bought at my jeweler. If you don't care about cost, mall stores are great, but if they tell you that you are getting a bargain or value, that's a lie. I know mall jewelers have high rent and mouths to feed, but so do you. Remember, you're there to buy a diamond, not fill the pockets of mall landlords. You are also paying for those fancy marble display cases. Look for specials if they have any, but you'll likely not find them on diamond rings. They might try to lure you into a purchase with 0 money down or "no payments until...", but financing diamonds like that just hides a bad deal, where you are spending so much for the ring, of course they can give you a great payment plan. It's funny, the low prices you pay at sites like Blue Nile Diamonds, are so low, and your appraisal is nearly twice what you paid for it, very close to the mall prices.
Be Suspicious Of 50-75% Off Diamond Engagement Ring Sales and jewelry stores using "codes"
Discount Diamond Jewelry at Sam's & Costco
Warehouse stores have very limited but fairly priced diamond jewelry. In Costco and Sam's Wholesale Club, diamond engagement rings appraise double above what you pay for it, as people told me about appraising their diamond jewelry after buying it at Costco. Salespeople at mall stores tell you the diamonds at wholesale clubs are poor quality cheap ones, a tactic to justify their higher mall prices, a feeble attempt at a mind trick. A well cut Color G VS1 diamond is still a color G VS1 whether you buy it at the mall or Costco. At least Costco tells you in writing what the 4 C's are. Wholesale clubs and mall jewelry stores buy diamonds from basically the same wholesalers. If you know what you're looking for and don't need help, this is perfect.
Diamond Jewelry at Department Stores
Jewelry Stores In The Caribbean Islands
Where to Start Shopping For Your Diamond Engagement Ring
Don't buy the first diamond engagement ring in the first jewelry store see, shop around to compare prices, knowledge and lies. Buy a loose diamond so you can view it properly. You'll choose the setting later. Ignore salespeople tricks, like "this diamond won't be here when you come back." Why not? It was here when you walked in? It's highly unlikely of all the rings in there, a buyer will come in the next few days, and buy your wedding ring. This sales tactic is VERY powerful, you must resist it. There's a reason for everything and if you walk out, it means there's a better ring somewhere else, for a better price. Ignore car salesman tactics, they tell you that you won't find it cheaper anywhere else. Every time in my life that I heard that, I have proven them wrong. I have not failed yet, and neither will you. Surf the diamond high quality jewelry sites first to get a feel for what diamond pricing and ring styles are. Use those prices as the gauge to against jewelry stores. These quotes will be the standard that others must meet or beat, put up or shut up, money talks, B.S. walks, no more shell games. Without these quotes as a reference, I guarantee you'll pay too much at the jewelry store and lose thousands. I would not even recommend going diamond shopping without using these sites first. Most guys report back to me of their best diamond ring deal was purchasing online.
You don't walk into a jeweler and say "I have $5000 burning a hole in my pocket, what can I get?". They'll take you over to the $5000 rings, when you should have gone to the $6000 rings and talked them down to $5000. Tell them the type of ring you want and go from there. Do NOT give them a figure of what you are willing to spend. You did your homework before shopping, so you know what type of diamond you want, and whether you can afford it. Do NOT let the jeweler choose the diamond to fit you budget. You know your budget, you know what diamond you can get, just go get it, and negotiate the price down. When you balk at the price, they'll tell you the ring adds a lot to the price also. That's hogwash. Most basic ring settings are worth $300-$500 max, don't let them fool you with this Jedi mind trick. You'll spend more on gas driving around town for the ring, than you will on the ring itself.
Don't Fall For The Diamond Ring Category Shift
Test The Salesperson's Knowledge on engagement ring diamonds
Some salespeople have little knowledge in diamonds, which translates into misrepresentation. You don't want to hear that "this is the best diamond in the case", or that it has excellent clarity. You want a salesperson who understands the specs and knows how they affect the quality of your diamond. Here's a few thinking man's diamond questions to ask in order to test their knowledge:
1) What is the effect of a girdle that's too thin or too thick?
If they cannot answer these basic questions, what do they know? Here's what I know: you don't want to buy a diamond from them.
How To Examine Loose Diamonds
This is where the Diamond Ring Buying Guide book excels. The photos help you spot inclusions, fakes, chips, and other problems. Dozens of photos of good and bad diamonds train you in minutes to weed out the riff raff. Compare several grades of clarity and color to get a feel for the differences. Ask for the GIA certificate for the diamond to verify the inclusions on the certificate match the diamond. Verify the cert date is less than 1 year old.
Examine engagement ring diamonds with a 10x Loupe, no 2x, no 5x
Ask for a clean BLACK 10x magnification Loupe. Unscrupulous jewelers trick suckers with a 2-3x or a 5x loupe, they don't want you to see the inclusions. You can't see the inclusions, and think the loose diamond is high quality, but you don't see it like GIA does. To correlate what you see with GIA diamond grading practices, you must use a 10x loupe, no excuses. If they don't offer you a loupe OR microscope, it's time to leave. There is no reasonable explanation for any diamond jeweler to refuse access to a loupe. Don't negotiate price until you examine the diamond for 5-10 minutes, and are satisfied with its quality. Professional appraisers take over an hour. Ask for locking diamond tweezers that hold the diamond in place. Make sure the diamond is clean before you view it, sit down, and be comfortable. Put your elbows on the table for stability, keep the loupe a few inches from your eye, and don't block the light with your head. Hold the diamond directly in front of you letting light enter it through all angles. Examine each facet of the diamond. Make sure when viewed from above, the diamond's table is centered and the diamond is perfectly round, not off round. The girdle should be thin to medium, not too thin, and not thick. The girdle should be straight around the circumference, not wavy. The bottom of the diamond should come to an exact point. Do not ignore the "proportions" and "finish" data on the GIA report as many buyers do. They are just as important as color and clarity. Ask to see the diamond under UV lamps to verify there is no fluorescence blue glow.
Examine the bottom of the diamond for blemishes also. If they tell you it does not matter, they are either lying or just plain stupid. A chip on the bottom prevents light that enters the top of the diamond from refracting properly off the pavilion edges. Any artifact that effects the exterior surface of the diamond will effect it, no matter what any salesman tells you. Look for pits or scratches, or nicks on the top (table). Then look at how the edges and corners look. Are they perfect and sharp, or chipped and rounded? Hold the loose diamond in front of you and look straight into the center and see if there's any cracks, bubbles, black spots, or clouds, dark shaded areas, or fisheye patterns. Improperly cut diamonds have large, dark shaded areas. Good cuts are brilliant with no dark shades. Try to figure out where on the clarity scale they fall. Is it an I1 or a VS2? It should be on the tag. Ask for a color stone sample strip. Most jewelers have them. Be suspicious of a jeweler that makes up excuses why they do not have a color stone strip. Why don't they want you to see the color? So they can misrepresent the stone and you cannot tell the difference. You should be able to tell if a stone is included or slightly included. Your goal is to prevent the jeweler from selling an I2 stone as a VS1, saying "it's near perfect", and "one of the best in our display case", when it is clearly not.
Try to view the diamond under a gemoscope binocupar microscope with DARK FIELD illumination activated. Most people, including some jewelers don't know how to properly use a loupe, the scope removes the unfair advantage a trained jeweler has over you. If the jewelry store does not have a scope for you to use, ask "why not?" If they have one in the back for them to use when they buy diamonds, you should have the same benefit.
How do you examine a loose diamond from online stores?
Don't worry. That's what the online GIA certificates are for. You and I really are not diamond experts and need years of experience to really tell if a diamond is good, so it's safe to rely on the online GIA certificates at honest sites like BlueNile and DiamondIdeals. Besides, you have generous money back guarantees in case you're not satisfied with your diamond appraisal.
How To Spot Synthetic Diamonds and Other Fakes
This is your worst fear. How do you know they are not selling you a fake diamond glass or cubic zirconia? There are some simple tests. With cubic zirconia, you can see through it like a window. With a properly cut diamond, you can't see the bottom of a diamond looking from the top, as the refraction combined with the cut edges scatters light everywhere. Place the diamond on a newspaper and if you can see the print, it's cubic zirconia. If you cannot see through to the bottom of the diamond at all, it's real. Another simple test is to view the diamond in front of something black. If it's cubic zirconia, you'll see a lot of black. If it's real, you won't see black because a real diamond scatters light better. If the diamond is glass, you'll see numerous air bubbles at 10x. If the diamond is very cheaply priced, it's probably cubic zirconia. That's why they are used, to make affordable "diamonds" that most people do not know are fake for those who can't afford real diamonds. Also, real diamonds have the bottoms exposed, and fakes are usually enclosed. Sites like Blue Nile, DiamondIdeals, would not sell a fake diamond as real. Any honest site would label it as cubic zirconia. The Diamond Ring Buying Guide book has tons of great tips for spotting fakes.
Diamond Engagement Ring Scams You May Encounter
Some diamond engagement rings cost as much as a car. That's why some jewelers are like car salesman. buyers know even less about diamonds than cars. There's plenty of places to get info on cars, but few for diamonds. This makes you a sitting duck for unscrupulous salespeople. Some jewelers complain that we scaring you with our warnings. You bet we are, because if you are not cautious you'll get scammed or make a dumb mistake. I heard from people that have had diamonds switched on them. Sure most jewelers are honest but there are enough bad ones in the mix that you have to keep your guard up. Almost everyone I know knows someone who had a diamond switched, so this is not anecdotal evidence. Jewelers tell you this is an urban legend. All they know is their store, and don't have to endure all the tricks that you and I will come across. Here in Florida we are always reading about jewelry exchanges getting raided and charged with crimes like diamond switching. Here's some stupid sales tricks they'll try on you:
"This is as close to white as you can get, it's the best one in our display case."
"Sorry, our microscope is busted and the other salesman has the 10x loupe"
"This is my favorite diamond in the store, I wish MY boyfriend would buy me one this nice".
"This ring will appraise at least 30% more than what you'll pay for it today."
Choosing The Setting For Your Diamond Ring
If you buy a loose diamond, you'll need to choose a ring for it. I recommend 6 prongs on the ring instead of 4, especially on an expensive round diamond. Some jewelers say 6 prongs make the diamond look small, but how good will it look if it's missing! With 4 prongs, if one of the prong breaks off, kiss that puppy good bye, there is a 180 degree exposed side! You don't have to buy the ring at the same store you buy the diamond, and most jewelers will remove a diamond out of a setting and into another. You can get a platinum diamond ring if you like. Platinum engagement rings, are more expensive than gold ring settings. Silver rings look cool too, and in fact the ring I originally bought was a combination of gold and white gold. You can also get a ring that has "baguettes", which are smaller square shaped diamonds mounted into the ring. The fancier platinum, multicolor settings, with additional stones can drive the cost of the ring up from $500 to thousands, but they are stunning. You might prefer a solitaire diamond ring, which is just a single diamond by itself. For wedding bands, you and your bride should choose rings together, and they don't have to match. Some fancy engagement rings have a corresponding molded wedding band, made to fit against the engagement ring. You can get platinum wedding bands, gold wedding rings, silver wedding bands, whatever makes you happy. White gold wedding rings are available too, they have a unique look to them. Some people like to get 2 tone white gold and yellow gold on their wedding rings.
Closing The Deal
Look all over the store and the cash register for signs describing returns policies and guarantees, and other fine print.
If they don't put it in writing, it means they won't do it. Do they have a guarantee that your diamond ring will appraise higher than what you paid for it? How long is the warranty? Some jewelers have free lifetime warranties if the prongs break and the diamond falls out, a highly unlikely event. Read and understand the warranty and it's exclusions. You should never have to pay for this warranty. If your diamond appraises less than you paid for it, can you bring it back for an exchange or full refund? Find out now, not later. Make sure the invoice describes your diamond accurately, including certificate number, weight, cut, clarity, color and proportion values. If values are left off, do not sign, no excuses, even if they say it's on the GIA cert. Make them note on the invoice that the diamond has not been treated to hide inclusions. Make them indicate your diamond will be mounted with 6 prongs and not 4. Ask for a written appraisal of the diamond at no extra charge. This is for your own sanity, it's not useful for insurance purposes, your insurer wants a 3rd party appraisal. Get a firm date on when your diamond engagement ring will be ready to be picked up. Allow up to a month in the mall stores, no one is ever on time. A good jeweler that does their own in house work should complete your ring in one week. Be sure to get a receipt! Then immediately have it appraised by an impartial source and don't let it out of your site.
The Appraisal and Insuring Of Your Diamond Engagement Ring
Once you buy your diamond ring, get it appraised by an independent third party to be sure of its value. Mayor's Jewelers gives honest appraisals. They are usually booked for 2 weeks on appraisals, so plan accordingly. It might cost over $100 to have a ring appraised, but it's required for insurance.
APPRAISER TIP: Choose an appraiser that charges a flat rate, not based on a percentage of the appraised value or weight. Otherwise you'll find out "your diamond is worth $50,000!". You cannot get an honest appraisal fees depend on the value of the appraisal. The appraiser will give you a photo of your engagement ring for insurance purposes, and a written report, mailed to you a week later. It describes your ring and the appraised value. As soon as you get your appraisal, get the ring added to your insurance policy. Don't assume your homeowners policy or renters policy covers diamond rings, I can assure you they don't. Never assume that any insurance covers a loss until you verify it with the insurance company. Too many people don't bother to pick up the phone and make a 5 minute call to verify. Then the ring gets lost or stolen, and they are out of luck because they think that insurance is some umbrella that protects you from everything in the world. Diamond rings require a separate insurance "rider" policy, and an appraisal and photo of the ring. Basic renters insurance does not cover them. International Gemmological Institute also does appraisals and they have a patented 'Laserscribesm" process for diamond laser inscriptions on the girdle. Typically you want the certificate number engraved on the girdle. This acts as a diamond switching prevention, as well as proving you own the diamond if it's recovered after it's lost or stolen. From what most of our visitors tell us, diamonds purchased at Blue Nile, DiamondIdeals appraise nearly twice what they paid for them.
How To Sell Your Old Diamond Ring
If you have to sell a diamond ring, DO NOT sell it on consignment! My sister put a $17,000 ring on consignment with a loser jeweler in Austin, TX., who made rosy promises of how easy it would be to sell and how much money she would get. But months went by and no word, and when she finally called up the jeweler, she was told the ring is sold and the money is on the way. But she got no money. Repeated calls over several weeks were not returned, now she can't get her ring back. She retained a lawyer to sue the store, got the police involved. You don't need that grief. So no matter what they promise, don't leave your diamond ring on consignment. They can switch the diamond, tell you the ring never sold. If you want to sell your diamond, sell it on eBay, just beware of escrow fraud scammers that try to get you to bypass the internal checkout system to use an outside escrow service to steal your diamond. Don't do any barter deals, no money transfer services, no checks or any other stupid non standard business deals, don't trade it in for another diamond, just get money for your diamond, and get out of Dodge. Never leave your jewelry on consignment. Just like with car buying, NEVER combine a trade in with a purchase, there's too many cash flow shell games.
How To Prevent Diamond Switching
More Diamond Engagement Ring Research
Federal Trade Commission Article: Guides for the Jewelry,
Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries
Federal Trade Commission Article: "All That
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