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engagement rings - buy loose diamond or from "reputable" store

.bishop

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I am in the process of shopping for a ring.

I know my price range is roughly 15-18k

I would obviously like to spend less. I went to debeers and cartier today, and they clearly have an amazing markup due to name. but figured it was an idea to start with them.

My concern is quality, and maybe i just dont really get diamonds. But from my understanding the Color is what is truly visible to the eye. Now I found some rings from Cartier that were in my price range and suitable and seemed like an easy purchase.

But with pricescope, is it more intelligent to buy a loose diamond and then have someone make or just buy me a ring?

I assume with buying a loose diamond you can obtain a bigger rock for a better price?They all have the same appraisal process, correct?

any help is appreciated .. my parents are real old school where it's just wedding bands and simplicity.

TIA
 

Crane's

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You would do well to educate yourself on the four Cs of diamonds. You can have a D colored IF stone that's cut poorly and it won't hold a candle to one that's G colored VS in clarity and is cut very well. That's called the diamond's make by the way which describes the quality of the cut. IMO this is the single most important thing to take into account when one considers buying a diamond.

Anyway a guy named robin on this site would be someone you should talk to about this.

Paging robin!!!
 

appolyon

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I've done some cursory research into diamonds and I agree with Crane that the most important thing purported by all when choosing a diamond is the cut. Another good source of 'loose' diamonds is www.bluenile.com Good luck with the search
 

.bishop

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sorry, for cut i was ONLY looking at vvs1 and vvs2, and for color anything about an H, but have only seen G's and F's

i think right now i am on the loose diamond vs all in one ring and diamond. I like that i can handle the diamond, and am leary of buying from an online source w/o seeing what the diamond looks like inperson.
 

rnoldh

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Originally Posted by .bishop
sorry, for cut i was ONLY looking at vvs1 and vvs2, and for color anything about an H, but have only seen G's and F's

i think right now i am on the loose diamond vs all in one ring and diamond. I like that i can handle the diamond, and am leary of buying from an online source w/o seeing what the diamond looks like inperson.


VVS1 and VVS2 are clarity ratings and are not cut factors.

Generally cut refers to the information that is under Proportions in a GIA certificate ( I assume you are familiar with a GIA cert! ). Here is an example. Note that there is also fluorescence but that is different and generally not as important as the 4Cs.

While this all seems confusing it is not too bad to learn the basics. For a purchase this big you should definitely spend some time at Pricescope or GIA.org which both have great tutorials. And when you are comfortable with the 4cs, you should be ready to do some comparative shopping.

DeBeers and Cartier are absolutely 1st class, but be aware that you will pay a premium for the cachet of the DeBeers or Cartier name. For instance 2 stones with identical GIA specifications are pretty much exactly the same, but you will pay more for the stone that is sold by Cartier or Debeers. While their prices are certainly relatively very high they balance this with a very high quality inventory perhaps. To some, price doesn't matter! Of course you will get the box and paperwork of these famous stores and to some this is worth the premium.

Finally, about buying a stone separately. This is a good idea and generally you will do better this way, with the proviso that you are confident in your knowledge and feel good about the process of buying the stone first and then the ring ( known as the setting ) separately. Right now it is a buyers market and with some due diligence you should do well.
 

bing

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Originally Posted by appolyon
Another good source of 'loose' diamonds is www.bluenile.com

I bought my wife's engagement ring there and was very very pleased with it. Particularly the price, service and some distinct features of the diamond.

I did buy the diamond set into one of their standard settings but what was awesome about the diamond was that it came with a GIA Certification and a laser enscribed identification number on the girdle of the diamond.

GIA is supposedly the best certification you can get, or among the best, and the identification number helps you to ensure that your diamond is never switched.

The price was right and the shipping was virtually immediate.

I had an independent appraisal done after receiving the ring and it came out about 30% higher than the one provided with the ring and was also from a reputable source, not one that over-values things. I like the fact that bluenile sent a conservative valuation rather than exaggerating the value of the ring.
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by rnoldh
VVS1 and VVS2 are clarity ratings and are not cut factors.

Generally cut refers to the information that is under Proportions in a GIA certificate ( I assume you are familiar with a GIA cert! ). Here is an example. Note that there is also fluorescence but that is different and generally not as important as the 4Cs.

While this all seems confusing it is not too bad to learn the basics. For a purchase this big you should definitely spend some time at Pricescope or GIA.org which both have great tutorials. And when you are comfortable with the 4cs, you should be ready to do some comparative shopping.

DeBeers and Cartier are absolutely 1st class, but be aware that you will pay a premium for the cachet of the DeBeers or Cartier name. For instance 2 stones with identical GIA specifications are pretty much exactly the same, but you will pay more for the stone that is sold by Cartier or Debeers. While their prices are certainly relatively very high they balance this with a very high quality inventory perhaps. To some, price doesn't matter! Of course you will get the box and paperwork of these famous stores and to some this is worth the premium.

Finally, about buying a stone separately. This is a good idea and generally you will do better this way, with the proviso that you are confident in your knowledge and feel good about the process of buying the stone first and then the ring ( known as the setting ) separately. Right now it is a buyers market and with some due diligence you should do well.


For a lot of women, i think the little blue box matters just as much as what's inside, maybe even more than a slightly bigger stone. Despite all the bitching and moaning I do on the subject and what a waste of money I think it is, i'll probably end up buying from cartier or tiffany's if/when i get married. I'm sure i have lots of time to put money away before that forsaken day..
=/
 

Kyoung05

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TL;DR. Basically, what you want to focus on is cut - basically, look for AGS Ideal cut diamonds. Of course, bear in mind that only SOME "shapes" are rated as "ideal" by AGS, but if you're looking for something basic like "round brilliant," then you shouldn't have any difficulty finding a stone that is rated "ideal" by AGS. As others may have said, "cut" is the specification that takes optical symmetry, proportions, light return, etc. all into account. In other words, it is THE single most important factor when evaluating a stone. An ideal cut stone will not only "face up" larger than a comparably sized stone that is cut like shit, but it will also "perform" much better in terms of "sparkle."

Once you've determined that you want an "ideal" cut diamond, adjust the size and clarity for a given stone to an amount you are comfortable spending. IMO, a SI1 stone from a reputable dealer would be fine for clarity - SI1 basically means that you won't be able to see any imperfections (inclusions) with the naked eye, although you'll be able to see them under 10x magnification. VS1 or VS2 means you generally won't see any inclusions under 10x magnification. If you're not going to be able to notice a difference with your naked eye, are you really going to care what it looks like under a loupe? That's for you to decide.

As for color, I am personally comfortable with a J or K stone, maybe even more "yellow" depending on the shape. IMO, more "yellow" stones tend to look more "warm," which may be preferable for certain shapes. Again, this is up to you. You can go to a brick & mortar store and ask for a "master set" of stones, which should best accurately represent the range of colors. You might want to check these out with your GF to see what she prefers.

I'm a big advocate of buying from a reputable dealer online. As you have already mentioned, PriceScope is a great place to start. Stick with their reputable dealers, and you should be ok. I think it would be wise to find a loose stone that best fits your criteria first, and then find a dealer that carries or can design the setting you want. Why limit yourself to a particular vendor's inventory for either stones or settings?

Don't bother looking at places like Tiffany, Cartier etc. as their prices won't mean much if you're being smart about it and shopping for loose stones from Pricescope vendors.

Also, there is no one "best" laboratory for certification. AGS is generally regarded as better for "cut," whereas GIA is generally regarded as better for "color/clarity." Again, "cut" is the most important factor, so if at all possible, be sure to look for stones that are only rated "ideal" by AGS. I believe that GIA does not actually rate stones as "ideal," only "very good," some of which may be rated by AGS as "ideal," and some of which may not.
 

Gibonius

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Another vote for doing your research on Pricescope. You could get something incredible for $15k using online sources.

I wouldn't look at anything other than AGS or GIA certified stones. All the best stones end up with either of those agencies. As others have said, cut is king. Getting an AGS0 stone or the GIA equivalent will be a good start.

You'd be spending a lot of money on something invisible to get VVS1 or 2. The human eye just can't tell the difference past SI1 or so, and there's no real light return difference either. You're basically just playing an emotional game to go to higher clarities.

I ended up buying from Whiteflash, they specialize in high performance diamonds and you'll walk away with a drastically superior stone for less money than the big name stores.

GoodoldGold has some nice tutorials and is also supposed to have some very nice stones. I didn't buy there, but considered it.

I wasn't impressed with Blue Nile, their ranking system for their stones is suspect at best.
 

Kyoung05

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Originally Posted by Gibonius
Another vote for doing your research on Pricescope. You could get something incredible for $15k using online sources.

I wouldn't look at anything other than AGS or GIA certified stones. All the best stones end up with either of those agencies. As others have said, cut is king. Getting an AGS0 stone or the GIA equivalent will be a good start.

You'd be spending a lot of money on something invisible to get VVS1 or 2. The human eye just can't tell the difference past SI1 or so, and there's no real light return difference either. You're basically just playing an emotional game to go to higher clarities.

I ended up buying from Whiteflash, they specialize in high performance diamonds and you'll walk away with a drastically superior stone for less money than the big name stores.

GoodoldGold has some nice tutorials and is also supposed to have some very nice stones. I didn't buy there, but considered it.

I wasn't impressed with Blue Nile, their ranking system for their stones is suspect at best.



I've bought from GoodOldGold (albeit, studs), and would highly recommend them. In fact, when we look to buy a ring, we'll be looking exclusively at GoodOldGold because we like one of their proprietary cuts. Also, they are willing to make you videos of any stones they have in their inventory, i.e. if you curious what one of their stones looks like relative to another one of their stones, they can make a "comparison" video so you can see the difference for yourself without having to go there in person. Same thing with color, size etc., i.e. if you want to see what a 1.25ct stone looks like on a size 5 finger, they'll do their best to show you. Also, what I liked was that they have a lifetime trade-up policy, so if you buy a stone today and want to upgrade later on down the road, they will apply 100% of the purchase price of the stone towards your future purchase. Not all retailers do this. Lastly, GoodOldGold, like WhiteFlash, has their stones in stock, so if you have any questions about something you see in their inventory, they can actually look at the stone and answer your question. BlueNile is a "drop shipper," meaning they do not actually have anything in stock, so they can only guess as to what the stone will look like in person.
 

chenc

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To me diamonds are suppose to be white. If I want warm- looking stone, there are plenty of other gemstones. Your wife will hate you if the stone is yellowish. Don't forget that women compare. I'd rather sacrifice size than quality. Try to get at least one carat if you can.
With your budget I wouldnt buy from Tiffany or Cartier. Spend your money on the stone not the box. She ain't gonna wear that box on her finger. And do get GIA or what's the other.
 

tj100

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Originally Posted by chenc
Spend your money on the stone not the box. She ain't gonna wear that box on her finger.

Don't forget that women compare. They also have studied rings a lot more closely than we have, and can ID the Tiffany/Cartier etc. one from a mile away.
 

random-adam

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I spent a month or so fussing around on Pricescope. Fortunately for my wallet, the fiancee wanted a colored stone instead of a diamond; she got a ruby with diamonds flanking on either side.

If I'd wanted a blow-her-out-of-the-water diamond, though, I would've ended up going through Whiteflash.



...incidental: the ring was CAD-designed and fabricated by a local guy. If you can find someone reputable nearby who does jewelry design and casting, it's a fun process -- and my girl was psyched to know there's nothing else like it.
 

gladhands

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Originally Posted by tj100
Don't forget that women compare. They also have studied rings a lot more closely than we have, and can ID the Tiffany/Cartier etc. one from a mile away.

This is not true. They can recognize certain signature styles, like Tiffany's bezel set, but those settings are readily available elsewhere.

I spend hours upon hours education myself and looking at individual stones at various local jewelers in Chicago. When I knew the exact cut, color, clarity and radiance I wanted, I bought online...from Amazon. The ONE problem, was that Amazon was engraved inside the band, but a local jeweler took care of that for about 50 bucks. It appraised for over twice what I paid. Remember, you're buying a stone and a setting, not a brand name.
 

Crane's

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Cut in the 4 Cs realm means a round brilliant, emerald cut, marquise, princess cut and so on. It's the shape not how well it's cut. Make is the quality of the cut. Each cut has a blueprint that defines all the angles, depths, relationships of depths, table measurements and so on. A stone that is way off from these dimensions makes for a dead lifeless stone no matter how good the 4 Cs are.
 

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