Shopping for a diamond engagement ring is a stressful experience. What are your opinions and where do you go? How do you make sure you get a perfect diamond ring in your budget how do you maximize your budget? Can the process of buying a diamond engagement ring be fun and informative? Can it be a smooth and comfortable experience?
Let’s answer yes, to all of the above!
I’m probably talking to guys right now. You don’t want to shop for a diamond ring! You just don’t trust me is a mayhem out there. Let’s say you want to spend $5,000 dollars. Which is an enormous budget! What are your options?
You can try a high-end jewellery store. Not only will you quickly see that the budget you have buys a minuscule diamond. Remember Carat weight out of the 4 Cs is the one spec that everyone knows about and can see. In the high-end store, you will find a stereotypical old gentleman that have sold a lot of jewellery in his lifetime, most of which, just as his fashion sense are stuck firmly in the 80ies. I don’t know about you, but high-end jewellery store with pretentious staff wearing suit pants and over the top decor is not a comfortable shopping space for me.
Have you ever thought as to why high-end jewellery stores always look like a dungeon? The stores are designed to be dark. The jewellery showcases block out most of the sunlight, and it’s tough to see from any window whether anyone is shopping inside the store.
The design is purposeful, with high-end shoppers in mind, you know the lucky 1%, feel comfortable buying jewellery or timepieces in the dark and secluded area with very attentive salespeople and custom fitted showcases. Away from the prying eyes of the public in the comfort of darkness, and without any consideration of price tags. The high-end store screams secrecy and exclusivity. In reality, all it means is that they are selling you an item for way too much money, and if you shopped around even a little bit, you would have found the same jewellery piece at a much lower price. However, someone has to pay for the stores decorations, sales people, leases and feel like they have enjoyed the experience. The high-end stores that you see empty, but looking very grand are servicing 20 to 30 families in any given major North American city. The folks and their kids who have the desire and the means to overspend.
You can try a mall jewellery store. But before you do, think of anything you have ever purchased in the mall. Whatever it was, it was cheap and probably lacked quality. I believe I would not be too far off in saying that the business model of a mall store is to sell cheap stuff at scale. I have never personally bought anything I cared about, that lasted me a long time never mind lifetime, in the mall.
Mall jewellery stores position their business similarly to the high-end. I find that the mall environment is not a comfortable place to look at diamonds or jewellery. The lights are dazzling and shall we say calibrated to make any diamond look great, or even worse a lot better than what it is. Even the EGL certified diamonds. After talking to staff working in regular jewellery stores, I have found these few revelations.
The sales people typically don’t know a lot about diamonds or the jewellery they are selling. In my experience and having interviewed a large number folks working in the mall. I found them to be very friendly people; that try to show jewellery to the prospective diamond buyers to the best of their ability. Unfortunately not once have I encountered personnel who was able to proficiently explain the differences in the colour, clarity, cut, polish, symmetry, fluorescence, depth and table % and how it affects both the diamond appearance and its cost.
It seems as though commission profoundly motivates the sales people in the mall. Everyone can see and feel the sales pressure. When I feel the pressure to make a purchase, I do not like it. Nothing wrong with making a commission, I am not against that. It just feels to me that most chainmail jewellery stores offer such small base salary that it makes the sales person be extra wired to make a deal. But ask yourself, will it help you get the best diamond?
You can go to a smaller “mom and pop” retail store.
There you will find an older individual, which will try to sell you the idea of their ‘experience’. It’s a very good idea to have someone help you buy your engagement ring that knows diamonds and jewellery production. But does their ‘experience’ mean they come from the time when there was no Internet and the jewellery profit margins were typically between 300% and 500%? Is there a chance that they have built the business back in the 70ies or the 80ies? If so does their store look big and overblown? Do they have lots of staff in store? You know your diamond ring pays for everything you see.
So if you have decided to shop retail is there anything you can do? Is there anything you can do to protect yourself as a consumer? Yes of course, and here are my suggestions.
Always insist on the AGS or GIA certified diamonds.
The GIA or AGS certified diamonds should be at least Very Good to Ideal cut. Have None or Faint fluorescence and preferably have Hearts and Arrows effect which you can see by using a special instrument, called Hearts and Arrows loupe/scope.
Go to BlueNile.ca James Allen.com and Purediamond.ca save screenshots on your phone of the diamonds and the rings you have liked.
Learn the 4Cs. Read as much as you can on (colour, clarity, cut and carat weight) But also know and know about the additional 4 Cs
Cost – How much will a diamond cost you in the retail environment vs online
Credibility – Does the jeweller have any negative reviews on Yelp or Google, and if so what are they saying? Are you going to be ok with encountering similar problems?
Certification – I can not overstate this enough, your certificate of the diamond does matter. Insist on GIA and AGS certified diamonds. Walk out of the store if they are selling EGL Israel Certified diamonds.
You can also go to a diamond wholesaler of which there are plenty.
In my opinion, the best route you can take on your quest in finding the perfect diamond engagement ring in Vancouver is to go is through a Diamond Wholesaler.
We need a bit of the understanding exactly where in the diamond distributing pipeline the wholesaler comes in.
1) The Mining Companies: Rio Tinto, De Beers, Alrosa and BHP Billiton
They are the international cartels that control the mining and the distribution of Rough (uncut) diamonds, setting the prices as well as controlling the output. The cartels can influence the availability of certain qualities, shapes colours, and clarities of diamonds. Controlling the output of Rough diamonds they allocate a certain percentage of goods to big manufacturing houses.
2) The Manufactures: Leo Schacter, Leviev, Crossworks. Almost always family owned and operated the big diamond manufacturing houses are notoriously secretive. The business model is primarily based on the buying power and the company assets. Very simply the manufacturing house has the rights to the tender and an allocation of the rough diamond product from one of the major mining companies. There is a contract in place which guarantees the mining company will sell a particular quantity and variety of rough diamonds which the manufacturer will purchase and produce polished diamonds. The manufacturer cuts diamonds. Creating and asserting the value of the final gemstone. It maintains massive operations and the often very large numbers of staff. Having significant financial obligations, centered around buying and manufacturing diamonds, the diamond gemstone manufacturers are highly dependent on wholesalers and the liquidity they provide.
3) The Wholesaler: As with everything in life there are three kinds, Small – Medium and Large. But the business model for all three is the same; essentially it is the bank. While most major (LARGE) wholesalers are very cash and asset wealthy, the way they make money is by purchasing diamonds directly from the major manufacturing houses and reselling it to smaller diamond wholesalers or bigger jewellery stores. Anyone who can buy in bulk. Even if you spend $500,000 buying diamonds at the wholesale level, it will only put you in the (MEDIUM) category.
Martin Rapaport ( the pioneer of diamond pricing and creator of rapnet.com, widely regarded as Steve Jobs of the diamond industry)
Once said: The real estate is all about Location – Location – Location but the Diamond Industry is all about Connections – Connections – Connections.
Essentially all wholesalers small, medium and large are in the same boat. They don’t mine or produce diamonds, they buy and sell it. There are plenty of ways to add value via branding and re-certifying diamonds. In turn, the wholesalers then turn around and resell same diamonds to their network of purchasers. There are different strategies that wholesalers use. Some buy only high-end stones, while others only buy princess cut diamonds. There are those that buy low colour commercial goods and others that will buy and play with different certification houses to try to get better values out of diamonds by re-certifying it.
The most ironic part is that the biggest advantage and disadvantage at the same time to a larger or a medium wholesaler is the amount of money they have locked in their diamonds. Diamonds are expensive, and ten diamonds could easily cost a wholesaler $100,000. To make $5,000 a month after tax salary, a diamond wholesaler needs to sell these ten diamonds at least 20% markup. As with any business, the amount of money you have in diamonds might be borrowed so to service the debt the wholesaler pays 3% – 5% to the bank. The other 3% – 5% goes towards the expenses to keep the light on, such as office, insurance, leases and staff. So the 10% goes towards the wholesaler’s salary, out of which he will still have to pay the income tax.
The benefit of finding a smaller, smarter wholesaler to you as a consumer of a diamond engagement ring is immense. The smaller wholesalers don’t have a lot of money tied up in the diamond gemstones. Their business is lean and does not require a massive investment. Sure they buy and sell diamonds on the meager level but, they also have large wholesale connections, and more importantly they are not stuck with just ten diamonds, per $100,000 the giant wholesaler has. The smaller guy is after the best diamonds nevermind the (wholesale) cost. The wholesale price of a diamond is irrelevant. The smaller wholesaler is very similar to a mortgage broker who has access to many banks. He does not have a lot of money tied up in the diamond merchandise and can shop a ton of banks (larger diamond wholesalers) and bring you the best deal and best-looking diamond. Unlike the typical jewellery store owner he does not have the money tied up in the inventory. Sure you as a client will not be greeted by a big and beautiful jewellery store, but the information, education and comperative analysis of the diamonds you can receive in the wholesalers office will be far greater than any jewellery store.
But where do you find a reputable diamond wholesaler, and what should their office look like?
The local wholesaler is the person you found through searching on Google. There are ads for different stores all offering you the best diamond ring, but the wholesaler will have the site, talking about their company have been importing diamonds from Israel, India or the US and have been actively selling the diamonds to the jewellery stores throughout the 2000s. This is who you need, the person or the company that has actively sold diamonds to the Jewellery Stores. Why would be the advantage? The Internet is a great equalizer, before the active proliferation of the online shopping environment, Jewellery store owners would buy directly from the smaller wholesalers. With today’s interest in diamonds weighing and the margins disappearing the big jewellery stores went a step further and had gone to big wholesalers or even the manufacturers of diamonds to buy direct. By doing so, we have a sizable army of smaller intermediaries with lots of diamond expertise and great connections, who are willing to sell better diamonds than the jewellery stores at much better prices.
You can search Google for diamond engagement rings in your city. Chances are you will find purediamond.ca
My name is Alexei, and I am your local diamond wholesaler and I get results! I take out all the stress of diamond shopping. I have been a professional gemologist since 2004. Diamond wholesaler since 2009 and I help all my clients get the best diamond and a stunning engagement ring. I ensure that you have a great ring, professionally. Finding a beautiful place to propose is still your job!
What I do is I make the stress and the uncertainty of having to spend thousands on something that is made mysterious by the big jewellery stores, disappear. I professionally demystify diamonds and tell you exactly how to find the perfect diamond every time.
I have all the high-end gemological tools: the Microscope, Sarin and ForeverMark video screen to view inclusions of the diamonds, and a Hearts and Arrows scope. You will feel like a professionally trained gemologist after we spend 30 minutes looking at diamonds together.
Please feel free to email me about any diamond engagement ring questions you might have.