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A Canadian buyer experience w/ birks! and why she is so happy there is Pricescope!

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ma1lyc

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
44
Hi guys ;-)
I''ve been reading alot about diamond shopping, peoples experience with mall stores v.s. buying online and i wanted to add my own experience. Sorry in advance if this thread is suppose to be in (diamond hangout) instead, and also my grammar.. it''s 3 am in the morning
and i can''t sleep.. plus.. well i have bad grammar lol
(warning long post)

As most shoppers when it comes to buying jewellery i only knew the 4cs. It didn''t really matter because the pieces i brought were small and mainly my jewelleries were gifts from my bf/ff, and of course he know nothing. The first big purchase was from BIRKS; This is a huge "upscale" chain in Canada, i guess u can say it is the "Tiffanys" version for Canadians, although we do have Tiffanys and Cartier here as well. Anywhoo, my bf gave me a set of "circle of life" Roberto Coin earrings from Birks, and the following year the matching circle of life necklace; both were si1 /g color for as you can guess WAYYYYY to much money
I loved the necklace but around this time i knew he had paid too much money, but what is done is done. As i admire the necklace i noticed that some of the stones near the bottom of the circle were very very cloudy and i grew to really hate it, I took it into another birks store to ask them about it and they just put it into the ultrasonic cleaner and said it was just dirty. It did sparkle more but the cloudiness was still there taunting me, so i took it back to exchange it at the original Birks that it was purchased from ( I had 30 days for return or exchange) The nice girl that sold our 2 previous pieces was not there, instead another sales lady helped us. I told her about my concern, and that i wanted to exchange it for the one in the display case (which was more sparkly and no cloudiness) She told me that all the pieces were made the same way, and thought i was just being... well i don''t know what she thought, but she didn''t seem pleased. As she took the other necklace out of display i thought they were just going to exchange it, and take the other necklace and inspect that everything is fine for resale.. which would have been fine. INstead behind the counter she switched them!!!
and asked me the to identify which original one was mine!!!! I knew for sure at this point she thought i was some young girl who didn''t know anything and was just being picky! Well.. i showed her
I''ve had inspect and that necklace so much at home and knew which one it was right away! Her response?.... "Why arn''t you cheeky" At that point i thought it was over.... INSTEAD she did it again!!!! just incase it was a fluke!
and again i showed her! HAd i been an older women she would not had the nerve to do that.. maybe i was young and she thought she could disrespect me that way
flash forward a year later, me being more educated in buying diamonds (thank you price scope
) went to return some expensive stud earrings that my bf got me at BIRKS, refusing to give them any business, how expensive? ( .30ct si1, g - $4000CAD!!!) I knew it would be hard to return them, considering the last experience but it was during the same time my bf and i were looking for engagement rings. As expected they didn''t seem pleased.. until i told them i wanted to return them becuase were looking for an engagement rings and cannot afford both, well this speed up the process
They started showing me e-rings, i asked the grading on the cut for one of them and they said "honey.. it''s a round"
At that point I wanted to leave, and instead of giving me my full refund for the earrings, they wanted to put it towards a deposit on my future engagment ring!!!!
( i had no stone picked out, no design, no sketch of the setting, no wax model.. no nothing!) and they kept pressuring me to do so! I told them it was under my bfs credit card and it was his decision, so no. I left and never turned back! For a Huge jewellery chain like that, i would expect wayyyyyyyyyyyyy better treatment!!! and as a customer that had spent alot of $$$$ before, their unprofesstional treatment has lost them a regular customer. As I continued my search for my engagement ring I''ve come across another horrible experience at another jewellery store, a smaller independent store this time. Just like Birks they tried to take me for a fool
To spare you guys from reading more
and dealing with my bad grammar,
I have that story on another thread somewhere, posted months ago incase anyone is interested in seeing it. Overall my horrible experience has finally (hopefully) ended. Thanks to the price scopers here and everything that i have learned, i may be purchasing my diamond tmorrow from a vendor that was suggested from here ;-) I will give u more details once this diamond deal has finally gone through. Once again thanks so much guys ;-) and sorry for the long post


nite nite
 

oldminer

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Sep 3, 2000
Messages
6,394
In spite of the grammar, you have elegantly expressed what many other consumers feel about the B&M side of the retail jewelry business and in particular how you feel about the upscale chain operations. There are always exceptions, but you would not find it much different on this side of the border.

Why do people find shopping in this kind of atmosphere satisfying? Are there really so many people of engagement ring age who are not aware of the goings on with Internet information gathering? Or, is there a fear of actually buying from a distant vendor the major hurdle?

Since I am definitely of a previous generation, or two, I''d like to know what the 20 somethings are thinking. These attitudes would be quite a clue to the future of retailing. Of course, we change our minds along with our waistlines with age, but the current thinking is always of interest.
 

Maisie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 30, 2006
Messages
12,578
Hi Ma1lyc,

I think its shocking the way younger customers are treated in stores. You are just as valid as the older people! In fact they should be treating you better than that as you could potentially become a lifelong customer!

Good luck in your purchase. Its very exciting!! Be sure to come back and show us pictures of the finished ring
 

boston_jeff

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 30, 2007
Messages
623
Date: 4/19/2007 2:25:33 PM
Author: oldminer
Since I am definitely of a previous generation, or two, I'd like to know what the 20 somethings are thinking. These attitudes would be quite a clue to the future of retailing. Of course, we change our minds along with our waistlines with age, but the current thinking is always of interest.
I think it is mostly about marketing.

For the most part, the only online diamond vendor that people have heard about is BlueNile. Because they do not have any pictures of their stones online, I think people are quickly turned off by the internet experience, because in their mind BlueNile is the "best"/"biggest", so if they don't have pictures and movies than it is not even worth exploring other internet options (and some might not think there are any others to begin with).

Also, most boys grow up learning about jewelery shopping from the women in their lives, most likely their mother. Since many people of the earlier generation are wary of internet commerce (or simply computer illiterate), I think most young men of my generation, even though they use the internet for almost everything else, have had life experiences that suggest that you get diamonds from a B&M.

Lastly, the average person probably does not realize the extent to which you can determine the quality of a stone without actually seeing it in person. I think when young people are making one of the most expensive purchases of their lives they get a lot of mental satisfaction by seeing it in person.

Top-notch cut-oriented internet vendors need to spread the word that they give you enough information to purchase a stone online at a lower cost, including pictures, light performance, etc. I think if more young people knew about places like GOG and WF there would be a lot more business for them from first-time e-ring diamond buyers.
 

mercoledi

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 20, 2006
Messages
2,822
I''a 20something, engaged a little over a year ago. My ring was custom made, and I know next to nothing about the stone. I found PS while trying to determine if my DH had been "taken". I''ve learned a lot here, but despite that I don''t know if I would make my next purchase online. Why not? Here''s my understanding of how this works:


Step 1. Find a stone you''d like to purchase, rate it based on it''s certs/images

>>> I''m great with that, it all makes sense.

Step 2. Purchase stone

>>> Also familiar territory. I bet I could even figure out wiring money without any trouble.

Step 3. Have stone indepently appraised/ recieved by someone else

>>> This is where you lose me. I trusted one stranger''s opinion and a bunch of data to choose the stone, now I have to pick out an appraiser? I don''t know how to begin doing that (despite reading the GOG tutorial) and the few times I contacted appraisers, the quoted cost was about 10 to 20% the cost of the piece.

Step 4. Have stone set.

>>> There are two options here, local or also long-distance. Local involves finding a jeweler or B&M you trust. Long-distance involves the hassle and expense of shipping.


I really want to believe in online custom jewelry, but the process and the number of hands involved are overwhelming. I''m looking for a small fine jewelry gift for a friend, and while things online have tempted me, it''s so much easier to walk into a store, see and touch something, pay for it and leave. I purchase almost everything I buy online, or at least research it extensively before buying. It actually takes quite a bit to get me into a store. But I just don''t think I''m ready to do it the PS way. I know several other people in my demographic who feel the same way. Sure, that stone looks good online, but where would I have it sent? Who can I trust to look at it? What do I do once I''ve got it?

If I have the process all wrong, then please correct me, but since you asked for my opinion, here it is.
 

anne_h

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
1,013
Hi mercoledi,

If I might make a suggestion... if the purchase is an expensive loose diamond, I would suggest you purchase it online and then have it sent to you (loose, not set), so that you could see it in person and have it appraised locally. This wouldn''t be much different than buying a set piece from a local store (presumably for an expensive item, you''d want it appraised anyways). Assuming the vendor has a return policy (most reputable ones do), you could always send it back if the local appraiser found an issue.

Assuming you like the stone, you then have to decide what to do about the setting. You could look for a setting and setter locally. Or, you could buy the setting separately online and have it sent to you, then find a local jeweler to set it (this is probably what I would do). Or, find the setting online and send the diamond to that vendor to do the work (but this brings up issues of insuring the diamond to send it, I have not done that yet).

As far as other diamond purchases (say, finished jewelry like earrings or a bracelet), buying online is just as simple...only buy from a merchant who allows returns. If you don''t like it when you get it, just send it back. Granted, the first time or two you do this, it''s a bit of an unknown, but once you find a vendor(s) you trust (and know makes quality stuff), it''s a LOT easier. I now have a few online vendors I know I can count on, and I go to them first when I need something.

For me, I have the added annoyance of not living in the US, but prefering US vendors. So taxes from Customs is always at the back of my mind. ;-)

Anne
 

anne_h

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
1,013
Also, as a fellow Canadian, I would like to add how much I think Birk''s service GENERALLY SUCKS. I have been to their Montreal store multiple times, and almost always receive poor service (or rather, no service). There *are* two people there (a man and a woman) who *did* give me good service, so I must say that. But on the whole, they are snobby and ignore me.

I am 29 but look somewhat younger. I have a good job and make a decent living, but perhaps I don''t wear the right clothes? lol

I will also agree that they are way overpriced. Much MUCH better deals for higher quality stones to be found online! Go PriceScope!

A.
 

kcoursolle

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 21, 2006
Messages
10,589
I''m so sorry to hear of your negative expereinces. Sadly, I am not surprised.

I am in my mid-twenties and people have told me I look a few years younger than my age. I have also been treated poorly at chain stores. One time a man told me, "why don''t you wait until he [boyfriend] is with you to look at rings?" Another said, "Why would you want a loupe, our diamonds are perfect?" Many times, I have browsed and no one has come to help me and I was just ignored, but they were nice to every older person or man that walked into the door. Other people have just treated me like I was stupid or like I was too young to be shopping for expensive jewelry. That''s really just not a great way to get my business LOL.

I have never been treated poorly by an online vendor, and I have had contact or done business with JA, WF, pearlman''s, and knoxjewelers. For these reasons, their incredible prices, and quality, I will never shop at chain stores again.
 

surfgirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 5, 2007
Messages
4,438
I''m mid 40''s and this is my first ering buying experience but since I have loved diamonds and pearls for many years, I''ve tried to learn as much as I can about them. I found that when going into B&M shops, I learned to "talk the talk" - I found that using phrases like how a stone "faces up" and the "spread" across the hand, etc. seem to make sellers think I''m a dealer in disguise, which I found amusing! Also, I always bring my own 10x loupe and I found it to be very disarming to the sellers - in a good way for me ;-) They always wanted to know if I had ever been in the business. Nope. Just an educated consumer. I went into one place that appeared to have some vintage antique rings and alot of repros. I asked the guy which were vintage antique and he started telling me about how the bracelets were vintage. I told him I wasn''t looking at bracelets and he got pissy with me so I just walked out. It''s just too big a purchase to waste my time talking to someone who isn''t listening to me. But all in all, I''ve found people in B&M to be quite helpful. I went into Ben Bridge just to talk to the manager (we bought 2 watches from them) and the guy knows my expectations and we looked over his inventory sheet, everything was very expensive, and he said, "look, I can put you in a 2ct. ring, no sides, for $12k, but it''s not a good quality stone and I dont think you''ll like it at all." And he was correct. I also went into Tiffany''s several times and the woman who has assisted me is very professional and very honest about different styles, etc. In fact, we went there last weekend, pretty sure we were going to go with a ring from another shop, but we wanted to look at what similar quality rings priced out there for, and we looked at wedding bands. She said to me at one point, dont buy the wedding band for you until you get your ering because you want to try on bands with your ering on so you can see how the fit looks and feels. Even if you dont get the ering here, wait until after you get the ering. I was impressed with the wealth of advice she gave us, not only that. All in all my B&M experiences have been pretty positive.

OTOH, I''m scared to death to make such a huge purchase online! I admire all of you here that have. To me that takes alot of trust and guts. For me, I have to see the ring/stone in person and I hate wasting someone''s time having them send me stones that I have to send back. If I had to go that route, I''m sure I''d be sending back stones for a year until I found the one that spoke to me. To me, I need to shop in person, seeing all my options up front, before I can make such a big decision. But that''s just me.
 

SBee

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
71
I'm also Canadian and can also report the same nonsense that occurs at high-end places like Birks...

Last time I was there, I was just looking to see what different sizes of Round Brilliants looked like on my finger, and they were all in the G-J color range (nothing wrong with that!). However, I was looking to see a higher color grade (that's just my preference) and the sales lady smirked and basically said "good luck" and that they are "so rare I would be lucky to find one." She then pulled out the 4 C's chart and was about to go through the typical spiel. I said "Thank you, but I'm quite familiar with the 4 c's, and D color stones may be rare but they are not difficult to find, as I have found many!"

She was like "oh really? where?"....

I gave her but ONE example of a store in Washington State where I spent a great deal of time looking at diamonds under microscopes etc...and she said "What's the store called?" I said "EE Robins" (which from what I understand is reputable and they advertise like crazy, etc. although of course the prices are super high like any B&M store) and she replied very mockingly "I've never heard of it." I just left...

I must say though, I've found it very frustrating justifying to family and friends why we haven't purchased our stone and setting from a local store. My future-hubby's dad thinks that Birks is the end-all be-all of jewellery stores and thinks we've spent way too much by shopping online. A colleague also recently purchased an e-ring from Birks...they think it's top quality but I have my doubts. It is a .30 (yes, .30) carat stone in the most simple white gold setting, and it was over $2000 Canadian. At that price I would hope it's a D color and high clarity but like I said, I really have my doubts :/

[
 

zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
12,450
Sorry for the long post...


Before finding PS, I would never have bought a diamond, engagement ring, or any major purchase online. I''m not one who purchases much of anything online. When I feel like shopping, I like the experience of entering a store, taking in all there is to see, interacting with others, and learning from them face to face. I used to think, "oh you can''t trust the internet for an incredibly personal (and expensive) purchase."

Then I found my way to this site, by acident, I think, and I began reading everyone''s posts. I got to learn the lingo, which I''m still learning all the time. I began to pay attention to which vendors were constantly recommended, and it was great (and comforting) to see their presence here on PS. I began to have a whole new respect (and trust) for this "new" way of doing things.

We shopped in several stores to look at diamonds and settings to get an idea of what we liked. I had learned so much by that point and I noticed that not everything was as great as it looked. Diamonds were graded by labs other than GIA or AGS, colors were lower than I had wanted, etc. I felt really comforted knowing that I could come here to PS, ask a lot of questions, do a lot of research, and I would get fast answers. I never got the impression that I was taking up people''s time, as I began to feel after several trips to local shops. That was when I decided to go through one of the vendors here, after having the chance to see IS images, etc.

When I found the engagement ring I wanted, it was actually from a jeweler in MN. I got a quote from this B&M and although I absolutely love their work, the price was a little higher than we wanted. Also, I did get a tad nervous about sending my loose diamond to them. Since we had gotten my diamond from an online vendor, I felt most comfortable sending the stone back to them. Honestly, I felt really nervous though when I did, thinking that since one place had made the exact ring I was looking for, would the vendor we ultimately chose be able to match the style?

Although we haven''t gotten our ring yet, I am very excited. This doesn''t mean that I will never buy from a B&M -- I think it depends on what you''re looking for and what your budget is, etc.

No matter where you buy something so important, I think it''s essential to trust the person and company you''re working with. If you can get the best deal at a jewelry shop and the work is great quality, why not buy from them? Supporting local businesses is always great, in my opinion. On the other hand, if you find what you want and it''s a better deal if you purchase from an online vendor, that''s fine too. I don''t think there are hard and fast rules here.

Phew, I''m feelin'' chatty today.


By the way, my boyfriend and I are 35 and 33, respectively.
 

btrflygrl23

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 30, 2007
Messages
803
ma1lyc I hear you I am Canadian and am well aquainted with Birks and yes most Canadians call them the Tiffanys of Canada but they are NOT. I have not been a regular customer to them like you but I have dealt with them and can say that at least at the location I went to they were EXTREMELY high pressure when they thought I would buy, VERY snooty when I first came in b/c I was dressed down (full-time grad student) and b/c I am young and bf works as a millwright so he was after work and looked a bit grubby but no reason to treat people bad I think you never know what people have in their bank accounts and I never assume based on appearance and dress.

I was not impressed by them and do they ever hover over you like you may hold up the store at any moment or something! I did buy a necklace and a bracelet and when I tried to return them they were VERY UNHAPPY and showed it during the refund process and I wasn''t engaged yet so they treated me like I came out from under a rock.
And forget about buying an e-ring from them if you have a modest budget b/c their e-rings are WAAAY overpriced for not super great quality, no info about cut no AGS or even often GIA documents just gemscan which I''m not familiar with at all.
I just got engaged and got a much bigger better cut stone from WF and it was semi-custom for such a great price I was amazed and I was very pleased with the service and bf now fh was over the moon that we saved and I can be proud to wear it.

Yeah I would stay away reputable name I guess they have bee around forever but service gets a 0 and prices are really steep for regular folks like me.

Good that you posted this and glad to hear you are getting your ring based on PS info about vendors I LOOOOVE PS they saved me from wearing a big spit ball as a ring
 

SBee

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
71
Date: 4/19/2007 6:47:18 PM
Author: btrflygrl23
...when I first came in b/c I was dressed down (full-time grad student) and b/c I am young and bf works as a millwright so he was after work and looked a bit grubby but no reason to treat people bad I think you never know what people have in their bank accounts and I never assume based on appearance and dress...

I agree completely! We purposely dress down (and my bf is ALWAYS grubby lol) when we go shopping for big ticket items. If they are going to treat us poorly for any reason, I would rather get that sorted out in the first instance!

My bf''s dad does the same thing...and always buys from the people who treated him with respect from moment #1....(the salespeople usually end up completely shocked when he buys something big and hands over a stack of bills...even though they treated him well despite appearances, I''m sure they never expect it!)
 
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