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A visit to Jewelers Row, Chicago.

blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
I wanted to share my recent experience visiting Jewelers Row. I've seen a lot of info about the Diamond District in NYC, but not much on Chicago, so I hopefully this will be of interest to some. I loved Chicago more than I thought I would, to be honest, and hope to make a return visit soon!

We stayed at The Ritz, which was a great location for shopping along the Magnificent Mile (though I didn't do any... was saving my pennies for Jewelers Row!). Lots of shops and restaurants in this area of town. We also spent a couple nights across the river at the Residence Inn, a new office-to-hotel conversion that is a very short walk to Jewelers Row. If you are staying in Chicago for jewelry shopping, consider staying at the Residence Inn. :) Jewelers Row runs all along Wabash Ave. It's very easy to find, with the subway line running right along it. My first impressions were that it is very clean, organized, and a good deal less hectic than NYC's Diamond District!





I had planned to meet with Ilya at Diamond Zone, but it seemed he was busy, so I wasn't able to secure an appointment time with him. Instead, I managed to visit a few other places over a couple of days:

1. Mon Ami Jewelry - The salesperson was sweet and helpful, but it was clear that they did not really cater to gemstone and jewelry enthusiasts. This place seemed more geared toward helping first time engagement ring shoppers. They carried Verragio and a couple other big names displayed prominently, with prices to match. They were nice enough and do get good reviews, and I think it would be a fine place to start the engagement ring search. These are terrible pics of my pink Burmese spinel sitting on a baguette setting, but perhaps you can get a look at the settings and prices behind it:

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blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
2. The Classic Gem

I had a very fun visit with The Classic Gem. The two lovely ladies at the booth were happy to dig through the cases for me to pop several gemstones into. They did not carry much yellow or rose gold, but did have a variety of white gold settings to choose from. Some of the settings were too lightweight/delicate for my comfort, but I loved several settings I found here. Here, I was playing with my 7.25mm round spess and an 8 x 6mm Burmese spinel. The setting for the spinel was my favorite - I think these were G/SI or G/VS diamonds, about .33ctw. The price was decent and she said she would get back to me via email with their best price. They have not contacted me yet, and when I went back the next day they were unexpectedly closed! I plan to reach out to them again, because looking at these pics of my spinel again are killing me! Even my husband approved of this setting/stone combo. :) I would definitely visit Classic Gem again, but would stick to their weightier settings.

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blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
3. Windy City Diamonds

I had a wonderful time at Windy City Diamonds. I worked with Pat and she was fabulous! My husband commented that she was obviously a salesperson, but I didn't mind -- I think she had a lot of good suggestions and she took her time walking me through aspects of various settings. Ultimately, I didn't go with Windy City because 1) For the price, I could get diamond settings elsewhere rather than plain gold, and 2) Pat couldn't give me an estimate or range for setting fees beyond "it depends." She also said any changes would have to be made in CAD, which came with a $300+ fee. I think If I had more time in Chicago, I would work with her to pin down setting fees to try to make a more informed decision, but I didn't have time on this quick trip.

Pat suggested I look at my pink spinel in rose gold, which looked rather nice!



I also loved this rg setting that had diamonds along both sides rather than on top:


And this "Yurman-style" setting, which looked great with my elongated tourm and round amethyst. I actually loved this setting and it was so reasonably priced that I would have snapped it up for my amethyst had they been able to easily put my calibrated round in there.

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blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
4. RL Jewelers

This booth was actually in the same complex as The Classic Gem, and I had almost completely written them off because they didn't seem very enthused to help. I thought they basically ignored me when I entered the building. Anyway, I gave them a second look the next day, and I had a lot of fun letting George run me through various settings. He immediately saw that I had on a pink halo ring, and said I should probably consider a non-halo setting for my current stones. He's right than I should have some variety.... but I like what I like! :cheeky:

George was strict about no photos, but relented once I'd committed to the purchase. They carried quite a few different styles in white gold and platinum, and had some yellow and rose gold as well.



So yes, I ended up getting another halo, this one for my amethyst. Sorry the stone is so smudged! It's currently sitting way up high on a small peg head, which will be switched out to let the stone sit further in the halo. This one is .52ctw in 18k wg. I made a big deal about getting the stone perfectly centered, having the prongs be even, etc. so that RL would know that I will be picky! George poked a lot of fun and asked "Are you an engineer?" and told my husband "Oh, G-d bless you..," but in the end, I hope the picking and prodding worked in my favor. He admitted he has a more skilled setter they use for colored gemstones, so I opted to have him set the stone later in the week rather than taking my completed ring home the same day. I don't think I'm a very picky person in reality, but I like to be picky during the sales process, so that sales people know I won't be a pushover. 8) I should have the ring in a few days! We'll see if the strategy worked this time.

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blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
So that's it for my trip! Thanks for letting me share.

I'm still pretty new to the nitty gritty shopping and my husband insists that it's always kind of "sketchy." :rolleyes: I will be honest and say I still have no idea how pricing works. Some of the settings I looked at had prices marked at $1600 or more, and the salespeople were telling me $700-900. I understand the strategy of trying to make people think they are getting a deal, but at 50% off, I'd just assume the prices were marked up to begin with! My husband is also hopeless at haggling, so I'm on my own here. But I think I did ok.
 

Arcadian

Ideal_Rock
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Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,025
Excellent writeup! :appl: I'm with hubby on the spinel / halo combo... thats delish! :love: :love:
 

Sungura

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Joined
Mar 27, 2015
Messages
581
blingbunny thanks for the write up. And yes that picture with the spess and spinel is killing me too.
 

arkieb1

Ideal_Rock
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May 11, 2012
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9,511
Thanks for the pics, the spinel in the diamond halo = sheer perfection!!!!
 

Acinom

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Joined
May 15, 2013
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10,033
Thank you for this blog! I love your Ammy and the design you picked for it. And indeed.. your spinel in the halo setting looks stunning.
 

chrono

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Apr 22, 2004
Messages
37,359
A boatload of fun! Appreciate the write up and yes, the spinel looks great in the halo setting. :appl:
 

blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
Arcadian - Thanks! I've enjoyed reading others' write ups, so thought I would give it a go. ::)

Sungura - You're welcome! It was fun to go over everything in my head and review the jeweler interactions I had. It was a whirlwind visit.

arkieb1 - I know, argh, I just emailed TCG to get a price quote. :bigsmile:

Acinom - Thanks! I hope the amethyst looks good once set. I was worried it might be a smidge too big for the setting.

Chrono - It was LOTS of fun! Wish I had some non-crappy photos to share, but my phone couldn't handle the jewelry store lighting. I don't know how everyone else gets such great, clear photos.
 

blingbunny10

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
My new ring from RL is here! They kindly sent a pic before mailing out overnight. I can't find my darn loupe, but with the naked eye I am definitely happy with it for the price! I'm having a lot of fun looking at the stone in different lighting. Can't believe how pink it gets in a sunny room!

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lilmosun

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 30, 2014
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1,574
Sounds like a fun trip..your ring came out beautiful :love: ...did you post details on the killer amethyst? I may have missed since I only read random posts so would love to know more!!
 

Sungura

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 27, 2015
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581
blingbunny I agree with lilmosun that amethyst is really special. Please tell us more or point us to a thread. Honestly all the gems you brought to Chicago are really impressive the spess, spinel, tourmaline and amethyst. I love bright and saturated gems!!
 

blingbunny10

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Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
848
Sungura|1455946818|3993200 said:
blingbunny I agree with lilmosun that amethyst is really special. Please tell us more or point us to a thread. Honestly all the gems you brought to Chicago are really impressive the spess, spinel, tourmaline and amethyst. I love bright and saturated gems!!
Thanks, lilmosun and Sungura. That's nice of you to say, given both of your gorgeous collections! :bigsmile:

The amethyst is 9mm / 2cts and from Jeff Davies, quite inexpensive. ;)) Honestly, it never struck me as anything special in the gem box, so I figured I just wasn't a quartz fan, but it really came to life when mounted. It glows and shifts now-- sometimes more blueish, sometimes more pink-fuschia, and a darker grapey purple in very dim light -- one of my favorite rings at the moment.

I did save Jeff's pic:

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kgizo

Brilliant_Rock
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Dec 14, 2009
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1,588
Great write up and pics. Enjoy your ammy ring. It is beautiful.
 

freezing_in_MO

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
210
Your ring is really beautiful! Perfectly classic and elegant, but with a pop of gorgeous color!
 

chrono

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Apr 22, 2004
Messages
37,359
The ammy ring is gorgeous (as is the amethyst itself too). :appl:
 

derbygal

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Oct 15, 2010
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2,035
I loved the sparkle in that spinel. Love how your ammy turned out and thanks for the review. :love:
 

nojs

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Nov 22, 2014
Messages
166
Thank you for writing this, I really enjoyed it :) Your amethyst looks fantastic!
 
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