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Brilliant Earth joins the shady GIA-hiding practices of James Allen

pangolin

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 25, 2019
Messages
1
Now Brilliant Earth is photoshopping away every GIA Cert's identifying information and even QR codes! Check any stone on their site:
ScreenCapture.png

James Allen's extreme moves are not surprising, considering it is a sinking ship. Signet just wrote off $260 million out of $300 million dollars of the purchase price, essentially admitting it was worthless, and public data shows sales are shrinking fast. Lie with dogs, get up with flees they say.

Wonder what the GIA thinks of all this. This can't be good for consumer trust.
 

rocks

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 13, 2003
Messages
604
I can understand why they are doing this. Wasn't JA the first online vendor to provide video? I can recall people shopping JA and then requesting the same stone from a drop shipper to save money. A lot went into developing the software, and providing online customers with a lot more information. Clearly they felt that they had to do something to level the playing field.
 

kmoro

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
1,076
Wait a second ... why would they hide the certificate numbers? What?

I just asked them if they they own all of their diamonds, and if not, do they price match. They replied “We do own all of our diamonds and do not price match.”

In other words, they are wasting time and money concealing information that makes absolutely no difference.

I was going to make a comment about how they are doing this to negate price match efforts ... other than that, I can’t think of a reason. Can anyone else?

upload_2019-4-25_13-21-49.gif
 

the_mother_thing

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Mar 2, 2013
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5,816
Another business that doesn’t seem to want my money.

If they own their inventory and don’t price match, why go through the effort? My guess is they really don’t own their inventory.
 

the_mother_thing

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 2, 2013
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5,816
I can’t help but wonder if GIA doesn’t have some kind of rule/requirement that their reports cannot be edited in any way. As noted earlier, this does not help consumer confidence in the seller; and if they’d alter the report to withhold information from consumers, what else might they alter on the report? Maybe edit out a few inclusions from the plot to help a diamond look better than it really is?
 

natasha-cupcake

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
946
The online vendors were all happy that their lower overhead business model allowed them to cut the B&M's off at the knees. Now they're crying the blues, because some internet sellers have a lower overhead business model than they do. Oh, the humanity!

I'll stick with the super ideal vendors. At least they have a better product and better trade in policies as differentiating factors.
 

kmoro

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
1,076
So @kmoro they lied to you.

Shady is as shady does. :nono:
They sure did! That was a copy and paste from the chat! I wish I took a screen shot.

It makes sense. People never go through an effort without a reason. If they are blocking the certificate number, they must have a reason. Now we know that it’s to hide the fact that they do not really own their inventory and try to prevent people from finding the same diamond for less.

WTH. upload_2019-4-25_16-31-37.gif
 

Lookinagain

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
993
was it Brilliant Earth that told you that they own all their diamonds, or JA?
 

denverappraiser

Ideal_Rock
Trade
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Jul 21, 2004
Messages
8,708
The reason to obscure GIA numbers or to eliminate the report entirely is to make it more difficult to shop. They don’t want customers to use that number to buy the exact same stone from someone else for less. At the same time, they don’t want to actually own the stone(s), which totally solves that problem, because that costs money. They just want to make the shopping difficult while leaving the burden of inventory on their suppliers. They don’t buy it until you do, which is how they can offer SO many stones. Yes, it's for their benefit more than yours, but it's not an evil plot.

The lack of ASET images and videos from most vendors is related. Taking these pictures is a pain, and GIA doesn’t do it. It requires that at least the photographer have access to the stone. In the virtual world, this is difficult and it’s JA’s strength. For the most part, the sellers of the stones in the giant databases have never seen them. They may or may not bring it in and have a look before they ship it out to you, but not before they advertise online. This is true of both JA and BN for example other than, maybe, some of their branded lines.

JA has put together a program with its suppliers to have JA equipment in place at the vendors and manufacturers to take the pictures. There’s not a central vault somewhere that’s set up to do this. Obviously, they do quite a bit of this and it’s not cheap. THEY own the images, not the vendor, and they don’t want their images being used as silent sales tools for their competitors.
 

lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
May 23, 2016
Messages
721
I don’t see anything wrong with obscuring the cert number as long as the details are still visible. They’re just trying to protect their business. With a little leg work, someone who wants to find a stone elsewhere to price check could do so.

Breakfast cereal manufacturers have dressed up generic cereals from a central wholesaler in their own branded boxes and charged different prices than competitors (selling exactly the same product) for decades. I don’t see this as any different, as long as all the other details on the cert are easily viewable online.

BE are keeping pricing transparency, just making it hard work, which is entirely their prerogative. JA, on the other hand, are playing well outside of the rules of fair customer service. In my book at least.
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 14, 2009
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20,041
I don’t see anything wrong with obscuring the cert number as long as the details are still visible. They’re just trying to protect their business. With a little leg work, someone who wants to find a stone elsewhere to price check could do so.

Breakfast cereal manufacturers have dressed up generic cereals from a central wholesaler in their own branded boxes and charged different prices than competitors (selling exactly the same product) for decades. I don’t see this as any different, as long as all the other details on the cert are easily viewable online.

BE are keeping pricing transparency, just making it hard work, which is entirely their prerogative. JA, on the other hand, are playing well outside of the rules of fair customer service. In my book at least.
This.

JA moved to erase report numbers some months ago. I was fully supportive, as were many others. We’ve certainly seen posts on PS wherein people point newcomers to “the same stone as on JA/BN for less” - the vendor with a lower price doesn’t provide photos, video, etc. If other vendors want to do this I’m not going to hold it against them.

Obscuring report numbers but leaving available all information relevant to making an educated decision about the stone itself is IMO very different from what JA is doing now.
 

Texas Leaguer

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 27, 2009
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3,077
The challenges of running a virtual business are many, and the benefit for consumers revolves primarily around price. The fact that dozens of merchants can offer the same stone has benefited consumers from a price perspective by shrinking margins to the minimum. But the downsides for the consumer revolve around assurance. Assurance that they will even be able to get the stone they are paying for, certainty about the condition or quality of the diamond, availability of inspections or diagnostics that affirm the representations being made by a merchant that has themselves never seen the diamond.

The best virtual sellers are transparent about their business model and the nature and location of the diamonds they sell, and they perform proper evaluations and QC before delivering to the customer. The best virtual sellers also add value with things like light performance imaging and trade up policies. Unfortunately, that places them at a price disadvantage to others who do not provide the same level of protections and assurances (they do cost money!). And because they don’t own the diamonds, they are subject to ‘showrooming’ and losing customers to the lowest price seller.

It is not surprising then to see some sellers trying to protect their economic interest by withholding identifying information about the diamonds. Like @denverappraiser says, this is not evil, it is self-preservation in a hyper-competitive business environment. However, it is unfortunate that they feel they have to resort to concealment of information that consumers have come to expect from diamond merchants. Perhaps instead they should put more emphasis on helping consumers see the value in paying for their added services and benefits. It’s a tough situation and one of the inherent flaws of the virtual inventory business model. It’s a little like a diamond with a cutting flaw that allows too much light to leak out of its pavilion. ;-)

As online diamond selling has matured with more virtual sellers competing with one another, things are changing. More consumers have felt the sting of disappointments in unavailable stones, delivery delays, QC issues, and poor communication from merchants who either do not have the information to report or misrepresent the actual nature and status of the transaction. Many virtual sites lead consumers to believe that they own, possess , or at least have at some point evaluated the diamond. Those of us on pricescope are well acquainted with the virtual business, but first time consumers are often very surprised to discover it. And not in a good way.

Because buying an engagement ring is such a special purchase, most of those buyers do in fact value the various protections and assurances that come from dealing with merchants who have invested in and thoroughly vetted the diamonds they offer, are the exclusive source for those diamonds, and have them ready for immediate sale or consultation. Diamonds that are offered prior to the merchant ever seeing them involve a high level of uncertainty for both the merchant and the consumer, in many ways large and small. From being able to verify the information in the listing, validating any light performance images, videos, or other diagnostics that are part of the listing, to ethical QC before shipping, much is left to faith.

As with any other important purchase, due diligence is the key. Check out both the complete value proposition of the company offering the diamond to determine if the price is right, considering they may not be the company listing the diamond at the cheapest price. And most importantly, check out the seller’s reputation and track record by accessing online reviews.
 
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kmoro

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
1,076
Yes, that was a copy and paste from a live chat with Emily Huth of Brilliant Earth.

I don’t mind that they are hiding the certificate numbers, and I believe they have the right to try to protect their business. I don’t like the fact they told me “we do own all of our diamonds ...” instead of just saying that they are trying to prevent people from buying the same stone somewhere else ... although, having just typed that, I suppose it doesn’t sound very good; at least it would be honest.

I won’t consider doing business with them now.
 

Karl_K

Ideal_Rock
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Aug 4, 2008
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8,697
I very strongly disagree that altering a grading report is not evil.
Would you buy a house with information crossed out on a building inspection report?
Would you buy used car with the vin number hidden on the carfax report?
 

lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
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May 23, 2016
Messages
721
I very strongly disagree that altering a grading report is not evil.
Would you buy a house with information crossed out on a building inspection report?
Would you buy used car with the vin number hidden on the carfax report?
But used cars are a completely different commodity. Unless the market is very different here in the UK, a used car is owned and sold by only one business. I can compare two different cars of the same model but they will have different service histories, dents, mileage, accident records etc. If the car I want is only sold in one place, there’s no disincentive for the owner to invest time and money informing me about the car as I can only buy it from them.

The only information missing from the BE report is the identifying report number, if I’m seeing correctly, which is purely an administrative detail. So buyers have all other information freely and easily available to make an informed purchase.

This approach seems to me to be a very pragmatic compromise. Purchasers have full information disclosure about a stone and would be able to compare its price at other vendors if they were willing to invest time and effort. Without this step, if price-matching across vendors is facilitated without customers expending any effort, there is nothing to induce companies to add value: why spend time and money making videos, taking ASETs etc if customers ultimately then buy the same stone elsewhere, for less, because that seller has made no investment in selling it hence can sell more cheaply?

If price comparisons are too elementary and people can very easily purchase an identical stone from the cheapest vendor, the logical conclusion is a market dominated by vendors who add no value, because they’re the ones making the sales and staying in business. It doesn’t auger well for the future of the market, and specifically for information provision and R&D, if that type of vendor comes to dominate.

Human nature is ultimately at fault here - we want all the information but don’t want to have to pay for it. Unfortunately, this move is the result of that.

The price premium for branded cuts etc is accepted both because the product is specialised and supply restricted to a specific vendor, so it’s worth their while investing in their stones. The problem is in the generic stone market, and I do feel this is one of the better options to incentivise companies to drive forward information provision. Either that or we accept that there will ultimately be a real rift in the diamond buying experience between the likes of WF/BG/AV etc and a free-for-all, ‘pile them high, sell them cheap’ approach for generic stones.

On a personal level, the issues make antique stones even more appealing as they’re traded in such a different way!
 
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Karl_K

Ideal_Rock
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8,697
But used cars are a completely different commodity.
Ah true, but it is not about the item it is about the value and documentation affecting the value.
A clean carfax report can add a very large percentage to cars value.
In the same way a gia report adds a large percentage to the value of a diamond.

Diamonds are traded in a large part on paper these days and there is a huge drop in value with no papers.
A dealer would not call in a stone from a list from an unknown supplier without looking at a report and possibly checking it against the gia report check so why should a consumer?

Without the gia number you can not use report check to verify that the certificate is real.
I wonder how GIA feels about images of their reports being doctored and being called GIA reports.

Edit: I just sent GIA an inquiry asking them what their policy is about hiding the report numbers on report images online.
 
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lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
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May 23, 2016
Messages
721
Without the gia number you can not use report check to verify that the certificate is real.
I wonder how GIA feels about images of their reports being doctored and being called GIA reports.

Edit: I just sent GIA an inquiry asking them what their policy is about hiding the report numbers on report images online.
I completely see your point on proving authenticity of GIA docs, but I think that’s a different discussion. When we’re talking about companies like BE I think we have to assume that they’re not making this change in order to commit large scale fraud. But I do see your point that, if removing cert numbers became common place, other less reputable companies could capitalise on an easy cheat. It would be a very obvious fraud to detect once the stone and paper cert we’re in the buyer’s hands though, so I guess wouldn’t be an easy large scale one to perpetuate.

Good call on contacting GIA - I’m really interested to hear their view. My take is that the GIA number is essentially just their internal reference number, no different to an invoice number say. I think I’m right that they don’t insist on inscribing every stone they certify with the GIA number? If they’re worried about the number being blanked out on websites, then inscribing all stones would seem to be something they should also insist on? Legally, I assume their duty of care is solely to the person paying for the report, so I’m unsure whether they could have a policy on removing the reference number on vendor websites?

My view as a consumer is that publishing without a reference number is ok - it’s not information that affects what I’m buying or what I should pay (assuming I have confidence that the report is genuine, as above). Changing details on the cert is obviously far from ok, as is removing details that would affect my understanding of the stone and it’s characteristics, as that is quite clearly stepping into fraudulent product description.
 

Wink

Ideal_Rock
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7,372
Perhaps instead they should put more emphasis on helping consumers see the value in paying for their added services and benefits. It’s a tough situation and one of the inherent flaws of the virtual inventory business model. It’s a little like a diamond with a cutting flaw that allows too much light to leak out of its pavilion. ;-)
Brilliantly said.

As with any other important purchase, due diligence is the key. Check out both the complete value proposition of the company offering the diamond to determine if the price is right, considering they may not be the company listing the diamond at the cheapest price. And most importantly, check out the seller’s reputation and track record by accessing online reviews.
Perfect.

Wink
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

Super_Ideal_Rock
Trade
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Aug 15, 2000
Messages
14,758
I would like to throw in another curved ball to this discussion.

AFFILIATES

I have no love for 80% of them.
They have the effect of raising consumer prices by as much as 5%.
They direct business to whom ever pays them the most.
And they use the certs to shop around.
 
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