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Cushion Search - Diamond Prices Out of Control!!!

SouthPhiladelphia

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
8
Hey all. Long time lurker! I started looking for a Cushion Cut diamond for an engagement ring back in February. I've narrowed the specs down and from all the reading and threads on different types of cushions know that I definitely want a chunky faceted cushion in the 2.70-3.4 ct range. To save on costs I'm willing to go down to a G, H, or I (at the worst) in color and am not too picky on clarity as long as it is 100% eye clean (so prob no SIs because I've been told I can see imperfections very easily). I know I want to keep the l/w ratio more square (i.e. 1.07 or less).

My tirelessly saved budget for the whole package was $30k with a simple solitaire setting. I wanted to get a stone that would really wow the special lady as she has hinted in the past about wanting a large cushion stone.

When I started looking back in February I found a few good 3ct stones through Whiteflash but nothing that said this is the one! So I delayed, and kept running searches on PS, browsing GOGs listings (the AVC's are amazing but seem to be priced much higher than my range), etc. Nothing popped.

Now, I've gotten back in touch with Whiteflash and the same stones that I wasn't thrilled about are priced at $5-6k higher!!! In 6 months!

For the most part, whereas there were some pretty good chunky or old mine style stones at $30k and under in Feb. Now there are only modified brilliants or I have to go down to 2.7 (which I don't want to do; I know, the horror of a 2.7 ct stone)! The interesting thing is three 3ct cushion brilliants WF showed me in February (that I definitely wasn't excited about) are still listed at the same price??? Wonder why their prices didn't go up?

What to do, what to do? Can anyone help me find a good 3ct cushion with my specs for $30k? I hate to say this, but at that price range I never imagined that stones would have any sort of turnover... I mean who spends $30k on a stone?!?!

And, what is going on with diamond prices??? At this time last year, a colleague of mine bought a 3ct H/VS1 cushion from a PS vendor for $26k. At this rate, with the economy, I said this bubble can only burst... so it might have been to my advantage to not buy back in Feb at what I thought was the peak. But now it looks like I can't delay any further because prices are only going to go up MORE?
 

Eskiez

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jun 21, 2010
Messages
126
Also try giving Perry Chen at Leon Mege a call. He found a few really nice stones for me to look at within my size range and budget back in July.
 

SB621

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
7,863
Instead of running searches on their websites I would contact GOG and ERD directly to see what they have or can find for you. And yes prices have gone up dramatically in the last 6 months/ 1 year. :nono:
 

Joolz

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 24, 2011
Messages
96
SouthPhilly: I feel your pain as I went through an almost identical situation. I started looking last year, with a set budget of $30k for the stone and though it would allow me to find a 3 carat cushion with my desired specs. But as you have seen, prices have skyrocketed. I would second (or third) what has been mentioned already. Contact GOG, ERD and Leon and let them know what you're looking for, I found all of them very helpful. You may need to make a decision on whether you are willing to up your budget or drop your specs.

We increased our budget to $35k and I still had a hard time finding an eye clean H or above 3 carat cushion so I ultimately bought a stone ~2.5 carat with a large spread from Good Old Gold with a lifetime upgrade policy that hedges me so that if stone prices go down I can upgrade but I am going the custom route hopefully with Victor Canera and will not be changing the stone or setting.

Good luck!!
 

SouthPhiladelphia

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
8
Wow. Prices do seem to be out of control, which is strange in this economy. I wonder how much of it is artificial and is just steadily being inflated to see at what point consumers will give. And how much is real supply and demand involving the Asian markets, etc. I know there is a method to price fluctuations and a lot of it is passed down from the De Beers to the cutters, etc.

I definitely have a set budget; $30k absolute max. And it seems that truly good cushions in the size and spec range I am looking for are now priced out of that range; whereas 6 mos ago, I could almost have my pick for $30k. In an effort to compromise, I've even lowered my standards to an H or I color. I spoke to Whiteflash again and another vendor. They both have some options, although all seem paltry compared to what I was being shown in the same price range 6 months ago. Both are telling me I need to buy NOW (i.e. put a deposit down right away) because the prices they're offering will likely not be the same in a few weeks and definitely not by the holidays.

I don't know how much of this is a hard sell or how much of it is a hard sell based on what could actually happen. I thought that market prices actually decreased/bottomed out a little this month? Thoughts? If you were buying now, would you pull the trigger on this size diamond? Or, wait until something perfect comes along and risk further prices increases?

Anecdotally, a friend of mine bought a 2 ct cushion from a major online vendor a little over a year ago for an engagement ring. He paid about $15k. About two months ago, his engagement was broken off and he tried to resell the diamond. The vendor offered him $10k as part of their buy-back policy (70% of price paid) even though prices for the same stone had risen drastically and were around $20k. He shopped it around to a few resellers and this seemed to be the going rate unless he wanted to cosign the stone and pay between 15-20% with no guaranteed sale. He then tried listing it on eBay and craigslist with no success; appears that people are reluctant to buy from individual sellers. Eventually he caved and sold it as part of the buy back obtaining $10k for a stone that was immediately relisted at $20k.

That being said, especially with online vendors who stock limited inventory and have much lower overhead than B&M stores, I don't feel that diamonds - unlike new cars - should lose 30%+ of their retail value to the consumer the second you "drive them off the lot". There has to be a better solution? I know there is a reason stones cannot be resold on PS, but is there a comparable forum for sales?

It seems like my best option to get the stone I want at the price I want, considering the current market pricing, would be to buy a stone from someone like my friend (i.e. a person who picked out a great stone, no longer wants it and doesn't want to take a bath on the price paid). However, even searching some of the resellers (Old World, Erika Grace, etc.), it looks like my search for a chunky cushion in the 3 ct size with my specs has nothing available. Any advice on where to look or how to get the stone I want for the budget I have?
 

ihy138

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 1, 2011
Messages
1,383
If you're willing to go the antique route, Adam at Old World Diamonds might be able to help you out. They have some stones that aren't on the website for whatever reason. He was able to pick me out a stone (uncerted so it was cheaper, but I had it appraised and it's exactly what he said it was) that had great light performance and the faceting is just incredible. I highly recommend this route. Just e-mail them and they'd be able to help you out. On an aside, I asked for just eye clean and didn't really care about the clarity. My appraiser had a REAAALLLY hard time finding any inclusions and said it was a vvs2 stone. They offer 30 day returns if you're not happy with the stone. Worth a shot if they have something in your price range.
 

SouthPhiladelphia

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
8
Thanks for your feedback. 2.70ct with a larger spread is definitely the smallest end of my range I would like to go to. I was hoping to go 3 ct in the 30k price range. And am willing to compromise on color (would prefer G or H but will go down to I) and clarity (down to VS2) for size, but definitely want to avoid any SIs - while I know some can be eye clean, I don't want to risk it. I am somewhat adverse to modern "Cushion Brilliants" but if I could find one that was "a looker" without the crushed ice style, I would definitely be open to it. When it comes down to it, modern or antique, a great looking stone is my main priority.
 

LuvStr8Tth

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Messages
21
I went through the exact same thing as you did. During my journey, I was told that larger and higher spec diamonds were more difficult to find since they were being sold to China and India for more money. It took me 6 months to find the perfect diamond, but what really helped was being in close contact with all the PS vendors. I think a lot of the good diamonds are sold before they are even listed on their websites. Jonathan at GOG really came through for me so I'd call him and let him know exactly what you are looking for. PS can be detrimental to ring shopping in the sense that the more you read and become educated, the pickier you get and the harder it becomes finding the ideal diamond! Good luck!
 

SouthPhiladelphia

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
8
I've been desperately trying to track down cushion diamonds from a non-merchant seller just to see if there is anything out there. But have had zero luck. Ebay and CL seem to be a minefield of resellers and diamonds with less than "ideal" optics - esp in the 2.5+ ct rage.
And the typical consignment/vintage outlets (Erika Grace, Old World, etc.) don't seem to be turning up anything.

When a PSer needs to sell his/her stone - where does he/she go? Or, don't they? I'm guessing in this size range, there is not much use for most vendor's upgrade policies? And my main concern is the 70% or less buy back of price paid. On a $30k stone, that works out to a $9k loss as soon as the 7-10 day return window is up; assuming most sellers on the stones that seem to be favored on PS won't be able to resell for anywhere close to what was paid even with the projected continued climb in diamond prices. While it seems known that diamonds are not a good investment - there must be some way to bridge the expansive gap between retail and resale? Or, should I just take my lumps for the drastic losses I've already incurred for not pulling the trigger 6+ months ago and buy before it escalates even further?
 

rubybeth

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Messages
2,567
SouthPhiladelphia|1317765291|3033267 said:
While it seems known that diamonds are not a good investment - there must be some way to bridge the expansive gap between retail and resale? Or, should I just take my lumps for the drastic losses I've already incurred for not pulling the trigger 6+ months ago and buy before it escalates even further?
I, too, think that this is a bubble that must burst at some point. However, when that will be, nobody knows. I have my predictions. :naughty: Diamonds are not a good investment, so why try to make them so? I am not sure that you'll actually be able to find a 2.7 chunky cushion, H or higher color, VS2 or higher clarity with the budget. Something has to give. Is your future wife color sensitive? How eagle-eyed is she for inclusions? Ultimately, she's wearing the thing.

If I had $30K to spend on a stone, I'd probably go with Good Old Gold and get a stone with the Lifetime Guarantee for trade-in. Your future wife may not ever want to upgrade, but at least it would be an option. And, with a solitaire setting, at least you're not sinking thousands into that, and a head can be modified later for a larger stone, if desired.
 

madgenius

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jul 5, 2011
Messages
16
I know you don't want to drop down to an SI1 but maybe letting your vendors know that you would consider one if it were EXCEPTIONALLY eye-clean will open up your options a bit. Use their expertise. Tell them what you want the stone to look like and worry about what category it fits in later.
 

SB621

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
7,863
madgenius|1317772271|3033369 said:
I know you don't want to drop down to an SI1 but maybe letting your vendors know that you would consider one if it were EXCEPTIONALLY eye-clean will open up your options a bit. Use their expertise. Tell them what you want the stone to look like and worry about what category it fits in later.
I would follow this advise. Have you contact any of the PS vendors yet? It seems you have only checked out ebay, craig's list etc.
 

mogster

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 7, 2011
Messages
364
If I were in your situation, I'd buy now (as opposed to waiting) and from a vendor with an amazing upgrade policy so that if/when the bubble bursts, I could trade it in for a bigger diamond. If you keep waiting, prices may go down, but they may also go up and you would end up with an even smaller, lower color/clarity diamond. If you purchase now, you could always trade it in if/when the prices fall or feel really smug if the prices go up.
 

DonnaH

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
90
30K is going to get you a great cushion! Great Budget...if you can call it a budget...for me, tath would have been WAY OVER BUDGET! LOLI would contact the cushion kinds, ERD, GOG and Perry at Leon's. Tell them what you want and go from there.
 

Joolz

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 24, 2011
Messages
96
Pay close attention to the face up size more than the carat weight. Because depths on cushions can vary along with other factors, a stone lighter in carat weight can face up larger for its size. I had to make a similar decision recently, below is the stone I bought on the left and I just couldn't justify spending an additional ~$8k more to bump up to a 3 carat. But only you can make that decision if it is worth it to increase your budget or drop your specs. I also looked at that James Allen stone Farmer Gal mentioned and posted its ASET in one of my threads but I think it was questionable on how well it would perform and I am not in the position to make those types of evaluations yet.

size comp.jpg
 

farmer gal

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 26, 2011
Messages
1,063
Actually looking at your thread for the asset of the JA stone I think it looks really nice, but someone else may think otherwise, there doesn't appear to me a lot of light leakage.
 

SouthPhiladelphia

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
8
Thank you for your feedback, it is very helpful. I may be unclear however with respect to the suggested benefit of taking advantage of a vendor's trade-in-policy in this scenario. I was under the impression that most vendors require the trade in of the original stone plus a purchase of at least 50% greater value that the original stone. Contemplating a 30k stone, that would require the purchase of a 45k stone to take advantage of any trade-in benefit? Alternatively, the only option for a trade-in or buy back at less than the 50% greater value would be the vendor offering you around 60% of the value paid? I, like most, can't contemplate a scenario where the purchase of a 45k stone would be in the near or distant future. And, any significant increase in prices would even further diminish the value of the trade-in.

That being said, I agree that the only real feasible option is to purchase now and try to get a diamond with a large spread. In the past I've been put in touch with Whiteflash and JA from two contacts who had successful purchases through both (interestingly enough I did see the stone recommended by farmer gal but it was a little out of my range; ironically it was well within my price range when I first saw it, I believe back in April/May). I have also spoken with another vendor in NYC who has listed cushions in the PS search, but not the usual suspects recommended here.

I'm assuming because of the concept of "virtual inventories" two vendors have made subtle comments to me about agreeing to work with just one vendor and alluded to the fact that I could unwittingly drive the price of a particular stone up and cause frustration and problems with their cutters/suppliers if I "shop around between vendors" who all mostly have access to the same pool of stones. They have also alluded to the prices they quote as being "final" as they have no room to negotiate and are offering the lowest price as their offer price".

Based on this, I have been hesitant to reach out to other vendors than those I have spoken to. Is this the correct etiquette? Or, more of a sales technique utilized by vendors? For example, is reaching out to GOG and ERD and having them both try to source similar stones a faux pas? Based on what I've heard, it appears that there may be some sorted history and a competitive nature between certain vendors and I don't want to rock the boat.
 

Joolz

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jun 24, 2011
Messages
96
GOG does not require any additional $, you can trade for equal or greater value on their stones with their lifetime guarantee. For me it was very important in the event I decide to change shapes somewhere down the road or upgrade if prices fall.

I was told by Perry at Leon Mege that it is the same cutter who supplies antique cushions to Leon, ERD, GOG and James Allen. If there is more than one, I really don't know.
 

slg47

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
9,667
SouthPhiladelphia said:
Thank you for your feedback, it is very helpful. I may be unclear however with respect to the suggested benefit of taking advantage of a vendor's trade-in-policy in this scenario. I was under the impression that most vendors require the trade in of the original stone plus a purchase of at least 50% greater value that the original stone. Contemplating a 30k stone, that would require the purchase of a 45k stone to take advantage of any trade-in benefit? Alternatively, the only option for a trade-in or buy back at less than the 50% greater value would be the vendor offering you around 60% of the value paid? I, like most, can't contemplate a scenario where the purchase of a 45k stone would be in the near or distant future. And, any significant increase in prices would even further diminish the value of the trade-in.

That being said, I agree that the only real feasible option is to purchase now and try to get a diamond with a large spread. In the past I've been put in touch with Whiteflash and JA from two contacts who had successful purchases through both (interestingly enough I did see the stone recommended by farmer gal but it was a little out of my range; ironically it was well within my price range when I first saw it, I believe back in April/May). I have also spoken with another vendor in NYC who has listed cushions in the PS search, but not the usual suspects recommended here.

I'm assuming because of the concept of "virtual inventories" two vendors have made subtle comments to me about agreeing to work with just one vendor and alluded to the fact that I could unwittingly drive the price of a particular stone up and cause frustration and problems with their cutters/suppliers if I "shop around between vendors" who all mostly have access to the same pool of stones. They have also alluded to the prices they quote as being "final" as they have no room to negotiate and are offering the lowest price as their offer price".

Based on this, I have been hesitant to reach out to other vendors than those I have spoken to. Is this the correct etiquette? Or, more of a sales technique utilized by vendors? For example, is reaching out to GOG and ERD and having them both try to source similar stones a faux pas? Based on what I've heard, it appears that there may be some sorted history and a competitive nature between certain vendors and I don't want to rock the boat.
check the fine print on trade-in but many vendors do not require you to spend 50% more.

I would reach out to other vendors...you are the consumer. I think it is fine to reach out to both GOG and ERD, certainly we have seen many posters do that. You might also try Perry Chen at micropave.com.
 

vintagelover229

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
3,517
I know you said simple solitaire setting but have you seen this? It would give her more coverage and if she wanted to reset it later on down the road the ring would make for a beautiful sapphire or gemstone in the center and she could use the center stone for something else. I personally would leave it as is, but I think it's AMAZING!

http://www.langantiques.com/products/item/10-1-4124
 

SneakyBF

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 26, 2011
Messages
16
Welcome to the "shopping for a cushion club". Im in the same boat albeit a slightly lower budget boat 1.5ct range. Prices are nuts although I do do some sanity checks and high end rounds (BG HAs, ACAs) are huge money now too.

Looks like our timing is just crappy. Had I known prices were going to skyrocket as they did I would have bought a slightly smaller but much less expensive stone a year ago instead of saving for the size.

The worst part is AVCs dont get cut and turned over as fast as rounds so as I wait for an AVC in my size range prices are still climbing. My budget is shot from even 2 months ago. They are due in a new parcel of them pretty soon and I'm on their list so Im hoping to get good news any day now.
 

anne_h

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
Messages
1,044
Hi there,

I know you said you don't want lower than I VS2, but here is something you may wish to at least look at:

http://www.micropave.com/index.php/engagement-rings/halo/pink-halo-diamond-engagement-ring-leon-mege.html

It is a Leon Mege pave pink-diamond halo set with a 3ct antique cut cushion stone. It's K SI1 (GIA), and the whole piece is 30k. Although I don't know what size the ring is.

I know you also said you want a plain setting.

I just had my dream ring made up (by Victor Canera), it's a 3.92ct I SI2 cushiony OEC and I am IN LOVE. A little warmth and a few inclusions are just fine by me. It's all about the beauty of the stone.

I do know what you mean about prices going nuts. I agree with the others that buying now with a good trade-in policy could be a good plan.

Having recently just done a major search for a large (to me) stone, mainly in NYC, I will agree that it's better to stick with one or two good vendors. Before my viewing trip I contacted several, and a few did mention they were tripping over each other all trying to source the same stones. Seems some vendors are okay with it, some are not. And one or two did mention it can affect pricing...

Hope this helps!

Anne
 
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