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Good Old Gold and Fuller & Associates: Highly Recommended!

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tayd

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2002
Messages
37
Summary:

In a process that had encompassed almost four weeks of extensive research from the start, trips to several local jewelers, numerous exchanges of emails, and countless hours reading at two diamond related websites (Diamond Talk and PriceScope), not to mention a last minute trip up to Massapequa Park in Long Island, NY which served as the catalyst, I purchased a beautiful diamond (.84 carats, E in color, VS2 clarity, Hearts & Arrow AGS000 super-ideal cut symmetry, and AGS certified) set on a elegant and classic Stuller Platinum Tiffany-style mounting with 6-prongs (#140309H) from Jonathan Weingarten at Good Old Gold with the appraisal performed by Martin Fuller of Martin Fuller & Associates.

The Shopping Experience:

When I first started the whole "I'm shopping for an engagement ring" process, I went from being clueless (well, almost) not knowing much about diamonds, settings, mountings, or even jewelers, for that matter, to now a savvy and educated consumer with high expectations and low tolerances for substandard service in an industry that I was ignorant of. We (I wanted my then girlfriend involved in the process from the beginning to a certain extent, to gauge what she liked and disliked when it comes to the setting and the overall diamond quality) stared on September 21, 2002 when we decided to drop by at the local Bailey Banks & Biddle store at the local mall, to see what is known as an "ideal cut" diamond from Lazare Kaplan, which was what my brother-in-law had suggested. I knew something about the "4 C's" (the terms, that is) and we ended up spending about an hour looking at several Lazare diamonds and various settings at the store. We were there to "get our feet wet" so to speak. The Lazare diamonds definitely had the brilliance, sparkle, and fire when compared to the other diamonds that BB&B had.

The next day, we decided to drop in at the local Tiffany & Co. store, since neither one of us had been to one before, even though we have heard of the term, a "Tiffany diamond" to satisfy our curiousity. We did not stay long. The arrogance of their staff, the absurdly high prices, and what seemed to us as impersonal service were evident. Perhaps we didn't fit the typical profile of a Tiffany & Co. customer? Adjacent to the Tiffany store was another jewelry store called Jared. With the slogan "The Galleria of Jewelry," they are a division of Sterling Jewelers and a nationwide chain that is fairly new to the Washington, DC area. We went inside and the atmosphere was a complete contrast to what we had experienced at Tiffany. They even offered us complimentary refreshments (cappuccinos) and when we informed the sales person that we were looking for "ideal-cut" diamonds/engagement rings and that we had came from Tiffany's next door, the sales person led us to the Leo Diamond, their best offering for an ideal cut stone. We spent about three hours at Jared, looking at several stones and settings but each time, resisted the their not-so-subtle and somewhat increasing pressure to purchase immediately, especially with "guarantees." Exhausted, we finally left.

That night after dinner, I decided that I was going to do some research and to educate myself, and that's when the fun and at times, frustration began. A quick search on the various Internet search engines on the topic of diamonds, engagement rings, etc. eventually led me to two websites: diamondtalk.com and pricescope.com I started reading on several posted discussions about the Leo diamond that we had saw at Jared earlier, only to find that their claims of a patented 66 facets cut (versus the 58 facets cut of a conventional diamond) delivering the most brilliance, didn't quite "cut it" (pun intended). While it may be better than the typical mall quality diamond, there are better ones out there. The more I read, the more convinced I was that the local B&M stores, especially the ones at the mall, were the wrong places to buy a diamond, and that I really needed to immerse myself in the the terminology and terms and to understand what a "cut" meant. During my conversations with the sales people at the stores, most of them barely scratched the surface of the term "cut" and often were more interested in showing the stone and emphasizing how much "shine" it exhibited under the jewelry store lights!

Over the next several weeks, I committed myself to reading up on the the active and archived messages at PriceScope and Diamond Talk. During that time, I began to note that several Internet diamond vendors that advertised and participated in the discussions were also recommended or highly rated by their customers. Names such as Good Old Gold, Dirt Cheap Diamonds, Blue Nile, Mondera, White Flash, to name a few.

One particular vendor, however, stood out.

Good Old Gold is that vendor. While his site may lack in appearance and layout (some of the pages and sections aren't always properly linked; I had suggested to Jonathan that he should publish his entire section on the 4C's into a single Adobe PDF file for download) and navigating through the site can be confusing at times, the content is what matters--and in that department, it shines! I was also impressed that he's as anal as I am, when it comes to details. :) His tutorial section on the 4C's could easily fill a whole textbook with pages and pages of graphics, technical reports, illustrations, photographs--especially the magnified images of diamonds (10x-63x!), notably the ones of the diamonds that he has listed for sale.

That Friday evening of September the 24th, I finally decided to take the courage and sent an email to Jonathan, inquiring about several stones that I had seen on his site, and that I was thinking of visiting him that weekend to see them in person. Within 10 minutes, he replied saying that the stones that I had inquired were in stock and that he would look forward to meeting me. That was fast! Later that night, I drove up to Philadelphia to visit my girlfriend and late next morning, we made the drive up to Long Island. Since neither one of us have ventured that far north of New York (other than the city) and we managed to get ourselves lost once, we finally found the place thanks to Mapquest and the posted directions on Jonathan's site. We even went to the pizza place next door for lunch (the pizzas are great especially the baked clams for appetizers) before heading to his store.

Over the course of the next three hours until closing time, Jonathan gave us his undivided attention despite the store being full of customers, as he brought out one stone after another that I had on expressed an interest that was on my list, and we put them through the paces on all his lab equipment. As he explained the differences and the particulars of each stone, we viewed them through the BrilianceScope viewer, the Hearts & Arrow viewer, the Gemscope (and we saw it displayed on the TV screen magnified), the LightScope viewer, the rating on the Holloway Cut Adviser (HCA) and what his opinions are on each of them. For the first time, we actally saw and began to understand what a "super-ideal" cut diamond was and how some of them exhibit a really neat symmetry known as "Hearts & Arrows", and how an AGS Triple Ideal Cut diamond that has virtually no light leakage with the H&A symmetry is probably the most perfectly cut diamond, ranking in the top one percent of all diamonds out there in the market. At my request, we also saw an EightStar diamond which to my understanding, is on a higher scale in cut quality but since neither one of us could really discern the due to our untrained eyes, we felt that the price premium would not be justified.

The Conundrum:

Three hours later, the choices were narrowed down to two beautiful round brilliant cut stones:

1. 0.814 carat, F color, VVS2 clarity, H&A, GIA
2. 0.848 carat, E color, VS2 clarity, H&A, AGS

To our surprise, the second stone was freshly certified from AGSL just three days prior (judging by the date of the certificate) and Jonathan had not even had the chance to evaluate yet it yet and publish on his website.

I was in a conundrum. Both diamonds were excellent and frankly, I couldn't go wrong with either one. I even posted about my dilemma (see http://www.diamondtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=21603. When Jonathan finally emailed me the price and the results of the tests on the 0.84 ct. stone which I was waiting on, that simplified the decision for me--especially when he said that someone else had inquired about the 0.81 ct. stone! I had to act fast so I requested that he send the 0.84 ct. stone to a qualified independent appraiser for further analysis, which was one of the things that I had learned during the course of my research.

The Appraiser:

Fortunately for me, one of highly regarded appraisers in the DC area happens to be right down the street from my office, based on the list of recommended appraisers (see https://www.pricescope.com/appr_list.asp) that I had found on PriceScope during my research. So, I had Jonathan shipped the loose stone to Martin Fuller of Martin Fuller & Associates, without requiring any payment or deposit upfront from me. I had also contacted Martin to coordinate the arrangements and also to make the appointment. That was on Wednesday, October the 2nd.

On Friday (October 4, 2002) I met up with Martin during lunch and we went over the analysis of the stone that the had received from Jonathan by FedEx.

The diamond was a real gem.

For the internal clarity analysis, he confirmed that there were only two pinpoints and one feather for the inclusions (per the AGS Diamond Quality Document or DQD), the latter which will vanish when hidden by a prong and the two pinpoints could easily be mistaken for a dust, even under a gemscope. The faint luorescence isn't even a factor, and for the color, Martin had mentioned that under the GIA master scale, it could easily come in under a "D" rating. The fact that the girdle was already laser inscribed with the AGSL certificate number by AGS thus further negating the need to have it done after-the-fact were all bonuses. Looking through the H&A viewer that Martin had on his desk, the view of the hearts & arrows as exhibited by the stone was absolutely stunning: perfect symmetry. That afternoon, I sent an email to Jonathan to "officially" place the order, and for the setting, my girlfriend had finally decided that she liked the 6-prong (over the 4-prong) Tiffany style setting in Platinum by Stuller. I also inquired about having the inside of the shank engraved with the words, "To Love and Cherish."

The Anticipation:

Settings usually take about a week from date of order and another couple of days or so to be completed. I felt like a kid during the Christmas holidays waiting in anticipation and in the meantime, started reading up on the forums again on suggestions on where to propose :)

On Tuesday October 15 while I was out of the office, Jonathan and left me a message saying that the ring was ready and I would be getting it the next day. True to FedEx's motto, they delivered a priority overnight box to my office the next morning. With somewhat nervous anticipation, I opened it. Inside, I found the ring with the accompanying ring box (you get to choose which one you want: plain black box, a white leather box with a light that comes on, or a teak wood box; I opted for the white leather box with the included light that comes on when the cover is opened as it is certainly unique), the original AGS certificate and an original duplicate, the invoice, and a 10-page appraisal report (to my pleasant surprise), that included all the technical details of the stone that was published on his website.

Everyone in my ofice was speechless and loved the brilliance and shine of the diamond and the elegant simplicity of the setting. I contacted Martin to schedule a follow up appraisal for the completed ring. When the appointment came, using his gemscope and other tools at his disposal, he looked at the setting (the quality of the workmanship) and other aspects of the ring. He also performed an acid test on the platinum and took photographs and photomicrographs of the diamond for the insurance report. Finally, he explained how the total replacement value was determined and what the influential factors were. In the end, he concluded that he was impressed with the vast amount of research and effort that I had put into decision-making process and the quality of the stone that I had purchased from Jonathan.

For the insurance policy, I had originally planned to go with my homeowner's insurance company but in the end, went with Chubb and their Masterpiece Valuable Articles (http://www.chubb.com/personal/masterpiece_adv_vac.jsp) coverage policy.

The Conclusion:

I proposed on Saturday, October 19, 2002 at 8:20 PM on the grounds of Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. I think "speechless" (she did managed to say "yes" :)) best describes the reaction my fiancée had when I got down to one knee and opened the lighted ring box and saw the billiance, sparkle, and fire of the diamond as illuminated by the lighted ringbox in the moonlight...

Today, two weeks later, she is still sometimes speechless at what had transpired and amazed at the whole process that had taken place. It is certainly an adventure and an education, to say the least. The ring is absolutely stunning indoors (even with overhead office lighting) and simply blinding in sunlight, and we have received dozens of compliments.

Once again, my thanks to Jonathan and Martin for their great service, and to the community of Diamond Talk and PriceScope.

rg2.JPG
 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
Tayd,

I guess you are working in science/engeneering? :)

Excellent post - thanks a million and congratulations!

:appl:
 

tayd

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2002
Messages
37
----------------
On 11/4/2002 8:57:48 AM

Congrats & best wishes to your Fiancee. Any ring pics?
----------------


Thanks! :)

I did attached a picture to the original message (you need to download it at the bottom of the message) but the two completed pictures can also be viewed at message on Diamond Talk:

http://www.diamondtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=22846

Regards,
David
 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
7,828
----------------
On 11/4/2002 9:07:24 AM


----------------
On 11/4/2002 8:57:48 AM

I did attached a picture to the original message (you need to download it at the bottom of the message) Regards,
David
----------------


Well, you learn something new everyday. I wondered on another thread why I couldn't see a ring that everyone else was able to see.

It's lovely!
:appl:
 

tayd

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2002
Messages
37
----------------
On 11/4/2002 7:33:37 AM

Tayd,

I guess you are working in science/engeneering? :)

Excellent post - thanks a million and congratulations!

:appl:
----------------


Leonid,

Close. :) I'm a network (LAN) engineer.

Thanks,
David
 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
----------------
Close. :) I'm a network (LAN) engineer.
----------------


Tayd, Your post is very well structured. I like this style :)

Here is your picture

 

tayd

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2002
Messages
37
Leonid,

Thanks for posting it. The picture that I had attached was taken by Martin Fuller, the appraiser. For those who are curious or interested, here's the link to page on GOG's website on the diamond:

http://www.goodoldgold.com/_84ct_e_vs2_h&a.htm

Thanks,
David
 

oldminer

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Sep 3, 2000
Messages
6,347
A story like this deserves a special web page on Pricescope. I know the sellers and the appraiser, so I can only imagine how nice everything turned out.

This is the kind of story needed to refute claims that the internet is not a great way to buy a diamond. Congratulations and best of luck!
 

tayd

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2002
Messages
37
----------------
On 11/4/2002 11:14:14 AM

A story like this deserves a special web page on Pricescope. I know the sellers and the appraiser, so I can only imagine how nice everything turned out.

This is the kind of story needed to refute claims that the internet is not a great way to buy a diamond. Congratulations and best of luck!
----------------


Wow, I'm flattered! If Leonid's going to post this on a web page, at least let me get a chance to correct the typos and grammar mistakes on the message. I know there's at least a bunch of them, since I originally wrote the one to DiamondTalk at about four o'clock this morning and then cut-and-paste it here this morning. :)

Regards,
David
 
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