Feel free to add to the thread with your Boston experiences and hotspots. I had a pretty exhaustive search so will list most of the places I visited. If I don’t put a large review, that doesn’t mean a positive or a negative, and frankly I don’t plan on writing anything negative. Further, I doubt any jeweler can hit a home run every time so please keep sour grapes to a minimum.
Route 9 area:
David and Company : Very much worth a visit. Has probably the largest selection of antique pieces I have seen. I noticed one over the top sales person, but the one I worked with (Cynthia) was great. You must understand how to price estate stones (old European cuts etc) before going. They of course also have modern RB.
Shreve Crump Low : very similar to downtown.
Quadrum : very unique settings here. Quite funky and original. Some mokume
Movado : if you like simple modern stuff, that is what you will find here. They tend to promote their 108 facet RB or some number more than normal. Not sure these are worthwhile unless you buy a honker of a stone.
Marquis : I saw some tough sales tatics here, setting quality questionable
Alex & Co : seemed like a nice place at the location I went too. Owner was a craftsman I believe. (I think the one I was at was needham street)
South Shore Mall
Longs: has ritani, eli, among others. Nice bands by memoire. Great staff at this location, perhaps more limited selection compared to burlington.
Biddle bailey banks : tacori, scott kay, and has ritani with real diamonds (or else ~1 month lead on ritani)
Duvarney and company (Fitchburg) : I spotted this place late in my shopping experience. Carries 8* and is exceedingly knowledgeable about diamonds (up to pricescope snuff). If having a diamond guru is important, I think this will be worth a trip for you. Setting selection is normal but not vast. I imagine owner could probably find what you want.
Royal Jewelers (Andover) : Very large selection of settings, including a separate Beaudry section. Has a limited antique/estate section where I spotted a nice Richard Landi. These HOF diamonds are quite expensive though.
Mark Morrell (Concord) : turns out this commonly used pricescope jeweler is local. I never spoke to him or saw the place so no review. You can see some examples in the show me the ring sticky. Tends to have a well polished free flowing look.
I just want to highlight a few here as if you go to one, I am sure you can just walk down the street.
Newbury/Boylston. Lots of stores here with some good antique places. Good window shopping. Wasn’t always impressed with seller’s knowledge especially for being upscale locations. I did go to Lux Bond Green on a special event day, must have seen 30-40 settings. That was nice.
333 Washington (jewelry building)
Sisters Jewelry : carries ritani, but a more limited selection from my memory than south shore.
Daniel G. Bouvier : has a nice knock off of a dainty shreve’s (lucie campbell). Not a big fan of just ripping off designs personally, but it is there
Mouradian : memorable, has some nice stuff.
Barmakian : I looked closely at this store because I know some who went here. They also have a store in New Hampshire. I think you can avoid tax by picking up the ring there instead of local, though I am not sure that is legal/proper? I don’t think the quality of the settings were very high in the detailing/finishing.
Serge’s : Nice guy and craftsmen. Has a nice classic antique replica. I did see a flaw in workmanship on one setting and then noticed this same flaw on another identical ring in the building (apparently the same wax). Who knows the inner workings of this building?
I never really felt comfortable in 333, frankly. But some of the sales pitches were worse than others however.
Downtown but near 333
EB Horn : they carry precision set if my memory is correct
Small pleasures: Some unique period pieces though more limited than other estate stores. If you like estate, worthwhile visit for sure.
Skylight Jewelers : Owner has a very in depth knowledge of his field and is designer/bench worker. He was a real person who I trusted so I got the ring through him. His showroom doesn’t have many traditionally presented engagement settings (ie cz or diamond, more colored gems), but I noticed that the workmanship of the pieces was very high. So I sketched what I was looking for (completely different than what we finalized on) and started the process. I feel he takes great pride in his work and stated often that if the ring didn’t turn out how I wanted, then he would remake it. As far as diamonds, he doesn’t stock them in house so you won’t be seeing a “real treasure” with a 3 year old cert. I thought that this was refreshing as he has no inventory to move. In particular, I requested/saw 2 H&A AGS000 broker stones that came with gemex brilliance scope reports. They were both 40.8/34.5-34.8 combinations.
Online: to be complete, I had some interaction with Pearlman’s. I really liked Bill, but didn’t find a setting that “spoke” to me as I imagine he would say (hopeless romantic type.). I would feel comfortable with his organization.
My Story / Overall Review
I priced a top contender ring at Longs. Long’s discounts the setting greatly from internet list, but the price quoted for the stone was outrageous. In the end the price of the finished ring would have been comparable to most stores. (it seems either the stone is cheap and setting expensive or vice versa at jewelry stores, they make money on something).
I almost got a beautiful ring from David and Company. Very unique piece, but I wasn’t comfortable with the old European cut and the setting I did not think would look right with a much smaller (but similarly priced) modern RB.
I decide to go with Skylight because I felt comfortable with this jeweler and the quality in the case. My ring looks nothing like the other pieces stocked there. Mine is pave while the typical piece there is smooth flowing metal work. The diamond cost was marginally more than the internet and the setting price was also very reasonable. I was more than satisfied on the level of craftsmanship of the piece and thus know I got an exceptional value.
Finally, some thoughts about undergoing the custom ring design process. First, you need to have good communication skills, for example when you see delicate what is that? Is it a dainty band or fine metal working, filigree, engraving, etc. Also, you must be well versed in potential ring designs and I probably wouldn't tread to far from themes that work. Next, you must be able to visualize. Further, I would recommend leaving some creative liberty for the artisan to move. If I was rigid, my design would have stunk. Finally, I doubt that custom is worthwhile if you are just trying to reproduce a setting for less. It takes time and you will not know the final look until it is completed. That said, custom work can produce a one of a kind original, made with the best alloy, polished to perfection, and tailored to your personality. So it is definitely worthwhile to look into this option.