Location update - 07...Expertise and information as a function of where, and how you buy…

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Regular Guy

Jul 6, 2004
I provided at the end of 04 some guidelines/advice for diamond buying. In section one of that post, I noted the upcoming change in January 06 that could effect how our criteria for shopping could change, with the advent of the posting of proportion data by GIA. And so, that change has now come forward, it does have a practical impact on what I wrote there…and that significantly motivates this update:

I - Certification makes a difference

Certification Neil/Denverappraiser has written frequently…buy the diamond, not the paper. Be that as it may…most of your options will come today with diamond certificates, and you may be influenced by, and prefer to go with one or another of these certificates. Since I’m raising the point, I’ll share my two cents on them, too, but the main point is this…most diamonds are certified by GIA, and whereas they did not used to provide proportion data with their diamonds…now they do. Therefore…the emphasis I placed in section I of the Location thread of finding a vendor who can measure this data for you…can be effectively limited. Most diamonds…whether from GIA, AGS, or EGL (and maybe others) will have proportion data included….so you can, among other things, test most of these options against the HCA, without necessarily depending on the vendor (or appraiser) to also have the apparatus necessary to cipher this for you. So…this is a pretty big thing, and can, it seems, open up local buying to you, more readily, whereas you might have preferred to reject this option previously. Alternately, as also noted in this update…advantages for not shopping locally remain.

a) AGS…regarded by many as the best/most discerning of the certifying agents. Wink (who helpfully writes here frequently, and who embraces the technologies on Pricescope to get to know readers here) has observed diamond holders sifting diamonds to be sent variously to AGS vs. others…explaining the obviousness of what experts seem to widely understand and sometimes share here…that dreck doesn’t get sent to AGS. If it doesn’t have the potential to reach their highest grade…it doesn’t get sent there for certification. So a diamond with a cert from AGS has been filtered extensively for you. For some on this board…namely Storm and possibly others…this alone is not sufficient, and I have written about why I don’t think AGS is all that. But, given relative options, if you’re looking to optimize your chances for high quality, certification by AGS will help.

b) GIA…is the big one. Some in the minority view here regard them as the best…but generally we think this is not being well enough informed. Following the graphical image of a triangle, they make up the big middle, making up 72% +, by recent review, of the number of diamonds which obtain certification. As noted above, their inclusion of crown & pavilion data (along with other info about minor facets) is a significant innovation, that can be used by discerning shoppers to narrow their options. Consistent with this innovation, they’ve also provided cut data for their diamonds, which provides some controversy, which is probably inevitable (since they are different agencies, after all, using different methodology), since their mapping of what’s best doesn’t map one to one on what AGS maps as best. You will have hopefully seen from your review of the HCA charts here that Mr. Holloway has provided for you, along with an overlay of HCA stats, info showing you where your diamond tends to lie for both of these options, as well. One of probably many problems with GIA’s implementation of their proportion data is in the fact that they don’t just present that data…they round it. How important is this? Some of the smarter writers here, like Julie, have speculated that the chances of the rounding effecting substantially HCA outcomes negatively is not significant…but I’ve not seen detailed analysis of this here. More anal types, I’d say, could have some cause to be concerned. For you, add in the technology items like idealscopes and ASET viewers to help validate your decision-making, if you like. Mr. H and other experts here feel this may more accurately identify top performers, as well.

c) EGL…expressed simply this way in the big db here…but actually representing several different but related agencies…including EGL USA ( regarded as the best) EGL Europe, and EGL - Israel (least well regarded), are sometimes offered, and sometimes simply not considered by diamond buyers. Reasons not to consider EGL are various, to include…

1) questions about why someone would send a perfectly good diamond to them, if it could pass muster with the other two (sometimes answered with respect to things like the speed by which analysis is done, and other such practical reasons).
2) the fact that their grading has been considered to be regarded as unreliable for color & clarity (which in part will account for the discount you’ll see with diamonds certified by them, and…
3) the associated lack then of confidence in this certification, such that, big outfits like White Flash will make these available for sale, but only sourced from 3rd parties, and then sold without the support of the other warranties like trade-up options that they will pass along to diamonds with certs from AGS & GIA.

However, I have found that the tale told by Cheetahman is a good and carefully told one…and that, for many tastes…EGL may be just swell, and represent a bargain to be had. Ostensibly, the data they come with is frequently in the form of percentages vs. angles, and although that has been criticized because the effect it has is that data is rounded…I’ve not gotten any clear comparison here on that effect, vs. the stated effect from GIA where you know it’s rounded from the outset.

Why to consider EGL? Diamonds that otherwise have the same characteristics as GIA & AGS are available at somewhat significant discounts. To not consider them at all would be consistent with the view of not wanting to invest the time to find the good one any buyer would want at a savings. Also, you might believe no really great one would be sent there….but reckoning the difference between the very best, and some probably fine ones sent to EGL is a job that any reasonable person could choose to take on, I would think.

II - Favorite Vendors

Who are they. The question’s been informally asked and answered here.

But, let’s get back to what’s been the case, and see if anything’s changed.

a) Since GIA options, which should be widely available, are local now, this should drive further the consideration of shopping local. Malls are widely regarded as a place where options must come at a high premium to have their mall rent covered, and so the suggestion is to consider more seriously shopping at an independent. Otherwise, and alternately, having a local shop conveniently available while you’re otherwise shopping, after purchase, for maintenance issues, is attractive. The strategy of using a local place for setting, and a distant place for diamond buying is discussed here frequently, and may be an idea to consider…although you’ll want to take care particularly as you consider issues of responsibility for your diamond being insured while it is set locally. Usually, having one shop both as the seller of the diamond & the setting is the easier way to go…but check me on this…and some respected vendors at a distance do seem to have some established relationships with third party vendors themselves, to make the setting at a distance option work smoothly. Likewise, Jeweler''s Mutual does seem to uniquely provide assistance to diamond buyers who follow a set of protocols whereby their diamond can be insured, with the setting parts, before they are put together, so that they are protected in the event of a setting boo-boo, and although following this protocol may be tedious, for the appropriate shopper, it can be a helpful option.
b) Still…and despite the big world we live in, this Pricescope environment has uniquely created a different “mall” of sorts…where a tested set of vendors appear, where shoppers are frequently drawn to review them, and where feedback concerning their use is vetted here often. I do liken these vendors to being tested similar to a Consumer’s Reports. And it is not without merit. To name two already identified as favorites here…White Flash not only commissions their own line created to spec, but their consistent look is frequently compared to the highest branded options available, with no loss for doing so. Likewise, GOG’s options, hand picked, are then tested with a set of equipment that is virtually unrivaled by any shop anywhere…and you can avail yourself, at a distance (or to lucky ones, who are nearby enough to walk in to his shop) of these resources. For both WF & GOG…although you pay some premium for the expertise these vendors offer….in comparison to other broadly branded options available…the premium on these is not remarkable. Note also…the price paid for a diamond at virtually any on-line vendor, vs. one who lives nearby, is almost certainly considerably lower for like kind & quality…such that the local vendor will really be challenged to offer you what you want at the same price you will be able to find it at, at a distance. And, as Storm writes on this board, the value of an expert and trusted vendor is highly regarded. I personally purchased my diamond from a vendor now called James Allen, formerly (and accurately) called Dirt Cheap Diamonds. Although Jim continues to seem to partner more with others in making his diamonds available than these other two, his prices tend to be highly affordable, and he does bring technology resources close to home, with helpful aids for seeing diamonds on his website.

III - New Technologies, too

Finally, note that new technologies have hit Pricescope…some of which cannot easily be missed. For example, since the development of the Idealscope, to aid novice shoppers who are willing to reveal theirs when shopping (don’t count on most shops to have these…you’ll have to buy one from Gary if you want to count on having it reliably), AGS has also developed the ASET scope. I’ve come to depend on this one for other shapes, like Princesses, and WF does use it prominently for many of their options on their site.

On this Pricescope site, you’ll see at the top the Yellow bar, where various vendors also make themselves known in webinar fashion to shoppers here, as well. This one is difficult to miss. What’s not been discussed a lot, but which you probably can do, is both use this tool for shopping at some of these vendors, and further, use it for long distance communication with some appraisers, as well. Each of the four longest standing appraisers on this board…Richard Sherwood, Neil/Denver Appraiser, Dave Atlas/Oldminer & RocDoc…each provisionally can help a possible diamond shopper, with their purchase.

Do you need an appraiser…now especially that these GIA certs come with that proportion data?

Depending on the specific vendor you work with, the quality of the documentation you come away from the purchase with, the valuation of the diamond he or she gives you with your purchase, your perceived need for further confirmation, and the availability to you of a local appraiser with the gap-filling expertise you are seeking to fill…these will help answer that question.

Respectfully submitted, seeking to fill the gaps that have been peeking through since the topic of shopping was addressed by me previously...
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