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wargy2

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
6
First let me say that I had no idea how complicated this process can be, but I''m thankful for a site like this where it seems like there are many knowledgeable people willing to help. I hope you can assist me too!

I''m looking to propose to my girlfriend in a few weeks. I''ve never bought any expensive jewelery, and she doesn''t wear any nor is a big fan. Thus, this makes it hard for me to know what she likes, especially since she''s stubborn about giving any clues. However, I believe she wants a princess cut diamond set in white gold, and I was able to get an approx ring size. Being that she doesn''t wear jewelry, she''s a very low-maintenance girl, and has said that the ring she wants only costs $900, I''m looking for something fairly inexpensive. Of course I''m not going to buy something that cheap for her engagement ring, but I was thinking in the $3000-4000 range.

Before researching online much, I began by some question asking at Zales and Kay''s in the local mall. Obviously their prices are much higher than what I see online, though I did haggle Kay''s down 15% (although from reading this forum, it sounds like they mark up much much more than that). Kay''s of course steered me towards their Leos, and I''m reading mixed things on here. The one Leo I was focusing on was (these are all approx, as I''m not positive) .75c, VS1, G color, very good depth, etc., for $3800 with the ring. Thoughts on Leos? Thoughts on mall jewelers? Seems mostly negative...

Based on advice on these forums, I''ve seen much better/cheaper on bluenile, dcd, uniondiamond, and on pricescope searches. However, I am somewhat concerned about a warranty, which Kay''s offers for just under $200. Is this a valid concern? Being new to this and not knowing much about anything, I''d like professionals to be able to maintain the diamond/ring for us. This doesn''t seem to be available online.

Many people have recommended local jewelers, which I wish I could pursue; however, I recently relocated and am not familiar with any around here and don''t really have anyone to ask that I trust. Also, it''s likely I could relocate again in the near future, and therefore wouldn''t be near the same jeweler if there were any problems.

Thus, being new to this, looking for something simple, wanting something that will last (warranty?), and having this relocation issue, I could really use some guidance! I didn''t think this would be as overwhelming/complicated as it seems with so many differing opinions on this site, but I want to make sure I''m not getting ripped off, won''t be disappointed, and am doing the right thing. I''m open to options. Thanks everyone!
 

oldmancoyote

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 22, 2008
Messages
755
Hello Wargy, welcome, and congratulations on your impending engagement!

First of all, I would suggest that you ask admin to move this thread to a higher traffic forum such as Rocky Talky. Just use the "Report Concern" button to the left of your first post, and ask them to move it.

Now some musings on your questions:

Leos are a proprietary, patented cut; this enables the dealers to price them at a premium compared to traditional round cuts and they will be harder to resell unless the dealer offers some form of cashback or upgrade agreement (and it doesn''t go out of business in the meantime). They have a distinctive look due to the extra facets, which some people like, others find distracting. You (and your FI) are the only ones who can judge. Personally I think you can do better in terms of looks for your money, but that''s just me.

Mall jewellers - and specifically chains - have their place in the market and I understand your concerns about maintenance and easy access. However, they are generally poor value for money, for the most part sell relatively low quality goods and many of their staff could be trained better (to be very charitable). In terms of maintenance, I believe that choosing a sensible, well designed and well fabricated setting in quality materials will minimise the need for maintenance. Some common sense and good regular cleaning is pretty much all that is needed, and for that a baby toothbrush, water and some ammonia or dish cleaning liquid will go a loong way.

To be honest, I think that for a periodic check (if you feel you need it - my grandmother''s ER never had one in 63 years, and when we recycled the stones, it was still perfectly wearable) you would almost invariably be better off by choosing (and paying for) a competent local jeweller to take a look, tighten prongs and repolish/replate as needed rather than paying for a warranty under which work may be carried out grumpily and shoddily by people that have no connection to you or your purchase - they are just employees of the same chain. BTW - some online dealers offer maintenance, with the added inconvenience of shipping back and forth; some will do it for free.

Last point on peace of mind - do consider that many of the best online dealers offer extremely good policies on returns, upgrades/exchanges and cashback (which as far as I know isn''t even on the agenda with most B&M - I know you aren''t planning to sell it back, but should you ever need to...).

In terms of budget, if you are looking for a .75 ct set in a classic solitaire setting, $3,500-4,000 will allow you a very nice choice of absolutely top quality diamonds from dealers that have a stellar reputation for quality and customer service. I would seriously encourage you to give a call - no more than that - to someone like GoodOldGold, Whiteflash, High Performance Diamonds / Wink Jones, Excel Diamonds, James Allen (and more), talk to them about what you are looking for and judge their responsiveness and willingness to help. Then compare it to what you get at Kay''s or Zales.
 

wargy2

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
6
Thank you very much for your insight. I have requested for the post to be moved.

"Personally I think you can do better in terms of looks for your money"
Are you talking about a different cut? Princess seems like one of the more inferior cuts, but yet it''s so popular?

How often does white gold need to be replated, as it starts to turn its natural color? How much would this cost at a local jeweler without any warranty?

Thanks again for the help... I will definitely make some calls!
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Hi Wargy,

If your GF prefers a Princess then that is what I would get. It is cut which makes a diamond beautiful so very important to concentrate on that aspect. Do you prefer to buy from a store or are you open to buying online?

I don't think replating is that expensive, also with any warranties, read the small print very carefully as with some, unless you adhere strictly to the terms and conditions you could void the warranty. Personally I prefer to have a good insurance policy which covers the diamond against loss or breakage/ damage/ theft etc rather than a warranty but it depends on what you value the most.
 

wargy2

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
6
I am open to buying online.
I will definitely get insurance as well, but I was also unsure how important a warranty is, as well as how much money it could save (or not) compared to having to pay for repairs and replating.

Any other opinions on my first post anyone? Mall w/ bad value vs. Local w/ relocation issues vs. Online w/ no warranty...
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Date: 3/25/2009 12:25:13 PM
Author: wargy2
I am open to buying online.
I will definitely get insurance as well, but I was also unsure how important a warranty is, as well as how much money it could save (or not) compared to having to pay for repairs and replating.

Any other opinions on my first post anyone? Mall w/ bad value vs. Local w/ relocation issues vs. Online w/ no warranty...
I think you will tend to find here that most buy online and find insurance to be quite sufficient compared to some of these warranties. Many of us have bought online with excellent results and would always buy diamonds in this way now but it depends on your comfort level. Personally I am wary of these warranties as sometimes it stipulates you have to bring the ring in by a certain date for checking and signing that the check has been done, if not then the warranty is void. This might not sound like a problem initially but it can be easy to forget as time passes, then if you do forget you will need to get insurance anyway to make sure the ring is covered. Also read any small print carefully to see what exactly is covered such as damage ( chipping, complete break of the diamond etc) - this is rare but can happen, accidental loss or theft, how long the cover is for and so on. You might find cover is limited in some circumstances, so if you get a good all round insurance policy then you will probably find you have no need of a warranty anyway.
 

Cuts33

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 16, 2009
Messages
17
Wargy,

I am pretty new on here but I shopped around for about 4 months for my e-ring so telling you my story may help.

First, I literally went to every chain and B&M store I could find in 2 major metro areas. Hands down, you will find better prices online if you know what you are looking for. Those stores are great for looking at stones up close and seeing which type of cut (princess, round, cushion, etc.) you like as well as the type of setting you are looking for. I really recommend going to Jared if there is one by you because they have a large selection to choose from compared to other chains. Again - just go there to look and get an idea of what you want, I''d never buy there.

A previous poster mentioned princess cut and I think you are confusing the type of cut (princess, round, etc) with the quality of the cut. Apparently Round stones give off the most light. I''m not an expert but I went with an "Ideal" cut Princess diamond and its as shiny as any other shaped stone I''ve seen. So if you like the princess style, don''t shy away from it. Just remember that the quality of the cut (Ideal, Premium, Good...) refers to how "brilliant" the stone is or how much light it gives off. This is really the only thing my FI cares about, i.e. she wants people to have to wear sunglasses in order to look at her ring.

Also, I chose an H SI1 diamond and had them ensure it was "eye clean" that is you can''t see any marks on the stone with the naked eye. Some people''s definitions of this are "can''t see it from 8-10 inches away." I think this is a load of bull to be honest. A diamond is usually pretty small so for me it could have a giant crack in it and I wouldn''t see it from 10 inches away. I specifically tell my jeweler that my definition of eye-clean is seeing no marks/inclusions at all no matter what - even when I hold it 1 inch from my eyeball.

Additionally, do not be afraid to get an H color diamond or even an I color if it is graded by GIA or AGS because it is going to be a "white" diamond. It will not look yellow and if you can get a bigger carat weight by getting an H versus a D or F for the same price I would definately go that route.

Finally, I worked with Jim from James Allen. He is the owner and took care of me every step of the way. We had numerous telephone conversations and about 50 emails back and forth throughout the process. I can''t recommend them enough. They custom made part of my order, they pulled multiple stones to compare and tell me in their Gemologist''s opinion which was best (and FYI they told me to go with the cheaper one) and overall it was a great experience. They also have a 30 day no questions asked return policy, a trade in and a buyback policy.

All in all, good luck on your journey and be sure to check out www.jamesallen.com or just give them a call and ask for Jim. I searched around on their site a little and it seems like you can get a 1 ct Princess Ideal Cut stone and a nice white gold setting for your 4K budget.
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Date: 3/25/2009 4:53:52 PM
Author: Cuts33
Wargy,

I am pretty new on here but I shopped around for about 4 months for my e-ring so telling you my story may help.

First, I literally went to every chain and B&M store I could find in 2 major metro areas. Hands down, you will find better prices online if you know what you are looking for. Those stores are great for looking at stones up close and seeing which type of cut (princess, round, cushion, etc.) you like as well as the type of setting you are looking for. I really recommend going to Jared if there is one by you because they have a large selection to choose from compared to other chains. Again - just go there to look and get an idea of what you want, I''d never buy there.

A previous poster mentioned princess cut and I think you are confusing the type of cut (princess, round, etc) with the quality of the cut. Apparently Round stones give off the most light. I''m not an expert but I went with an ''Ideal'' cut Princess diamond and its as shiny as any other shaped stone I''ve seen. So if you like the princess style, don''t shy away from it. Just remember that the quality of the cut (Ideal, Premium, Good...) refers to how ''brilliant'' the stone is or how much light it gives off. This is really the only thing my FI cares about, i.e. she wants people to have to wear sunglasses in order to look at her ring.
Sorry Cuts, I just wanted to clarify here that these vendor applied labels don''t regrettably get you a certain level of cut quality, the only meaningful use of the term Ideal Cut pertains to AGS0 Ideal Cut grade. But you are absolutely right in how important cut quality is!!
 

Cuts33

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 16, 2009
Messages
17
Lorelei -

Yes you are absolutely right that the labels don''t necessarily mean anything. I didn''t mean to imply that.

I believe most vendors apply the labels based on the specs of the stone and it is a good starting point.

But absolutely have whoever you work with pull the stone and ask them for their gemologist''s opinion of the cut once they have seen it. I did this with James Allen and at least in my experience they were very honest and forthcoming.
 

oldmancoyote

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 22, 2008
Messages
755
Date: 3/25/2009 11:08:25 AM
Author: wargy2
Thank you very much for your insight. I have requested for the post to be moved.

''Personally I think you can do better in terms of looks for your money''
Are you talking about a different cut? Princess seems like one of the more inferior cuts, but yet it''s so popular?

How often does white gold need to be replated, as it starts to turn its natural color? How much would this cost at a local jeweler without any warranty?

Thanks again for the help... I will definitely make some calls!
You are most welcome.

Yes, I think the standard round brilliant is difficult to better in terms of brilliance and liveliness - as long as it''s well cut. And I don''t think the proprietary cuts are worth the premium that gets charged for them. That''s why I said you could do better by sticking to a traditional cut (as a matter of fact, I''d choose a step cut over a RB almost any time, but again, that''s a matter of strictly personal taste).

On white gold, some white gold alloys don''t need plating. On those that do, it will depend a lot on quality of the plating, use or abuse of the item and your FI''s body chemistry (I''m not kidding - some people''s chemistry is such that the plating lasts less). In terms of cost, you are looking at low tens of dollars (20-40)
 

wargy2

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
6
Thank you for all your help! I purchased the first diamond that Cuts linked to, but with a different ring. Seemed to be a great diamond at a good price. We''ll see what the girlfriend thinks in a couple weeks!
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Date: 3/26/2009 1:33:03 AM
Author: wargy2
Thank you for all your help! I purchased the first diamond that Cuts linked to, but with a different ring. Seemed to be a great diamond at a good price. We''ll see what the girlfriend thinks in a couple weeks!
Wargy, just to let you know you can go for a lower clarity and not notice any difference, also you can request an Idealscope of the diamond before the sale is finalized that we can look at if you post it here. But if you are quite happy to proceed then thats fine of course!
 

wargy2

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
6
Thank you Lorelei, and everyone.

The ring from James Allen was beautiful, but not exactly what my (now fiance) was looking for. I''ve returned it to James Allen, no hassle. They were amazing... fantastic service. I haven''t been refunded yet though, so hopefully I''m not speaking too soon.

Anyway, the ring she''s in love with is a Zale''s exclusive, unfortunately. It''s the 1ct version of this, but that one doesn''t have a good picture online.

http://www.zales.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3382047

She felt the 1 1/2ct was too flashy for her and too big and might catch on things... she very low maintenance, like I said. Notice the hearts under the stones... that''s what we really like.

Not surprisingly, my experience with Zale''s has been less than great already, and I haven''t even bought anything. I was able to haggle them down about 40% but they wouldn''t go lower. Is that reasonable? They''re very unclear and unspecific about the quality of the diamonds, they aren''t certified, at best I''ll get a S1 center stone and I1 or worse side stones. They won''t let me upgrade diamonds, swap out diamonds, bring in my own loose stones, etc. They were supposed to have the ring ordered and in for me yesterday and never called. I called them and they said they''d call the locations that were supposed to ship it and call back. No call back.

Anyway, as you can see, I''m not very thrilled about doing business with Zales, nor any mall jeweler as seems to be the general consensus on these forums. However, I haven''t been able to find any other kind of ring like this (with the hearts). Does anyone here know of such a ring? Or can they be custom made? Does that cost significantly more? I''m okay with it being slightly more, and then being able to put better diamonds in the setting (likely from James Allen).

Your help (again) is greatly appreciated!!
 

wapila1

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 14, 2008
Messages
69
Date: 4/18/2009 7:40:53 PM
Author: wargy2
Thank you Lorelei, and everyone.

The ring from James Allen was beautiful, but not exactly what my (now fiance) was looking for. I've returned it to James Allen, no hassle. They were amazing... fantastic service. I haven't been refunded yet though, so hopefully I'm not speaking too soon.

Anyway, the ring she's in love with is a Zale's exclusive, unfortunately. It's the 1ct version of this, but that one doesn't have a good picture online.

http://www.zales.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3382047

She felt the 1 1/2ct was too flashy for her and too big and might catch on things... she very low maintenance, like I said. Notice the hearts under the stones... that's what we really like.

Not surprisingly, my experience with Zale's has been less than great already, and I haven't even bought anything. I was able to haggle them down about 40% but they wouldn't go lower. Is that reasonable? They're very unclear and unspecific about the quality of the diamonds, they aren't certified, at best I'll get a S1 center stone and I1 or worse side stones. They won't let me upgrade diamonds, swap out diamonds, bring in my own loose stones, etc. They were supposed to have the ring ordered and in for me yesterday and never called. I called them and they said they'd call the locations that were supposed to ship it and call back. No call back.

Anyway, as you can see, I'm not very thrilled about doing business with Zales, nor any mall jeweler as seems to be the general consensus on these forums. However, I haven't been able to find any other kind of ring like this (with the hearts). Does anyone here know of such a ring? Or can they be custom made? Does that cost significantly more? I'm okay with it being slightly more, and then being able to put better diamonds in the setting (likely from James Allen).

Your help (again) is greatly appreciated!!
Many of the vendors commonly used by PSers do custom work, and I'm sure they'd be able to do something like the ring you linked - with much better quality diamonds! I've gotten a couple quotes recently from two or three of the vendors often cited here and was very impressed with their responsiveness and prices. I'd really encourage you to reach out to Whiteflash and a couple of the others here and see what they might come up with for you.
 

wargy2

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
6
Thank you, I have requested a custom ring quote from whiteflash, and inquired with James Allen to see if they''re able to help at all.

Does anyone else have any other places they might recommend?

Does anyone have any idea what a reasonable cost is for custom rings? I have no idea what kind of price to expect.

That ring at Zales lists for $2200. I haggled them down 40%. Is this closer to reasonable, or still a rip off (I mentioned the diamond specifics above).

Or, better yet, has anyone seen a similar ring elsewhere online?

Thanks again for everyone''s help!
 

iraweissman

Rough_Rock
Trade
Joined
Apr 16, 2009
Messages
82
Hi Wargy,

I''m not sure if you''ve already moved past the Leo thoughts, but I''ll comment anyway just in case. I worked for Leo Schachter, the creator of the Leo Diamond, for almost 7 years. It''s very possible that I selected that very diamond you saw in the mall.
By the fact that what you saw was a .75 G VS1, it tells me that what you saw was not a standard Leo program stone. It was a special higher quality Leo that is sold and priced separately from the program. The Leo program quality minimum is I+ SI2+ (IGI standards). A well made Leo can be a very pretty stone. The problem is that the minimum diameter requirements are not very strict that fact is constantly taken advantage of. So most Leos are really not well made. For example, if memory serves, the minimum diameter for a 1ct Leo is 6.0mm (it might have changed to 6.2mm recently -- my memory is a little fuzzy now). Not to mention, by the way, that the minimum weight for a 1ct Leo is 0.96ct. The ideal cut 1ct stones people generally discuss on this board usually have a diameter of about 6.5mm.
Also, that gemex certificate that comes with the diamond isn''t really worth much. I can tell you from very personal experience that machine is incredibly inconsistent.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, since your diamond isn''t at the minimum weight (.69 for 3/4) and since it''s a higher color and clarity than the minimum, it might actually be a really nice make and be a beautiful diamond. THe problem now, though, is price. You pay a premium for the Leo diamond. That''s why my former employer loved it so much and that''s why Sterling (Kay''s parent company) loves it so much as well.



Date: 3/24/2009 9:04:18 PM
Author:wargy2
First let me say that I had no idea how complicated this process can be, but I''m thankful for a site like this where it seems like there are many knowledgeable people willing to help. I hope you can assist me too!


I''m looking to propose to my girlfriend in a few weeks. I''ve never bought any expensive jewelery, and she doesn''t wear any nor is a big fan. Thus, this makes it hard for me to know what she likes, especially since she''s stubborn about giving any clues. However, I believe she wants a princess cut diamond set in white gold, and I was able to get an approx ring size. Being that she doesn''t wear jewelry, she''s a very low-maintenance girl, and has said that the ring she wants only costs $900, I''m looking for something fairly inexpensive. Of course I''m not going to buy something that cheap for her engagement ring, but I was thinking in the $3000-4000 range.


Before researching online much, I began by some question asking at Zales and Kay''s in the local mall. Obviously their prices are much higher than what I see online, though I did haggle Kay''s down 15% (although from reading this forum, it sounds like they mark up much much more than that). Kay''s of course steered me towards their Leos, and I''m reading mixed things on here. The one Leo I was focusing on was (these are all approx, as I''m not positive) .75c, VS1, G color, very good depth, etc., for $3800 with the ring. Thoughts on Leos? Thoughts on mall jewelers? Seems mostly negative...


Based on advice on these forums, I''ve seen much better/cheaper on bluenile, dcd, uniondiamond, and on pricescope searches. However, I am somewhat concerned about a warranty, which Kay''s offers for just under $200. Is this a valid concern? Being new to this and not knowing much about anything, I''d like professionals to be able to maintain the diamond/ring for us. This doesn''t seem to be available online.


Many people have recommended local jewelers, which I wish I could pursue; however, I recently relocated and am not familiar with any around here and don''t really have anyone to ask that I trust. Also, it''s likely I could relocate again in the near future, and therefore wouldn''t be near the same jeweler if there were any problems.


Thus, being new to this, looking for something simple, wanting something that will last (warranty?), and having this relocation issue, I could really use some guidance! I didn''t think this would be as overwhelming/complicated as it seems with so many differing opinions on this site, but I want to make sure I''m not getting ripped off, won''t be disappointed, and am doing the right thing. I''m open to options. Thanks everyone!
 
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