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questions to ask when buying from a B & M

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zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Dec 29, 2006
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12,450
This may be a very broad question, but I''m not sure how to narrow it down. I''ve done a lot of research but am now feeling quite overwhelmed.

Although I am warming up to the idea of going with one of the various recommended online vendors, there''s something about being able to see and touch the merchandise in person that is hard to give up. Plus, the service at one in particular has been excellent. My boyfriend and I have narrowed down our selection to 3 rings (Ritani - 3 stone emerald cut on delicate pave shank), one from Timeless Designs (also 3 round stone with less pave) and one from Simon G. (5 stone, round). We''d like platinum ideally, but depending on price, we may go with white gold. I''d include pics of the TD and Simon G rings but I can''t find the particular rings anywhere online. This is the Ritani:

http://www.ritani.com/home_html_2.php?stone=all&cat_id=98&gender=women&page=3&get_descr=1EC2055AECP&metal=&collection=&matching=&related=&nav=&top=jewelry

What are the most important questions to ask when buying from a B & M? I know my ring size is 4.5-4.75 and I don''t want an eternity style band (1/2 eternity is okay). We''ve been looking at the center stone being .75-1 carat (I have tiny hands and don''t want it to be too much).

Sorry for being long-winded!
 

tanalasta

Shiny_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
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323
Hi Zoe.

To be fair - you will get much better pricing and quality from a reputable store like Whiteflash etc... They will show you real pictures of the stones and the IS images will also give you a fair idea as to the stone''s symmetry and light return.

However, if you''re at a B&M it depends on the ethical principles of the store itself. For instance, I''m sure G. Holloway or Rhino from Good Old Gold would educate you fairly about your purchases. Whereas a lot of B&M''s are more interested in pushing the ''hard sell'' of their suboptimal quality products. If you see a 25-50% sale - run - it means that they''re making double profit off you anyway which is why they can afford to sell everything ''on discount''.

Things you should do:
1. Educate yourself using Pricescope.
2. Have a look at the stone BEFORE looking at the certificate or valuation.
3. Check what the return policy is.
4. Assure it is a reputable certificate - preferbly AGS (GIA also acceptable I suppose).
5. Compare it to other diamonds and make sure you have seen some prime ideal cut examples.
6. Ask to look at it under different lighting - diffuse lighting with multiple halogen lights on top exagerrate diamonds. Look at it under a single florescent lamp and also in shady + direct sunlight so you know what it looks ''normally''.
7. Look at the stone under an idealscope.
8. Learn what proportions to accept and what the IS image should look like.
9. Look for inclusions - both with the naked eye. Then at the certificate/plot and again with the naked eye and only accept the stone if you can''t spot it still. Then pick up the loupe and look at the stone again - examine the top, the girdle and all-around. Read the laser inscription.
10. Go home. Look up the same stone on Whiteflash or Pricescope. Or have a Rappaport price-table.
11. Make sure you''re not being ripped off.
 

starryeyed

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Messages
2,398
Hi Zoe. Tanalasta has some good advice for you. One thing though - GIA reports are the standard, so these are quite fine.

I would emphasize Tanalasta''s comment to use an ideal-scope for round brilliants. These are fabluous devices because they take lighting conditions out of the equation when evaluating a RB diamond.

For fancy shapes, such as emerald cuts, you may be better served by an ASET scope. Personally, I took the plunge and bought an IS, an AS, and the IS backlight. For a small % of the purchase price, you will understand the cut quality of the diamond easily.

The salespeople may look at you like you have 4 heads when you pull these out at the B&M, but you will be able to tell a lot by their reactions. If the stones are lousy and will not perform well, the salesperson will probably get defensive. For shops that carry quality stuff, they welcome your technical challenges.

So I would add that you shouldn''t allow yourself to get bullied or pressured. If you sense any of this, walk out.
 

mrssalvo

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 3, 2005
Messages
19,132
I actually have been thinking about that same Ritani setting only with round stones
. I agree there is something to be said about being able to touch and try on ring settings before buying. I was able to try on the Ritani last week but would buy it from Pearlmans, who is a PS vendor but also a Ritani dealer. Their pricing was better than what I found elsewhere online or locally for the setting. I actually purchased my stone from pearlmans but the folks at Whiteflash and Goodoldgold, as well as other wonderful PS vendors can help and you''ll find better pricing online. Keep in mind that many of the Pricescope vendors like Pearlmans, Goodoldgold, Winfield''s etc. are B&M''s too, they just managed to be able to find a strong place in the internet market.
 

zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
12,450
Thanks for the tips! I do trust the local store we''ve focused on (we''ve looked everywhere and this one has always been very helpful and willing to get in things to try on, etc.). I''ll mention all of your suggestions to my boyfriend, and I''ll recommend that he look into getting a loupe and/or an ideal-scope.

As for the setting itself, are there any particular recommendations or questions we should keep in mind? I realize that without seeing them, it may be difficult to give any tips. I do know that pave tends to fall out occasaionally, and I''d like to avoid that happening. We''re only looking at thinner bands and ideally, we''d like the e-ring and the wb to be flush. Hard to do with emeral cut, I know.

This would be so much easier if my boyfriend could just bring a veteran PSer with him when doing this!
 

tanalasta

Shiny_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
323
Just get an idealscope. The basic one is fine ... and if you pull the pink reflector bit out, you'll have a 6x loupe!

All jewellers have a loupe and all you have to do is ask for it. However, the only thing that the loupe is really good for apart from looking for inclusions is reading the laser inscription. For all intent and purposes, it's how the stone looks without the loupe - to the eye - that's important!

Have a look at the diamond education videos that Rhino posted on brilliance, fire and scintillation. I don't have the link (sorry) but a search on pricescope for video may find it. There are some good examples there of how an AGS000 diamond should look under different lighting conditions and is a good benchmark to compare to.

http://www.goodoldgold.com/video/
 
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