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Scammed in Japan?

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bluedog

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 21, 2002
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4
Hi,

I'm buying a diamond in Japan and wanted to know if anyone knew anything about the grading labs in Japan, and any details about the hearts and arrows cut. It's really hard to get any specific information because it's not usually in English.

Although they do have GIA grading reports for some diamonds in Japan, there are few that you can actually see in a store that have the certificates. Most are graded through japanese labs.

So after doing lots of reading, and then lots of looking at different stones, I went with this one:

0.571c, H colour, S1, but the cut is called "Hearts and Cupids" which is something like the "Hearts and Arrows" or Eightstar. It cost about US$1800 from a shop who primarily does engagement rings.

For cut, they have this strange grading system that goes from poor, fair, good, very good, excellent, "hearts and cupids", and "hearts and cupids triple excellent".

They actually showed me the pattern under a hearts and arrows viewer and I could see it very clearly. Using their viewer I could see the slight imperfections (assymetrical shapes)in the cut, but the pattern was very sharp. In fact, using their viewer, the pattern on the diamond I wanted was only rated "hearts and cupids" but looked clearer than the next grade up "H&C triple excellent".

I've heard that even having hearts and arrows doesn't actually guarantee an ideal cut, but it must mean that the stone was at least cut carefully right?

The place doing the grading report is called the "Chuo something something" in japanese, and in English, is called the "Central Gem Laboratory"
(http://www.colorstones.com/labs/labjapan.htm)

I have a deposit on the diamond and will pick it up assuming that everything's good. They didn't have very good lighting in the store, and although I'd been able to pick out VS1 defects at other stores with a 10x loupe, I couldn't find the defects in this one. They told me that they didn't have a microscope because only diamond cutters needed them (which I know is total bull$&!t :naughty: ), so I spent a fair amount looking for defects but came up empty. I'm wondering if it's slightly too good to be true, and that maybe they'd done some kind of clarity-enhancement. They pulled a few tricks I didn't like, such as having a list price of double the selling price so that they could give you a 50% discount. But, ignoring that, I still thought they had the best stone for the price.


So has anyone ever bought a diamond in Japan and know about the hearts and arrows cuts they use here? And just in general does it sound like a good deal? It's hard to exactly compare because almost everything is more expensive over here than in other countries.

I'd really appreciate any comments at all, even if you don't know all the answers to my questions. It's a bit overwhelming shopping for something like this when you can't speak the language properly.

Thanks a lot.



PS: The information on these pages has been great for learning all the background stuff (4C's etc)
 

Snufkin

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 9, 2002
Messages
22
Hey Bluedog -

I can't answer to all the questions you have, but I can certainly give you some idea why the stone is inexpensive. (I am from Japan) I know people in Japan almost exclusively buy H&A (they call it Hearts and Cupids, as you said) of D or E color for an engagement ring setting. I believe they sacrifice the overall brilliance just in order to create H$A pattern. (Go to http://www.i-ing.co.jp/f1/f1toppage/framepagef1top.htm and look at the pictures of their engagement ring near the end of the page! And then go to http://www.diamond-cut.com.au/09_brill.htm You will know what I mean!!!) I think they cut the diamond either too deep or too shallow so that there is a dark pattern which look like H&A, but to me the pattern looks like a light leakage...

I think the reason why your diamond is so cheap is that your stone is H color, which people there won't even look at. Think about this - (I am assuming that you have some understanding how majority of Japanese people think) don't they all have the same Chanel handbag with the Gucci wallet while they wear the strange looking loose socks? I suppose their tendency of conformity really attracts this H&A bullsh*t - and I think this IS scam. If a jeweler told them that the stone is H&A, the poor couple would believe them and buy it, not knowing the meaning of true H&A and ignoring all other important factors (except the color). I think this IS the scam.

I am not an expert on diamonds, but I lived there for 21 years and I know how things work in Japan... :blackeye: I hope this is helpful.

Snufkin
 

bluedog

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 21, 2002
Messages
4
Thanks for the input Snufkin,

"there is a dark pattern which look like H&A, but to me the pattern looks like a light leakage... "

And like you said, that would be trading off brilliance for the sake of the pattern. Still, it did look bright in comparison to some other ones, but maybe because it was slightly larger.

"(I am assuming that you have some understanding how majority of Japanese people think)"

I hope so, since I'm planning to marry one :wink2:

"If a jeweler told them that the stone is H&A, the poor couple would believe them ignoring all other important factors"

This is an interesting point. As you may know, many people in japan get engaged without a ring and then buy the engagement ring as a triple set with the two marriage rings. In all the stores I went to, I never saw another guy shopping by himself. Only couples. That opens things up for the sales to really play up how "cute" the pattern is and the guy will have no choice but to agree with his girlfriend :love: (no offence at all meant to japanese women, but that's how it often works over here).

I was the only one using a loupe or microscope in the stores I went to. So as you said, people are asking to be suckered. One store even had a picture demonstration of the difference between two cuts, the "hearts and cupids" and the "h&c triple excellent" and the two pictures were of the same diamond and had been doctored in photoshop so that one (the lower grade) was more grainy than the other. You could tell they were the same stone by looking closely at the pattern. Seems very dodgy and when I brought it up the salesperson ignored my comment. I would have given her hell about it if only I knew how to speak japanese properly. Ah well.

If the colour grade knocked down the price of my stone a bit, then that's ok with me, because it looked pretty good. As long as it's not so cheap that it's suspicious.

Thanks for your comments. I didn't expect to get too many replies because not many people would know about diamonds over here.

Bluedog.
 

Snufkin

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 9, 2002
Messages
22
Hey Bluedog -

'One store even had a picture demonstration of the difference between two cuts, the "hearts and cupids" and the "h&c triple excellent" and the two pictures were of the same diamond and had been doctored in photoshop so that one (the lower grade) was more grainy than the other. You could tell they were the same stone by looking closely at the pattern. Seems very dodgy and when I brought it up the salesperson ignored my comment. '

Ha! That sounds familier! Don't let them take advantage of you for being a GAIJIN!!! As you may have realized, Japanese customer service is 300 times better than here, but they are also good at fooling you by being so polite unless you are a smart ass. I think this kind of thing happens a lot more frequently at a fancy looking jeweler in Tokyo. I've found tons of small local jewelers in super rural areas in Japan which provides excellent service and quality in custom designs for inexpensive cost. One of them even told me that he doesn't even take his customer's stone overnight if he can't trust the person - in that case, he mounts the stone in front of the customer no matter how long it takes.

'As you may know, many people in japan get engaged without a ring and then buy the engagement ring as a triple set with the two marriage rings. In all the stores I went to, I never saw another guy shopping by himself. Only couples.'

I know... When I was visiting Japan with my g/f (she is white) a year ago, every single jewelers in department stores used to scream at us "OKYAKUSAMA! (Mr. Customer, literally means)" trying to stop us. That was annoying. It never happened to me when I was walking by myself.

Are you buying a loose stone? If you want to propose her with a loose stone and then if you want to go to a jeweler with her to find a ring that she likes, I know a place in Ichikawa, Chiba where you can oder fully custom made ring for reasonable price. If you are interested, ask me.

Good luck!
 

bluedog

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 21, 2002
Messages
4
"I think this kind of thing happens a lot more frequently at a fancy looking jeweler in Tokyo. I've found tons of small local jewelers in super rural areas in Japan which provides excellent service and quality in custom designs for inexpensive cost. "

Yeah, the store that I've put down a deposit at is a small fancy jeweler, but actually I live in Osaka. So it's in Shinsaibashi (south-central osaka) that the diamond stores are concentrated.

"Are you buying a loose stone? If you want to propose her with a loose stone and then if you want to go to a jeweler with her to find a ring that she likes, I know a place in Ichikawa, Chiba where you can oder fully custom made ring for reasonable price. If you are interested, ask me."

Yes I'd be interested but although I go to Chiba every now and then, I won't be going there for some time. So I appreciate the offer, but I'll have to find one around here. (For anyone reading who doesn't know, Osaka and Tokyo are about 600 kilometres apart)

One thing's for sure, even if my diamond turns out to be a good deal, I won't buy the ring from the same place. I'll find a place with good sales staff. Some of the places I've been to seemed to be ok, so I'll probably go back there.

At least, for the ring, everybody seems to use platinum over here, so since it's standard, it should be a pretty safe buy. They have settings for about 30 to 60 thousand yen (US$300-600)which compares pretty well with overseas prices. I'm not too worried about the ring.

Anyway, I'll go back to the store and give the diamond a final check and most likely take it home tomorrow. Thanks for your advice. And funnily enough, even though I am a gaijin (outsider), I reckon that the japanese couples in the store were getting scammed more than I was
 
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