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She loves the ring! Thanks Whiteflash and AGA!

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student

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 2, 2002
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167
(Also posted on diamondtalk.com)

I'm engaged!

But moving on to the important stuff:

On the whole, I'm extremely happy with my internet shopping experience. I'll comment just on the most salient aspects of it:

I recommend both diamondtalk.com and pricescope.com as excellent sources of information for those searching for diamonds online. New users will quickly learn what kind of information is to be had at each site. For the absolute beginner (which I was four months ago), I recommend first learning the basics from Renee Newman's Diamond Ring Buying Guide. I also recommend not relying entirely on the internet. Check out a few stores out so you can see for yourself the differences that that the 4 Cs make (and perhaps find a great vendor close to home).

I made serious enquiries at a number of online vendors, all of whom I would recommend based on their responses to my queries. These were superbcert.com, goodoldgold.com, diamondbrokersoffl.com, and whiteflash.com. I focused on these sites because they are among the best in providing information about their diamonds (or at least those that they have in-house).

I wanted a diamond that was sure to be of top quality. I like whiter diamonds, and I like them to look pretty clean through a loupe. Given my tastes, F VS2 seemed a good balance of quality and cost. While I can believe that there are non-H&A diamonds that rank among the best, I didn't want to take any chances over the web, and I figured an H&A diamond would be a pretty reliable choice.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of technical tools for analyzing the quality of diamonds: namely, the Holloway Cut Advisor, light return images such as those provided by the firescope or idealscope, and the Brilliancescope. In the end my non-expert conclusion was that none is perfect, but none is useless either. I suspect that to do much better than this one would require more information than is available even to the avid internet consumer. I settled on a policy of selecting a diamond that received a top score from at least one of these tools and didn't (to my knowledge) receive a terrible score on any of them, but did not insist on more than that.

In the end I selected a .72 carat F VS2 A Cut Above Hearts and Arrows diamond from whiteflash.com.
There were two factors that made whiteflash.com and A Cut Above my first choice. First, they seem generally well-liked by just about everyone on the forums. Second, I was impressed that they are doing ongoing research on how to improve the cut of their diamonds. Not being an expert, I don't have complete confidence in my ability to judge for myself the fine distinctions amongst the best diamonds (especially without being able to see them), but I liked the idea of buying from a firm that cares about its craftmanship and is striving to improve it. I must admit that the opportunity to be among the first to have one of ther "new line" diamonds excited me!

I received great service from Lesley at Whiteflash. The high point was the conversation she arranged with Brian Gavin, their master cutter. He took the time to look at three similar diamonds I was interested in, examine them with the naked eye, the loupe, the H&A viewer, and the idealscope, and recommend the one he thought was best.

I chose the Royal Crown Setting from Vatche in platinum because I liked its unique styling. (For more on my selection of this setting, see this thread:
http://www.diamondtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=23455)

I had the loose diamond and the finished ring appraised by Dave Atlas and Chris DiCamillo at Accredited Gem Appraisers. I selected them because Dave seems extremely well-respected and offers very helpful advice on the forums without being inflammatory. To me the added assurance of an independent appraiser was well worth the relatively small fee. AGA stood out in a couple of ways. First, Dave advised me to go on Brian's recommendation rather than to have appraisals done for more than one diamond before making my selection. In doing so, he put good service to his customer before his own short-term profit, which exhibited a high degree of integrity. Second, Dave and Chris did their appraisals very quickly to make sure I would have the ring on time.

Only one small thing went wrong with my purchase, which was that the diamond was not quite as well aligned as I would like it to be. I like two sides of the octagonal setting to be exactly parallel to the shank (which results in the arrows lining up with the prongs). I told both Lesley at Whiteflash and Dave that this was important to me, but the ring still isn't quite how I would like it. If it were a clock, it would be about 2 or 3 minutes slow. However, I can easily see how one would think the diamond as it is would be straight enough to satisfy someone who wanted the diamond straight. I'm very picky! When I called Lesley, she sent me a copy of the Vatche lifetime guarantee and told me that she would arrange for Vatche to fix the setting whenever I wanted it done. So we'll be getting this done next time we're in New York (along with getting the ring sized down--it's a tad too big). This goes to show that a good internet vendor will provide the kind of follow-up service one expects from a good jeweler, so that even if things don't go perfectly from the start one can still be satisfied in the end. (Of course my fiancee says she doesn't care about the alignment of the diamond! However, she immediately admired its cut and the styling of the Royal Crown setting.)

The ring and the diamond are simply spectacular. I've enjoyed admiring the diamond's appearance in different light conditions. Sometimes the brilliance is most striking, sometimes the scintillation, sometimes the fire, sometimes two of the above together, and sometimes all three! I've never seen a diamond I liked as much. (And I saw some nice diamonds while shopping, including Hearts on Fire.)

Though I'm far from a diamond expert, I dare say I'm getting close to being an expert on buying an engagement ring over the internet. Though I have frequently seen it asserted, I think there is a large degree to which it is a myth that "branded diamonds are more expensive." There is of course some truth to this: you won't find a dirt-cheap Hearts on Fire or Eightstar diamond, for example. However, prices on different websites go up and down all the time, and each internet vendor is trying to stay competitive with the others. My advice to internet diamond shoppers would be to keep an open mind and consider both branded and unbranded diamonds right up to the moment you make your final selection. I would also advise taking advantage of the leverage the internet's wealth of information and ease of communication offer you, and to bargain shamelessly. (For more on my shopping and bargaining experiences, see the following thread:
https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/online-negotiating.3678/)

Well, I guess that covers it! Thanks to everyone who has helped me with my diamond ring search, especially the developers of pricescope.com and diamondtalk.com, posters on these forums, the vendors I mentioned above, Lesley and Brian at Whiteflash, and Dave and Chris at AGA! It's been fun!

P.S. Here are some links with H&A and idealscope images of my diamond and pictures of the ring itself:

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/h-a-question.3585/

http://www.diamondtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=24860
 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
7,828
Congratulations to you Corp & Best Wishes to your financee! The care you took to make your to be happy speaks volumes.

Best to you.

Fire&Ice
 

student

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 2, 2002
Messages
167
Thanks for the kind wishes, Fire&Ice! It's been nice knowing you on this forum.

Best wishes,
student
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
Congrats!! The ring is gorgeous, I never can get enough of those sparkly baubles! I'm sure your new fiancee loves it.
 

student

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 2, 2002
Messages
167
Thanks, Mara! Yes, she does love the ring. One of her first comments about it was "I love the cut." I think she was referring to the round cut as opposed to a square one, but I'll just pretend she meant the AGS OOO round brilliant super-ideal hearts and arrows edge-to-edge light return cut. (Later she did notice the spectacular light return.) Actually, what I thought was her first utterance regarding the ring was "Is this real?", but it turned out she meant the proposal, not the ring! She really loves the Royal Crown setting, too.
 
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