The Art of the Hard Sell

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Feb 4, 2003
The Art of the Hard Sell

It was suggested to me by someone on the PS board that I try one of our famous local So. Cal. diamond merchants to see some stones because they might have a good selection. See, I’ve been trying to figure out the difference between a D and an F. And this most famous California “engagement ring store” is always advertising on the radio and the TV and in print about how much better they are than the other guy and what a great deal you’ll get if you buy from them and about how they have the “world’s biggest selection”.

So over the weekend I decided to take them up on their advertised offers to “come in and see the world’s biggest selection” since one of their “superstores” is right in the town where I live. Their ads promise to educate me about diamonds, so I figured, why not?

My lovely fiancée-to-be and I walked into their rather imposing facility and were greeted at the door by a well-dressed kid who wanted to know if there was anything we were looking for. I said, “I’d like to see some loose stones.” That request caught the attention of another well-dressed kid who suggested a particular individual assist us. We were invited to sit down, offered beverages, and waited a few minutes for our “certified diamondologist” to greet us. I don’t know if I got the spelling right on diamondologist. I can’t find it in the dictionary.

Our diamondologist greeted us with a little triplicate form upon which he immediately wrote our names before asking, “How much do you know about diamonds?” As is my style, I cavalierly answered, “a lot”. He wanted to know what I wanted to see. I told him, “round brilliant, 1 carat, D color.” My lady then graciously requested some F diamonds and we were all set for my D/F color comparison. I thought, after all, the “world’s biggest selection” ought to include D’s and F’s. I gave no indication as to what cut or clarity I was in the market for, figuring our diamondologist would have the good sense to know that a guy who comes into a store like his asking for a loose D round brilliant probably isn’t looking for I1.

We are ushered to a private viewing room which, to the credit of the store, was equipped with a Verilux diamond grading lamp and a 30x microscope (which later turned out to have awfully difficult-to-adjust eyepieces). We were again offered beverages and subjected to a history of the store before being shown the goods. He started off with the smallest F sizes with the most inclusions. I had asked for 1 carat D and the first stone I was shown was a .92 carat F I1. It was, well, kind of ugly under the 10x loupe I made our diamondologist reluctantly provide me (he seemed far more interested in having me use the microscope than the loupe for some reason).

After viewing three under-carat F’s we stepped up to the one I’d been waiting for, a 1.05 D VS2 GIA beauty, which was quite a pretty stone (notwithstanding some rather obvious under-table inclusions that must have made this a borderline SI1). I got the impression it was the only near 1 carat D they had in the whole store. And I found out an interesting fact about the “engagement ring store”. They brand their own “ideal cuts.” They have a brand name for them which I won’t repeat here. The diamond I was shown was their “top of the line” cut. I memorized the measurements off the GIA cert (which I had to ask to see), 6.48x6.54x3.97, table 61, depth 61, VERY GOOD symmetry, VERY GOOD polish (1.05 carat, D, medium blue fluor). The sticker on the outside was $9450 (this was 3/8/03). I was asked if I was “comfortable” with that price. I asked if the diamond came with crown or pavilion angle information and I was told that they could include that information from an appraiser AFTER I bought the diamond. I told them I knew I could do much better than that price on the internet and they told me their price includes a “warranty” and lifetime service. I was repeatedly offered (politely) to open a credit account or hold the stone (for up to 8 months) with a 20% deposit. I declined (politely). I said, truly, that I’ll be paying cash for my diamond later. I was told “this one” might not be available later. I said, “another pretty one will.”

I asked the diamondologist to drop the D into a grading tray and we hit it with that strong Verilux white light and then I had him put the F right next to it, and you know what? Miracle of miracles, the D was more colorless than the F. No question about it. The D was a GIA cert, the F was an AGS cert. I absolutely, undeniably saw a difference, and so did my girlfriend. She didn’t care. She liked the D because it was bigger and sparkled better, not because it was clearer. It sure is funny how that diamondologist knew to show her a dull .92 F next to a sparkly 1.05 D!

Once our diamondologist realized I just wanted to see some loose stones while comparison shopping he left and sent in a junior sales associate (who was sweating profusely) to try one last time to hit us with the hard sell. He wrote down the diamond’s information for us on the back of a business card (which he limited to D, VS2, 1.05, 61 table, and 60 depth). I pointed out he got the depth wrong and without checking he wrote down 60 and said I was mistaken. I didn’t bother to tell him I’d already memorized the proportions off the GIA cert and knew he was wrong. After about 75 minutes from the time we entered the store until we left, we were all done.

I learned a lot this weekend. I learned some D’s look clearer than some F’s. I learned that 61 table 61 depth VG/VG round brilliants can be really beautiful. I learned that my girlfriend REALLY likes 6.5mm sparkly round diamonds. I learned that paying for a lot of marketing increases the price of diamonds. And I learned that if you do your homework ahead of time, the hard sell seems kind of like cheap entertainment!


Jan 17, 2003
amusing story. I've been to "that place" before and, since I know a bit about diamonds, it sure was entertaining. I called ahead and had them bring in their best quality stones so that I could compare a few, which they did. A week later when I went in, I saw 3 pathetic displays of H&As and when we spoke of prices, theirs was way too high. Better than a lot of B&M stores, but still much higher than the net. The gemologist asked me which one I liked best, and of course it was the best cut of the ones I saw. Then I spoke with 3 different sales people who encouraged me to "just put $100 on my credit card" to reserve the stone. Fully refundable they promised

Nice place to look for rings, not a place I'd buy my diamond.


Jan 23, 2003
It is a nice store and my recent adventures have afforded me the chance to visit that store numerous times over the last few weeks, mainly to get an idea on the rings and styles of the rings.

First time I went to that store I was given the exact same lecture on diamonds as you were. It was actually quite informative, and had I not known anything I would have been blown away by how much "help" they were giving me.

The first time I was there, they actually told me their prices were "non-negotiable." However, after returning to see one of their "special" stones that they brought in especially for me, I informed them that I have seen much cheaper on the internet and they were very quick to point out that they could do better on their prices. They actually came down to something comparable, but the sales tax and also cut of the diamonds were less than ideal.

I was then asked to deposit $100 in order for them to "locate" the ideal H&A diamonds I was looking for.

I recently visited them again a week ago to look at more rings and ask how much a custom designed ring would cost. The design I wanted is similar to Scott Kay and their quote on my custom ring costed more than the Scott Kay! I also showed them my diamond that I had purchased on-line and they were just blown away in awe. The representative that was helping me, the fifth by now, allowed me to use their gemscope so I could see the inscription (since I couldn't see it with a loupe) and also the inclusion.

But, they are nice people trying to run a business. I must say that coming to PS and getting inundated with tons of information helped me make a well informed decision on my diamond and I thank everyone on PS for that.


Oct 30, 2002
A 61/61 'ideal' stone?! hah! too bad you didnt use your super-secret-agent-pencam to shoot some pictures unobtrusively of the stone...would be interested in seeing how it looked. did you get the chance to compare it with a well cut stone (a real one that is) at all?


Dec 12, 2000
Hello Rbjd,

I believe your story and I wish it were required reading for everyone interested in buying a diamond here on the internet.

Here you are dealing with people that know what an Ideal cut is and almost every other question you can think of.

The hard sell doesn't work very well here and you don't get to see us sweat although sometimes we do.

Good information for the Newbe!


Dec 9, 2002
The stone I just baught has 62 table and 61 depth and is BEAUTIFUL
Small tables diamonds are maybe ideal for AGS but some outside this range
can be real beauties.

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