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Went to pawn shop today

Black Jade

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--and saw a whole lot of really good deals on diamonds.
I thought I'd post that this is a venue worth looking at if recent price hikes for new diamonds are stalling your projects or even stopping them.
I didn't want anything and went with two friends who were the ones buying. One wanted a pendant. We saw so many that she had trouble making up her mind. She put on hold a beautiful pendant, 2.3 carats total weight, a lot of smaller diamonds but not teeny weeny small (they were 10 pointers). Very white, sparkly, clean even with a loupe. there were a lot of solitaire pendants in various sizes and qualities. Also rings that could be made into solitaires We were offered a .40 carat princess cut, really sparkly, crushed ice look no flaws visible through loupe-- for $197. If we wanted the ring it came in it would have been about $400, but what could have been done would have been to take the diamond and have it set in a pendant for about $80 (I had this done recently) and put it on a chain. YOu can't get a .40 carat diamond pendant for under $300 at too many places nowadays. We saw a one carat total weight three stone for $300--again very clean, sparkly stones (these were a little less white. the princess cut was close in whiteness to my F color solitaire). A ring with some very white, sparkly marquise cuts, maybe .10's I think, all lined up in a row was selling for about $200. the ring was terribly out of style--but the diamonds could be reset into a flower pendant, or one of those floral scrolling looking rings if a few tiny RBs were added--lots of possibilities.
Basically there were a lot of choices for under $500 if you thought a little outside the box and didn't have to have a cert guaranteeing that all the diamonds were perfectly cut. My F color diamond is an AGS 000 ideal cut H & A and the .40 princess cut in particular really matched it for sparkle (considering of course that a princess cut compared to a round brilliant is apples and oranges) as well as being extremely white. I tried like crazy to convince my friend to get that princess for a pendant but her preferences were elsewhere.
 

Lula

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Very interesting, Black Jade. What part of the country are you in? Because here in the Midwest (USA), pawn shops and estate jewelers are still asking top dollar for things. I visited several stores many times over the past few months and was shocked at what they were asking for basic 14 kt. lightweight (used!) settings.
 

TristanC

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Wonder what they have in the cases of the Pawn Stars shop in Vegas. :)
 

Christina...

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Interesting that you posted this. I've been thinking of hitting the pawn shops in my area too. We are in a part of the country that has been hit hard in recent years, and I was thinking that it may be worth taking a look. I have a b-day coming up shortly and have hinted around that I would love to have a new pendant or a diamond toe ring. :saint:
 

anitabee

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I'm a big fan of pawn shops. I got my lovely princess upgrade ering at a pawn shop for a great deal!

I've seen a bunch of tempting deals across both the states and Canada. One that got away was an .60 oec in an old setting on the oregon coast for $400.

Don't let people tell you otherwise... Pawn shops can be great. If you're well-educated on diamonds (I've been lurking/been a member here for a loooong time) you can make out well.

As the op mentioned, with an economic downturn, come some treasures to be found and at some reduced prices. Pawn shops will almost always make you a deal. Don't be afraid to barter!

Happy hunting!
 

yssie

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Lula|1310089806|2964323 said:
Very interesting, Black Jade. What part of the country are you in? Because here in the Midwest (USA), pawn shops and estate jewelers are still asking top dollar for things. I visited several stores many times over the past few months and was shocked at what they were asking for basic 14 kt. lightweight (used!) settings.


This is what I've also found (I'm in San Francisco) - no deals to be had that I can find, even at pawn shops! Some *gorgeous* pieces, though. Of course, there are pawn shops and then there are Pawn Shops that have been glorified as such, and their prices are right on par with retail...
 

luckky

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TristanC|1310091535|2964354 said:
Wonder what they have in the cases of the Pawn Stars shop in Vegas. :)

I have been to Vegas for 5 times since we were married for over 5 years!! not for a gambling but for the show and enjoy the night light...next trip I absolutely would love to check them out!! :love: Never in my thought until watched the show on History channel :wink2:

Thank you! for share you info about pawn shop experience! would love to know which area you were shopping. Cheer!
 

Lisa Loves Shiny

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Glad you had a good time shopping with your friends. I also love pawn shops. For me it is the thrill of the hunt. :)
 

CharmyPoo

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You just have to know what you are looking at and buying. I got a gorgeous 5 stone - emerald and diamond band. I got cheated on a sapphire ring.
 

JaymeC

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My mum got remarried 6 years ago and educated herself on diamonds to chose an engagement ring. She armed herself with a loupe and then hit the Vegas pawn shops! She got a 1.2 carat SI1 G diamond with a very good cut for $800. Steal!
 

stci

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Christina...|1310093045|2964372 said:
Interesting that you posted this. I've been thinking of hitting the pawn shops in my area too. We are in a part of the country that has been hit hard in recent years, and I was thinking that it may be worth taking a look. I have a b-day coming up shortly and have hinted around that I would love to have a new pendant or a diamond toe ring. :saint:

Don't want to hack this post but where to find a diamond toe ring please?
 

denverappraiser

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Like jewelry stores, pawn shops can be both good and bad depending on the details of the store. Actually, they aren’t as different from jewelers as you think. It’s mostly a matter of décor. They do not set their selling prices on what they paid. That’s rule #1 in the business and it’s simply out of the question to think that you’ll get a deal because THEY got a deal. Pay what you must, charge what you can. That’s the rule. At the same time, most of them market themselves as a cheap place to buy stuff and the lawnmowers and stereo’s that you have to wade through to get to the jewelry counter are part of the show. They DO tend to be pretty aggressive in their pricing and I don’t mean to be slamming them for choosing that approach. It’s very popular but you need to remember that it’s just part of the show, rather like the fancy signs and dark woods all over jewelry stores and the pretty girls on the TV shopping networks are part of the show.

The other tricky part of pawnshops is the employees. The best of the best usually don’t choose to work there and folks who do are expected to be ‘experts’ in everything from guns to rubies to power tools. They routinely have no idea what they’re talking about. That doesn’t make the merchandise bad but it does mean that you should be nervous about product claims. Most are pretty light on reliable paperwork and people end up going by what it says on the tag. Just because it’s reported to be a particular set of specs doesn’t make it true and there usually isn’t much in the way of a return policy if you discover a problem later. YOU are expected to be the expert in the deal and the deal is done when the money changes hands.
 

tyty333

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So I went to a pawn shop this morning and it seemed way overpriced (even though its not a nice pawn shop). I know
you are suspose to haggle the price with them but they had a 7 stone maybe 12 ptrs probably average color/clarity priced
at $1699! You could buy it brand new for that (and probably with better stones)!

A lot of their rings were cluster rings (with chips) and the few bigger ones they had didnt look welll cut (and no certs of
course). Maybe its just where I live but it seems like the pawn shops just carry mostly junk jewelry. :((
 

Tanzigrrl

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Stci - I got my .29 carat anniversary style diamond toe ring from http://www.mauitoerings.com/ Ask for Larry Smith. He is a delight to work with and my resulting toe ring is stunning!
 

MustangGal

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I got a nice .12ct-ish diamond bezel pendant on a heafty snake chain in one a few years ago for $120. They had a beautiful emerald and platinum ring in the case for 2k, it looked like a nice designer setting, and was just lovely. Not in the cards but I still remember it! I need to go hit some up again. There's also a few pawn shops on ebay that operate similarly without having to wade through the lawn mowers or drive to the seedy side of town. I've bought several pieces from one based in Chicago that seems to know what he has and lists the items accuratly.

My in-laws recently visited the shop featured in Pawn Stars, and thought it was cramped and over priced. I'm sure they're able to get more for their stuff now that they're "famous".
 

Black Jade

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Mid-Atlantic area.
Advice would be:
Educate yourself (which is why you are on Pricescope anyway, isn't it). Have a good idea what different sizes/colors of diamonds are going for both retail and online. Know how to use a loupe and bring your own (they probably have a lower power one). Have a 'comparison' piece if possible. I use my F color diamond ring (viewed from the side) with a white card to get a general idea of color.

Realize you are still definitely not an expert. Therefore, make sure that any pawn shop you shop at has a VERY good return policy, especially if you are making an expensive purchase. Mine has fifteen day return. this is enough time to get an independent appraisal from someone who can tell you what the piece is worth (and thus, whether it was actually a deal or not).
Try not to be prejudiced in terms of the style of the piece. Really ugly rings, for instance, or rings that are just not your style (many still hate 80's pieces with yellow gold) may have gorgeous diamonds in them. Especially if the price is right, think about what you can do to restyle. A diamond from a yellow gold ring can be set in a white gold ring, if that is what you prefer. A diamond from a ring may make a very nice pendant. Also, a diamond that is not top quality for a ring may make a lovely solitaire pendant--diamonds move differently on the neck and are seen from a greater distance. I have a great solitaire pendant, .70 carat weight, which I got for less than $400.

Most pawn shops do not know anything about or guarantee colored stone jewelry so unless you know a lot about this (or have an appraiser who does) may be better to pass.

Look up the spot price for gold on the same day before going to the pawn shop, and know how to make the calculations as to what the gold in the piece in the worth. (Most pawn shops, unlike most jewelry stores, will list the weight, in pennyweights or grams of their jewelry. so you can calculate--and bargain). However, be sure you like the style of a ring or bracelet that you buy for the gold, since many jewelers will not give very good deals when melting gold down to make other jewelry and in fact may even refuse to use already used gold in a piece.

Remember that the PURPOSE of knowing about the cut of a diamond is to ensure that you get a beautiful, sparkley diamond--not to have a trophy piece of paper. You can trust your eyes to a certain extent on this one (and your appraiser can help here). I compare my AGS 000 diamond with the diamonds in the pawn shop to see if they have comparable sparkle, to my eyes, because if you do get a cert in a pawnshop, it is going to be an EGL USA cert or an even more wonky lab than that. Or else a cert made for insurance purposes. You can (and SHOULD) assume that any information on such a cert is not reliable. That is, if the cert says the diamond is a G, it is probably more like an I, and if the cert says it is a VS2, it is probably an SI2. AGain, have a general idea of what the price should be, so that you do not overpay--and again, if the piece is pricey, an appraiser is a really good idea. But don't pass up a lovely diamond that is a great price just because it has no paper. Trust me, no one is ever going to ask (except on Pricescope) what the color and clarity are--much less what the ASET and Idealscope images look like. They will look at the actual diamond and judge it on whether it sparkles, and real human beings actually cannot tell that your diamond is very good cut as opposed to ideal or super-ideal. If the price is good enough, and it is not your engagement ring, must it really 'perform' to the optimum in all situations (even dark closets?)

Some of the best deals in pawn shops are pieces like smaller diamond earrings and tennis bracelets, eternity rings--things with little diamonds. Seeing what I have seen in them, I would now absolutely never pay even internet prices for .25 or .30 total weight diamond earrings, much less brick and mortar prices. especially around Christmas, there are so many earrings of that size in pawn shops at super cut rate prices, people who trade up must drop them off them super often. So far as tennis bracelets are concerned, when you see how many there are in pawn shops and how cheaply, you realize the truth of the fact that the little diamonds making up tennis bracelets actually don't cost anything much and that the person who buys one at retail and then resells it, gets NOTHING back (or jsut about nothing). So be the person who buys them second hand--it's like being the person who buys a one-year old used car, you get an incredible deal because it depreciates so much the minute it's taken out of the jewelry store.

Bargain, bargain, bargain. Look on the tag to see how old the piece is (the pawn broker will be more anxious to make a deal if it hasn't moved in a while). ask if the price can be inclusive of tax. Be polite but mention any flaw you see see that might work in your favor. Don't look very interested in anything. If you see something great, pass it ove at first, look at other Mention if you can pay in cash--they like that (though they take credit cards, do layaway, etc.)

Look for sales at the pawn shop--they do have sales. Just before Christmas is always a sale time.

dont' bother to come in on the busy days of the month which tend to be at the beginning and the end. People trying to make their rent line up outside the pawnshop in my area during the last week of the month, the salespeople are overwhelmed and you get no attention.

Don't go just once and say you saw nothing. Things come in and out. there might be something next time. If there is something specific you are looking for, leave your phone number and ask the clerks to call you if they see such a thing.

There are other things of interest in the pawnshop besides jewelry--musical instruments, bicycles, guns, power tools, CDs etc.

Oh--one last thing. If you are a guy buying an engagement ring for your ff, make sure she doesn't mind a used ring or diamond, some women really object to pawn shop rings for an engagement ring. Dont' assume she won't find out you did this. (women have a way of finding these things out). Avoid the grief and anger, please on what should be a special occasion. One way of getting around this is letting her know what she can get at a pawn shop as opposed to other places--some women would rather have a one carat from a pawn shop than .25 from a brick and mortar. But there are plenty of other women who would NOT. However, I think there are few women who would object to a diamond bracelet from a pawn shop, especially if that is the only way they are going to get one. (And I got a great one from a pawn shop not too long ago, 2 carat total weight, appraised at $2,000--I paid $220.
 

Lula

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Wow -- I am so jealous of your great pawn shops! Here, the prices are very high. And the quality is not there.
 

Sky56

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What you say, Black Jade, rings true. I shop often at pawn, coin and antique shops. My stomping grounds are Oregon, Washington State, Utah and Nevada. If you have a good eye and always travel with loupe, sometimes great bargains can be had on beautiful diamond jewelry. It takes patience as it is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Most of the stones you see there have poor cut, clarity, etc. Most of my jewelry are from second-hand places and I find my stones very satisfying because of the nice price and quality. I actually like the fact that my engagement and other stones were pre-owned; hidden stories there and because of them prices far below retail. I buy only for personal wearing enjoyment.
 

canuk-gal

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HI:

I've stopped frequenting them b/c I never had any luck. Wish I did!

cheers--Sharon
 

MyDiamondSparkles

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I live in a large city in the Midwest. Last year I spent an entire day visiting 15 local pawn shops. I never told my husband about it, i knew he would be against it. I found myself in neighborhoods that one could easily be caught in gun crossfire in the middle of the day. It was really stupid of me and that evening on the local news I saw that someone was robbed and shot outside of one of the pawn shops I visited--it seems that this happens quite often and I would have been an easy target.

There were no good deals and nothing but a bunch of over priced junk in filthy surroundings and seedy looking sales persons who looked at me like i had four eyes. I am quite sure they thought i was there trying to find my stolen jewelry. :0 I also witnessed a lot of heart ache with customers selling off their jewelry to buy diapers and formula for ther babies. It was sad.

I felt filthy when I got home. I'd never do it again and would not want a piece of jewelry from any of our local pawn stores--I'd never feel anything but bad thoughts about it.

I wish our pawn shops were like Pawn Stars, but thy weren't at all. :(
 

Black Jade

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^Sorry you had this bad experience.

What you are describing is what I imagined pawn shops were like before I was told about the local pawn shop that I go to. I guess they are different in different areas. there is never any gunfire in the neighborhood where our pawn shop is and though it does not have the ambiance of a jewelry store, it is not seedy. Neither is the other pawn shop in town, which is part of a pawn shop chain (though I stopped going to that one, it was because I didn't like their return policy on jewelry--they would only take diamonds back if it turned out they were not diamonds and I was interested in better quality). I have had my purchases checked out by an independent appraiser and they have all been stunningly good buys. My most recent is diamond ring I bought for $1500 which was appraised a month ago at $5,000. I bought a five stone ring in platinum there for $500 which was worth $2200 about a year ago. Friends have bought there diamond pave hoop earrings, diamond stud earrings and other jewelry. One friend bought an engagement ring there, I do not know the exact price but it had a 1.25 RB G color, VS2 clarity, which appraised (within the return period) for 2X what she paid for it and she was told that the color and clarity were correct (as I have always found with my purchases).

Safety is of course a primary concern and people who only have pawn shops of the type that you describe obviously would be well off not going to them. But some may be holding back with needless fears who have the sort of pawn shops in their areas that I have in mine. The only way to find out is do research and look for some around you (or in areas that you visit). Re: your concerns, the pawn shops in my state are required to hold property for a certain amount of time before selling and give the police reports of what comes in, so that they do not end up as fences for criminals and I checked to see that the pawn shops that I have been to hold to this policy (I have been the victim of robberies and would never want to profit for one). I do not see pawn shops as preying on the poor, either, in the way that you describe. for many, having a pawn shop near them is a way that they can get a quick loan when needed, using their property as collateral and then get their property back when they have the cash. I have known people who did this frequently over a period of years and never lost the property to the pawn shop. I would rather borrow from a bank, if necessary, but this is not available to everyone and if pawn shops closed, many poorer people would no longer have a way to get money for emergencies. ( My brother used one recently to get a loan to get certified to begin a business and he is not complaining about it. Yes, I would lend him money but he does not want to borrow from relatives). Others use pawn shops to get rid of unwanted things, yes for less than they are worth but easily and without fuss. I suspect diamond jewelry is big in pawn shops because many sell rings from ex-fiances there, or from divorces (I have known women to do this, not caring what they get because they didn't pay for the item in the first place); people unload unwanted inheritance items there and I think some people dump their original engagement rings there when they get upgrades. It is interesting to see the range of engagement rings on display, some OECs and deco pieces still, a whole BUNCH of marquises from the 1980's in yellow gold (because those are out of style), a lot of the high set rings with smaller diamonds that were popular from about 1975 to 1990; wrap wedding rings from the early 90's; and now I am starting to see princess cuts in white metal in significant numbers from the early 2000's. Some are good quality and some are not. It's up to you to make sure you get a good one.

By the way, many of the sellers at my pawn shop, as well as the buyers, are white and well-dressed and middle class. No one assumes they are there' looking for their stolen jewelry' because in a pawn shop you learn fast that appearances don't count for much in terms of letting you know who is financially strapped. There are quite a few people who are well-dressed and present themselves well who are actually very much on the financial edge in this current economy (think, credit card and you will understand) and there are black or hispanic people who look poorer who have good stuff. You don't really know anybody's past. I always remember my grandmother who worked for some time as a maid, she was a middle aged black lady, and she was wearing a very large, great quality OEC diamond in an 18K white gold deco setting the whole time. I'm sure that the white ladies she worked for assumed that this was a fake but it was not--she was at one time married to a lawyer who gifted her with this and when the marriage ended and she landed in the job market with no skills, she chose to keep the valuable ring and work as a maid (while she studied for a nursing degree--later got a better job). I had the experience once of going with my brother down to 47th street (I could have the street wrong, it's a while since I lived in NY)to try to get an idea of the price of some 24 K gold rings I had. We had to give up--the dealers we spoke to would at first laugh and say that the rings were 'not gold' and then when testing them become obviously afraid, say they didn't touch such stuff (assuming we were trying to sell, which we weren't) and trying to send us on the guy who bought 'hot' goods, assuming there was no legal way that two black kids in jeans could have gold unless it was stolen, never even imagining that I was a college student just come back from a trip to Asia.
 

mrs jam

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There is a pawn store in Houston that I love to go into when I am in the area, and while an "upscale" pawn store might sound like an oxymoron, this place is awesome! They specialize in higher-end jewelry, handbags, china, and silver. You don't have to walk past tools, stereo equipment, or lawnmowers to get to the good stuff! Last time I was there, they had an entire jewelry counter filled with Tiffany engagement and eternity bands, Aaron Basha charms, and there were two Cartier rolling rings and a Cartier Love bracelet. The wife of the owner has GIA training and is an appraiser and is a lot of fun to talk to. I got a kick out of listening to a salesperson explaining very patiently to an older woman trying to sell several pieces of LV why he could not offer to pay her full retail price for the pieces. She left in rather a huff, and I heard him tell his co-worker in amused exasperation, "Women and their damn purses!"

I've never seen anyone try to pawn something in sheer desperation. Most of the time, it's people trying to sell stuff they don't want anyway. My parents kept me on a pretty strict budget while I was in college because they felt that keeping me broke equated to keeping me out of trouble. :tongue: That's how I discovered pawn shops. I had a surfboard and a set of speakers that I pawned regularly whenever I needed some cash to sow some wild oats.
 

Amys Bling

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Black jade-- wish I had pawn shops like that in my area!
 

Black Jade

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Amys Bling|1315269724|3010347 said:
Black jade-- wish I had pawn shops like that in my area!
i'm sorry that you don't. Maybe some friends could point you to one in a nearby area?
In my area, the pawn shop has more choice now than it did when I first started this thread due, I believe, to the recent spike in the price of gold and the lowering of the dollar since the debt ceiling crisis which has many selling their gold items for cash. Gold jewelry is still very affordable at our local pawn shops and these are now the only places where this is true, or even where gold is easily available. I have been looking at things in the safety deposit box recently, due to needing to reinsure jewelry and I was startled to look at old pieces of jewelry and remember that three or four years ago you could get very decent 14k chains from Walmart, yellow or white gold rings from the neighborhood jewelry--totally impossible now. Walmart no longer even sells 10k gold. Its all silver (quite expensive), vermeil (gold-plated silver) or other gold plate (on base metal). the neighborhood jewelry store is all Pandora (mostly base metal); silver and gold only for bridal (engagement rings) or special order. I went in there recently to get a 14k gold clasp for some pearls and it had to be special ordered. 14k clasps on pearls were standard not very long ago. Now many are stainless steel, not even silver.

At the pawn shop, on the other hand, you can not only get gold chains, but you buy 14k gold rings for $50-$100. You can get a $50-$60 ringwith a diamond. I was in a week ago scoping things out for a friend whose daughter had an 18th birthday and she wanted a nice present for her, although the economy has hit them hard (she has a job but husband has been jobless for a while and they save where they can). in 15 minutes I found four very nice 14k gold rings for under $70. One had several diamonds in a pretty antique style in white gold, all small but pretty; there was a .20 princess cut; a .25 marquise and there was a .15 round in a bezel. All were very suitable for a young girl and also suitable to buy and use the diamond for a petite pendant, which I am considering to layer with the diamond pendant I already have. That one has a .70 heart diamond set in white gold and cost me $350; I am thinking of spending $50 for a ring with a nice .20-.25 diamond, $70 to set at good local jeweler and maybe using a gold chain I already have and getting about a quarter carat for about $120-- or adding a little money and getting a new chain. Haven't decided yet.
Meanwhile, my friend ended up 'splurging' and got her daughter a .40 carat diamond in a 14k white gold ring, completely clean through a loupe and very sparkly and white-- for $180. The pawn shop dealer was asking $220 but she talked him down. You can't get anything like that for $220 anywhere else anymore--but the secondary market is great. It is win-win as someone else took advantage of gold prices and got some cash for something they didn't want--while my friend got something her daughter will enjoy adn treasure and that makes her feel special. also, there are no ethical concerns as this diamond is one that is already out there being 'recycled'--if you care about such things you can be assured that the environment is not being harmed as it was mined some time again, and also, no current war can possibly be being funded by it.
I took some pics but they are blurry, but I may upload later anyway.
 

LGK

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Lula|1310089806|2964323 said:
Very interesting, Black Jade. What part of the country are you in? Because here in the Midwest (USA), pawn shops and estate jewelers are still asking top dollar for things. I visited several stores many times over the past few months and was shocked at what they were asking for basic 14 kt. lightweight (used!) settings.
Here in the Seattle area that is the case too. A few months ago a friend and I decided to hit all the pawnshops we could in one day- and *all* of them were ridiculously overrpriced for jewelry.
 

Begonia

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Feb 2, 2011
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I live in Victoria, BC. Same here - Pawn shops are not a good deal at all. They want ridiculous prices for uncertified stuff. I don't think they know what the quality is of the stuff they have in stock. It's just all very high priced for schlock and some so-so stuff. Seriously, I might as well buy new, and buying online is a WAY better deal then buying from our local Pawn shops. I really enjoy hearing the stories of people who have scored with wonderful finds at them however... :bigsmile:
 
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