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WF ACA vs HPD CBI In-Person Viewing: .Going from 9F to 1.2J!

Discussion in 'RockyTalky' started by beigenarwhal, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. beigenarwhal
    Rough_Rock

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    by beigenarwhal » Aug 2, 2019
    Hi everyone,

    I posted a month or so ago about my search for a diamond in my budget, and people were very helpful in their suggestions! @TimMD suggested I try and evaluate ideal-cut diamonds in person, to see if I was color sensitive, to see if that'd help me get a bigger stone for the money. I went to Tiffany's and from their selection, felt that I could tell the difference between colorless and near-colorless diamonds, so I went ahead and purchased this .9F SI ACA from Whiteflash (https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3929360.htm)

    Then began the process of choosing a setting! Honestly, the whole "we're buying a diamond and getting engaged!" situation caught me by surprise - my partner and I had talked about getting married "in the future" but I hadn't done any real research into what type of rings I wanted! I didn't even have a Pinterest board! So suddenly owning a diamond and having to choose a setting right away was very daunting. I was excited to be working with WF, as my sister worked with them on her engagement ring within the last year, and had only positive things to say about her experience (and her ring was STUNNING) so I felt I was in good hands!

    Unfortunately, my experience with my WF associate was....meh. :| I think it was a few things:
    1. Unresponsiveness - Part of this was because I'm on PST and WF is on CST; when I would email questions in the afternoon (my time) I wouldn't get a response until the next day. Since I was a total newbie on jewelry shopping, I had a lot of questions! It was hard to have a real conversation with my WF associate, and some of my questions (about customization and pricing) took more than a day or so to answer. Sometimes I would jump on their online chat feature during lunch to try and catch my associate that way, but she wasn't super responsive there either. I found out later that she was an associate in the showroom, which explains why there was a delay (I assume she's helping clients IRL).
    2. My inexperience with jewelry shopping - I think my WF associate would have been better suited for someone who already had a better idea of what ring they wanted. I needed a lot of handholding through the whole process, and while she was happy to answer questions I had and pull up settings I specifically asked about, she wasn't the best at saying "Oh I see you like this style, here's X, Y, Z that also have a similar style." It led to me doing a lot of ring Googling on my own, and I must have scrolled through WF's page ten times a day trying to see all their different styles. I did work with someone else at WF (when my associate was unavailable that day), who was GREAT at this though (Magen @ WF - thank you!) and I actually requested to work with her moving forward since I felt we really clicked. However I was told it's not WF's policy to switch associates.
    3. Personality differences/Unrealistic expectations? - I'll take responsibility for this one, because I don't think it was the fault of my associate. But when I went to Tiffany's to check out engagement rings, the associates were all very friendly and enthusiastic about the engagement, and their excitement was contagious! Getting engaged is a joyous occasion, and it was FUN! I left the store feeling really upbeat and happy to be jewelry shopping! I don't know if it was because I had so many questions about settings, or wasn't clear about what type of setting I wanted, but my interactions with my WF associate were very muted in comparison. While she was always polite and friendly, I never got the vibe that she was excited for me or happy to be helping me choose such an important part of my life. Our interactions definitely felt like a purchase transaction, like I could have been buying a new laptop. And again, I want to stress I don't think it's her fault - it's unreasonable to expect her to be as excited about it as I was, and it probably is hard to maintain enthusiasm when you're only communicating by email once a day. But it contributed to my sense of "meh" about WF.
    So I was doing a lot of setting research on my own, and came across High Performance Diamond's site to see if they had any information about the Vatche Serenity that @cflutist had - the setting section on their website was down so I used the "chat now" feature to send in my question and figured they'd message me back in the morning (as it was well after business hours). Imagine my surprise when I got a response LATER THAT NIGHT AT 8PM PST! :-o @LaylaR messaged me asking what I needed, and that was probably the best thing that could have happened to my engagement ring....

    (to be continued...)

     
    


    


  2. hypermom
    Shiny_Rock

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    by hypermom » Aug 2, 2019
    I worked with Layla on my engagement ring upgrade and all I can say is you are in good hands!
     
  3. southernicetea
    Rough_Rock

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    by southernicetea » Aug 2, 2019
    You can't leave us on a cliff hanger like that! Glad HPD came through for you though!
     
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  4. chamois
    Shiny_Rock

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    by chamois » Aug 2, 2019

    Not at all surprised that you were contacted soon after your query to HPD. Their customer service is excellent. I have worked with them on two occasions and would highly recommend them.
    Please let us know how this all pans out for you.

    Good luck :wavey:
     
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  5. lovedogs
    Ideal_Rock

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    by lovedogs » Aug 2, 2019
    CLIFF HANGER! I MUST KNOW THE CONCLUSION!
     
  6. Johnbt
    Shiny_Rock

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  7. hypermom
    Shiny_Rock

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    by hypermom » Aug 2, 2019
    Your cliff hangers are better than mine! Good for you!
     
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  8. AV_
    Ideal_Rock

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    by AV_ » Aug 2, 2019
    I am grateful for sales folk who can make themselves dissapear untill asked - I call this courtesy & rather expect as much. Then WHOA! - some read your mind & know what you do not know you want - as if you had been buying from them the same thing all your life! Then, they'd tell you what you will dream tomorrow night & where your great grandmother was born too ,) - I'd have what they're having, once.

    bookmarking thread!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
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  9. hypermom
    Shiny_Rock

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    by hypermom » Aug 2, 2019
    I’m not sure that’s what the OP was asking for. Just saying ...
     
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  10. AV_
    Ideal_Rock

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    by AV_ » Aug 2, 2019
    @hypermom Just jotted down what crossed my mind.
     
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  11. PreRaphaelite
    Brilliant_Rock

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  12. LLJsmom
    Ideal_Rock

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    by LLJsmom » Aug 2, 2019
    I’m sorry WF wasn’t what you were looking for. I am glad Layla at HPD had a style more suited to you. Congratulations!
     
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  13. beigenarwhal
    Rough_Rock

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    by beigenarwhal » Aug 3, 2019
    Sorry everyone for the delay! I thought I'd be able to write up the whole experience during my lunch break, but clearly that wasn't the case.

    Continuing on...

    Even though I was only looking at settings, @LaylaR was still super helpful in asking me what type of settings I was interested in, and was sending me examples that fit the bill (some of the examples she sent weren't even created yet, but had CADs available). Midway through our conversation, she asked me if I already had a diamond picked out and I let her know about the ACA. I thought that might cool the conversation (we were texting back and forth pretty quickly) since it's a direct competitor, but she was very supportive and praised my choice. At NO time did her enthusiasm wane in trying to help me find the perfect setting, nor did she try to "sell" me on a CBI! I really got the feeling she was trying to make /me/ happy, rather than just trying to make a sale. It felt like I was shopping with a friend! I shared with her my underwhelming experience with WF, and how it had transferred into my underwhelming feelings about my diamond. Feeling "meh" about the whole ring buying process had dulled my excitement for the stone - while I appreciated it was a great stone (it was ideal cut, came from a reputable company, great upgrade policy, in budget, etc.), it did not "spark joy." My hours perusing the PS forums for setting ideas and seeing everyone's large diamonds didn't help my dissatisfaction either - I was getting struck with DSS before my stone was even on my finger!

    This is when @LaylaR changed from "shopper friend" to "loving aunt" mode (I would say "mom mode," but I don't think she's old enough to be my mother); it could have been VERY easy for her to swoop in for the sale with a "let's get a larger CBI diamond for you!" Instead, she spent time REASSURING ME that my ACA diamond would be fabulous, gorgeous, and look amazing once set and on my finger. Y'ALL, SHE ENCOURAGED ME TO STAY WITH MY WF DIAMOND! :confused: She told me about her experiences on the PS forums, and gave me great advice about how to keep a level perspective in diamond shopping. Then, because she is a consummate professional, she pulled up some more settings that she thought would work well with my diamond, sending me links, real life photos, and answering all my questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. She even got me quotes for franken-ring combinations because I could not decide what I wanted! For the first time in a few weeks, I went to bed excited about my ring possibilities, rather than apathetic about the process or overwhelmed about having to trudge through all the settings.

    The next day, Layla reached out to me again and let me know she was bothered that I was so ambivalent about my diamond. It's true, while I was excited about the ring process again with Layla, I was still only "meh" about my diamond. I didn't look at it and feel enamored - it was just...a piece of rock. It didn't hold that "OMG I'm getting engaged!" magic that it did when I first bought it which is a shame, because it ticked off all the "perfect diamond" boxes. She let me know that HPD had a .9F SI CBI (the exact same specs as the ACA!) and that @John Pollard was going to be in my area soon for viewings. Did I want to do a side by side comparison of the ACA vs CBI, and see if I felt any different? If they didn't work, she could also bring some other stones in my budget that she thought I might like and I could compare them in real life. Um, YES PLEASE! A chance to compare two identical [on paper] diamonds from two leading ideal-cut diamond companies in person?! :love:

    Finally, after several weeks the day of the viewing arrived (it actually was postponed because @John Pollard's wife planned him a surprise party, which I of course cannot begrudge). Layla was as warm and caring in person as she came across in text and I was immediately comfortable talking to her. @cflutist was also in the area, and she was there in all her CBI sparkling, shining, brilliant jewelry which looks better than it does in photos. @John Pollard started off with his educational spiel on CBI diamonds and ideal cut diamonds, complete with idealscope and asetscope! The whole viewing was very casual, low pressure, and informative! There was no hard-sell or pushiness to buy - they knew I already had an ACA diamond so this was just for me to compare.

    They placed the .9F CBI and ACA next to each other in a holder, and let me walk around with them to see how they responded to different lighting. To be honest, the differences I noticed were very slight - both were incredibly fiery, incredibly brilliant, and both threw sparkles everywhere. To me, the contrast on the CBI looked /slightly/ clearer, but that was the only difference I noticed and I'm not entirely sure I didn't imagine it. I wish I had photos or videos to share comparing the two but I was too busy drooling over all the diamonds to even take my phone out during the viewing.

    Continuing on with the viewing, John set out a few diamonds of different sizes and colors for me to look at, to determine my color sensitivity. To recap, I thought F was the lowest I'd go from my experience at Tiffany's but....

    375cii.jpg

    While I was able to tell the color grades apart (there was an F, G, and I), they all faced up so VERY VERY WHITE that I felt very comfortable dropping down from the F! Even the I diamond didn't look yellowed like I feared it would - it was still very white, and on its own I wouldn't have pegged it as an I without the F or G to compare it to. I know everyone says ideal cut diamonds face up whiter than their color grade, but I saw with my very own eyes that it was true! Of course, once I discovered my color sensitivity =/= color intolerance, the world was my diamond oyster! I could get a much bigger diamond for my budget and the .9F ACA was quickly set aside (and returned!). Layla, wisely, had set aside an 1 ct H SI for this viewing, knowing that this was a very likely possibility. It was in my budget and hit the 1ct mark that I told her I wanted to reach. She thought it was the perfect diamond for me. However, the person who had their viewing right before me decided to purchase it! :cry2: What a rollercoaster! Layla assured me she'll look for others, and that she'd send me links of some other ones in my budget that I might be interested in.

    I trudged home and went through the HPD website again and found two stones I liked (both I's around the 1 ct range) but it was so hard to not think about the H SI that "could have been." However, fate intervened - at 8PM, Layla texted me to let me know that the buyer changed their mind about the H!! It was all mine for the taking!! This must be meant to be!!! :appl: I quickly told Layla I'd take it and we started working on finalizing the setting.

    I was all over the place on settings, but we finally narrowed it down to a modified version of the HPD's Blossom setting and Layla was drafting up an invoice while I took one last scroll through HPD's diamond listings (does anyone else do this even when they're not in the market?) That's when I saw it - there was a 1.2 J SI2 diamond "future" listing that was CHEAPER than the the 1 ct H SI! It wasn't cut yet, but it was in the works and I know from the viewing that I was comfortable with an "I" color. I hadn't yet seen a "J" color though, so I kept debating whether to take the risk on the dark horse candidate. The listing also didn't have any information about the inclusions or measurements, so it was really going to be a leap of faith. I had to noodle on it, so I asked Layla to see if she can find more information on it and I'll make a decision once I heard back.

    I woke up the next morning to find a 1:50AM PST email from Layla with the heading "BUY IT AND BUY IT NOW!" :shock: Turns out the J SI2 had a very promising inclusion, and there was a very high chance it would be graded higher than the SI2 (which, spoiler alert, it was)! She went ahead and put it on hold for me while I was still blithely asleep, so no one could grab it, and I was beyond thrilled with the fortunate turn of events! Now began the long wait for the diamond to be cut and for the setting to be made...

    (to be continued....:cheeky:)
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
  14. lovedogs
    Ideal_Rock

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    by lovedogs » Aug 3, 2019
    Oh my goddddd I love this story so much!!!!!
     
  15. Dancing Fire
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Dancing Fire » Aug 3, 2019
    You are in good hands with Layla...:clap:
     
    


    


  16. CheeSauce
    Shiny_Rock

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    by CheeSauce » Aug 3, 2019
    Hahah my mom was the one who was originally going to get the 1 ct H SI1! We ended up getting the 1.10 H VS2 I think you had on hold (I think Layla said we swapped stones)!! I wonder if anyone bought that 1 ct H SI1... it was such a good deal and would have been my choice if I was looking for a H color stone (but my mom wanted something mind clean).
     
  17. Weecam
    Shiny_Rock

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    by Weecam » Aug 3, 2019
    Wow what a story! Can’t wait for the final product!! :geek2:
     
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  18. southernicetea
    Rough_Rock

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    by southernicetea » Aug 3, 2019
    :appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl::appl:

    I'm overjoyed for you @beigenarwhal! A diamond ring (an engagement ring, nonetheless) *should* give you joy as a reminder of the commitment you and your fiance are making.

    From a business standpoint, diamonds are a luxury item-the buying experience shouldn't feel like you're going in to buy a set of car tires. Granted, there are times when I walk into a department store and I want to be left alone to browse. However, the seller should be able to distinguish the difference between "Oh I'm just browsing" and "Yes, can you tell me more about this item?" I put that onus on the seller, not you, @beigenarwhal.

    It makes me sad that WF zapped that joy away initially, and quite frankly I'm surprised at how our experiences differed. I'm so glad that you found HPD and @LaylaR!
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
  19. CheeSauce
    Shiny_Rock

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    by CheeSauce » Aug 3, 2019
    Correction, it was an SI2 and it is still available... if someone wants a good deal on a CBI!
     
  20. Johnbt
    Shiny_Rock

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    by Johnbt » Aug 3, 2019
    Great story. Happy it worked out for you. :)
    ____________________

    As far as... "diamonds are a luxury item-the buying experience shouldn't feel like you're going in to buy a set of car tires" ...

    I love buying great tires. I suppose it's different for me, being a 68-year-old newlywed (last November) with a 4Runner who depends on his truck tires both on the beach at Hatteras and Ocracoke and to get his fishing boat over muddy banks on lakes where there is no boat ramp and barely a wide cow path to even get the trailer near the water. I really get excited about buying top rated tires that work offroad - Michelin Defenders in this case. The ones that came on it were all but useless.
    Heck, I even got a little excited buying 4 new 18" Michelin Premiers for my wife's Avalon Touring. Far better performance than the factory tires. But I digress. Time to get my wife off for a day of babysitting the two grandsons.
     
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  21. eapj
    Shiny_Rock

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    by eapj » Aug 3, 2019
    Ha! I am a 46 year old woman and love buying tires. They’re so key to the comfort and handling of a car! I do so much research before buying tires and think it’s such fun (but I’m also a car enthusiast).

    Back on track - OP, I love your story!
     
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  22. OoohShiny
    Ideal_Rock

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    by OoohShiny » Aug 3, 2019
    :o

    You are rare!! lol
     
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  23. yssie
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by yssie » Aug 3, 2019
    It sounds like you’ve had a wonderful experience with CBI and with @LaylaR! She went above and beyond for you... honestly though, I’ve known her for a long time here on PS and I know how seriously she has always taken education and consumer assistance, so I can’t say I’m surprised that she made a customer’s fulfillment her personal responsibility =)2

    I’m so very happy to hear that your giddy-happy engagement feelings have been restored :appl::kiss2:
     
  24. whaleshead
    Rough_Rock

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    by whaleshead » Aug 4, 2019
    Did I miss something? What are you going to do with the WF stone? Aren't you well past the return window?
     
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  25. XHellfireX
    Rough_Rock

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    by XHellfireX » Aug 4, 2019
    Mind sharing who it was at WF? I feel like I'm having a similar experience.
     
  26. hypermom
    Shiny_Rock

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    by hypermom » Aug 5, 2019
    That’s so funny you ended up buying a J when you were so sure you needed an F! There’s nothing like seeing for yourself with your own eyes. Can’t wait to see the final ring!
     
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  27. angeljosephy
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    by angeljosephy » Aug 5, 2019
    Following for updates!! Can't bear the suspense...:wall:
     
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  28. Double E
    Shiny_Rock

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    by Double E » Aug 6, 2019
    Glad to see you have a wonderful experience with CBI and HPD. Agree that the process of stone hunting and ring building should be as pleasing as the final result. Looking forward to your lovely piece^^
     
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  29. beigenarwhal
    Rough_Rock

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    by beigenarwhal » Aug 6, 2019
    Thank you everyone for the kind words! I'm so excited and can't wait to share in person photos with everyone! I do have a video of the stone in case anyone's interested:

    @CheeSauce it WAS such a great deal! I'm surprised it hasn't been scooped up already! I just couldn't resist the urge to go bigger...:razz:

    @whaleshead Once I discovered my color tolerance was broader than I thought, I returned the WF stone (it was still within the return window at the time). The return process was easy and hassle-free so no complaints there!

    @XHellfireX I don't feel comfortable naming the associate - I think it was more a mismatch on personality than the associate doing anything wrong, since some people do appreciate a more hands-off approach when shopping. However, I did provide feedback on the responsiveness issue to WF when I returned my stone. Maybe you can try pushing for a new associate? If they let you switch, I recommend Magen (who I worked with briefly) or Becca (who my sister worked with and loves).
     
  30. hypermom
    Shiny_Rock

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    by hypermom » Aug 6, 2019
    Beautiful stone and a great size. So many of us can’t wait to see it set!
     
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