My general review about diamonds and Tradeshop.com

#1
This is a review of one diamond vendor alongside my opinions about how to get the best diamond for the least amount of money. It will be controversial because that is the nature of the diamond industry; an industry largely built on ego and illusion. I am assuming those who read this already did their homework on the 4 c's. People who are shopping for a diamond and think they have all the facts might find this lengthy rant to be helpful: I would have! You can trust the source here because what follows is my own opinion in your face. I have nothing to gain from sharing my opinion, no reputation to defend.

First off, most mall jewelry stores simply don't often carry good diamonds. If you are spending serious money on a diamond, take yourself to a large diamond district like new york or chicago and do some comparison shopping following the advice I give below (in addition to the basics). Then, come home and do some online pricing comparisons. Then choose your vendor. Most vendors all deal with the same diamond houses; find one with a good, honest reputation that has a good standing with these diamonds houses.

I love that simulant diamonds are so popular. I would have no problem putting an asha in my engagement ring. However, for reasons I won't discuss here, I decided on a diamond.

Here are some popular myths being spread by various people who sell diamonds or wish to be diamond experts:

1. If you buy anything less than an ideal cut, one day you will regret it and realize your diamond doesn't 'perform' as well as it should.
What I have learned: That is TOTAL BS, expecially in a bezel setting, to steer people towards spending extra for a hearts and arrows diamond. While it is true that cut is widely known to be the most discerning characteristic in a diamond, and that if you want to look at your diamond directly from top view with perfect lighting all day you might prefer an ideal hearts and arrows cut, there are plenty of very good cuts out there that meet the needs of non-professionals who want an exceptional, sparkly diamond. These vendors who try to push you to buy only one kind of diamond are not selling you what you need: they are trying to distinguish themselves in the market that caters to the insecurities and particularities of people who are wannabe diamond experts. It is a upsell; make no mistake. As is sadly the case with most for the diamond industry, they are just selling you an idea that essentiually is geared to exploit your insecurities.
Selling a diamond is selling an opinion. A very good GIA graded cut will be most sufficient and dazzling to most people. That is why diamonds are so great: they sparkle even when poorly cut. Does that mean a hearts and arrows isn't worth considering? Not at all, if you can afford it and appreciate it! But something I realized is that most mall jewelry stores don't even carry GIA very good cuts, so odds are you don't know until you see with your own eyes how great a very good GIA cut diamond is. It is good enough for this chick and I'm choosy and do my homework.

Myth #2: In order for your diamond to look white to you it must be a G/H color grade or better. My answer: Again, total BS. Most diamonds have to be graded from the side view because a K or better will often appear indistinguishable from a colorless even to some gemologists. That doesn't mean some people don't have a sharper eye when it comes to color, but for the most part, even I myself cannot tell MUCH of a difference. I see a bit more warmth in a K than a F color, but most don't. DO yourself a favor and see a K color very good GIA cut diamond with your own eyes next to white metal like platinum and odds are that you will see that it looks outstandling. In fact, there is no reason to not go even lower than K: I just happen to prefer a color that from my perspective best complements the white of platinum. In a yellow gold setting I would definitely go with an M color or even much lower and still achieve the diamond effect that is currently trendy.

Myth #3: If you want the stone to look eye clean, buy SI or better. My answer: Again, total BS. An I1 clarity diamond often looks just as good as a VS1 to the naked eye of the average viewer. If you can locate an eye clean I1, or one with white inclusions, or one which is called table clean, you are likely getting a very steep discount for virtually no reduction in beauty to most naked eyes. I1 are snatched up by jewelery stores like hot cakes because they sell to consumers who just buy based on what pleases their eye; and I1 often gets the job done. One vendor tried to convince me that I1 is never eye clean, that is patently false. There are SI1s that look dirtier than some I1s. Do yourself a favor and see a few I1's before you decide you need anything better. A WELL CUT I1 is typically eye clean and/or so beautiful that I am pretty sure you won't notice inclusions (if they are even visible). Again, you can get a deep discount for downgrading on clarity. Overcome this stigma about the 4C's and shake off what the big vendors are tyring to sell you; it's a gimmick.

Myth #4: Fluorescence is bad. My Answer: Actually, no: fluorescence is really great. Ya know why? Because the vast majority of diamonds with strong blue fluorescence are deeply discounted by diamond houses even though to the naked eye their fluorescence is not at all displeasing or even noticeable to most people. The reason for this? Another trend. Over the years there have been various diamond investment scams where people are encouraged to hoard their diamonds as if they are some kind of commodity or investment. This trend was started in the 80s by a some people who eventually went to prison for attempting to fraudulently start sellings diamonds as a commodity and one of their 'distinguishing' niches was to tell people to not buy diamonds with fluorescence if they wanted them to be investment worthy. For this reason, many diamond houses will not deal with strong blue fluorescent diamonds, but it's all hogwash. This is just an old view that won't die because this same generation is still selling diamonds. It's the same as the newer generation and their hang-ups about buying either fancy pink or totally colorless diamonds and nothing in between; just a fad. See one for yourself before deciding not to get one with fluorescence; Many experts actually prefer strong blue fluorescence because of the lovely soft violet color they sometimes have in sunlight. Warning: if there is ever a chance that you might need to sell your diamond, this is the only time a fluorescence might make it much harder to sell. But considering that you aren't likely to get more than 30% of what you paid for your diamonds should you decide to resell it anyways, I think a good piece of advice is this: Avoid buying a diamond you might need to resell later: diamonds are NOT investments . As long as the vendor has a good return policy within say 7 days or longer, I would have been OK with buying from them. Obviously other things, such as a good record with the Better Business Bureau, are important. The reason certain vendors try to create a niche for themselves is because that way they don't have to compete with other vendors based strictly on index prices: and that is just another illusion of the diamond industry.

Myth #5: Look for vendors who will allow you to upgrade your diamond down the road. My opinion: This can get very complicated. Unless these jewelers have been in business and reputable for a really long time, adhere strictly to GIA grading and something such as IDEX value estimates, or are willing to allow a third party appraisal of your diamond at that time when you trade it in, how can you know that THEY will be fair on the value of your diamond when you exchange it? And how do you know down the road that their prices will be reasonable on a new diamond? There are many potential loopholes in this kind of offer, considering the extremely high markup consumers pay on diamond to begin with. I am not saying there isn't a huge incentive in being able to upgrade your diamond years later, but I think it is often falsely presented as one by companies who can't back it up and so for this reason is usually more of just another sales pitch. Make sure the details and what-ifs are clearly stipulated in writing. Verbal and vague written promises don't amount to much ten or even five years later.

I finally decided on a diamond from Tradeshop, and here is why: Tradeshop has a large search engine of diamonds of ALL cuts, colors, and clarities. The owner, Duane, has established good relatinships with several diamond houses (people who only sell to the trade) and knows how to get quality diamonds. And he has a lowest price guarantee. I had a good experience buying from Tradeshop, and immediately took my diamond to an independent GIA gemologist who doesn't sell diamonds. He said in his own words "you did good". We couldn't find a diamond of my quality for less than what I paid for it, and he was looking at a diamond house website that only sells to the trade. Online vendors like tradeshop have a pretty low markup and access to thousands of diamonds and aren't selling any gimmicks. That can make them sort of disappear into the fold and I came here to post my review as a form of appreciation for their ethics.

One final comment: if I could start over again today with 5k budget, I would buy a k color very good cut I1 with strong blue fluorescence. I would get something over 1.5 carats for this price. See what 5k gets you in the stores! And most importantly, what lab it was graded by...Once you know how different labs grade you will see where the grey area starts. GIA is non-profit and the only lab I would trust to buy from without a very secure return policy (not that you shouldn't have a return policy from your vendor, but if you're in a time crunch and don't want to risk having to return a diamond you bought after the appraisal was less than you expected, only go for a GIA graded diamond. That means it comes with a certificate FROM GIA, not just 'graded by a GIA gemologist". After you buy rhe diamond is when you should take it to an independent GIA gemologist WHO DOESN'T sell diamonds.

As for labs, the only one I am sure about is GIA, if you are shopping for diamonds graded by any other labs, adjust your grading up based on the reputations of those labs. For example, EGL tends to grade color face up, so a GIA color I is a EGL color G.

That's just my opinion, hope it's useful.
 
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poppyseed

The Florentine Diamond
#2
very comprehensive and informative Thparkle, confirms some of my theories based on my non-professional opinion, and what just looks good to my eyes. I think your opinion deserves quite a bit of merit.

Did you order your diamond online, and if so did you order several to decide what looked most appealing to your eyes?

thanks
 
#3
hi,

Thanks for the feedback. I did meet with my local gemologist and looked at his set of GIA master color set to determine color choice. As for cut and clarity, I visited several local jewelers and realized that many people have never even seen a GIA very good cut near colorless because most stores sell diamonds that are graded by a completely different lab with different standards.

This is just a compilation of what I learned about diamonds in the last few months as a reluctant diamond buyer myself. These are the things I wish I had known sooner. I will write more about what I have learned about colored gemstones and jewelry (which is more than I know about diamonds) at another time...I tend to overdo things :)
 
#4
I just realized I was too busy tooting my own horn again to answer all your questions: I didn't actually order my diamond; my husband did. It's according to my gia gemologist a I colored very good cut SI2. According to EGL it was an excellent cut G colored SI2. Had my husband not ordered this diamond for me I would have spent a little less money for an I1. But over all I'm extremely happy with my diamond. I took my husband around to different jewelry stores to show him that we literally cannot find anything comparable. The illusion of buying diamonds is all based on perspective. My diamond is not at the average jewelry stores and if it was it would look like a 10k diamond compared to what they sell for 5k.
 
#6
Me too! I need to get a good camera. For that I recommend craigslist (since I'm so busy giving my opinion on how to save money).

I will get a photo after my setting is finished. I'll photograph it on a poppy flower, or some other such martha stewart silliness, and show it off.

:-D
 

gemcat

Super Moderator
#7
Welcome, Thparkle, and thank you for your very good treatise on diamond buying. I've had transactions with Tradeshop for other types of jewelry and I agree they are terrific to do business with.
 
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MrsGotRocks

The Imperial Diamond
#8
Hey, Thparkle, I agree with many of the points you posted. I too wish I had known all this when DH and I were shopping for my original diamond e-ring in 1992 (still love it for sentimental reasons even if it isn't an ideal H&A). I know it now but am reluctant to spend my money on a diamond - oh, the irony!
I've never seen an I1 in person but I wouldn't discount it. I'd at least take a look and see where the inclusions are and compare it to an eye-clean SI2.

I'd also add to your tips to first determine budget. Then prioritze your personal 4C preferences in order. Then try to find the the one diamond that makes your heart sing and appeals to your eye. As long as you can compare the one to others, and it is mind-clean to you, you're good to go. I agree that one doesn't have to follow the desirable numbers and stats to have a beautiful diamond.

Lastly, PICS, please!!
 
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#9
Hi MGR, I agree, budget is essential, because there is always something slightly better when it comes to diamonds.

I think that in order to establish your four Cs you have to get out there and relly see diamonds side by side. Most importantly is knowing what you are looking at by making sure those are GIA graded diamonds, otherwise what you thought was a J color is going to turn out to be a N color once it goes for appraisal...which is fine but you probably didn't get what you paid for.
 

CaraMish

The Imperial Diamond
#10
Thanks for the words of advice! I agree, fluorescence is a diamond-lover's friend!

We'd love to see pictures of your diamond!
 
#11
For me, I do not like to see diamonds side by side---just like comparing paint colors; I wouldn't even necessarily see minor differences unless I see them side by side. I like to make my opinions about them isolated. I do not want to spend thousands more for a stone, when isolated I would have been perfectly satisfied with the stone which was less $$$. In my life, I will not have a ring compared with many others on a daily basis (I am not in a social set in whcih it will be compared frequently to others). So, luckily, I can certainly live with a low grade and less expensive stone. I can even live with visible inclusions; depending on where they are located (provided they do not break the surface area of the stone where they cannot be covered with a prong).

In fact, I am actually currently searching for an acceptable irradiated blue diamond---knowing that it will be a low grade stone treated to cover "most" of the imperfections. I know it will not be a "nice" diamond---but, for me, it will be :)

Side by side stone comparisons would tempt me to spend money for the obviously nicer stone, when I see them side by side. But, considering that I am not likely to see them side by side after I purchase the less expensive stone---the temptation is just too much and causes too much confusion for me. LOL ...not to mention store lighting and that intimidated feeling I sometimes get in some jewelry stores....LOL

Thanks so much for not being afraid to share your opinions with us. It has been very helpful.
 
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erised

Connoisseur
#12
thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. you definitely make valid points. i also wanted to add that enhanced diamonds are another way to go to save money. i've seen some gorgeous enhanced diamonds that are very white, and sparkle like no other.
 

poppyseed

The Florentine Diamond
#13
If I were to compare them side by side, it would only include a group of diamonds in my price range. I wouldn't want to fall into the trap of comparing what I could afford with something out of my price range, no point of setting yourself up for potential torture!!
 

ebedner

The Millenium Star
#14
I wouldn't want to fall into the trap of comparing what I could afford with something out of my price range, no point of setting yourself up for potential torture!!
+1!

Great review Thparkle - and I agree. Fluorescence is our friend!
 
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#16
Ladywolfe1 said:
For me, I do not like to see diamonds side by side---just like comparing paint colors; I wouldn't even necessarily see minor differences unless I see them side by side. I like to make my opinions about them isolated. I do not want to spend thousands more for a stone, when isolated I would have been perfectly satisfied with the stone which was less $$$. In my life, I will not have a ring compared with many others on a daily basis (I am not in a social set in whcih it will be compared frequently to others). So, luckily, I can certainly live with a low grade and less expensive stone. I can even live with visible inclusions; depending on where they are located (provided they do not break the surface area of the stone where they cannot be covered with a prong).

In fact, I am actually currently searching for an acceptable irradiated blue diamond---knowing that it will be a low grade stone treated to cover "most" of the imperfections. I know it will not be a "nice" diamond---but, for me, it will be :)

Side by side stone comparisons would tempt me to spend money for the obviously nicer stone, when I see them side by side. But, considering that I am not likely to see them side by side after I purchase the less expensive stone---the temptation is just too much and causes too much confusion for me. LOL ...not to mention store lighting and that intimidated feeling I sometimes get in some jewelry stores....LOL

Thanks so much for not being afraid to share your opinions with us. It has been very helpful.
Hi Ladywolfe,
You make some good points. However, the reason I think it's important to see the diamond side by side is that you can decide whether or not things like color and clarity are important to you personally. Perhaps you like color, and perhaps you don't care about clarity as long as it has a good cut. You won't know that unless you compare. Assuming the diamonds you are being shown will be within your budget once you have chosen a vendor, you can first get an idea what your expected weight range is and then ask to only see diamonds within that price range. If I had not seen side by side diamonds, I would not have realized that clarity grades don't mean much to my eye, and color grades are also not nearly as important as cut.
 
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#17
erised said:
thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. you definitely make valid points. i also wanted to add that enhanced diamonds are another way to go to save money. i've seen some gorgeous enhanced diamonds that are very white, and sparkle like no other.
Hi, Are you referring to fracture filling? For me personally, the reason we settled on a diamond was for its hardness and durability and the likelihood that we can pass it on as an heirloom. Fracture filled diamonds cannot be treated like unenhanced diamonds, and if I pass it down to my grandchildren I don't want to explain that to them. That could be because I personally am not crazy about diamonds. If I was, perhaps it would be worth the trouble. But anyways I couldn't find enhanced diamonds at prices I thought were reasonable that met those criteria. Perhaps I didn't look hard enough but that is because where I did look I found a lot of dishonest vendors trying to sell fracture filled diamonds for near the cost of unenhanced diamonds. I think enhanced diamonds should not cost more than 40% of their unenhanced counterparts, considering the abundance of diamonds in circulation. If there is an honest vendor selling enhanced diamonds at a fair price then plz let me know as I haven't found one as of now! I looked for my 1.54ct equivalent and it was only about 20% less in cost.

Edited to say: Actually, I can't find my diamond's enhanced equivalent on yehuda's website for even close to the same cost as mine: they are much more expensive.
 
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erised

Connoisseur
#18
the enhanced diamonds i've seen are generally lasered so any black inclusions appear white. as far as i know, none of the ones i've seen were fracture filled. i don't recall the percentage of savings, but i remember the prices being far less than that of unenhanced diamonds. i'll keep a lookout though.
 
#19
erised said:
the enhanced diamonds i've seen are generally lasered so any black inclusions appear white. as far as i know, none of the ones i've seen were fracture filled. i don't recall the percentage of savings, but i remember the prices being far less than that of unenhanced diamonds. i'll keep a lookout though.
Hi erised, I have read that as many as 1/3 of all diamonds are laser drilled to remove flaws. That's a widely accepted treatment even by GIA and doesn't impact value very greatly from what I can recall. The fracture filled diamonds are the one that are drilled and then filled with a subtance: the GIA won't grade these kinds of diamonds because the treatment isn't stable. They are supposed to be much cheaper than the unenhanced diamonds but based on what I've seen a lot of vendors charge a ridiculous price for them.
 
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#20
I'm just adding this to anyone else who posts here, that I might not be back to this forum because 1. The threads I subscribe to aren't notifying me and that is suspisciously like pricescope and 2. There are way too many sticky threads in the forum index which means mine is always unnoticeable. But you guys are nice and I hope you all take care. Bye:)
 
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