Tag Archives: Blue Nile

A Good Deal on a Ugly Diamond is not a Good Deal.

I have written several posts over time regarding the diamond purchase process and the Internet.

Those who do not know me may think my repeated postings on the subject are a case of sour grapes in that the internet has changed the diamond business.  Though the internet has changed the diamond business in a few significant ways, my posts are my way of dealing with my frustrations of seeing the detrimental effects that the internet has on the consumer/diamond buyer.

I did a diamond appraisal this week for a Millennial.  He was obviously proud of the wonderful deal he got after I can’t even imagine how many hours or days of research. When I asked him how he got to the internet vendor company (one that I never heard of and which must take many hours or days to get to!), he proudly told me that he found this company after much research and that this company had the best prices.

As requested I evaluated his diamond and assured him that he got a great deal on his diamond with regard to the underlying GIA specifications.  He smiled as if I confirmed to him that he “beat” the system.

It is my honest professional opinion that this Millennial has just spent in excess of $10,000.00 on something that is not beautiful at all – unless, of course, one considers that specifications as set out on a piece of paper (the GIA grading report) to be the underlying beauty of a diamond.

This is a photo of the diamond that he purchased  .  . 

Though it may be somewhat difficult to see in the photo, this diamond looks somewhat dull as it severely lacking the scintillation and fire that makes a diamond beautiful.  This is despite the fact that the G/VVS2 color/clarity grade on the GIA report denotes a diamond that is truly fine.

 

The photo on the right is a different diamond that I photographed under the exact same lighting conditions.

This diamond jumps out at you. It draws you in as you look at the faceting and it’s scintillation and brilliance.   This is what a beautiful Cushion Cut diamond is supposed to look like.

To be honest with the reader it is the rare Cushion Cut diamond that looks like the diamond on the right.  It is also true that the cut on this diamond commands a premium price in the wholesale market when compared to the majority of Cushion Cut diamonds.

The Millennial who purchased the above diamond (in the ring) could have purchased the more beautiful diamond for a similar price to the diamond he purchased.  The reason he did not purchase the nicer diamond is twofold:  Firstly, he was only shopping for the best “deal” in terms of low price.  Secondly, he never had the opportunity to see the diamonds with his eyes as he was simply comparing the paper specifications of diamonds on the internet as opposed to actually having the opportunity to evaluate the underlying beauty of a diamond.

Most importantly, what is important for the reader to understand is that both of these two diamonds will someday be an engagement ring that someone will wear for many years.  The differences in the two diamonds, though seen somewhat significantly in these photos, will be much more apparent when the ring is worn.

One of these diamonds will be dull and somewhat lifeless, despite the fact that the buyer has a beautiful GIA grading report.  The other diamond (which also has a nice GIA grading report) will be appreciated by the owner/wearer and many others for a lifetime!

With regard to this author, I have once again temporarily relieved my frustrations that are inherent with the new age diamond buying process. More importantly, perhaps I have given a potential diamond buyer some food for thought as he contemplates making the right choices in the diamond buying process.

 

Neil Reiff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lowest price – GIA certified diamonds.

Lowest Price – GIA Diamonds.

Many internet shoppers are under the mistaken belief that buying a GIA certified diamond on the internet is similar to purchasing a flat screen TV. Simple,  You just find the model number that you want. Then you go to the internet and you buy it for less.

In the case of a diamond, one might figure out the size, the shape and the GIA parameters that they want.  Let’s say in this case, a 2.00 carat round diamond, GIA “H” color, “SI1” clarity.  Simple. We go to the internet and buy it at the lowest price.

Stop right there.

A diamond is not a flat screen TV.  The GIA diamond certification report is not the same as a model number.  The specifications of a TV are identical.  There are thousands if not millions of the same TV made to factory specifications.  Diamonds are different.  A diamond is a creation of nature.  Each one is unique.  A GIA grading report attempts to describe a diamond like I may attempt to describe a beautiful woman.  It is very hard to do without seeing the woman – or the diamond.

Pictured below are six diamonds listed for sale on a leading internet diamond site. Each of the six diamonds weighs approximately 2.00 carats (Actual weights range from 2.01 to 2.09 carats).  Each of the diamonds is graded by GIA as “H” color, “SI1” clarity.  The prices for these diamonds ranges from $13,247.00 to $26,131.00.  YES!  One diamond is 50% “cheaper” than another.  Inversely, one diamond is 100% more than the other!

And you are on the internet in search of the best price.   Or is it the lowest price?  Best price for what?  Lowest price for what?

As a diamond merchant with more than 40 years of experience  (and two generations before me!),  I understand what a diamond is.  It is about something beautiful.  Beauty is about the brilliance and sparkle and scintillation.  Low price is about a price point.

In recent years there has been a divergence within the diamond industry – sort of a “fork in the road”.  There are many diamond companies that are marketing diamonds specifically for the internet. The diamonds that they sell via the internet are inferior to those that are sold in the traditional manner – to be sold via retail jewelry stores.  It is the difference between the beautiful GIA H/SI1 diamond and that of the diamond that is marketed solely based on “price-point” for the internet buyer who believes he has figured out the world.

The difference is, in the “old” days, people looked at diamonds in a jewelry store with their eyes and a jewelers magnifying loupe.  They were truly buying a diamond and not just a diamond grading report!.

Take a look at the info for the six diamonds featured below.  These are just a random sample of different price ranges that I found.

                                                                                         .    .    .    .    continued below

Document (1)

 

Document (2)

Document (2A)

Document (3)

 

Document (4)

Document (5)

When looking at each of the diamonds described above,  one must recognize that the pictures are fake and are all identical.  These  photos are not representative of the diamond in any way and, in fact, give the illusion that the diamonds are gem quality which they are not!

With regard to the diamonds listed above I know for a fact that it is not possible to purchase a “nice” 2 carat round diamond with these GIA specifications on the wholesale market within the price of the first three listings.

If I was buying a diamond for my wholesale business it would most likely be one of the three more expensive diamonds.  I believe that a diamond is supposed to be something beautiful. These diamonds may be beautiful diamonds – although, even with the info provided on the GIA report, it is still necessary to SEE the diamond.  The listed specifications of these diamonds provides no information with regard to the nature and location of the inclusions and, in reality, provides little insight to the overall beauty of the diamond.

One thing that I do know is that there are reasons why the cheap diamonds are cheap.  It may be the make. It may be the type and location of the inclusion. Perhaps there is a color tinge.  Perhaps there is a “cloud”.  There are many factors that effects the overall sparkle and scintillation that makes a diamond special!

Low price is just that. It is low price.  It is not a factor of value.  Value, on the other hand, is a reasonable price for a Renoir – despite the fact that it may be tens of millions of dollars.

 

 

Neil Reiff

The Truth about Blue Nile and Internet Diamond Companies.

There is no doubt within the jewelry industry that online sellers such as Blue Nile have revolutionized the ways that many consumers purchase their engagement diamond.  Blue Nile, as well as a multitude of other online sellers, offers a virtual database of diamonds to internet shoppers at prices that were once considered to be below traditional retail prices. I add the phrase “once considered” in the previous statement in an acknowledgement to the shifts in pricing structure that have transpired through the retail jewelry landscape as a result of Blue Nile and other internet sellers.

The problem with Blue Nile and other internet diamond sellers is the process itself.

Internet diamond companies, unlike traditional retail jewelers, have no eyes-on knowledge of any diamond that they sell.  These companies are simply online brokers between diamond wholesalers and consumers.  No one in the “process” between Blue Nile and the ultimate diamond consumer has any real knowledge of what the diamond looks like.

There are two inherent deficiencies in buying a diamond in this manner.

Firstly, the process itself is based on the diamond grading report – usually a GIA report.  It is wrong to assume that a GIA diamond grading report conveys the most important aspect of what a diamond is all about – what the diamond really looks like.  In reality, this is a very significant misperception amongst diamond buying consumers.

To illustrate my point, here are two actual un-retouched photos of two different diamonds:

The diamond below is typical of what the internet shopper buys based on the GIA report. This diamond is a 1.70 carat Cushion Cut.

The GIA report looks great as this diamond meets the proper depth and table proportions. Additionally, it is graded by GIA as “Excellent” Polish and “Excellent” Symmetry.

Despite these “paper” qualities, the diamond is severely lacking the “fire” and “brilliance”and”scintillation” that makes a diamond beautiful. This diamond is actually dead and dark in the center.

The diamond pictured on the right is a 1.72 carat Cushion Cut diamond in which the depth and table proportions are also within the “proper” range. This diamond has a Symmetry grade of “Good” and a Polish grade of “Excellent”.

Though it is somewhat difficult to tell in the two photos, I can assure you that this diamond is much more beautiful than the other.  The “faceting” of this diamond creates much more “life” and “brilliance” and “scintillation”.  This diamond appears much whiter and brighter than the other diamond despite the fact that is graded as “I” color and the diamond above is graded as “G” color.

in this example, I guarantee you that the lower graded diamond is much nicer and more beautiful than the better graded diamond.  I know this for a fact.  I have seen both of these diamonds with my eyes.  It is why I am writing this article.

A GIA certificate does not describe the beauty of a diamond on even what a diamond looks like to the human eye.  The GIA certificate is essentially a document of scientific characteristics and terminology that measure minute differences in gradations that, in most cases, are beyond the limitations of what a consumer using his/her human eyes can ascertain without proper conditions and equipment.

While it is true that a “D / Flawless” diamond will undoubtedly be more beautiful than a “M / I2” diamond, It is often the case that a diamond of a lesser grade in terms of it’s GIA grading may be as beautiful or perhaps more beautiful than a diamond that has a “better” GIA grade.  This is particularly true in the case of fancy shape diamonds where the color and clarity grades have little significance to the overall appearance of the diamond.

The second deficiency of the online buying process is that the internet consumer is often searching for the lowest price as opposed to understanding that a diamond is supposed to be about the beauty and scintillation of something that is extraordinary and exceptional.

Whether searching Blue Nile or another online diamond site, without the ability to see and understand the subtle differentiations that make one diamond more magnificent than another diamond, it is easy to fall into the trap of searching only for low price with no understanding that “Value” is something different from low price.

Buying a diamond simply based on lowest price is similar to buying a $5.99 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon!  This is not to say that one must pay $50.00 or $150.00 for a bottle of wine.  I do know, from experience, that there are very good bottles of wine that can be purchased for $15.00 to $25.00.  I also know that the $5.99 are, for the most part, going to taste bad and will not be enjoyed nearly as much!

In my  wholesale business I often ask this question to retail jewelry store operators: “What sells better in your store?  .  . The low price diamond?  .  . Or the nice diamond?”   The answer is almost universally  “The nicer diamond!”.  I agree with this answer.

I know from experience that a diamond consumer –  when given the opportunity to learn about diamonds and see diamonds with his/her eyes –  will almost never purchase the lowest price diamond and will, in many cases, choose the most expensive diamond!

Getting back to the subject title of this post, I do not have a problem with Blue Nile or other internet diamond sites.  Honestly, I was a supplier to the company that grew to be Blue Nile. I have also supplied James Allen and other internet diamond companies.

On the subject of internet diamond companies, I have a story that my mind will never let me forget.  I was in the process of “getting into” an internet diamond company when the person on the operating end of the internet business asked me the following question:  “How good are you at playing the game?”  I knew what he meant but I asked him to clarify.  He made it clear to me that the internet shopper only looks at the first page or two of diamond data.  These are the diamonds that are the lowest price diamonds.

He and I both understood that the “game” was all about giving these buyers diamonds with “issues” that make them inexpensive. With a wink and a nod, the conversation was an affirmation that the internet shopper does not understand any more than that of low price  and that the idea was to give such a shopper what they are looking for.

Whether it is Blue Nile or any other internet site, a consumer must understand that Blue Nile is simply providing a list of diamonds and diamond data that the consumer will never fully understand. The consumer must understand that Blue Nile is simply an intermediary web operation company that, in most cases, doesn’t know or care what any particular diamond looks like. They simply showcase a database of diamonds, collect your money and then arrange for the diamond to be shipped to you. Their interest is in making an additional internet sale and not in making sure that the consumer/buyer is acquiring a beautiful diamond.

It is possible to buy a beautiful diamond from Blue Nile or any other web diamond seller.  Most importantly, the consumer should question why similarly graded diamonds on Blue Nile are priced 20% or 30% or more than 50% higher others of the same GIA grade.  After all, it is the same seller who is selling the diamonds!  The consumer must understand that low price usually means a diamond that is not as beautiful as another diamond – and, in some cases, a diamond that is not beautiful at all.

Perhaps you are happy drinking that $5.99 bottle of wine!  Or perhaps you understand that low prices are just that and there are reasons why the price is low.

I offer these two bits of advice.  Go to a jewelry store and see what I am talking about. Buy with your eyes and not with your mouse.  And if you insist on buying with your mouse, understand that low price usually means a trade-off in terms of beauty.  Understand that “value” is a matter of quality and beauty in relation to price.

The purchase of a diamond is one of the most significant purchases of a lifetime – and one that you will enjoy for many years and  hopefully a lifetime!  Make it the right diamond.

 

 

 

NEIL REIFF

GIA Diamond Grading – SIMPLIFIED

GIA Diamond Grading – SIMPLIFIED.

As I have stated in my previous posts, it is my opinion that the GIA grading system is ridiculous. This opinion is based on the fact that there are nearly 200 possible grade combinations of color and clarity.  To the human eye, under “normal life” conditions, the differentiations within the GIA grading system are like trying to characterize a woman’s beauty into 200 categories.

Most importantly, with regard to the GIA grading system one must recognize several things:

1)  Just because one diamond has a “higher” GIA grade combination than another does not mean that it is a more beautiful diamond.  

2) The difference between one or two grades is almost nothing at all in the overall beauty of a diamond.  Think of it this way . . .there are nearly 200 possible grade combinations; therefore the difference between F/VS1 to G/VS2 is just a slight incremental difference of two grades within a universe of 200!

3) Two diamonds may be of the same grade but one may be significantly more beautiful than the other- even within the same grade!

After more than 40 years in the diamond trade in which I have dealt with many thousands of diamonds and diamond grading reports, I have established my own diamond grading system which I believe makes more sense. This grading chart is seen below:

NDR DiamondGrading Chart REV2

As you can see, this grading chart contains FIVE grade parameters.  They are INVESTMENT, FINE, NICE, COMMERCIAL and GARBAGE.

Any diamond that falls within the top three grades is a diamond that will be very pleasing to look at in terms of a beautiful engagement ring.  It will not look yellow.  It should not look cloudy or imperfect.  It should have beautiful brilliance and scintillation.

It should be noted by the potential diamond buyer that, in most cases, a diamond should be evaluated on the chart above by looking at the average of the parameters.  For instance, a diamond that is graded F/SI2 should be considered at the upper end of the “nice” category.  Conversely, a diamond graded at F/VS2 but with a “Good” cut grade should be considered to fall within the “nice” category.

The Commercial and Garbage categories are a different story.  Diamonds that fall within these categories are not nearly as beautiful – and, in some cases, are UGLY!

Click here for detailed information with regard to the meanings of the above grading designations,

Is there a difference between a 1.50 carat D/Flawless round diamond that costs $45,000.00 and the 1.50 carat H/SI1 round diamond that costs $15,000.00?  Yes, there is,  But I can assure you that – as far as your eyes can tell when this diamond is set into a mounting, the $15,000.00 diamond should be nearly as beautiful as the $45,000.00 diamond.  On the other hand, the 1.50 carat L/I2 – (which in many cases is the mall store standard!) will not be beautiful when compared to the others !

My advice to a diamond buyer is simple.  Take a look at the chart above. Buy a diamond within the top three grades of the chart above.  Do not make yourself crazy distinguishing between ridiculous GIA grades.  It should not be that complicated.  You want a beautiful diamond. You don’t need a Rolls Royce.  Just avoid the junker!