A friend of mine recently asked me to go shopping for an engagement ring with him. His jeweler of choice was one of the large national chain jewelers, mostly located in area malls. When we walked in, we were immediately greeted by a woman whose only goal seemed to be for us to open a line of credit with them – ironically my friend already had one. Then I began to notice a bit of misrepresentation. She asked him to point out any rings he was interested in. He chose a ring with a .33ct diamond in the center and a cluster of smaller diamonds around it. She told him it was 1.00ctw (carat total weight). It actually turned out to be a .97ctw per the GSI certification.

The .33ct diamond in the center had I1 clarity and F color. She explained to us that F color was extremely good and that I1 clarity was really good and above average. She was correct about the color grade; F is considered colorless and there are only two color grades above it. However, she was not so correct about the clarity: An I1 clarity grade is low, there are only two grades below it. To put that better in perspective there are eight better clarity grades above it. Then she gave him the ring to look at, she also gave him an LED light to look at the diamonds with. An LED light will make any diamond sparkle. As soon as he let me look at the ring the first thing I noticed without the light was no “Dead” the diamond looked. Meaning there was little to no sparkle, and the light did not reflect correctly in it. This is typically the case with a diamond that either has very strong fluorescence, or is a below average cut. In fact, the GSI certification that came with this ring had the center diamond cut grade listed as fair. Clearly this diamond and ring in a whole were not very high quality, even though the sales woman indicated the were of superior quality.

This was my first time going in a chain jewelry store since I began working in the trade and I am extremely disappointed with how misleading the sales person was and the misrepresentation I observed. My friend who I went with was under the impression that this was a fantastic, high quality diamond that was a steal at $3200. Unfortunately he went back without me and purchased a different ring for $4000. With the company’s store credit card he will pay a total of $6000 due to the high interest rate.

Not only was the ring considerably low quality for the price, but the fine print of the line of credit really sealed the horrible deal. If you choose to go down a similar route, please pay attention to the paperwork/fine print. $100 a month with interest free financing might sound incredible, but when the fine print says that the no interest ends after six months and there is an extremely high interest rate after that, it turns out to be a terrible deal. In addition, they did not give him any information on the color, cut or clarity on the ring. The only information he has is the estimated total diamond carat weight and that it is made of 14k gold. The whole experience seemed to be as if he was just picking out a new shirt to buy, not an expensive diamond ring.

It is important to make sure you have at least a basic understanding of what the different color, clarity, and cut grades mean when shopping for a diamond and how they can translate to value. Do your research on pricing! If you are out shopping around, write down the color, cut, clarity and carat weight of the main diamond and the total carat weight of the piece and look online for what similar items are going for. Any reputable jeweler should always have that information available. Years ago when I purchased a diamond promise ring from a similar store I had one of the sales people tell me that if I don’t buy a certified diamond, they can only estimate the color and clarity. That is not true, there is a science to determining these factors. You wouldn’t buy a car from a dealership that tells you the car is a 2005-2008 and has 15,000-50,000 miles on it so why would you buy a diamond from a jeweler that can’t tell you the color, cut, clarity and carat weight of what they are selling? I would also encourage you to take a look at our website for videos from GIA that can help you learn about the different ways diamonds are graded. If you have specific questions about buying a diamond ring, or selling diamond jewelry we are always available. Information is always free, and being an informed consumer is priceless!

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