Post # 1
We went shopping for rings together last weekend after a few weeks of me comparison shopping online. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted and was happy to find that one of the settings I was in love with online looks great on my hand. Yay!
I had been looking on Blue Nile and I was expecting the store prices to be higher, but I was like well let’s just see, maybe it won’t be so bad, maybe they’ll come down some, it might be convenient to have the store nearby and we’ll support a local business, blahblah, etc. Whatever, I just wanted to go try on some rings!
So then the store lady emailed us Monday with a diamond suggestion and quote. She didn’t provide all the stats on the stone, but there were enough that I could determine they are asking pretty much exactly double what we could get it for on Blue Nile. I am shocked. Is that normal? Should we even bother trying to negotiate or just say thanks but no thanks?
We had also been thinking about contacting a distant, distant cousin who works in the NY diamond district, but now I’m worried it will be the same way with them giving us a hugely inflated price. We are not great negotiators. We are 100% comfortable with online shopping and just want to get the best price.
The only thing is I have yet to see any diamonds of the quality we want in person. So that’s my only hesitation about buying online. I would like to see an E next to a G or a VVS1 next to a VS2 to see if my untrained eye can really tell difference. I’d like to get the lowest level of quality that still looks pretty to me. They didn’t show us any real diamonds at the store, which I thought was kind of weird.
So… is any of that normal?
Post # 3
FI definitely saw the actual stone that is my center stone when he was making the purchase.
I would not hesitate to call around until you can find a store that’s willing to show you as many loose diamonds as you want to see. Each time we went and looked at settings, we were able to see a variety of stones with different specs, which gave us an idea of which Cs were important and which we were willing to sacrifice if necessary.
Post # 4
Doesn’t surprise me that the store prices were a lot higher than Blue Nile.
I would definitely see some diamonds in person before you make a decision. SO went to an appointment at a brick & mortar store to look at diamonds and said there was a HUGE difference between E and G that he could see with the naked eye. He’s all about quality, so we ended up going with an E stone, especially because color was very important to me.
As far as VVS1 & VS2, you shouldn’t be able to really tell the difference as unless under a microscope, you can’t see their inclusions anyways.
Post # 5
- Wedding: April 2013 - Rhode Island
@TrousseauHorse: The only part that sounded weird was that they didn’t show you any real diamonds in the store, and then sent you a quote later. Go to a place that shows you diamonds and lets you pick it loose from the setting (assuming you want to buy in a brick-and-mortar store).
I don’t know where you live, but Charleston Alexander in Bethesda, MD has been spectacular to us!
Post # 6
Very normal. They’ll probably come down some with negotiation but I really don’t like to do that… I’d rather just buy from somewhere that is HONEST about the real prices. So I buy most of my jewelry/diamonds online. It gives me a bad taste in my mouth to think that they might come down 60% off the price for one person but only 30% for another who didn’t bargain so hard. Eugh.
And if you’re getting a GIA or AGS graded diamond, don’t bother with VVS clarity. You will NOT be able to see it. Stick in VS1/VS2/SI1. And 100% get an excellent or ideal cut – the rest of it is somewhat subjective but getting the cut that reflects the most light is NOT.
Post # 7
@TrousseauHorse: I know exactly what you are talking about. Also, usually the price difference between B&M store and online store goes up when the caret goes up.
This is what my BF and I did. We are both detail person and we had no problem buying online. So we first looked at ALL the local jewlry stores, including Tiffiany to compaire loose diamond (color, shape, cut, clarity…). i have to say that Tiffiany do the best job of educating you of difference in color, even thoug we will never buy from them (soooooo pricy). Then we found out I am not color sensitive, I can’t tell the difference between H and F, and can only tell slight differnce between H and E/D range when compare dimond side by side. So we decided to look only G-H range. Also, it’s a no-no if the stone is not eye clean, so I need to have at least a high SI1 (some SI2 will be eye clean, but pretty difficult to find).
With all that in mind, we know exactly what we are looking for online (princess cut, G-H color and SI1 calrity). Then we shopped almost all the reputable online stores to compare price. Then we fall in love with James Allen. They have the best service since you can acturally see the diamond 360 degrees online (compare to a SAMPLE photo on other sites). Then we found the one stone that meets our need. Meanwhile, I keep shopping around in local B&M store and found a great salesperson I love to work with. and He brought me so many diamonds to see and 100% pressure free.
However, the B&M store stone is almost double the price online. So, we ordered the diamond from james allen, I absoluately love it. Then we took the diamond to B&M store and ask them to beat the price if they want our business. After another 10 visits to B&M store, they agree to sell us a slightly bigger diamond (0.15 carets bigger than the online one) with the same color, clarity……(Both of them are GIA), and only charge $200 more than James Allen.
Because I really like the sales person and I felt bad that he has offered me so many choices for the past 3 month, we decided to pay additional $200 for the diamond and returned James Allen diamond. It only took James Allen 3 days to refund our money. Love them!
Post # 8
@distracts: by the way, you can get a deal from online store as well. As long as there is competition, there is discount. For example, you can tell blue nile that a similar diamond on James Allen is 10% cheaper…then usually blue nile (or other sites) will come down price to match their competitors.
Post # 9
B+M stores can definitely be double online prices. I’d first go to a B+M store that is willing to show you actual diamonds. Check out the lab certification — if you’re comparing GIA-graded stones to IGI or EGL-graded stones, it’s not a fair comparison. I’d only buy a diamond that was GIA or AGS graded if you’re really into color/clarity, etc.
I know there are people on here who swear they can see inclusions in VS graded stones, but that is very, VERY rare. There are a lot of people who believe any clarity over SI1 is overkill.
My suggestion, and I know I make this one in every ring thread, is to make an account at the Pricescope forums (www.pricescope.com) and create a post with your budget and what you’re looking for. They know all the best vendors and will help you find the best ring for your budget. Seriously — I love my ring and it’s so much more than what we would have been able to afford in a B+M store.
Try checking out jamesallen.com in the meantime — they have pictures and videos posted of all of their stones, unlike Blue Nile, so you can actually see what you’re buying.
Post # 10
@cmbr: totally agree. Love James Allen and their service! they have better return policy than blue nile
Post # 11
- Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast
Since you are in the DC area, I highly recommend our jeweler, Zachary’s (in Severna Park, MD). Talk with Erica. She’s amazing, knows her stuff without putting any pressure on you. She’ll show you stones in person and even special order for you. We bought my e-ring (center stone AND setting) for the same price that Blue Nile charges for just my center stone. And we didn’t negotiate them down. That was their regular price.
Post # 12
Its really odd that they didn’t show you any diamonds in store. Do they not actually have any there for security reasons or something?
That said. Looking at stone colors side by side can be good and bad. If you have your heart set on a size and the only way to get it is with J or lower color… You do not want to see the J next to D. If you are getting a setting with side stones it is suggested that you just go with the color of the side stones in the setting so there are no discrepancies.
And yes the prices are going to be higher in general if you shop brick and mortar but they also tend to be more willing to work with you. I found a jeweler who’s prices are only $100 more than blue nile on almost all of their diamonds. (They have a signature line that costs more. And its STUNNING! The difference between ideal and an ideal with hearts and arrows is amazing.) That said I’ll probably be passing on the hearts and arrows to get a full carat in my price range that meets the rest of my minimum requirements.
Post # 13
It’s quite normal that brick+mortor prices are much higher (I’m in DC as well, and the jewlers in the area turned us off from B+M jewlers).
Initially, we started off wanting Blue Nile, but their customer service took forever to get back to us, and didn’t seem all that concerned about making that special ring for us.
We’re getting a custom ring from Adiamor, and the woman who I worked with went above and beyone with her customer service (even ddrove to a warehouse to check out a local diamond for us and give us the description since we went with a VS2)!! Not sure that that’s the standard, but I was pretty happy. They also only source conflict-free diamonds.
James Allen is also Amazing, and the only one with magnified picturs from all angles so you can see what you’re getting. We would have gone with them (before we dealt with Adiamor) but they don’t carry many gems with fluorescence- a quality that my SO and I really wanted.
Post # 14
@TrousseauHorse: My friend picked a stone for his fiancé from blue Nile and told a jeweler he found one he liked, the jeweler ordered the stone and sold it to him for the same price do if you are not comfortable buying online- why not have the jeweler call in the stone you like and work with you from there ?
Post # 15
Some vendors are optimists…. can you blame them?
But DON’T buy from them.
I bought my diamond for a better price than what an equivalent or even slightly worse diamond went for (and goes for now) on Blue Nile. And I bought it in person. It CAN be done.
Here’s the thing, you have to shop around. Do not get discouraged. And just because a vendor has crazy unrealistic prices, you still may want to look at their diamonds, just to familiarize yourself with diamonds of the quality you are considering as well as possible. I definitely recommend buying in person, because there is so much you can’t see online. Diamonds of the same color grade, clarity grade etc. are NOT all the same. I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying a diamond online.
Don’t pay double Blue Nile prices though… just say NO to ridiculous markups 🙂
Post # 16
Wow thanks everybody. You’re all so helpful! Especially thanks for the recommendations of other places to try. I’m heading back out there this weekend to try again, probably in Bethesda this time because heading way the heck out of the city to try to get a better deal did NOT work out!
We went to Colonial Jewelers in Frederick, and the lady seemed nice at the time, but now I don’t know what was going on. I guess I’m still in shock that the price difference was SO HUGE. I was really thinking they’d be maybe up to like 50% more. I just feel kind of icky that they even suggested we pay such a jacked up price. Ooooh DC… always trying to crush that last little bit of my spirit! (usually via Metro delays though – this is an exciting new twist!)
The one good part of the trip was that I had been eyeing a setting online already and they had one that was really similar. It’s the Brilliant Earth Tiara setting and I really, really like the way it looks on my hand.
I’m looking for an emerald cut stone, which I guess is not as popular as round, so maybe stores don’t have many in stock. But I am not letting this weekend end without seeing some real rectagular diamonds!!!