You've decided it's time to buy an engagement ring. You visit jeweler #1 who shows you a 1 carat round diamond, ideal cut, J color, and SI2 clarity for $3,348. You nod and say "Okay, sounds pretty good."As you move on to jeweler #2 to compare service and pricing, you look at a diamond with the same specifications, only to hear that the price tag is now $4,578.
Hmm...why would jeweler #2 increase the price of that "same" diamond by $1,230? Are they trying to rip you off? The more likely answer is that the price difference is based on more than what is "on paper" and in fact those diamonds are NOT the same. While two stones may sound like they are the same, they can have often qualities about them that can best be seen in person.
So what exactly causes two similar diamonds to range in price so drastically sometimes? Let's explore more:
First, how is the price of a diamond determined?
You've probably heard of the all-important Four C's of diamonds - carat, cut, clarity and color. These are the four factors that have the biggest influence on the diamond's overall price and value. A 2 carat diamond is much more rare and will be much more expensive than a 1 carat diamond; a flawless diamond will cost a significant amount more than a diamond with inclusions, etc.
If a diamond is certified by an independent grading lab like GIA, then it will be given a report with grades for each of the Four C's along with other notable characteristics about the diamond. This helps to evaluate one diamond against another somewhat objectively. BUT - there's a catch. Some grade categories, such as cut, are extremely broad which means two diamonds can sound very similar on paper, but can look dramatically different in person.
It's like a 4 star restaurant. Some 4 star restaurants are amazing and fall just short of being 5 stars, while others are barely more than a 3, making them just slightly above average restaurant. They both have 4 stars... but the food and the experience will be very different.
Let's look at an example to further illustrate this point. Below is a diamond calculator powered by Blue Nile, a popular online engagement ring retailer. We searched for a round, 1.00 carat, ideal cut, J, SI1 diamond. Here are the range of diamonds it gave us:
As you can see, the diamonds range from $3,348 - $4,578. All of these diamonds have similar grades yet, there is a $1,230 difference between the top and bottom diamonds presented here. This is because so much of a diamond's beauty and brilliance can only be seen in person, not just what is on paper.
The difference between buying diamonds from local jewelers, national chain jewelers, low price jewelers, etc.
If jeweler #1 that you visited first was a national chain and jeweler #2 was a local store with strong community ties, there might be big discrepancies in diamond pricing because of different quality standards.
For example, at Long's, we believe the diamond should be stunning in person, not just on paper, so we pass on diamonds that have good grades but fail the eye test. Bigger companies like Blue Nile don't screen for quality (in fact, they often never see or have possession of the diamonds they sell since they act like the middleman) so they offer lower quality diamonds at cheaper prices.
Our expert diamond buyer would only buy diamonds that were beautiful in person, not just on paper. We truly believe that you are buying a diamond, not a certificate or piece of paper that says it should look a certain way. However, there are many national retailers out there that will gladly sell you the lower priced portion of that list. These are diamonds that we would never sell, because in person, they would probably not be beautiful to the eye.
It's imperative that you understand the difference between diamonds, what makes up their price and why two diamonds that appear to be the same on paper will range in price so drastically at times. That way, you can decide what is most important to you when searching for a diamond. While you may get two completely different quotes on what seems to be an identical diamond at two different stores - chances are there are things about these diamonds that have driven the price up or down. A jeweler should be able to articulate this difference to you.