Getting All the Diamond Credit You Deserve

diamondsYou have given it a lot of thought and are ready to pop the question to the girl of your dreams. It goes without saying you want want to get her the best ring you can within the budget you have allotted for yourself.  You take a stroll to the local jewelry store and see a sign in big, bright letters that reads, “0% Financing on All Jewelry Purchases!”  You immediately raise an eyebrow and think to yourself, “is this too good to be true?…They will loan me money for 0% and I can pay it off over a long period of time?”  The short answer to your question is yes, this is too good to be true. This 0% comes with the normal microscopic fine print and caveats that every other credit offer comes attached with.  At the end of the day you could be paying 2-3x more than the sticker price you agreed to!  The Engagement Specialist recommends a few other approaches to getting the perfect ring that won’t leave you feeling cheated or have you digging in your couch for loose change.

Jewelry stores offer these very attractive offers for a few reasons.  The first being they want to make it extremely easy for you to spend a lot of money with them.  Psychologically we know that handing someone a $100 bill is very different than handing them a card and swiping it for the same amount.  Jewelry stores bank (literally) on this trick to get you to effortlessly spend your money with them.  Another reason they do it is because along with that same principle you will also tend to spend more than your budget when you don’t see the green money being retrieved from your hands.  They hope a thought bubble pops in your head reading, “what’s another $2,500?  I make decent money and I can pay that off over time.”   You shouldn’t over extend yourself.  She will love you just the same and of course love her ring equally even if you don’t spend that $2,500.

Now let’s talk about that part you will need a pair of binoculars to read.  That tiny fine print most jewelry stores hope you brush over as you eagerly look for the dotted line to put your signature on.  When you get approved for financing and make your purchase the jewelry store gets paid immediately by the finance company.  That finance company then assumes the burden of collecting the money from you.  That 0% percent offer that was so attractive initially starts to look less attractive when you unravel the details.  First, that 0% usually is only for the first 12 months of the loan.  If you actually are able to pay off your balance within 12 months then this is actually a pretty decent deal.  However, 90% of people do not pay off the balance within a 1- year period.  Keep in mind that if the average ring costs $4,000-$5,000 that could be a monthly payment of $333-$416.  In other words…a very nice car payment!  We all know that life happens and unexpected costs come up.  Let’s say the monthly minimum is $100 and you decide on the 3rd month only to pay that amount.  Unless you make up the difference you will find yourself going over the 12 month grace period.  Also, if you happen to make a late payment or not pay the minimum monthly amount you could immediately forfeit the 0%.  At this point, something known as deferred interest kicks in.  What this means is that they will back charge you the interest on the date of purchase and not when you missed the payment.  So if you are on track to pay off the balance in 1-year and on month 11 you accidentally miss a payment you could owe huge interest on every payment starting from month 1!

So what is this huge interest I keep referring to?  It could easily be an interest rate of almost 30%!  Yes, you read that correctly!  And here is the biggest catch of all.  When you go over the 12 month period deferred interest kicks rears its ugly head again.  What that means is that since you didn’t pay off the balance in the 1-year period you will be charged the full variable interest amount from the date of your purchase.  That all gets added to your bill with the lending agency!   For example, if you bought a ring for $5,000 and paid off $2,000 after the first year you would then owe $3,000 when the 0% offer expires.  Let’s say the rate after the 1-year period is 26%.  Since you didn’t pay it off in time you will owe 26% on the whole $5,000.  If you aim to pay it off in 3 years that $5,000 ring now costs you $7,252.20!

Here is what we at Brilliance In Diamonds – The Engagement Specialists recommend when you find yourself wanting to possibly finance a ring.

  • Know what you can afford and set a budget for yourself. Then stick to it.

I know what you are thinking as you are in the jewelry store…”That 1ct diamond looks a lot better in the setting than the 0.90ct does and it’s only another $1,500.” In reality, it isn’t that huge of a difference and she will love you and the ring just the same if you get the 0.90ct.  Stay strong!

  • If you absolutely must finance the ring never do so at a jewelry store.

You know all those 0% credit card offers from your local bank that you get in the mail?  Those are usually much better.  Yes, those are also 0% for 1-year and the rate increases after that time period is over.  The difference is that banks offer a variety of credit cards and some may not include the dreaded deferred interest charge described above.  They will also be more willing to negotiate the annual percentage rate whereas lending agencies that offer financing for jewelry stores usually won’t.  Your local banker also won’t be as overzealous as a jewelry store salesperson who just wants the sale at all costs to you.  A good banker will advise and guide you to the right option for you and your situation.

  • Don’t pay the full markup at a retail jewelry store.

Buy from a diamond jewelry wholesaler who operates on low overhead.  If you want the red carpet treatment and a fancy, expensive looking store then guess what…your purchase pays for those beautiful things.  All the cases, lights, displays, advertising, huge rent, commissions, etc. has to be paid for before they make a profit.  That $5,000 ring from a retail jewelry store could cost $2,500 from a wholesaler.  The low overhead of a wholesaler means they don’t have to add in huge profit margins.  Diamond jewelry wholesalers offer all of the same benefits that a jewelry store has.  The personalized service and diamond/jewelry knowledge of a wholesaler also greatly outweighs what you could get at a typical jewelry store.

How To Propose The Right Way

What does it take? 1,000 Balloons? Five dozen roses? Candlelit dinner? A ring hidden in some sort of food?

The answer is simple: maybe.

Maybe your bride-to-be wants this once-in-a-lifetime moment to be in your favorite restaurant or at the place you first met. Perhaps she wants to be surprised with a weekend getaway and proposed to on bent knee in front of a roaring fire place with rose petals on the floor.

Though it is still possible … maybe she doesn’t. Just like we have talked about how important it is for your ears and eyes to be tuned in to what she says about diamond shape, gold color, and side stones you also should be tuned into what would make the perfect moment for her.

will-you-marry-meRemember – she has to tell this story for the rest of your lives … but no pressure! Maybe, just maybe, it’s something simple. Maybe it’s a day filled with your normal activities and a meeting at some random hour with a heartfelt explanation of why you want her hand in marriage followed by the question. It could be as simple as spelling it out on your favorite board game as one man did.

What about social protocol and asking the father’s permission?

Again, it’s all up to your future wife. Does she place a heavy amount of value in her family’s opinion and have major life decisions included their input? IF so – it’s a must. Not asking here would be foolish – chances are she’s already talked to her dad about it.

If she is extremely liberal and doesn’t have a close-knit family, then she may not appreciate your precious news being forecast before she knows it.

If she is on the fence perhaps instead of asking permission you simply make her father and mother aware that you are going to ask for her hand, leaving the permission part out of it and more of a statement of your intent.

Ultimately, it is all about her. Your comfort zones and expectations of what you think the perfect day should be should be in complete alignment with her desires.

We’re more than just concerned about getting you the perfect ring, we want you to make the perfect memory. As we talk about your ring’s features, our Engagement Specialists will begin to learn more about your tastes and her ideas. Let us help you through the most crucial proposal you’ve ever given.

Why does the color of a diamond matter?

Diamonds come in every color found in the rainbow and more, including red, purple, black, brown, blue, and so on. When discussing diamonds for engagement rings we are talking about white diamonds. The whiter a diamond is the rarer and more sought after it becomes.

White diamonds are graded on a color scale ranging from D-Z with D being completely white. As you go down the scale, white diamonds will start to display either traces of yellow or brown (most often yellow). However, that doesn’t mean an H color diamond is yellow. An H color diamond actually falls in to the category of near colorless.

Diamonds that are D, E, or F color are considered colorless. What this means is that you will have a very hard time seeing any trace of yellow within these stones. These diamonds tend to be rare and their price reflects that rarity. However, the average consumer doesn’t need to buy a colorless diamond in order to obtain a stone that shows very little hints of yellow. In fact, you will pay a premium for these diamonds and the cost/benefit isn’t always worth it.

Most customers prefer diamonds that are in the near colorless range or those with a color grade of G, H, I, or J. Diamonds that fall into this category are called near colorless for a reason. When gemologists grade diamonds, they do so with them flipped upside down in order to view the color through the pavilion of the diamond. This allows them to have a vantage point of grading color without the obstruction and distraction of fire, brilliance, and scintillation. “Face-up” (an industry term when a diamond is displayed in the traditional way with table facet on top) it will be very hard for an average person and even a trained professional to be able to distinguish between a G color diamond set side-by-side with an F color diamond. Of course as we move down the scale those face-up color differences become more apparent, but the truth is the diamond you choose will more than likely never be compared side to side with other diamonds. Once in the ring it is viewed all on its own. However, the price difference between an F color and a G color can be 10-15% or more and the price difference between an F color and an H color can be 25-35%.

Unless you prefer a yellower, or often referred to as a warmer, diamond then you will want to stay in the realm of J or better for color. Diamonds past this point will usually display traces of yellow that can easily be seen with the naked eye. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, and these exceptions also will apply to the grades D-J. The first exception is the shape of the diamond. A K color round brilliant diamond that is cut extremely well can face-up white. A round brilliant diamond that is cut well will always appear whiter than the other shapes, which industry people refer to as “fancy shapes.” No matter how well an emerald, radiant, princess, etc. shape is cut you will always see yellow if is a K color. Therefore, no matter if it is a G or an I color diamond you will always be able to get away with a little more color if your shape of choice is a round brilliant.

The other exception to this rule is the type of setting the diamond will be set in. This includes whether it is platinum, white gold, or yellow gold and also the style of the setting. Diamonds tend to soak up and absorb whatever their surroundings are. Diamonds that are set in platinum or white gold will appear whiter than those in yellow gold. You will also want to make sure your jeweler matches the diamond side stones to the color of the center stone. For example, let’s say you have picked out a very nice and near colorless J color center stone. Your girlfriend tells you she wants a halo style setting which consists of diamonds encircling the center stone. That J color center stone, which appears relatively white on its own, can have its color extremely amplified if you happen to use side stones that are F-G color.

Why does the diamond cut affect the price?

A diamond’s cut is one of the most complex factors that affect a diamond’s price. In cutting diamonds, the slightest error can ruin a diamond’s shape and may in turn compromise its beauty (and also its price). The perfect cut is of utter importance because when properly cut, the diamond will reflect and refract the light that enters through its top or table facet. If the diamond cutter doesn’t cut the stone properly, the light that enters the diamond will exit out of the bottom or on the side of the stone. This is also known as light leakage. A properly cut diamond will reflect white light, known as “brilliance,” and send rainbows, known as “fire,” out of its many facets.

In comparing a one-carat diamond that has an excellent cut against a one-carat diamond with an average cut, the price of the excellent or ideal cut diamond’s price can be higher by as much as 20-30%. In short, a large portion of the value of the diamond will be determined by its cut.

Symmetry of the diamond is very important because it allows the diamond to reflect more light which in turn enhances the diamond’s beauty. If the diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, the light it reflects will be compromised.

Keeping the color, clarity, and carat weight of the diamond constant, the value of the diamond will be solely determined by how well it is cut. A well-cut diamond can sometimes help make up for a diamond lacking in the other in color or clarity.

Small diamonds that have an excellent cut will be more appealing than a large one with an average to poor cut.

Most of the time diamonds are bought for special occasions and for those in our lives who are very important. Of the Four C’s, a diamond’s Cut is not one of the factors you will want to compromise on.

Why is GIA Certification So Important?

Before buying that once-in-a-lifetime engagement ring, bracelet or necklace from your local jeweler, you will want to make sure it is the quality that it is being represented as. Unfortunately, there is a lot of inflated grading within the diamond business. This also pertains to certain diamond grading laboratories who can be anywhere from 1-5 grades off on attributes such as color and clarity. The reason they do this is because they feel the unsuspecting consumer will look at the shiny laminated certificate from ABC laboratory (example) and take the information as factual. It isn’t the consumer’s fault; it is something that needs to be corrected in the diamond business, and there are some very recent and concerted efforts to alleviate this problem.

When it comes to diamond grading laboratories, there is only one in the jewelry business that truly matters.  That laboratory is the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or more commonly known as GIA.   GIA invented most of the systems in use today to grade the 4 C’s of diamonds, and they are completely unbiased in their grading process. This is why they are the most widely respected and only trusted source when one wants to know exactly the quality of a diamond.

Those in the diamond or jewelry business submit their product to GIA in order to obtain a certificate that outlines all of the important attributes pertaining to a particular diamond. This is done for a few reasons. One of the reasons is that diamonds are priced according to their quality. The difference in price between an F color diamond and a G color diamond or an SI1 clarity and an SI2 clarity can be a substantial amount. The other reason is that having the GIA certificate takes the person selling it out of the equation in the sense that it doesn’t matter what he or she says a particular diamond should be graded. We like to refer to GIA as the Supreme Court of Diamonds because they are the highest body and have the final say in the diamond business land. For better or worse, the grades a diamond receives from GIA are the grades that belong to that diamond.

Does that mean that a diamond without a GIA certification is a bad diamond? Not at all. There are plenty of beautiful diamonds that do not have GIA Certification. If you think about it, every diamond was uncertified by GIA before it was sent off to their laboratory. If all the diamonds available for sale were the best ones with a GIA certificate, then GIA would go out of business due to lack of diamond submissions. Also keep in mind that a GIA certificate does not make the diamond better or worse. It just tells you exactly what its attributes are. If a diamond you are considering does not have a GIA certificate, then it is up to you to ask the jeweler if he or she is grading by their standards. If they say yes, then tell them that after purchasing, you plan to send the diamond to GIA. Ask if they will provide a refund if it receives more than one grade off negatively for color and clarity. We allow a 1 grade margin of error because jewelers are not in a laboratory setting and therefore it can be difficult to know exactly what GIA will grade a diamond. However, the majority of those in the jewelry business possess the knowledge to come within 1 grade. For example, if you are told a diamond is a G color and it comes back from GIA as an I color, then you would have a legitimate reason to be unhappy. You will know if what you plan to purchase is what you are being told it is based on the response you receive to this question.

gia-certificate

It is very uncommon to find a GIA certificate on diamonds that are smaller than 0.50ct or a 1/2ct. Also keep in mind that the majority of the time GIA certificates will not accompany particular items like earrings and tennis bracelets. The reason is due to the cost associated with certifying a diamond. This includes not only the cost for grading, but shipping and insuring diamonds sent off to GIA’s laboratory. If a jeweler wanted to make a tennis bracelet with fifty 0.20ct diamonds, it would be extremely costly to have each one of those certified and those costs would be passed on to the consumer. With that being said, you will still want to make sure the grades assigned to these diamonds are accurate and correct. If you have any doubts you can always get a second opinion. Most cities have an independent jewelry appraiser who does not buy or sell jewelry. You will want to seek out one of these types of independent appraisers because they will not look to knock another jeweler’s product with the hopes of your returning the item so that they can get the sale. Yes, this unfortunately happens quite often which is why you want to make sure the appraiser is independent.

The next time you are in the market for a diamond you can utilize this knowledge to ensure you are receiving exactly what was promised to you. Those who sell diamonds should do their very best to grade by GIA’s high standards when a diamond is not accompanied by one of their certificates. Brilliance in Diamonds – The Engagement Specialists will not sell any diamond with a certificate from a laboratory other than GIA, and we strive to grade as strict or stricter when one is not present.

What does the clarity of diamond mean?

Diamonds are among the most expensive gemstones available today. In choosing a diamond, the stone should be evaluated based on color, carat, cut, and clarity–often referred to as the 4 Cs. The Clarity grade pertains primarily to the internal characteristics, known as inclusions that are located within a diamond. These “birthmarks” are created when a diamond is subjected to extreme heat and pressure during its formation process deep below the Earth’s surface. When a jeweler is looking to get an idea of a diamond’s clarity grade, he/she will most often use a 10x loupe magnification tool. In a laboratory setting graders will use a special microscope to examine the diamond.

dia-clarity-scale
Jewelers and graders look to five different characteristics to assign a clarity grade to a diamond:

  • the size of the inclusions
  • the type of inclusions present within the diamond.  Diamond inclusions come in a multitude of forms with names like clouds, pinpoints, needles, and twinning wisps.  Each has their own characteristics and therefore affect the diamond differently.
  • the amount or quantity of these inclusions.
  • the relief or color of these inclusions.  Inclusions can be different colors such as white, black and red.  White inclusions are favorable to the clarity grade as opposed to the other two.
  • the position of the inclusions.  For example, inclusions located on the table will hurt the clarity grade more than those located near the girdle.

You will know how to distinguish diamonds based on their clarity by looking at these symbols and their meaning:

  • FL – Flawless; no inclusions or blemishes.  A perfect clarity grade.
  • IF – Internally Flawless; no inclusions only minor blemishes on the surface
  • VVS1, VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly included; the inclusions are difficult to detect even for a very skilled grader.
  • VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included; the inclusions are very minor and can range from very hard to see to very easy to spot for a skilled grader.
  • SI1, SI2 – Slightly Included; the inclusion can be seen when magnified 10x and may be seen by the naked eye.
  • I1, I2 &I3 – included; the inclusions are easily seen with the naked eye

Diamonds with a clarity grade ranging from Flawless – VVS2 are rare and therefore command a much higher price. FL and IF diamonds are extremely rare and expensive. Most consumers will purchase a diamond that falls within the VS2-SI2 range. The reason is that this allows you to obtain an eye clean diamond that is very nice quality as well as being reasonably priced. However, one must keep in mind that no two diamonds are alike and that clarity grading is subjective based on the factors described above. One SI1 or SI2 diamond may be perfectly eye clean while another one may not be.

 

 

Making Sure not to Side Step the Side Stone Quality of your Setting

Putting together the perfect diamond engagement ring comes down to the fine details. There are of course two main factors most people consider; the center stone and the setting. Before I elaborate further, I always like to point out one vital aspect that can never be overlooked. GET HER WHAT SHE WANTS! I’m not talking about her burning desire for a 5ct diamond and your burning desire not to go bankrupt purchasing it. What I am referring to is paying attention to the shape and style of the setting she likes. If she likes a round diamond in a cushion shape halo style setting…then that is what you should get her. If she likes a pear shape in an antique style setting…then that is what you should get her. You’re asking for her hand in marriage. The engagement ring is a gift for this perfect person who so lovingly is allowing you to spend forever with them.
The first component of any engagement ring is the center stone shape and its corresponding quality combination of the 4 C’s. The setting is the next step in the process. Let’s pretend you have both of those figured out. You’re all done…right? Actually, there is one more thing you should evaluate. The quality of the diamond side stones that go in your setting is EQUALLY as important the other two components mentioned above. Diamond side stones are the relatively small diamonds that make up the setting you select for her engagement ring. You may think, “the diamond side stones are so small it doesn’t really matter what their quality is.” This is absolutely incorrect. It makes all the difference in a setting that has life and sparkle versus one that doesn’t. Trust me, when you put a setting with nice quality side stones next to one without such quality, the difference is bigger than night and day. Most of your big box jewelry stores will cut corners in the area of side stone quality and use diamonds that are H-J Color, I1-I2 Clarity, and with Fair to Good Cut Grades. Most would not prefer this combination for a center stone (specifically Clarity and Cut) so why do everything right only to make a huge misstep at the finish line? My expert advice is to stick with a jeweler who uses diamond side stones at a minimum quality of G-H Color, VS2-SI1 Clarity, and Very Good to Ideal (Excellent) Cut Grade. This will give the beautiful setting you picked the sparkle it deserves while also complimenting the center stone you selected.

Why Do Retailers Charge So Much?

Rare, gorgeous, and expensive. These are some of the thoughts that cross one’s mind when they hear the word “diamond.” Rare and gorgeous are absolutely correct. However, diamonds don’t have to be expensive. It’s all about getting a great value for the amount of money you spend. One way to accomplish this is to buy wholesale as opposed to retail. Diamonds don’t become expensive until the last phase…when a retail jewelry store marks them up incredibly. We will take a look at this as well as how diamonds obtain their initial valuation.

Diamond prices depend on many factors. For one to buy a diamond at a reasonable price, the rare nature of the stone must be understood. Did you know that over 200-250 TONS of dirt has to be sifted through before 1 ct TOTAL of rough diamond is found? The first imminent factor which determines the price of the diamond is the painstaking process it undergoes from mining to mounting. We will explore why this process can be so costly, but why jewelry retail stores inflating them so incredibly is unnecessary. The following factors have led to their cost to the wholesaler, but at what point does it become exorbitant to multiply these costs to the consumer?

1. Mining

Diamonds don’t start off in the sparkling and dazzling form you have undoubtedly seen somewhere. You can imagine the vast costs, labor, and equipment it takes to unearth something that takes on average over a billion years to form. Only 20% of all rough diamond that is mined will actually fall into the category of gem worthy. The remaining 80% is used for industrial purposes. Diamonds are mined in rough form and have an irregular shape, which is what you would expect from digging them out of the ground. To be refined into the shiny finished product you are accustomed to seeing there are many steps involved.

2. The Process of Manufacturing Diamond From the Rough

The process of cutting and refining the rough diamond involves many steps before it’s unveiled in the market. This plays a part in the costs associated with this level of the supply chain that are in turn passed down to the end consumer. This process is one that requires extremely skilled labor and oversight as well as a lot of energy and expensive specialized tools to assist in cutting. This cost is transferred to the end price of the stone.

3. Certification and Authentication

Diamonds cannot be sold carelessly in the street or exchanged through back water channels. They require a standard location to process and certify each. Without proper certification, known as the Kimberley Certificate, the providence of each stone may be unknown and lead to supporting organizations or countries who do not follow best practices for mining. This process is expensive to undertake and is also considered a major part of the cost in each stone.

All diamonds pass through relatively the same supply chain and bring a very standard cost to each outlet that sells them. If everyone has a similar cost per stone, then why do jewelers buy them in bulk and charge their customers so much more? As a consumer trying to extend buying power, it would be wise to consider a local jeweler who has your budget and life-long loyalty in mind. When you buy wholesale as opposed to retail, you are ensuring you are getting the greatest value and best diamond ring your money can buy.