When my fiance first mentioned that he was going to purchase my e-ring off the internet, I almost fell out of my chair. I was horrified that he would even consider purchasing such an expensive and meaningful item online. I guess many people still have this preconceived notion that shopping online can be dangerous, so I was not about to let him buy my engagement ring sight unseen from some guy who ran a diamond site using Frontpage (web software program).
But it turns out my fiance did a hybrid purchase online and in person. He really did his research, mainly on Pricescope.com, educating himself on diamond quality and purchasing. It’s a great resource for newbies who don’t know the first thing about diamond selection. The forums are the best source of information for people who want to know what to look for in a diamond beyond the obvious 4 C’s (cut, clarity, carat, and color).
Pricescope has tools called the Ideal Scope and Holloway Cut Adviser you can use to appraise the dimensions of loose stones – they basically tell you how brilliant the diamond will be compared to others. The forums are full of diamond experts or at least people who are diamond fanatics. Pricescope also has many FAQs and various articles to educate people about potential diamond purchases (ie. who to buy from and common mistakes people make). Some of the people on the site are actually diamond appraisers.
Mr. Apple combed the Pricescope forums looking for stories and first hand accounts of consumers (whether positive or negative) who had bought their stones online at sites such as Blue Nile, Good Old Gold, and Whiteflash among others. Whiteflash tended to have great reviews from the forums and it was a plus that they were based out of Houston. So my fiance drove down to Houston from Dallas (approx 4 hour drive) to take a look at a few loose diamonds at the WhiteFlash office.
To his amazement, the diamonds looked so much better than any of the mall diamond jewelers’ – the loose diamonds were much more brilliant and a much better value for your money. Along with the purchase of the loose diamond, they give you a verification report that verifies that the diamond you will be receiving is the same diamond on the diamond grading report (AGS, EGL, GIA). Because Whiteflash is an online vendor, they can send your diamond to any of the 50 states and if you happen to live in a state with no sales tax, you could actually save a ton of money. So he shipped it to my cousin, who lives in Lousiana, and she delivered it to us when she came to Dallas. Boom he got the stone!
After finding the loose diamond and the setting, we needed to get it appraised by a reputable and independent appraiser. Mr. Apple went to Jarvis Gems and Jewelry Appraisals in Dallas to get the final setting of my ring appraised. The cost for a professional appraisal for insurance purposes was $50 which included an appraisal quote, photographs, and an approximate market value of the ring.
My fiance asked the appraiser if he had had any problems with the quality of loose diamonds that were purchased online, and he said basically that all diamonds are the same whether purchased online or from a retailer. There is no such thing as a discount diamond because you’re paying them for the approximate market value. The appraiser told my fiance that he got a really good price for the diamond and that he would have paid a lot more had he gone to a retailer.
All in all, Whiteflash was a great and easy diamond buying experience for my fiance. Their online reputation was very good and we would recommend them as a potential loose diamond jeweler. But like any large purchase, do your research and watch out for fraudulent money making jewelers.
Have you used Whiteflash or any other online jeweler?