This is part 2 of my GIA training cum holidaying experience in Hong Kong which took place in the early months of 2013. During my off-days, I managed to visit a number of local jewelry stores to check out prices and experience diamond shopping for myself.

Here’s my general opinion about buying a diamond in Hong Kong. Like anywhere else in the world, you would expect to be hassled and experience pressure selling once you walk into a store.

More importantly, most jewelers and salespeople are clueless about cut. Don’t even think about having any meaningful discussions on proportions or in-depth cut details with the local jewelers. All they could do at best, is to point to a GIA or IGI report and generalize triple excellent ratings as being the pinnacle of ideal cuts. 

luk fook jewellery

One of the many chain stores that litter the streets of Hong Kong

Some Questions to Gauge a Jeweler’s Knowledge

It’s easy to gauge the gemological knowledge a jeweler has by asking some technical questions and listening to their replies. Here are some questions I used during my visits at the local stores:

“How does the diamond’s table size affect light performance?”

“With reference to the proportions diagram, what’s the difference between diamonds with longer lower girdle facet of 85% and diamonds with lower girdle facets of 75%?”

“Are all GIA triple excellent diamonds the same?”

“How important is symmetry and how does it influence a diamond’s sparkle?”

“Does lower clarity always affect the brilliance of the diamond?”

You will be surprised to hear the kind of replies I get from these questions. From international stores like Cartier or Tiffany & Co. to huge local chains like Chou Tai Fook, Luk Fook, Chow Sang Sang and even to private jewelers who serve their own pool of private clients, it’s the same across the board. Nobody could answer these rudimentary questions correctly.

chow tai fook diamond shopping in hong kong

More shockingly, I even get misleading answers like how having more facets in a diamond would always result in better brilliance or why buying a VVS2 diamond would result in a brighter and more beautiful diamond. Also, I had came across supposedly “ideal cut” diamonds with awful hearts and arrows patternings that were being passed off as the real deal.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the marketing. Answers are always skewed depending on which jeweler you are visiting and the type of goods they are selling. Sales people will pitch their fluffy marketing talk and try to sell diamonds they want you to buy and NOT what you really want.

No Knowledge of Light Performance Based Tools

In Hong Kong, the most widely used labs are IGI and GIA. Out of the 40 different jewelers and sales staff I talked to, no one knew or heard about the Idealscopes/ASET tools. None of the jewelers I talked to had any idea what an AGS 000 cut grading is. In fact, even my fellow classmates in the grading course never heard of AGS.

Don’t expect anyone in Hong Kong to make any intelligent discussion on light leakage or optical symmetry with you. These standards just don’t exist there. Instead, sales staffs are trained to preach and make sales without regards to what really makes a diamond beautiful.

It doesn’t matter if you walk out of the store with a poorly cut diamond or one that is well-cut. All that matters to them is making a commission off a sale from you. In a way, the local jewelry stores operate in this manner because the majority of consumers are poorly educated.

So, until the mindset and knowledge of shoppers are changed and raised, shops are simply going to hawk sub standard diamonds as “ideal” or hearts and arrows to unsuspecting customers. Beware, it’s a shark tank there. You might easily let yourself get caught unawares should you head into a store without any prior knowledge.

It isn’t worth it to pay so much more to buy sub-par diamonds in Hong Kong. The signature diamonds from Whiteflash.com and BrianGavinDiamonds.com represent the top 1% of ideally cut diamonds in the market. And best of all, they only cost a fraction of the prices you find in Hong Kong jewelry stores!



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9 Comments

  1. Lek Ms.-
    July 8, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Hi Paul,

    I find your blog is very informative and you are pretty knowledgeable. I am interested in GIA eLearning – Coloured Stone. May I ask for your advise if eLearning is effective like the on-campus class?

    Thanks and Have a lovely Sat!

  2. Robin L-
    August 17, 2017 at 1:21 am

    How about selling diamonds in Hong Kong? I am going there later this year to sell loose cut/polished diamonds… I have never done it before.

  3. Paul Gian-
    August 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

    You may want to visit the annual tradeshows that take place in HK. It’s much easier to find contacts and people there rather than going to HK blindly to do business.

  4. Mimi-
    September 12, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Have you heard the DiamondC Macau?
    http://www.diamondc-macau.com/us/
    Are they reliable?

  5. Paul Gian-
    September 12, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Never heard of them. And looking at what they offer, they are just a mediocre outfit with limited information on their listings.

  6. Mimi-
    September 14, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Thank you Paul.
    Please advise me if I buy diamonds from Whiteflash and set it in HK where is a good reliable place to go in HK?

  7. Paul Gian-
    September 14, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Why would you want to do that and go through the hassle of finding someone reliable to set the diamond? Get everything done at White Flash. They have great craftsmanship in their settings and buying everything at one place makes a jeweler completely responsible for the ring.

  8. Mimi-
    September 14, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I understand that but i would like to see the ring design on my finger and can also size properly.

  9. Paul Gian-
    September 14, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Ring size is pretty straightforward to correctly measure. You can either DIY or simply go to a jeweler to try it out. If seeing the ring design is a route you must take, work with a jeweler who has the design you like and bring in the loose stone for them to mount. I have no one reliable I would recommend and will not make recommendations unless I personally tried them out before.

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