Buying Diamond Rings And Jewelry in the Chinese Market

If you intend to shop for a diamond engagement ring in Hong Kong or China, there are 3 important things you need to know before hitting the stores. Also, I’ll reveal the best places to buy a diamond where you can save money and get better quality at the same time.

big time jewelry chain stores in China and Hong Kong queens road central

Large jewelry chain store along Queen’s Road Central in Hong Kong

#1 – Superstitious Belief of Fengshui & Cultural Stereotyping

The Chinese (especially those in Hong Kong) are generally superstitious people who believe in feng shui and quirky beliefs. For example, the figure 8, pronounced as “faat” in Cantonese, is an auspicious number believed to bring about wealth and fortune.

Needless to say, a diamond with a carat weight of 0.88 or even laser inscriptions bearing digits of 8 would be a huge selling point for marketing.

On the other hand, the number four (4) is considered an inauspicious number as it sounds like and represent death in both Cantonese and Mandarin. Because of this, you rarely see diamond rings in sizes of 0.44ct or 1.44ct for obvious reasons.

Besides superstitions, one of the key things to note about the Chinese market is the misconceived stereotyping of high color/clarity diamonds as being more “beautiful”. In the Asian market, the preferred choice of color lies with the colorless range of D-F.

Likewise, diamonds with higher clarity grades above VS1 you are perceived to be better and of higher quality. Here’s what I was told by a local friend of mine. “When people buy jewelry in Hong Kong, the factor of “face” and social status is a huge consideration in their purchase decision.

So, what does these all mean to to you? Well, if are shopping for a diamond engagement ring, the amount of available selections is going to be limited and extremely costly because of the higher color/clarity ratings.

#2 – Jewelers Have Extremely Poor Knowledge About Cut Quality

types of diamond analysis performance scope images

In the Chinese diamond market, there is a lack of tangible data like the ASET, Idealscope and H&A images.

Now, I want you to get this straight. Better clarity or color means jack if the diamond’s cut quality is mediocre. Cut is the main factor that directly affects how much sparkle and brilliance a diamond has.

I find the general cut quality of diamonds in the Chinese market to be slightly better than most other places around the world (although there is still significant room for improvement). Diamonds with GIA triple excellent grades are highly sought after by consumers and most people tend to shop for stones with such certifications in mind.

However, when it comes to buying top notch diamonds cut for supreme light performance and precision craftsmanship, the market falls short. The truth is, the majority of GIA triple excellent diamonds have huge variations in light performance.

The fact that most Chinese jewelers have poor knowledge in cut quality means there isn’t any tangible cut data available for you to make educated decisions. Furthermore, most salespeople employ high pressure selling which makes shopping in a physical store an unpleasant experience.

If you are looking for a diamond ring that has superb craftsmanship and brilliance, I recommend checking vendors like White Flash, Blue Nile and James Allen.

#3 – Prices of Diamonds in the Chinese Market

5 digit price tags in HK dollars

Most people have a misguided belief that diamonds are cheaper in the Chinese market. In terms of pricing, I find that lower prices in Hong Kong only exist if you intend to get rings from branded stores like Cartier or Tiffany’s when compared to the US.

The same cannot be said with non-branded diamond rings. Due to high rentals and overheads, the pricing of private jewelers and local chain stores such Chou Sang Sang or Chou Tai Fook are extremely high when compared to chain stores in other parts of the world.

In fact, the non-branded diamond rings are almost as expensive as big international brands. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to pay a huge premium for an unrecognizable local brand when you could top up a little more to buy something similar at Tiffany & Co.

At the end of the day, it just doesn’t make sense to be shopping in the Chinese market from a consumer’s point of view unless you intend to purchase branded goods. Why would you want to pay high prices for sub-par quality anyway? It’s dumb and a huge waste of money.

Shop Smart: You Can Get Better Quality And Much Lower Prices Online

Here’s a quick price comparison against 2 highly recommended online vendors to show you the stark differences. Besides paying significantly lower prices, you really get the cream of the crop selections of finely cut diamonds by going online.

  

Vendor Price Range (in $USD)
Whiteflash.com $13,000 – $14,000
JamesAllen.com $11,000 – $14,000
Local Chain Stores
(based on 5 quotes from 3 different brands)
$19,000 – $25,000
Big Brands (e.g. Tiffany, Cartier) $23,000 – $28,000


  

* This price comparison was performed using a 1 carat D VS1 round brilliant cut at the time of writing. Current prices may have changed but the relative costs will remain the same. The price range is representative of how precise the diamond is cut to and also other factors like presence of fluorescence. Read this article for more details…

Here’s the thing. Getting better prices is not the main reason to go online. The most important factor of going online is that you get FULL transparency of what you are buying and much better diamond selections.

Instead of encountering pushy salespeople who simply want to make a commission off a sale, you get to shop in a calm mind and make decisions based on tangible data like magnified 360° videos and scope images.

sample listing with performance data in diamond

Besides ideally cut diamonds, vendors like White Flash, Blue Nile and James Allen have very consumer orientated sales policies and you are fully protected with risk-free guarantees. NONE of the local Chinese vendors will offer this to you.


In the 4th and final post of my adventures in Hong Kong, I am going to do a blog post of the touristy places I visited. If you plan to visit Hong Kong in the near future, it might serve as a good reference for you.


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18 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Margaret Sheng-
    January 30, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Really found your website to be informative and a big help in getting me to understand more about diamonds and making an informed decision. Buying engagement rings in china is really hard as there are limited stores that carry large size diamonds.

    I’m looking for an engagement ring for myself (sounds horrible doesn’t it) my partner is not very romantic but super sweet and very very rational so he just gave me a budget and told me to enjoy. Little did I know how daunting the search for a diamond was going to be. I went to all the big brand name jewelers and tried on ring after ring… requested pricing etc….and decided to go with a loose stone. I actually fell in love with the Harry Winston round with tapered baguette setting… I tried on a 1.6 and a 2 and 2.54 and just was blown away. I had thought I liked the halo setting but then put on their classic harry setting and thought this was the one.. but it costs over 200k USD for the ring in China for an E color VS1 clarity… maybe around 140k in the UK… when a 2.5 loose stone would cost anywhere between 35k to 60k and the setting would cost maximum around 2-5k usd. It makes no sense from an investment standpoint to be buying a winston ring. I know. Most of my friends I talked always have the same question: “are diamond rings made in china real?” That is an added concern I have as well because of the number of counterfeit goods in China.

    My budget, max is 50k USD but I would obviously like to go below budget at maybe 40-45k… in the end if I do spot a rock that is irresistible than the extra cushion will be there hopefully.

    Looking for a loose diamond as I presently live in China. I have friends and family who I can have the parcel shipped to and brought over….My plan is to have a jeweler friend here make my ring… but her prices don’t come close to prices that I see online at Bluenile…

    Round
    Color: D-F Clarity: VS1-VVS1
    Size: 2.3-2.6

    Do you have any suggestions or helpful hints along the way? I was looking at Bluenile : http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD07910499 this one is a 2.5 round IF, F color, with strong blue fluorescence for 40k USD but it is not a sig ideal cuz so does not have the gcal assessment…

    Another white flash diamond at around similar specs… 40k USD, F, VVS2… http://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3782250.htm

    But now as I learn more and more about diamonds I’m getting nervous with my choices.. the likelihood of something being wrong is so high now I may be stressing myself out just trying to make a decision… and here I’m thinking maybe I should have just let my partner make the decisions.. haha

    thanks in advance!

  2. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    February 1, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Thanks for your email. I’m really shocked to hear that Harry Winston in China is charging a bomb for a diamond with these specifications. It’s ridiculous and the prices seem to be higher than those in other countries. I’m not very sure why prices are so high locally. Buying diamonds in china from a luxury store should technically be the same around the world and maybe there are some taxes or costs involved.

    The White Flash diamond is terrible in cut quality. The steep pavilion angle is going to cause significant performance issues. Dump it. With White Flash, you need to stick with their inhouse signature diamonds instead of the virtual selections. Their signature diamonds are fantastic.

    If you are based in China, I recommend buying from Blue Nile and getting the setting made at the same place. It will significantly reduce stress and make a vendor solely responsible for the finished piece.

    The Blue Nile diamond is a decent choice and this article may also interest you: http://beyond4cs.com/reviews/blue-nile/signature-diamond/

  3. Avatar
    Margaret Sheng-
    February 2, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions… taking another look at the signature cuts… any recs on the few below?

    I’m still stuck on the IF one… I know it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s eye clean… psychology going to need to persuade myself.. yes your right I’m thinking I may have blue nile just make all of it… I did see they have a similar setting to the Winston I liked with the tapered baguettes …

    2.62 sig ideal http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD07688564
    2.51 sig ideal http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD06761901
    2.5 ideal http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD08087356

    if you had to recommend out the four (including the IF one) which would you suggest? or what questions should I be putting to the Blue nile reps?

    thanks again!

    Happy Chinese New Year

  4. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    February 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    In terms of cut quality, this would be my top choice:
    http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD07688564

    http://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD07910499 would be a close second place. In terms of the IF clarity, go for this diamond if that is your priority. With such a large sized diamond, it’s extremely rare to find a decently cut diamond with similar properties.

  5. Avatar
    Sally W.-
    June 28, 2018 at 1:26 am

    I ordered one of the diamonds we had considered at James Allen but there is a problem with the order. Apparently, that particular stone is on display/show in Hong Kong/ Shenzhen, China and not immediately available. This sounds highly suspicious. What do you think?

    They’re trying to offer alternatives, but I’m concerned. I don’t want to rush into a decision. Please see below for more details. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/1.02-carat-d-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-4457058

    This is an Oval Cut diamond 1.02 Carat D Color VVS2 Clarity. Compared with the diamond you picked the length is a difference of 0.30 mm. The proportions are great and very little bow tie effect. It has amazing sparkle and fire as well!

    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/1.01-carat-f-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-5047769

    This Oval Cut diamond 1.01 Carat F Color VVS2 Clarity. This diamond length is a bit longer as well and the color has a higher grade, I really like the way the light reflects off the facets. It has really good proportions as well. This diamond is located in New York so this is the best bet for getting it to you by the 29th.

    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/1.01-carat-e-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-3284601

    This Oval Cut 1.01 Carat E Color VVS2 Clarity. I feel this one maybe be the one that is the closest to what you were looking for. The proportions are very similar to yours. Amazing spark and fire! When you look at the video of this and the one you picked out, you can see why I picked this one.

    Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.

  6. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    June 29, 2018 at 7:37 am

    It’s not an issue. These things happen as James Allen work with different suppliers. And suppliers do take some of their inventory for showcasing during such events.

    http://exhibitions.jewellerynet.com/6jg/en-us/fairinfo

    The fair is actually happening and based on experience, the logistic side of things may take one more week to happen after the fair. (*i.e. for your diamond to be available provided it wasn’t sold during the fair.)

    The jewelry show is coming to Singapore at a later part of the year (which I am attending).

    James Allen is a solid vendor with a good reputation. If for any reason, you are not comfortable with waiting, simply get a refund. They are good that way. I looked at the alternatives and would say this is a great alternative.

    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/1.01-carat-e-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-3284601

    It has good light return and has a very nice shape.

    I did a search as well and the stone above is the one that I would prefer too. This would be the other alternative:
    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/1.01-carat-g-color-vs2-clarity-sku-5002457

    Due to the extremely thick girdle, the diamond faces up smaller. BUT this stone has good light performance and a good shape appeal. The lower price also reflects the weight retention caused by the girdle.

  7. Avatar
    Brian Kelley-
    April 26, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    First of all, I would like to say thank you for all of the knowledge you have put on the internet about buying diamonds. I have read many of your articles and now feel that the best place to purchase a diamond is online. I almost bought a ring from Cartier and realized what a rip off that would have been after reading your Cartier article. I have a budget of 10 thousand dollars max for a round diamond and ring. Ideally I would like to keep it closer to 7 or 8 thousand, but am willing to spend more if it means a far superior diamond.

    I live in Shenzhen, China, which is right across the way from Hong Kong. I’m at a crossroads with purchasing a diamond because I don’t know a specialist that can ensure the quality of the diamond once purchased. Is there a way you could help me find the best diamond in that price range? I’m happy to pay you a fee. I’m worried about buying in the china diamond jewellery market as there are too many fake goods here and the trust level isn’t high.

    I’m a teacher and that budget I set is a lot of money for me. I just want to make sure I’m getting the best quality diamond I can for the money I’m spending.

    Any help would be immensely appreciated.

    I look forwarded to hearing from you. Thanks again for all your articles.They are fantastic.

  8. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    April 27, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Cartier is pricey. Really pricey and you don’t get superior diamonds there.

    Sending the diamond to Hong Kong to pickup in the Fedex center is the best way to save costs and tax as HK is tax-free for luxury products.

    https://beyond4cs.com/best-places-to-buy-diamonds/

    What’s the 4Cs you are realistically looking at and the shape of diamond you are interested in?

    Let me know and I can tailor a search to help you out.

  9. Avatar
    Brian Kelley-
    April 28, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you so much for replying to my email. I can’t even begin to describe how much I appreciate this.

    Here are the details of what I am looking for:
    Shape: round
    Clarity: VVs2 and above
    Cut: ideal and above
    Color: f and above
    Carat: 1.10 and above.

    Ideally, the bigger the better. If we can sacrifice in other areas to bring the carat size up, I’m happy to do that. That being said, I will wholeheartedly listen to your expertise if that is not the right way to go about this.

    My girlfriend really liked the Cartier setting, so if you know which of the companies you suggested is able to create that look, I would very much appreciate your insight.

    For what is worth, I work in China, but reside in Houston Texas. I believe white flash and Brian Gavin have stores there and I’ll be home in mid June. Not sure if it worth me visiting those stores before purchasing or not. Just out of curiosity. Those stuff that we see in these jewelry stores, are the diamond rings made in china or somewhere else?

    My budget is between 7 and 10 grand all in. I’m over my head here and want to make sure I’m buying the best diamond. I’m not opposed to going to the top of my budget (or above) if it is for a spectacular diamond.

    Please let me know if you need any further information from me. I will indeed donate to your site. I sincerely appreciate your help, Paul. You are a good man to help out so many clueless people make an informed decision about such an important purchase.

    Thank you so very much!

  10. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    April 28, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Actually, it’s great news that you reside in Texas. Brian Gavin and White Flash are 2 of the best retailers in the world. If you need the ring urgently, then it makes sense to buy and get it shipped over. Brian Gavin and White Flash both make their rings in house and have workshops locally in the US.

    So far, I haven’t seen the online retailers using diamond engagement rings from china per se because they do need to run their own workshop to mount/repair/fix the rings. So, no worries there.

    If you can wait, then I would say, wait till you get home to collect the rings. You can start browsing and checking out their stuff online first. When you say the Cartier setting, are you referring to the 1895 design?

  11. Avatar
    Brian Kelley-
    May 1, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    I will be in Houston for a little less than two weeks so I can certainly check out their stores while I am there. I don’t need the ring urgently and can wait to finalize everything while in Texas in mid June. I can do some research first and narrow down the diamonds that are worth buying.

    Correct.The 1895 setting is exactly what I’m looking for.

    What is the best way to proceed. Should I look at what is available online and send the links your way?

    Thanks again for your help. I truly cannot express in words my appreciation.

  12. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    May 2, 2019 at 1:33 am

    That would make the most sense.

    Browse here:
    https://beyond4cs.com/go/wf/
    https://beyond4cs.com/go/briangavin/

    Clarity can go as low as VS2 and still yield eyeclean diamonds. Other than that, the color is largely a personal preference thingy. Going to a G color would get you better value for money while getting an icy white diamond.

    Setting wise, both Brian Gavin and White Flash cannot reproduce the same exact design as the 1895 due to copyright issues. They do offer somewhat similar rings.

    e.g. https://www.whiteflash.com/engagement-rings/solitaire/fine-line-solitaire-engagement-ring-480.htm?a_aid=recommended

  13. Avatar
    Brian Kelley-
    May 2, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Thanks so much for the advice. Here are some of the diamonds I have been looking at:

    https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.320-g-vs1-round-diamond-gia-n24gv62a5d2148
    https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.290-g-vs1-round-diamond-gia-n96gv21smd2541
    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3525448.htm
    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3947689.htm

    The last one is really at the top of my price range. That being said, I am happy to spend more if it is worth it. I guess my biggest question is are some of these signature cuts (CUT ABOVE, etc…) worth it. Am I taking a risk with going with a virtual selection? Once a diamond is selected, should I inspect it in Houston, assuming they can get it there? my apologies for all of these questions.

    As stated before, you are a lifesaver and I really appreciate your input.

  14. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    May 3, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Never buy virtual selection diamonds. If they were any good, they would have made it to signature lines of different vendors instead. You can try finding a well cut diamond in the virtual inventory but I will tell you that you are only wasting time finding a needle in a haystack.

    The prices of the virtual inventory are “cheaper” for a reason and that mostly is because of cut quality.

    The only reason why you want to shop at WF or BGD is exactly for their signature diamonds because they are strictly curated, truly well cut and have all the supporting tangible data to prove that.

    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3947689.htm

    If you don’t care about sparkle or performance, then really, you can simply shop anywhere else.

  15. Avatar
    Brian Kelley-
    May 5, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Point taken. Thanks for the insight and link to the video.

    I had a tough time finding BGD signature series that fit the carat size and price range. I only found one that is linked below:
    https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.151-g-vvs2-round-diamond-bkags-104099046016

    I had better luck with whiteflash and compared several diamonds in the link below. Are there any that you would recommend? As stated in my previous email, my fiance to be would prefer a bigger carat, while I am interested in getting her the best quality diamond (with her approximate carat wishes ). They all seem similar, but girdle was also something I was told to consider.
    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/compare.aspx?idnos=3965461,3947689,3968194

    I feel like I am getting closer to finding the perfect diamond.

  16. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    May 7, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.151-g-vvs2-round-diamond-bkags-104099046016 is a well cut diamond. However, I think the WF diamonds offer better value for money.

    This is still my first choice: https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3947689.htm

    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3965461.htm would be my second choice if you need to lower your budget.

    Ditch the other WF stone. You don’t need the VVS2 clarity for it to be eyeclean. And if you need it for symbolic reasons, then go up to an IF clarity. VVS diamonds please no one.

  17. Avatar
    Brian Kelley-
    May 8, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Hope you are well! Just wanted to give you an update. I’m going with the WF diamond linked below and the setting you sent me. I can’t thank you enough for your help!

    I do have a question about checking the diamond. Is there any reason to find someone who knows about diamonds to inspect it before buying? It has all the specs and certifications, but this is a lot of money for me. What to make sure I’m not getting fleeced. Which leads to my follow up question about insuring a ring. Any recommendations?

    Thanks so much for your input.

    Also, besides contributing to your website, is there something I can do to help you out. Tell WF you helped me? Write a review somewhere? I’ll do whatever I can to help you and say thanks for your invaluable input.

  18. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    May 9, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    White Flash has a tie up with Jewelers Mutual. That’s the best choice for insurance if you bought something from White Flash.

    I would go with them.

    Now, it’s perfectly OK to get a 3rd party NEUTRAL (doesn’t sell jewelry) to do a check on your purchased item and match it up against the AGS report. It’s simple and not expensive to do so.

    Paul

    p.s. you could drop a note to WF to let them know you were recommended by Beyond4cs.com. That helps.

    You could also leave us a review here: http://www.ivouch.com/beyond4cs

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