At this point, I’ve got to mention that I didn’t even bother walking into stores of big international brands like Tiffany & Co. & Cartier. When lower-end stores are already pricing a 0.7 carat diamond at $7k, it is logical to assume that branded stores will be retailing similar stones at a five-figure price range. This was way beyond my intended budget.

Moving on, I continued to check out more jewelry stores along the shopping belt and here’s the conclusion that I garnered towards the end of the day…

Heart Shaped Diamonds Are Very RARE Finds in Singapore…

Most stores do not carry them. And even if they do exist, they command an exorbitant price. At another leading jewelry store, I decided to try my luck. The only heart shaped diamond in stock was a yellowish looking 1.25 carat diamond with K color and SI2 clarity. Without squinting my eyes, I could easily spot black inclusions in the center of the diamond and that’s a bad sign.

The shocker came with the price announcement for this stone.

A Whopping $12,000

shocked face with gaping mouth

Yep… My Jaws Literally Dropped Upon Hearing The Price

When I heard how much the diamond ring was selling for, I got a bad shock. I guess my facial expression must have given my thoughts away too. Seeing this, the sales assistant tried to follow up reassuringly: “Don’t worry, our store is currently having a major sale. You’ll get 40% off if you purchase the ring today.”

In case you aren’t aware yet, this is a common marketing tactic employed by many retail stores. You shouldn’t be surprised to see diamonds “on sale” no matter which time of the year it is. And it’s no coincidence that the special discount is only valid on the day you visited the store. This is basic marketing 101 and an attempt to create false urgency in order to get customers to make a purchase on the spot.

I followed up with a question: “What’s the cut grade of the stone?” (Yes, I know that there is no cut grading for heart shaped diamonds. I wanted to see how the staff would react & reply to my query.)

The sales assistant replied as if I was asking a stupid question: “This is a heart shaped cut. I thought you mentioned you wanted a heart cut diamond?” ( It’s pretty obvious that she doesn’t have any idea of what the difference is between shape and cut grade. Shape does not equal cut grade! )

I did a quick mental calculation of the price and it works out to be $7200 after the “discount” is applied. Now, pricing was a problem but it wasn’t the major concern I had. It was the diamond’s quality that raised huge red flags. Even an inexperienced person could tell that this diamond was a really bad choice. I also had a total disdain on how the marketing was performed and I quickly left the store.

Personally, I do not like the way goods are being marked up to ridiculously high prices and thereafter, being given a “magical discount” to slash prices. This gives the consumer a false impression that they are getting a great deal when they are not. In fact, you are still paying the actual retail price for the product.

On top of that, the sales assistants in most local jewelry stores are not only pushy, most of them also have no basic understanding of the 4 C’s of diamond buying.

How would you expect them to help a consumer choose a diamond properly? Can you expect the sales assistant to put your interest first before their own selfish gains of getting a sales commission?

Price Comparison… Shocking Discovery…

Back home, I did more research and decided to compare the prices of diamonds I had viewed against prices from online stores. Now, you need to understand that diamond prices cannot be compared with a 100% accuracy since every diamond is unique.

For example, even if we have 2 diamonds of similar color, clarity and carat weight, the prices can vary due to a combination of other factors such as the cut (e.g table/depth), the physical location and types of inclusions, fluorescence, girdle thickness, symmetry and etc.

However, we are able to get a fairly good estimate by comparing diamonds with similar specifications based on the grading report.

Comparison #1 – BlueNile Price Check

Diamond from Store 1 => SG$7027 – 0.7 Carat, E Color, VS2 Clarity, IGI Certified

Price list from Blue Nile.

blue nile pricelist
The diamonds in BlueNile are certified by GIA and cost HALF the price!

Comparison #2 – James Allen Price Comparison

1.25 Carat, K Color & SI2 Clarity diamond from Store 2 => SGD$7200 is approximately $5760 after a currency conversion to USD.

As mentioned above, the diamond I saw in store is a very low quality because of its poor color and the presence of multiple inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye.

Here’s a price list from JamesAllen.com for a comparison.

price comparison of james allen against brick and mortar stores

The diamonds in JamesAllen.com cost $2K less and are of BETTER specifications!

Okay, What About Skipping Stores & Looking For Wholesalers Instead…

Over a period of 3 weeks, I spoke with my brother who helped me source for a local wholesaler through his contacts. As I wanted to keep my options open, I decided to explore all possible avenues of purchasing a diamond locally. On this basis, I made inquiries via my brother’s contact.

Now, common sense would tell you that “wholesalers” should be able to offer better pricing for their inventory since they cut out the middleman. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Here’s the corresponding email excerpt in which I asked the vendor for a quotation:

Comparison #3 – “Wholesaler” vs. B2CJewels

 
Hi Paul,

I refer to your call and request for prices of heart-shaped diamonds. We have the following stones in stock at the moment that would meet your requirements:

DRH1XXX 0.50carat F color vvs2 clarity EGL Int Cert $1,516

DRH1XXX 0.51carat D color vvs2 clarity EGL Int Cert $1,850

DRH1XXX 0.63carat E color vs1 clarity EGL Int Cert $1,850

DRH1XXX 0.73carat F color vvs1 clarity EGL Int Cert $2,813

All the prices are quoted in USD and for the diamond only. I have attached a copy of the certificates for your viewing.


Now, compare them with the prices from another Internet vendor: B2CJewels.com.

Well, well…

b2cjewels diamond prices are cheaper too
Online diamonds graded by reputable GIA from B2CJewels cost less!

The prices look pretty similar except for one crucial factor. The lab that grades the diamonds is different! It is common practice for labs like EGL to grade a diamond 1-3 notches higher than what GIA would grade the diamond for. For example, if EGL grades a diamond with F color, GIA would most likely grade the SAME EXACT stone as a H color! The same goes for clarity. A stone graded to be VVS2 by EGL could possibly be graded lower as a VS2 by GIA.

I actually explained this issue in detail inside my free ebook. Do download it if you haven’t.

Apart from AGS and GIA, other labs had been known to be lax in their grading. For this reason, I advise you to only purchase diamonds that are graded by these 2 labs. This will ensure that the diamond’s quality you are buying is as stated in the report.

In terms of certification, I will always choose GIA over EGL or IGI because I know that the grading system of GIA is much stricter and consistent.

Now, you might be wondering why I had used prices from 3 different online sources in the comparisons. What I want to show you here is that the online diamond prices are ALL cheaper than those found in the local brick and mortar stores. Even the Singaporean “wholesaler” with an inventory of “inferior” graded stones costs more!

By now, it should be obvious which direction my search for a proposal ring would head to. Being a savvy Internet user, I decided to buy my engagement ring online as it offers better value for my money. With that said, I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t have any reservations at all about making such a huge purchase online.

Continue reading to find out more about my inner thoughts of venturing online…


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6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Shirley-
    March 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    My mum recently passed away and I’m in possession of some of her old jewelry. I’m not sure what the rings and earrings are worth as the receipts are no longer there. I did recall her mentioning some purchases of moissanite jewelry and I’m pretty sure she has some diamond jewelry as well.

    Can you tell moissanite from diamond and do you have any idea where I can sell them?

  2. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    March 3, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    If you know how to use a loupe, you can easily distinguish between these 2. Moissanite is doubly refractive and under magnification, the facets appear like “double vision”. I’m not sure who would buyback moissanite jewelry and where to sell them. They are worthless in the secondary market. The settings might hold some scrap value if they were made of white gold or platinum.

    I won’t have any high expectations for recovering a substantial amount of money. Also, you might be interested in read this article where there’s a section about moissanite vs diamond prices.

    Why don’t you consider wearing them for keepsake or memory purposes?

  3. Avatar
    Roumu-
    July 24, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Thank you for your website! it is really inspiring.

    I wish to ask you when buying diamond online, how are the services like re-polishing, re-plating and resizing done? If they are done overseas, is the shipment, insurance, custom duty issue easy to settle for a buyer from Singapore, like myself?

    Or could the services be done locally? Where should I look for and how is the charge?

  4. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    July 25, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Shipment is usually done via Fedex from the vendors I recommend. It’s fully insured and fully secure up to your doorstep. As with other countries, the SG government requires the shippers to pay gst on your behalf first to facilitate delivery.

    All you need to do is to sign and receive the package. The GST invoice will be sent to your address by Fedex like a telco bill in which you can pay upon receipt. So, yes it’s straightforward.

    For simple stuff like repolishing and replating there are many jewelry stores who can do it on the spot or within one or two days for a small fee (e.g. 20 for plating. Resizing or repairs will vary depending on the nature of the work required.

  5. Avatar
    Andhieka-
    February 11, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge in your AMAZING website! I like your sharp analysis and analytical approach to diamonds.

    I am based in Singapore and can totally relate to your experience exploring ion Orchard jewellery street and getting hard-sold by unknowledgeable salespeople. I experienced it myself last Thursday, just before I found out about your website.

    If you don’t mind, I would like to ask your opinion about this particular blue-fluorescent gem from Brian Gavin BLAGS-104096092003. I am convinced to give blue-fluorescent diamond a chance after reading your article and watch the videos. However, currently Brian Gavin does not have any diamond in US$2000-4000 range and this particular diamond is the closest one that I can find.

    It passes your “Ideal cut proportions” filter. The diamond also looks eye-clean to me. However, I am not so sure about the color (it’s L, two grades below your recommendation of I-J). I am also not sure about the symmetry of the hearts-and-arrows pattern since Brian Gavin does not provide that chart.

    I hope you this email finds you well. Are you living in Singapore nowadays? I appreciate your time reading my email and hope to hear back from you :)

  6. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    February 11, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    I reviewed the diamond here: https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.270-l-si1-round-diamond-ags-bl-104096092003

    It is extremely well cut for light performance and is eyeclean.

    BGD doesn’t provide them for the BLUE series because they are just as good as the H&A. They don’t want to dilute their H&A signature diamonds and to prevent everyone flocking to the Blue series.

    I’ve seen and examine a lot of them in person and I know the cut precision on their goods. Attached is my private photos of some Blue diamonds in their inventory. And these are for personal viewing only. Please do not share them as I may use them for future blog posts.

    The L diamond above is a great buy at a good price point.

    p.s. and yes, I’m currently based in Singapore.

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