General Question

Supergirl's avatar

Are there any reputable, online diamond retailers?

Asked by Supergirl (1669 points ) August 7th, 2007

We found a setting that we both love, but the markup on diamonds is so ridiculous. Any suggestions for where we can look at diamonds that are great quality?

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14 Answers

Evan's avatar

I don't know how much you know about the issues surrounding diamonds, but while I won't go into it here, I would recommend looking into the problems with conflict diamonds. The only thing I'll say about it is that much of the time, it can be hard to know for sure that "certified" conflict-free diamonds are not in fact actually conflict free.. that and that you might watch the movie Blood Diamond, which had amazing acting, and was a powerful movie.

That said, there are certainly good places you can go for diamonds. I've been thinking about this a bit lately, and have been asking around for a while now. The first thing I'll throw out there is that people often have a very big misconception about real vs. created diamonds. Created diamonds are not the standard cheap "fake" diamonds that people often believe. Created diamonds ARE real diamonds, in every sense of the word. There is in fact zero chemical difference, and the only way to tell is by the signiture of the diamond.. the same way you would be able to tell if a diamond is from one country in Africa, or another (although only a highly trained professional would be able to tell). So.. you might consider that option for the purpose of social reasons, as well as environmental, since diamond mining is often very environmentally unsound.

Also to finish that up.. real diamonds are not really more rare than created ones, either. It's a big misconception that people believe diamonds are rare. The truth is that diamonds work much like oil - only the diamond cartel is much more effective at buying up diamonds to keep the supply small, and thus the prices high.

One company I know that you might look into is http://www.greenkarat.com/ -- they do a lot of custom jewelry, and are also environmentally and socially conscious, and have an excellent reputation as far as craftsmanship is concerned. The work with created diamonds a lot, but will also work with non-created. While they never purchase fresh diamonds, they can obtain non-created diamonds that are already in circulation.

Now.. if you're really just set on getting fresh diamonds, I think you're best bet is to go with Canadian mined diamonds. There are a lot of Canadian diamond companies that are fully certified by the Canadian government. http://www.polaricediamonds.com/ is one of the more standard diamond companies, but there's an interesting one called http://www.polarbeardiamond.com/ which is pretty famous, and each diamond is actually inscribed somehow with the image of a polar bear. An interesting FYI - Canadamark are not actually Canadian diamonds..

good luck!

bob's avatar

There are quite a few good diamond stores online. While I enjoy Evan's answer, if you aren't concerned about conflict-free diamonds, whiteflash.com and bluenile.com are two reputable sites.

If you want to find out more about buying diamonds online: Pricescope.com is a diamond site that can search multiple online vendors, and they have extensive forums where you can find good advice on stores and selections. The folks there are a mix of professional jewelers and gemstone-obsessed consumers; they're generally very knowledgeable, know all the reputable online stores, and can tell you if a particular deal is too good to be true.

zina's avatar

the answers to this question may interest you: http://fluther.com/disc/1204/maybe-diamonds-arent-forever/

jlhopwo's avatar

I bought my fiancee's engagement ring at Shane Co. http://www.shaneco.com. I chose this company for its convenience (locations close to where I live in the Bay Area), prices, and there various guarantees (100% money back for 60 days, upgrade diamond 100% price back if upgrade diamond is 1$ (one dollar) more expensive than old diamond, upgrade setting 100% price back if upgrade setting is worth twice that of old setting, free maintenance forever). We're very happy.

bob's avatar

I have been trying to find out whether there are any man-made colorless diamonds on the market today. Apollo Diamond and Gemesis grow man-made diamonds, but I can't find any of their colorless diamonds online. Where should I look?

Evan's avatar

You know I actually am not sure that you can get colorless man-made diamonds that are actual diamonds, just like natural ones.. not sure, but i don't think they exist. you're better bet is to either go with recycled diamonds, or Canadian diamonds, i think.

Supergirl's avatar

Less information on the social issues regarding diamond purchase, more along the lines of my actual question. Thanks jihopwo for your suggestion, we will check that out.

Evan's avatar

Well even if one is not at all concerned with people being raped and murdered so that one can have a pretty rock on one's finger, despite a flawed and often uselessly ineffective Kimberley Process, to which folk like Shane Co. typically adhere, for marketing purposes,

Canadian diamonds are STILL some of the highest quality diamonds in the world, and would be worth checking out.. Often you can actually buy Canadian diamonds from places like Shane Co. - so you might look into that also.

bob's avatar

@Evan: while your intentions are good, it's possible that coming on this strong isn't the best way to convince people not to buy ordinary diamonds. But don't take my advice on persuasion -- I have been trying to convince my girlfriend that a regular diamond is bad, and she won't hear it. No other gems have the same cachet.

I am interested in Canadian diamonds, but I haven't found a place online that has a good selection of them.

Also: Apollo Diamond apparently does create man-made colorless diamonds, but they're not produced in large quantities yet, and I don't think they're available online.

@Supergirl: see my post above for online store suggestions. One more that I didn't mention earlier is uniondiamond.com.

All of the reputable online stores will have diamonds of excellent quality (and also diamonds of mediocre quality). The diamonds should be certified, and you will be able to judge their carat, clarity, color, and cut based on that certification. In my opinion, judging stones based on certification is more precise than judging them on sight -- they all look like shiny rocks to me.

When you get close to making a purchase, you should contact two of the online stores and tell them what you're looking for. They will often be able to suggest better stones that might not be available on the website. They can search their inventory faster than you can, and the range of stones available at the major online retailers is quite large, so they should be able to find you exactly what you're looking for.

When you find a stone you're interested in, the online store should send you photos of that stone in particular, so that you can see it at high resolution. Your salesperson's judgment of the stone is useful, since you can't see it in person.

You will usually receive a discount if you pay by wire transfer, which you can do at your bank. Some of the online stores have additional discounts -- for example, whiteflash.com will give you a discount if you mention that you're a Pricescope.com member. Be sure to use a reputable store, especially if you're paying by wire transfer. The jeweler who sets your diamond in its setting will be able to verify the diamond's authenticity.

Best wishes on your engagement.

Evan's avatar

@ Bob - you're definitely right, to some extent, that it's not always a good idea to come on so strong, but i feel like there are certain things where w/o at least a little bit of shocking language, it's hard for people to pay any attention. And with an issue like this, doesn't it seem just criminal that people should suffer so much for our pleasure, especially when it's SOOO easy to get amazingly good quality diamonds either from antique jewelry, from Canada, or from a human made source?

But on a completely different note.. @ Supergirl - There are definitely a lot of quality diamonds online, as bob is saying, but another option is to look at online retailers, or diamond mine websites, and find out where their particular diamonds are sold, and much of the time there will be a retailer near by. Not that there's anything really wrong with buying one online, but you shouldn't feel like you have to, just to get good quality.

also - i know i sound harsh, but i'm not intending to make any judgment about you, or your question, or anything of the sort. it's just one of the moral issues that i feel passionately about, and when it comes up i can't help be honest about the issue. So don't feel judged by me at least. :) and to echo bob, best wishes with engagement!

bob's avatar

Hey, Costco carries Canadian diamonds. They seem expensive, but there are nice and Canadian. Click.

flowers's avatar

We got my engagement ring at BrilliantEarth. They are based out of San Francisco, but they have an extensive online store. They certify their diamonds are conflict free by their standards which are much higher than the Kimberley Process ones. All their diamonds are either Canadian or fair-trade from Africa and all the metal used is recycled from old jewelery (melted down and purified) or comes from sustainable mines. Daniella is the sales rep and she is very helpful and nice. These might be a little more expensive than you can get elsewhere, but you can be sure that they are really conflict free. We had a wonderful experience with them.

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Scout46's avatar

For online retailers that are lesser known (ie, not the ones listed above, which are the most common), check the Better Business Bureau. They would have any reports of bad practices. Also, the most important thing isn’t so much where, as whether or not a diamond has a valid grading report to go along with it. GIA is the original grading org and is still the most trusted/reliable. So if the diamond has a GIA report that is real (you should be able to look at the report before you purchase), you should be good to go.

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