Excellent question, and not the first time I will have to answer that question with another question (and I must, because it matters). So my question is… How much is a house or a new car, or a bottle of fine wine? Your questions should be, “What kind of house?” and “How many rooms?” One needs to know the model and year of the car, and also the wine’s vintage and the location of the vineyard.
You see, one has to be specific about the quality wanted for the pleasures listed above. The same goes for diamonds. As with most things in life, there are the good, the bad and the ugly ones.
It’s a trick question, but not impossible to answer. In a nutshell, the very best diamonds will be expensive; the middle of the road ones are just that, and affordable to most; and the diamonds that are cheap (I won’t sugar coat it) are just cheap, carbon junk.
This is easy to understand for most of us with an average IQ. But things can get ugly when you pay a premium price for a diamond that is a piece of worthless carbon.
Oh boy! The secrets I could tell about the expensive junk I have seen here in paradise or as I like to refer to my beloved Marco Island as “Mayberry RFD” only with sun and sand. The old adage “a fool and his money are soon parted” is alive and well here in Mayberry when it comes to buying diamonds.
Here’s my two cents worth of common sense rules when buying diamonds:
1. Bon voyage to your money. Folks drop crazy money shopping on exotic cruises that frequent foreign ports and places you may never ever return to. Add to that you are enjoying the local libations while shopping for expensive jewelry (and especially diamonds) and it is a really bad idea. Just don’t do it. I have yet to see a valued purchase when the so-called honeymoon is over and the rum-driven purchase is evaluated here in Mayberry.
Hmm. You paid $25,000 for a crummy diamond that appraised here for $5,000. Hell of an expensive souvenir, don’t you think?
2. Wear it like you stole it! Someone has a friend of a friend, or better yet, a cousin “in the business” who will certainly give you the deal of a lifetime… for himself! Avoid it!
3. Hotel and Resort Jewelry Auctions. This marketing ploy is the biggest rip off of them all. Low quality diamonds and precious gemstone jewelry with pumped up pricing to deceive the buyers that it is seized property of former Miami drug dealers and Wall Street scoundrels, like Bernie Madoff. If you fall for this scam, I have Bernie’s diamond-studded solid gold toilet seat for sale for three million five.
So, how much is a nice one carat diamond? A really nice middle of the road quality one carat diamond with decent color and clarity can cost between $5,000 and $6,500 American. Alright, I already hear the flack out there, remember I said nice. Go ahead you millennials and shop online and I’m sure you will find a “nice” one carat for $1,000 to $2,000 bucks. So go for it, “snowflake,” pull out your credit card and spend 2K on a diamond of dubious quality while admiring it on a computer or cell phone screen, sight unseen. To me that’s worse than the buzzed out sea cruisers spending 25K that I mentioned earlier. And what exactly is the online standard of “nice?” Now that’s another good question.
Buying jewelry, and especially diamonds, without seeing its beauty and sparkle or not holding it in one’s hand is simply foolish. (Billions of dollars of online jewelry sales per year and growing may prove me wrong, but I’m sure this is where the average American’s IQ thing is not so average, which works to the online scammer’s advantage. I’m not saying all online purchases are meritless, what I have seen so far in my world (shop) tells me otherwise… lots of unhappy campers!
Yes, it’s possible to pay tens of thousands (aka, most expensive price) for a one carat diamond that’s a triple XXX flawless “D” color, which is the top of the chart on this planet for being the whitest color, clarity and cut. Not to be redundant, but what justifies the cost of the diamond is still the four C’s (carat, color, cut, clarity) period, nothing else matters; no expensive media branding, fancy French designer name or a high end jewelry conglomerate with fancy blue boxes. Any important diamond such as this will have pedigree papers or a certificate to ascertain its true quality and authenticity. No diamond merchant would buy it without one. I have seen some half decent non certified diamonds for around $4,000, but not many.
Even the affordable one carat diamond can be certified. This gives the buyer a sense of comfort knowing it has been examined and certified, for example a “G” color SI1 (slightly included or slightly imperfect) diamond.
OK, another reality check here, most diamonds are not flawless (yes, even the one you are wearing) unless you paid crazy money for it or worse, stole it. Yes, I have seen many flawless diamonds in my illustrious career; some were spectacular, a sight to see, and then there are folks that were duped into paying tens of thousands for diamonds that were horribly off color with the clarity of rock salt. They should have brought a seeing eye dog to assist in the purchase. Yes, dismal diamond deals happen… a lot!
I call it U.D.I. or Ultimate Diamond Ignorance. So here I am, besides feeling a bit hurt and slighted that I am now forced to evaluate a diamond purchased in Timbuktu by someone I thought was a loyal customer. It was an expensive purchase, but the deal of a lifetime, I’m told, a perfect blue white diamond and reams of paperwork to prove it. Only problem is it is none of the above. I tell the truth and I lose a customer because no one wants to be told they got taken badly. I then become the bad guy. If I tell them it’s the most beautiful diamond I have ever seen, as a professional I would be lying to them and myself. My answer lately is “nice souvenir” and I leave it at that.
Buy your diamonds from a known and trusted and experienced jeweler, see it in person, touch and feel it, enjoy it’s one of a kind brilliance and scintillation. A beautiful diamond is forever, and so is an embarrassing and costly lackluster one.
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and a purveyor of fine diamonds for over 50 years. He is the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith, Marco’s Island jeweler since 1994 and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Call 239-394-9275 and visit harborgoldsmith.com.