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Marie and I recently got engaged.
I wish to thank several firms,
who helped us either when I was shopping for Marie's ring,
or since we got engaged:
1) Nice Ice (Roseburg, Oregon)
2) J. Lewis Jewellers (Bellevue, Washington)
3) Tiffany's (Seattle, Washington)
4) Porter and Jensen Studio (University Village in Seattle, Washington)
5) Fox's Gem Shop (Seattle, Washington)
6) Olsen & Sons (Factoria Mall in Bellevue, Washington)
7) Willow Glen Diamond Company (San Jose, California)
I also shopped at a few other stores.
I purchased the stone from Nice Ice.
It was a pleasure to work with Robin and Todd.
1) Their prices are very good.
I believe in doing business with people
who want my business, and expect to be around in the future.
Therefore, I am glad when my suppliers (and customers)
make a reasonable profit.
2) Their payment, return, and resale policies are reasonable.
As this was my first purchase from them, I used a credit card.
If I buy further items from them,
I will probably just do a wire transfer.
(Surprisingly, it is the same amount of trouble either way.)
3) They are familiar with recent research into diamond cuts,
and choose their stones accordingly.
4) I especially appreciate their detailed documentation of the stone:
4a) They post a chart of their available stones,
complete with cut information,
clarity grades, sizes, and prices.
4b) The stone came with a GIA report.
4c) Robin and Todd measured the stone using an OGI machine.
4d) Robin and Todd photographed the stone
under dark field illumination, to show the defects.
This is far better than the GIA's defect plot.
The stone is clean enough that even with 20 x magnification,
and the defect plot, Marie and I can barely tell where
the defects are.
4e) Most of the documentation is both printed out
(for my records and my insurance company's records)
and available on-line.
Only a few vendors make it this easy to compare stones.
(Long-time DiamondTalk readers are probably familiar with many of them.)
I purchased the stone from Nice Ice, instead of from a local vendor,
because it was easier to choose a well cut stone on-line
instead of locally.
Sadly, the local vendors and chain stores I talked to
did not have computerized databases
that showed the cuts of their diamonds.
They were not set up to show me the best-cut diamonds.
While the local vendors and chain stores could manually
flip certs, and then (at significant cost to the store)
bring in a couple of stones, I did not feel comfortable
taking them up on this offer.
Remember, I want my vendor to make money.
I do not want my vendor to spend lots of time flipping reports,
nor spend lots of money calling in stones,
if the vendor had little assurance that the stones
they called in would compare favorably to stones
(with known measurements) available on-line.
This is a business opportunity for the gem labs.
(They could do this in partnership with Polygon or another vendor.)
Suppose the AGS gave all AGS jewellers access to a database
listing the cut parameters of all available-for-memo stones
that had been graded by the AGS. Suppose further that
the jeweller could search the cut database using rating systems,
(such as the HCA), or formulas.
Or suppose the IGI let Costco have a computerized database
of the cuts of all of Costco's diamonds, with the ability
to search the cut database using rating systems or formulas.
Any vendor that had access to such a database
would be able to match the internet vendors on cut quality.
(Or at least would be able to tell a customer
the best that the vendor could do.)
Several Seattle-area jewellers and chain stores
had prices competitive with on-line vendors.
Unfortunately, these prices were usually not
apples-to-apples comparisons, due to unknown cuts,
and due to different choices of gem labs.
Although the Seattle-area jewellers and chain stores
I visited are at a disadvantage
in choosing well-cut diamonds, they have some advantages:
1) They can show you what the various colors look like,
if their stones are graded as strictly.
2) They can show you what the various clarities look like,
if their stones are graded as strictly.
3) They can size rings.
4) They can let you try on settings to see how they feel.
5) A store with an on-site bench jeweller
can help you design a comfortable ring
that is aesthetically pleasing.
6) A salesperson with hands-on bench experience
can provide especially good feedback about
what trade-offs are possible or worthwhile.
7) A store with a good on-site bench jeweller
can provide faster turn-around for settings and service.
This means no time or expense for shipping and handling.
8) Some stores are very convenient for cleanings
and other future work.
9) Most stores display more kinds of jewelry
(such as bracelets and chains) than are displayed on
most on-line diamond brokers' websites.
I bought the setting for Marie's ring from
J. Lewis Jewellers. When I purchased the stone and setting,
J. Lewis had two bench jewellers,
one of whom was also a salesman.
As an engineer, I felt comfortable working with
a craftsman like Lloyd Bender. I could trust his
opinions about the trade-offs between various designs,
materials, techniques, and costs.
Unfortunately, Lloyd Bender is not with J. Lewis anymore.
Fortunately, the craftsman who made Marie's ring
is still with J. Lewis.
J. Lewis took responsibility for the stone
whenever it was in their hands. Some jewellers
are not comfortable doing this (especially for
a stone purchased from another vendor).
I am glad I asked their policy on this point.
The price that J. Lewis charged for materials and labor
was quite reasonable. I assume they made a fair profit.
J. Lewis Jewellers is conveniently located near the Bellevue
Transit Center. I can walk there from work,
and Marie can get there readily.
Three other jewelry stores with on-site bench jewellers
advertise in local papers. Unfortunately,
none of them were as conveniently located
(for Marie and myself).
I look forward to purchasing other items
from J. Lewis in the future.
Together, Lloyd Bender and I designed a very comfortable ring:
1) All of the parts and finishes
could be special-ordered from catalogs.
2) The ring has a comfort-fit shank.
3) The ring was sized to accommodate Marie's finger
on a hot day after a long walk.
4) Sizing balls were added to accommodate Marie's finger
on a cool, restful day.
Unfortunately, the prongs tend to catch in Marie's hair.
I enjoyed shopping at Tiffany's. Their staff is friendly.
Tiffany's carries medium-to-high color stones (D-I)
and high clarity stones (IF-VS2). They stock
many stones, so I could:
1) See how far apart the color grade needs to be
before I can consistently recognize the difference.
2) See how little the differences in clarity
(among high clarity stones)
matter to the appearance of the stones.
3) See the difference that a tenth of a carat
makes in the size of the stone.
Porter & Jensen's (http://www.porterjensen.com)
used to be an anchor store in the University District.
It has moved into a smaller space in the University Village.
Porter & Jensen's has a friendly, knowledgeable staff
that is interested in the latest diamond cut research.
I thank Joe Waldmann for letting me read his copy of the
GIA brilliance article, before it was published on-line.
Also, Porter & Jensen's was happy to measure
Marie's finger size.
Marie and I enjoyed shopping at Fox's Gem Shop (http://www.foxsgemshop.com).
Mr. Kim Smith and the other staff members were knowledgeable and helpful.
Fox's has a Sarin Brilliant Eye diamond measuring machine.
Also, Fox's was happy to measure Marie's finger size.
Last edited by Jasper : 08-17-04 at 02:19 AM.
Marie and I enjoyed shopping at Olsen & Sons.
Their Factoria Mall location used to be very convenient for us.
The staff and owners are friendly and helpful,
and very straight-forward about the abilities
of the bench jewellers they normally contract with.
Also, Olsen & Sons was happy to measure
Marie's finger size.
Marie and I recently drove down to California to visit my late mother.
On the way back, we stopped in Roseburg, Oregon.
We got to meet Robin and Todd Gray, and the staff of Nice Ice.
Robin and Todd regaled us with stories of the diamond business.
(Long-time DiamondTalk readers have read some of them.)
Robin was happy to update our appraisal,
and Todd showed us Nice Ice's equipment
for viewing, measuring, and simulating diamonds.
Unlike most jewelry stores, Nice Ice has very ordinary lighting.
Recently, Marie and I made another trip to California.
While walking through San Jose, we stopped by
the Willow Glen Diamond Company (http://www.wgdiamond.com).
Francesca Walsh was happy to show us some of their EightStar diamonds.
I was interested to see that the proportions of the EightStars
were, in most respects, identical to Marie's diamond.
In particular, the differences in crown angle, pavilion angle, table ratio,
and girdle thickness were well within
the margin of error of the measuring equipment.
There was only one obvious difference in the proportions.
As I recall, the top side of the EightStar's girdle
was considerably thicker at the
upper girdle facet - upper girdle facet - girdle
junctions, and considerably thinner at the
kite facet - girdle junctions.
We did not compare the star facet lengths,
nor did we compare the lower girdle facet lengths.
Not surprisingly, the same visual effects
(such as the eight-star pattern and SymmetriScope pattern)
could be clearly seen in both Marie's diamond and in the EightStar diamonds.
These visual effects were much harder to see
in a steeper-deeper AGS 0 diamond.
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