Why Knowing the 4Cs Isn’t Enough


Customers sometimes ask, “Why do the diamonds sold on-line, on sites like Blue Nile and James Allen, seem to be less expensive than the diamonds sold in your store?”  It seems to be a rhetorical question because most people think they already know the answer.  They think there’s more of a mark-up on the diamonds we sell.  They may understand that the local retailer has different expenses than on-line retailers, but they don’t want to help pay for those expenses.

The accurate answer is not so simple, but anyone who has done as much research as it takes to ask the question ought to be invested enough to hear the truth.  For years, consumers have been coached about the 4Cs of a diamond–Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.  They’ve been told that these four features define the value of a diamond.  It made explaining and understanding diamonds easier–something that both sellers and buyers wanted.  Diamonds were a commodity that could be categorized.  All excellent cut, G, SI1, 0.80 carat diamonds would be in the same category.

But, if that’s true, then why does the same retailer charge different prices?  The other day I went on Blue Nile. (Yes, we check out the competition!)  and discovered that you can buy a 0.80 ct/G/SI1/Ideal cut diamond for $2789.  You can also buy one, a little further down the list, for $4006. Why would anyone choose to pay $1200 more for the same thing?  Why would a retailer who’s offering the same level of service on both diamonds, expect anyone to pay $1200 more?  The reality is, if you’re buying a D colored diamond or a diamond of flawless clarity, there’s very little variation with those rankings.  But most of us don’t choose to pay the premium that goes along with those rankings.  The more commonly chosen SI1 ranking covers a broad range, as does the G color.

The only conclusion is that all 0.80 ct/G/SI1/Ideal cut diamonds are NOT the same.  And, if that’s the truth, then who will show and explain the difference?  Will employees at Blue Nile help you distinguish a good representation of four specific C’s from a poor one?  Will they have you look at the diamond under a microscope and compare it to the plot provided by the grading laboratory?  How will you know that you are getting a good value for your money?

The truth is, as with most products, you get what you pay for.  If you buy a diamond in a local, reputable, A.G.S. member jewelry store, from a well-trained sales person who knows that his/her next sale may very well come from your recommendation, chances are excellent to ideal (pun intended) that you will get a quality diamond that accurately reflects the money you’ve spent.  Then there are the extra benefits you get when buying your diamond from a local, reputable jewelry store.  As long as that store is in business, you have a friend, an expert you can turn to should you have problems.  Then there’s  the story.  Finding your diamond with someone you can talk to, laugh with, and even develop a friendship with, is a much deeper, richer experience than checking a box on your computer monitor.  Finally, there’s the opportunity for legacy.  Most married couples have kids, and those kids grow up, fall in love, and want to exchange rings as a symbol of their union.  Generations of families come to our store, and it’s a wonderful tradition with deep meaning to those families.

In the end, you must decide where to buy that special diamond that signifies the most important relationship in your life.  Make sure you have the information you need to make the right decision.



The History of the Diamond Engagement Ring

Diamond Engagement Ring - Dearborn Jewelers

A ring has signified union and commitment for thousands of years.  But when did a diamond become part of the equation?  Prior to 1870, around the time diamonds were discovered in Africa,  diamonds were too rare and expensive for most of us.  They were seen as a symbol of status and wealth, not love and commitment.  There is a well documented case of the Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioning a diamond engagement ring for his bride, Mary of Burgundy, back in 1477.  But most brides of the time had a simple band.

It was not until the late 1920s that a diamond engagement ring first became popular.  DeBeers, the company that monopolized the diamond market for decades, was eager to market its increasing supply of diamonds to the middle class.  When the U.S. economy faltered in the 1930s, demand for diamond rings fell dramatically.  DeBeers responded with tempting advertisements showing movie stars wearing diamonds.  They tried to educate the public by introducing the 4 C’s. (Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat)  Then, in 1947, their “A Diamond is Forever” campaign launched the idea that giving a diamond when you propose ensures a marriage that will last forever.

By 1965, eighty percent of all new brides had a diamond engagement ring.  At first, most brides sported a solitaire ring, a style popularized by Tiffany and Co.  But in the 1970s more engagement rings had accent diamonds along with a center stone.  Now it’s common to see many diamonds in an engagement ring.  Today’s rings average over 1 carat total weight in diamonds.

What’s next for the engagement ring?   Some say that the trend is to substitute a sapphire (or other colored stone) for the center diamond.  But I have a hard time believing diamonds will ever lose their stature.  Diamonds really are forever.

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