Bull Shit Alert: American Gem Society provides urgent consumer tips for holiday diamond purchases

The American Gem Society, has issued a press release “for immediate release” that they’re calling “Urgent consumer tips for holiday diamond purchases” which I find to be so patently offensive, that I’m issuing an Official Bull Shit Alert.  Primarily because the second “urgent piece of advice” recommended in the article is that before buying a diamond, consumers should “See it. Touch it. Feel it. Though the prices for jewelry found online are sometimes lower, AGS recommends that consumers see, touch and feel the jewelry they are considering purchasing – especially diamonds. Online purchases can look very different in person than on a screen.” What year is this? 1984?

Urgent Consumer Tips from American Gem Society:

The “Urgent Consumer Tips for Holiday Diamond Purchases” suggested in the recent press release by the American Gem Society are as follows:

  • Be aware of inflated pricing. If a discount seems too good to be true, it just may be. AGS member jewelers must adhere to standards of business conduct that strictly prohibit inflating a price by a certain percent, then advertising that it is that same percentage off.
  • See it. Touch it. Feel it. Though the prices for jewelry found online are sometimes lower, AGS recommends that consumers see, touch and feel the jewelry they are considering purchasing – especially diamonds. Online purchases can look very different in person than on a screen.
  • Make sure your diamond is graded. Only purchase diamonds that come with diamond-grading reports from reputable laboratories that adhere to a strict standard of diamond grading. Most laboratories were created to service the trade. The AGS created a lab in 1995 with one mission in mind: to issue diamond-grading reports that protect the consumer. Ask retailers’ questions about the diamond-grading lab behind the report.
  • Choose a trusted jeweler. Consumers should shop with a credentialed, professional jeweler, who is a member of an organization with a strict code of business ethics, such as AGS. By shopping with a jeweler who knows and understands all gems and metals, consumers will feel less stress and more confident with their purchase.

The American Gem Society concludes their advice by suggesting that you use their Directory of AGS Member Retail Jewelry Stores, to find a credentialed AGS jeweler.

So let’s take a look at the urgent diamond buying advice that the American Gem Society is directing at online diamond buyers this holiday season…

#1: Be Aware of Inflated Pricing:

“If a discount seems too good to be true, it just may be. AGS member jewelers must adhere to standards of business conduct that strictly prohibit inflating a price by a certain percent, then advertising that it is that same percentage off.”

Essentially what the American Gem Society is saying here, is that their members are strictly prohibited from inflating the advertised price of an item “by a certain percent” and then advertising that it is the same percentage off…

Well that’s not really anything to brag about, since the practice of increasing the advertised price of an item, for the sole purpose of discounting it by that same percentage is actually prohibited by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and is considered to be a fraudulent advertising practice.

Hat’s Off to to the American Gem Society for doing what they can to ensure that their retail jewelry store members adhere to Federal Trade Commission guidelines; I can only assume that it has been an issue, which is perhaps why they feel the need to point out that their members are prohibited from participating in that practice; but honestly we have the Federal Trade Commission to enforce this type of thing, and in my experience the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) is much more effective at addressing such issues.

By the way, it is also illegal to advertise an item is being sold on sale, or being sold at a discount, off of a “regular price” if it has never actually been sold for that price… And the law doesn’t say anything about the difference in the “regular price” and the “sale price” being dictated “by a certain percent”.

#2: See it. Touch it. Feel it.

“Though the prices for jewelry found online are sometimes lower, AGS recommends that consumers see, touch and feel the jewelry they are considering purchasing – especially diamonds. Online purchases can look very different in person than on a screen.”

In my experience as both a successful internet diamond retailer, and the owner of a brick and mortar jewelry store, the prices for diamonds and jewelry found online are almost always lower than the prices offered for the same or comparable items offered in traditional brick and mortar jewelry stores; if for no other reason than online diamond dealers, such as Blue Nile, Brian Gavin Diamonds, Enchanted Diamonds, High Performance Diamonds, James Allen, Ritani, and other online diamonds dealers who I work closely with, are competing globally, not just in their local region.

Are online diamond prices better than retail jewelry store prices, Enchanted Diamonds, GIA 2186434395I think you’ll find that this 1.70 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds, which is listed for $13,340.00 is priced much better than your local jeweler will offer it for. But don’t take my word for it, ask your local jeweler for a quote on GIA #2186434395 which is a 1.70 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, round diamond; but don’t tell them that you found it online, let them think that some other jeweler in town showed it to you; and don’t tell them the price, just ask them for a quote; and let me know if it’s anywhere close to the price being offered by Enchanted Diamonds, or whether we should Beware Retail jewelry Store Diamond Prices! I have an interesting prediction about what they’ll say:

If 25+ years of experience in the diamond business is an indicator, the average retail jeweler is going to offer this 1.70 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds, for somewhere between $18,615.00 and $24,800.00

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In addition, the average retail jewelry store in America is not going to want to try and source this diamond for you, because it is located in India, which means that they’re going to have to pay for the diamond sight unseen in order to be able to show it to you; and they’re not likely to be willing to take that risk, especially if you ask them to compete with the likes of Enchanted Diamonds on price!

Please put this theory to the test, but try to do so with Retail Jewelers who are Members of the American Gem Society, since we’re trying to test their theory as to whether or not “prices for jewelry found online are sometimes lower” and because the American Gem Society has boldly suggested that people should not purchase diamonds online, that “AGS recommends that consumers see, touch and feel the jewelry they are considering purchasing – especially diamonds”, and since the purpose of their press release is to encourage consumers to buy diamonds from Members of the American Gem Society.

I think that in an effort to live up to the image and reputation that the American Gem Society seems intent on developing and promoting for the retail jewelry industry, the honored members of the American Gem Society should be willing to put their money where their mouth is, and bring diamonds like the 1.70 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds in for their customers to see in-store, before purchasing, and without any obligation to purchase, since Enchanted Diamonds is willing to bring it in for physical evaluation and offer it to their customers with a 30 day return policy.

#3: Make sure your diamond is graded.

“Only purchase diamonds that come with diamond-grading reports from reputable laboratories that adhere to a strict standard of diamond grading. Most laboratories were created to service the trade. The AGS created a lab in 1995 with one mission in mind: to issue diamond-grading reports that protect the consumer. Ask retailers’ questions about the diamond-grading lab behind the report.”

My experience Secret Shopping Tiffany & Co., Jewelers, Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CaliforniaOne of the things that I find most amusing about shopping for a diamond at jewelry stores that also happen to be Members of the American Gem Society, is that many AGS Member Jewelry Stores seem to specialize in diamonds that are graded by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory; and some of them have even tried to convince me that there is no such thing as the American Gem Society Laboratory. When I Secret Shopped Tiffany & Co., in Palo Alto, California, I discovered that they are “lab grading” diamonds themselves; Tiffany Diamonds used to be graded by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory; my grandfather used to say something about “the fox watching the hen house…”

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Now that I think about it… rather than publish urgent press releases that provide consumers with last minute diamond buying tips, the American Gem Society might want to focus their efforts on letting AGS Member Stores know that the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) actually exists; and suggest that AGS Member Stores actually use the gemological laboratory that is owned and operated by the American Gem Society… this would fall under the category of Successful Business Practices 101, promote thyself.

If by chance, the American Gem Society would like additional insight on ways that they can improve their business, I am available as a consultant; my services have been used by several successful online diamond dealers, so I do have a proven track record for how to grow a business online.

Oh that’s right, it seems that the Members and Advisory Board of the American Gem Society, don’t condone the practice of buying and selling diamonds online; it seems that they prefer that you pay higher prices for diamonds and jewelry, just so that you can “see it, touch it, and feel it” in order for you to feel confident about your diamond purchase; but isn’t that why vendors like Blue Nile, Brian Gavin, Enchanted Diamonds, High Performance Diamonds, James Allen, and Ritani, all offer extensive 100% satisfaction, money back guarantees?

Fossil extinct reptile dinosaur, flora, faunaI sincerely hope that Members of the American Gem Society don’t go extinct, due to be unable to adapt to the introduction of the internet to their ever changing world. I’m reminded of the words of the great Martin Luther King, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” It might be time for the American Gem Society to change their approach, and embrace the power of the internet, imagine how their membership might grow if internet based diamond dealers were allowed into the club.

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You can buy a diamond securely online, using the details provided on the diamond grading report issued by the AGS Laboratory, or the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory, quite often with the addition of high resolution video, and images of the diamond as seen through an ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, & Hearts and Arrows Scope; and order with the peace of mind that you can return the item for a full refund, if you don’t like it for any reason…

I have a question for the good people at the American Gem Society… How many of your upstanding AGS Member Jewelry Stores offer a 10 to 30 Day, Full Refund, Return Policy? Please do not choke on the answer, just pretend that it is a rhetorical question, and move on; everybody will most likely forget that I posed the question in a moment or two, if we simply ignore it… Can you hear the crickets chirping?

#4: Choose a trusted jeweler.

“Consumers should shop with a credentialed, professional jeweler, who is a member of an organization with a strict code of business ethics, such as AGS. By shopping with a jeweler who knows and understands all gems and metals, consumers will feel less stress and more confident with their purchase.”

This paragraph makes me laugh, because the answer to practically all of my technical diamond buying questions presented to the sales clerk at Tiffany & Co., located in the Stanford Shopping Center, in Palo Alto, California… that’s smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley, the Land of Google, and tons of other companies that employ people who tend to be very detail oriented, was “All you really need to know, is that this is a Tiffany Diamond!”

While it is the apparent hope of the American Gem Society that consumers who shop at AGS Member Stores, such as Tiffany & Co., will “feel less stress and more confident with their purchase” the truth is that I had to fight the urge not to bang my head repeatedly against the Faux Marble Pillars located just outside the front door, when I Secret Shopped Tiffany and Company; and I dare to suggest that the American Gem Society considers Tiffany & Co., to be “a credentialed, professional jeweler” since they happen to be one of their oldest, and most honored members.

American Gem Society vs AGS Laboratory:

I feel that it is important want to point out that the American Gem Society (AGS) is not quite the same thing as the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) which is essentially a division funded by the American Gem Society; it’s kind of like “one big happy family” where each member of the family operates separately, and is responsible for their own actions; however the family unit also operates as a whole, and the Board members of the American Gem Society tend to throw their weight around like demanding parents who base their decisions on what the neighbors have to say, with the “neighbors” being comprised by the owners of retail jewelry stores, most of whom probably don’t know how to harness the power of the internet to market their business.

Selma Lagerlof, Swedish writer, crone, kroner banknoteI’ve always had the upmost respect for Peter Yantzer, who is the Lab Director of the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) but suffice to say that I’ve butted heads with the the people at the American Gem Society on more than a few occasions, and I find them to be a bit stuffy. The last encounter was when the American Gem Society they threatened legal action if we didn’t immediately cease and desist all use of the terms “AGS Ideal Cut” on the web site! Yea, that worked!

Actually what they wanted, was for us to immediately cease and desist all use of the terms “AGS Ideal Cut” and “AGS Ideal-0” and “AGS-000” and “AGS Triple Ideal Cut” and anything else that contained the initials “AGS” or “The American Gem Society”, which would make it essentially impossible for us to market or sell diamonds that were graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory; and since we were one of the original web sites that heavily promoted ideal cut diamonds graded by the AGSL, that is a decision that clearly makes a lot of sense! Why yes Jeeves, that is sarcasm! Thank you for noticing.

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American Gem Society vs Nice Ice Diamonds:

In the beginning, we honestly didn’t take the demands of the American Gem Society very seriously, because we had a letter on file that was issued by Peter Yantzer, Director of the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) indicating that he had reviewed the Nice Ice web site in its entirety, and that he approved of our use of the terms AGS Ideal Cut, AGS Ideal-0, and even how we defined the common use phrases “AGS Triple Zero Cut” and “AGS Triple Ideal Cut Diamond” by providing clarification of how that phrase was being mis-used by the majority of the diamond industry.

Naturally upon receipt of the threat from their lawyer, we responded by sending a copy of the letter written by the Director of the AGS Laboratory, to the attorney retained by the American Gem Society to try and coerce us into stop using the terms AGS Ideal Cut, AGS Ideal-0, and AGS Triple Ideal, on the Nice Ice web site.

As I recall, the American Gem Society responded by indicating that Peter Yantzer, Lab Director of the American Gem Society Laboratory, did not have the authority to issue that statement, and thus the letter was rescinded. Once again, we were instructed to immediately cease and desist all use of the terms AGS Ideal Cut, AGS Ideal-0, AGS Triple Zero Cut, and AGS Triple Ideal Cut Diamond on the web site, or face legal action.

Yea, okay… So the first thing that we did was conduct a search for common use terms such as AGS Ideal Cut on the internet, and then proceeded to fax, literally hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper (yea, I’d like to know how much that cost at a dollar a page) that showed the blatant use of those terms on other web sites, which apparently were not (yet) being targeted by the American Gem Society.

We sent all of the faxes at night of course, so that the attorney retained by the American Gem Society would be able to start out the next day being highly effective, armed with all of the information required, to assist the American Gem Society with their crusade against internet diamond dealers… because that’s what this is in my humble opinion, a crusade against internet diamond dealers, which is backed by an organization that consists primarily of retail jewelry stores, who do not want to have to lower their prices to compete with internet diamond dealers for your business.

Hitting the AGS Laboratory where it counts:

Gemological laboratories such as the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) exist to turn a profit, regardless of what they might want you to believe. Thus the next thing that we did to combat the American Gem Society’s crusade against internet diamond sales, was to telephone every one of the diamond cutters that we work with, and ask one simple question:

Mr Wizard cartoon pics clips“Mr. Wizard, if we called you up tomorrow, and informed you that we no longer represented diamonds that are graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory, that in the future, we will only consider diamonds graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), where would you send your future production to be graded?” and Mr. Wizard, and all of the other producers of super ideal cut diamonds, responded by promising that they would only send their diamonds to the GIA to be graded, if that is the laboratory that we preferred. True Story. And at the time, I believe that we were selling about $7.5 million dollars worth of ideal cut diamonds per year, that adds up to a lot of AGS Diamond Quality Documents.

We concluded those telephone conversations by asking the diamond cutters to call Peter Yantzer of the American Gem Society Laboratory, and let him know that per our suggestion, that they would be sending their future production to the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory for grading… that they didn’t know exactly what was going on, but that they couldn’t afford to lose our volume over it.

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The next step was to call all of our competitors, like Jonathan Weingarten of Good Old Gold, Wink Jones of High Performance Diamonds, and Jim Shultz of James Allen, who also specialize in zero ideal cut diamonds, and share the experience that we were having with the American Gem Society at the time, and to encourage them to have a similar discussion with the diamond cutters who they were working with…

We also spoke with Brian Gavin, who is a fifth generation diamond cutter, who used to sell us “A Cut Above” brand diamonds, and generic super ideal cut diamonds; this is long before he launched Whiteflash, which he later abandoned to run Brian Gavin Diamonds without the interference of members of his Board of Directors… an experience which I believe Peter Yantzer and Brian Gavin have in common.

For the past few years, Brian Gavin has used the American Gem Society Laboratory exclusively to grade all of his Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamonds, because of the benefits provided by their use of Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology; however at the time, he also agreed to send the diamonds that we were interested in, to the GIA for grading, if we continued to be hassled by the American Gem Society, and decided to only represent diamonds graded by the GIA.

Thankfully, the American Gem Society got the message rather quickly, they put their money where their mouth is, and we received a telephone call from their attorney within a few short hours of launching our counter attack, advising us that the AGS would not be pursuing legal action.

Why does Brian Gavin user AGS Laboratory instead of GIA to grade diamonds like AGSL 104074500009The question that I’m having at the moment, as a diamond buyer with 25+ years experience, with a specialty in zero ideal cut diamonds, is at this particular time when the American Gem Society is essentially punching internet diamond dealers in the face with an “urgent press release” that is clearly bull shit; why do dealers like Brian Gavin continue to send diamonds like this 1.981 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond to the AGS Laboratory for grading? In my experience, pretty much any round brilliant cut diamond that has been cut to the level of diamond cut quality required to obtain an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0, will easily obtain the highest grade of GIA Excellent from the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory, although it doesn’t always work going the other direction, GIA Excellent does not necessarily equal AGS Ideal-0, because of the ASET based Light Performance criteria.

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It certainly seems counter productive to financially support an organization which is gunning for you, I don’t recall seeing the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory issuing things like “Urgent consumer tips for holiday diamond purchases” advising consumers to “See it. Touch it. Feel it.” before buying this holiday season. Why? Because the actions of the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory are not dictated by the whims and desires of retail jewelry store members.

Definition of the word Member or Members in accordance to the English dictionaryAnd for the record, I want to clearly state that my use of the word “members” as used in the last paragraph, is used in accordance with the standard definition as provided by the free dictionary; I’ll leave it to you to decide which definition of the term “member” seems most appropriate given the context of this article; which for the record is written in the spirit of satirical wit, which is specifically protected under the First Amendment of the United States.

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Interestingly enough, there is one member of the American Gem Society, who operates a very successful online diamond business, that company is Whiteflash, the company that was originally launched by Brian Gavin in 1999, as a way for him to market the “A Cut Above” brand diamonds that he created on a broader scale; Brian eventually left that venture behind to launch Brian Gavin Diamonds, rumor has it that Brian was also experiencing difficulty with members on his Board of Directors, which included Debi Wexler, the current CEO of Whiteflash.

Whiteflash features the American Gem Society logo at the bottom of the first page on their web site in a very prominent position. I wonder what Debi Wexler, the current CEO of Whiteflash, thinks about the urgent advice being given to diamond buying consumers this holiday season by the American Gem Society, the advice that suggests that they not buy diamonds online, that they not buy a diamond without being able to see it, touch it, and feel it.

By the way, Wink Jones of High Performance Diamonds offers a program that he refers to as “See it to believe it” which enables his clients to see, touch, and feel the diamond that they are interested in, without obligation… He will pay the insured shipping on the diamond both ways, so that you can see the diamond, touch the diamond, and feel the diamond, without obligation.

Of course, all of the diamond dealers who I work with online, offer generous inspection and return policies, which enable you to purchase a diamond online, and be able to see it, touch it, feel it, and return it, if you don’t absolutely love it… so I’m unclear as to what advantage high priced jewelry retailers can actually offer you, beyond being able to charge you an exorbitant amount of money, to help you get over your fear of being taken advantage of, by online diamond dealers such as Brian Gavin, High Performance Diamonds, James Allen, and others, who have exceptional reputations for delivering more than promised.

Ohhhhh, perhaps the American Gem Society is talking about “those other guys”… perhaps they should have said so in their article.

Holiday Diamond Buying Advice You Can Trust:

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to provide you with some diamond buying advice you can trust… I’m even going to be so bold as to model it after the excellent example provided by the American Gem Society, but with some obvious changes.

Be aware of inflated diamond prices:

Before purchasing a diamond from your local retail jeweler or any online dealer, conduct your due diligence to ensure that you are working with a vendor who is trustworthy and reliable, and that the item which you are purchasing is legitimately graded by a reputable diamond grading laboratory:

Verify the details provided on the diamond grading report using the following links to verify the validity of the diamond grading reports issued by:

Search for the same diamond by AGS, GIA, or HRD diamond grading report number, to ensure that you are not paying an inflated price simply for the privilege of being able to “see it, touch it, and feel it” prior to purchase. You can use the “Additional Search Options” feature provided on the Enchanted Diamonds web site, to search by diamond grading report  number, and then verify that the price the diamond is being offered for by your local jeweler is not inflated.

You might also want to search Blue Nile for a diamond of the same description, because Blue Nile happens to have the exclusive online listing rights for the production of several very large producers of ideal cut diamonds; thus the only place that you might be able to verify the selling price of a diamond online is via Blue Nile.

High End “super ideal cut diamonds” such as the Hearts and Arrows Diamonds offered by diamond cutters like Brian Gavin, are not available from your local jewelry store, because they are proprietary brands, that are only sold online, direct from the cutter. The closest thing that you’re probably going to find to that level of quality offered by Brian Gavin Signature diamonds is a Hearts on Fire Diamond.

If I recall correctly, we were the 18th authorized dealer for Hearts on Fire when they were first introduced, our distribution contract indicated that discounting was prohibited, and that the diamonds were only be sold at Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) which is considerably more than what Brian Gavin, and companies like Crafted by Infinity are selling their diamonds for online.

See it. Touch it. Feel it.

I wholeheartedly agree with the basis of this concept, which is that it is important to see, touch, and get a feel for how diamonds of different cut qualities look, based upon their proportions, and degree of optical symmetry. Which is why I recommend visiting a few AGS Member Jewelry stores before shopping for diamonds online.

Diamonds do look differently in-person, as opposed to how they look on a computer screen. For one thing, diamonds being sold in jewelry stores are being shown to you under the guise of what Diamond Cutter Brian Gavin likes to call “The Disneyland Effect” which is a fairy tale lighting environment that is created by the use of 300 watt halogen and LED lighting, that is being color corrected by the use of blue dichromatic filters, so that the diamonds sparkle like crazy, and don’t look yellow…

Whereas when you look at diamonds online, you’re only looking at a clarity photograph of the diamond, that shows you what the diamond looks like when viewed through a GIA Gem Scope, or the equivalent thereof, at 30x to 40x magnification; and when you are considering diamonds produced by Brian Gavin, Crafted by Infinity, and James Allen True Hearts diamonds, you are provided with images of the diamond as seen through the reflector scopes that are used to judge the degree of optical symmetry.

Many people seem to prefer this type of detailed diamond grading information, to the usual “isn’t it the most beautiful diamond you’ve ever seen” type jargon used by the drones who work in the average retail jewelry store, at least tends to be true of my clients, who are more detail oriented.

By the way, if it’s really all that important to see it, touch it, and feel the diamond before you purchase it, practically all of the online dealers that I work with offer appointments where you can view the diamond in their office; and Ritani offers a free in-store preview; but all of this is kind of unnecessary since they all offer exceptional return policies, and you would be subject to state sales tax if you were to take delivery of the diamond while visiting their location.

By my calculations, free insured delivery of a diamond engagement ring by Fed Ex or UPS, beats full retail mark-up plus state sales tax at an average rate of nine to ten percent, every day of the week! Especially when you consider that the average retail mark-up that most retail jewelry stores rely upon, would make that 1.70 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds, that is selling for $13,340.00 go for a whopping $18,615.00 to $24,800.00 under the guise of see it, touch it, feel it.

Efffffff that! But you know, retail jewelry store owners have to be able to pay for the membership fees demanded by the American Gem Society… somebody has to fund their writing efforts.

Make sure your diamond is lab graded.

I truly can’t argue with this one, which is why I still recommend buying diamonds that are graded by either the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory, or the American Gem Society Laboratory; because while I might take offense at bull shit press releases such as this one, the fact of the matter is that I would never buy a Tiffany diamond because they are being graded by an in-house laboratory, which is not as likely to be as impartial as the GIA, or AGSL.

By the way, I’m also a fan of the HRD Gemological Laboratory of Belgium, I see them as being on the same level as the GIA and AGSL, they are just not as well known here in the U.S. market.

Only purchase diamonds that come with diamond-grading reports from reputable laboratories that adhere to a strict standard of diamond grading. Most laboratories were created to service the trade. The AGS created a lab in 1995 with one mission in mind: to issue diamond-grading reports that protect the consumer. Ask retailers’ questions about the diamond-grading lab behind the report.

Choose a trusted jeweler.

I wholeheartedly agree that consumers should shop with an experienced jeweler who they can trust, and who has an established reputation, regardless of whether they are buying from their local retailer, or an online dealer.

One thing that I was painfully aware of when we were selling diamonds directly via Nice Ice, is that online diamond dealers, and other online businesses, live in what is essentially a glass fish bowl; everything that we do, every mistake that we make, is quickly published online on a diamond forum, or some other form of social media where it seems to live on forever.

Whereas the majority of local jewelry stores, only have to worry about somebody complaining to a few of their friends, or perhaps the Better Business Bureau; however brick and mortar jewelry stores, even those with stellar reputations such as Tiffany & Co., who happen to be a long standing member of the American Gem Society, have their fair share of problems… but don’t take my word for it, Google: “Tiffany and Co Complaints” and you’ll see that they’ve had their fair share of problems, and plenty of people had the opportunity to visit Tiffany & Co., Jewelers to see it, touch it, and feel it, prior to completing their purchase.

How to buy a diamond online with confidence:

The truth is that you’re probably smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors that the American Gem Society attempted to confuse you with in their recent press release Urgent consumer tips for holiday diamond purchases“.

You’re smart enough to know that it is the intent of the American Gem Society trade organization, to promote and encourage the sale of diamonds and jewelry through brick and mortar jewelry stores, who are willing to pay a membership fee, in exchange for a sticker that they can paste on to the front door of their jewelry store, that is designed to create a feeling of trust in consumers.

And you’re probably smart enough to realize that as a diamond buyer with 25+ years of experience, who is one of the original pioneers of the online diamond business, who first launched NiceIce.com in February of 1996, that I have a vested interest in promoting and encouraging you to buy diamonds and jewelry online, from vendors who I trust, because I feel that the online environment provides my clients with the best selection of top quality diamonds, at the best prices possible.

I am in the business of writing about diamonds, I am a paid professional author; I am paid to ghost write the educational and blog content of several online diamond vendors; and I am paid to promote various brands of diamonds and jewelry; I do so transparently, there is a Material Connection Disclosure located just below the Legal tab that is located at the top of this and every other page on the web site; and if you elect to correspond with me, by taking advantage of the Diamond Concierge Service that I offer, you will note that a Material Connection Disclosure is also provided below my signature in the email that you will receive in response to your inquiry.

However the urgent press release made by the American Gem Society, does not provide any sort of disclosure about how they are in the business of promoting the retail sale of diamonds and jewelry, through a select group of retail jewelers, who they collect a membership fee from; they merely talk about how their members have to follow a set of guidelines that they established as one of the hoops required to gain access to the club.

Interestingly enough, I don’t limit the diamond buying advice to vendors who I have affiliate agreements with, within this article, I’ve mentioned both Good Old Gold, and Whiteflash, and I don’t market for either company, even though Whiteflash does have an affiliate program; however I tend to help people purchase diamonds from those companies all the time, for free… because the articles that I write, are actually intended to teach you something about diamonds, they are intended to provide you with the information to make an informed decision, they are not solely intended to direct you only to vendors who are part of Club Nice Ice; I guess I don’t play the game very well.

Here’s my best attempt at being a marketing guru:

If you’re looking for an online diamond dealer who you can trust, I will personally guarantee your complete satisfaction from Brian Gavin Diamonds or High Performance Diamonds, which is the U.S. Distributor for Crafted by Infinity Diamonds; you have my personal guarantee, that if you buy a diamond from either company, and you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, and you attempt to return the item, within the guidelines of their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee policies, e.g. you return the item within the specified time period, in the same condition that it was sent to you, and either vendor refuses to honor the terms of their return policy, I will take the item back, and personally issue you the refund, pending a reasonable investigation on my part.

I have enough experience of personally working with Brian Gavin, Wink Jones of High Performance Diamonds, and Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, to feel 100% Confident in making this promise to my readers… And I believe that you could contact one company, and ask them about the reputation of the other, and that you will discover that both companies hold the other in the highest esteem.

And if you purchase from any other vendor who I recommend, and who I have a working relationship with, and have a problem, and are unable to resolve it to your complete satisfaction, under the guidelines of their established return policies, that you can bring it to my attention, and I will try to resolve it to the mutual benefit of all parties involved; and help you bring it to a higher power if necessary; however I’ve never had to, because the vendors who I choose to work with, are top notch, even if the American Gem Society won’t let them be part of the club.

Todd Gray
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
Todd Gray

@NiceIceDiamonds

Professional diamond buyer with 30+ years trade experience in the niche of super ideal cut diamonds. In my free time, I enjoy freediving & photography.
The incredible #story behind the Sirisha diamond necklace by @BrianGavin 71 #Diamonds cut to order #Amazinghttps://t.co/dHOo1T99xT - 1 year ago

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6 comments
D. Morgan says January 6, 2015

Todd,

Always so much to learn when reading your blogs! Your passion for diamonds is obvious and your writing style is genuine and entertaining! Happy New Year my friend. Look forward more diamond education – thank you!

Reply
    Todd Gray says January 6, 2015

    I’m glad that you enjoy reading my blogs and are continuing to visit my site, even after completing the purchase of your beautiful diamond ring from Enchanted Diamonds! Which reminds me, I need to turn your wonderful review into a blog post! So much to do… Best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

    Reply
Wink Jones says December 24, 2014

I am going to agree with some of the things that you say and not with others, for example: You say,

“Federal Trade Commission to enforce this type of thing, and in my experience the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) is much more effective at addressing such issues.”

Now that is some fine BS. I have reported stores in Boise, Idaho for extreme marking up to mark down (For example, 65% off of gold chains, where the DISCOUNTED prices were almost 100% higher than my normal pricing.) for years and not one of them ever got contacted, let alone spanked. I was told that only harmed consumers could file a complaint. Of course, any one stupid enough to buy at 65% off when the signs are obviously years old, is not smart enough to file a complaint. I reported to the BBB too, but hey the store was a member and we can not go around losing membership dues…

In item #2, the touchy feely thing, you are kind of harsh to retailers who, as you know, have much higher expenses than we Internet vendors. It is important to see and touch, which is why we Internet vendors all have great return policies, and many of us will not do as Enchanted does and bring in diamonds from India and allow them to be returned. Kudos to Enchanted for doing this by the way!

Oh and while we are talking about policies… High Performance Diamonds is now offering to send our diamonds to any vendor of Crafted by Infinity Diamonds so that you can come play with them in real life with NO OUTLAY prior to falling in love with the diamond and wanting to keep it. Only problem is, we only have about 20 dealers in the United States, so if you know any great quality jewelers who are needing to take a step up to a diamond that SURPASSES even Hearts on Fire, well, have them contact us.

RE: “However the urgent press release made by the American Gem Society, does not provide any sort of disclosure about how they are in the business of promoting the retail sale of diamonds and jewelry, through a select group of retail jewelers, who they collect a membership fee from; they merely talk about how their members have to follow a set of guidelines that they established as one of the hoops required to gain access to the club.”

Dude, it’s a PRESS RELEASE, I.E. puff piece to drive business to those stores. Can you really expect a newspaper to even understand what you are talking about, let alone print it? (Even if AGS tried to get them to do so?) That’s just mean!

But hey, here is why I sometimes wish I could just slavishly parrot every thing you say: “I have enough experience of personally working with Brian Gavin, Wink Jones of High Performance Diamonds, and Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, to feel 100% Confident in making this promise to my readers… And I believe that you could contact one company, and ask them about the reputation of the other, and that you will discover that both companies hold the other in the highest esteem.”

Now THAT is some serious good writing with no BS. I just wish every one could turn a phrase like that.

I also wish every one could be loving life the way you are down in Mexico and that you and yours have a FANTASTIC FREAKING CHRISTMAS!

Oh, and do it quickly, I need you to start writing more of that beautiful prose!

Wink

Reply
Ame says December 19, 2014

Wow, talk about giving the very jewelers that put you on the map the proverbial finger.

And seriously, TIFFANY as an AGS Jeweler? Give me a break. I have yet to encounter a single employee in their locations that 1) know what AGS is and 2) know a thing about diamonds in the first place, let alone about cut quality.

Reply
    Todd Gray says December 19, 2014

    I know, right? It is widely recognized that Nice Ice and other prominent online vendors are largely responsible for the recognition that the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) presently enjoys, it was the internet dealers who promoted the AGSL, and introduced them to the world; while it seems that the vast majority of American Gem Society members, still don’t use the laboratory to grade the diamonds that they sell, probably because very few of them focus on diamond cut quality, and AGSL Diamond Quality Documents are too effective of a resource for savvy diamond buying consumers… The cool thing is that Peter Yantzer, the Director of the AGS Laboratory, is truly a wonderful person, who has always been a joy to work with, as is the staff of the AGS Laboratory; in a way, it’s too bad that the lab is associated with such a screwed up, biased “society”.

    Reply
      Ame says December 24, 2014

      I think part of the reason they don’t focus on cut quality, is because not enough focus is put ON cut quality in terms of value. Too much is placed on color and clarity vs cut quality. I think that needs to be an industry-wide shift. Afterall, color and clarity are not why a diamond sparkles, a stone’s cut quality is! That’s why you can have to F VS1 stones side by side, one more inferior in make than the other, and there’s a visible difference AND a price difference.

      Reply
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