Buying a branded diamond means paying more for a diamond with the same 4Cs, so why should you buy one? What is the difference between a branded diamond and a non-branded one? It’s a question that many readers seem to have.
A reader recently asked me, “if I find a diamond with your recommended proportions and a decent H&A image, is that the same as buying a Whiteflash A Cut Above, Brian Gavin Diamonds Signature H&A, Crafted by Infinity, or Victor Canera Ideal Hearts?”
The short answer is no, but it’s not that simple. There are many benefits of buying a branded diamond that I think make it worth paying a premium. To understand why I take this position, I need to define what a branded diamond is because there’s a subtle but important difference between a brand that sells diamonds and a branded diamond.
Most people know that when you buy a brand you’re paying a brand premium due to the marketing and value adding services provided by those brands. Huge advertising campaigns and a luxurious buying experience are all part of what you are paying for. Most luxury brands sell diamonds with the focus being on color and clarity parameters rather than on cut.
When I talk about branded diamonds, I’m talking about a particular line of diamonds from a brand that has specific cut parameters. You’re still paying for a brand, but the brand premium won’t be nearly as high as when you buy from a top luxury brand.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always view buying from a top luxury brand a rip-off. The value adding policies from some of these brands are unique and are not offered by many of the super-ideal vendors. For example, a reader once let me know that Tiffany replaced her diamond that was purchased years ago with a new one because it was chipped. Tiffany also guarantees the color and clarity of their diamonds.
However, despite all of the benefits, some people just can’t afford getting a diamond from a top luxury brand. Also, these luxury brands currently don’t provide enough information on the diamond’s cut. This last point is really the reason why I can’t recommend buying a diamond from a top luxury brand.
Cut is King
Why are cut parameters so important?
The difference in the cut parameters between one branded diamond and another what sets each vendor apart in terms of cut quality. Brand specifications for cut parameters should include both the parameters for the proportions as well as parameters for optical symmetry (H&A).
Apart from having the biggest impact on the light performance of a diamond, the reason why cut is so important is because cut quality is what makes a diamond truly rare. Despite a DIF diamond being approximately 0.01% of all diamonds, it only takes a second to perform a search on Blue Nile to bring up over 2000 diamonds to choose from. It takes much longer to find a well-cut DIF diamond.
Virtual and Wholesale Diamonds
Many non-branded diamonds are available as ‘virtual diamonds’. Virtual diamonds are diamonds that are not owned by the seller, but simply listed in their online inventory to make it seem like the seller has more diamonds on offer. Virtual diamonds can be sourced from many different vendors. My go-to virtual diamond vendor is Enchanted Diamonds because they allow me to help you find the best virtual diamonds available.
I have nothing against buying a good virtual diamond, and you might find that this is the right option for you. But have you ever wondered where these virtual diamonds come from?
Many local jewellers list their physical inventory on online sites as virtual diamonds. Some of these diamonds are diamonds that are older stones that were cut poorly and are difficult to sell. Others are diamonds that are offered directly from manufacturers, or so called ‘wholesale diamonds’.
When you buy a diamond, the saying goes, “you get what you pay for… or less“. Bear this in mind when you’re trying to save some money by buying a virtual or wholesale diamond.
What you should be aware of is that all diamond manufacturers will have contracts with retailers to supply them with diamonds cut to their brand’s specifications. Those diamonds that miss the mark will either be resold as a diamond under the manufacturer’s own brand or sold as a virtual diamond.
This is why wholesale virtual diamonds are generally of a poorer cut quality than branded diamonds. The tighter the specifications required by the retailer, the more expensive it will be to cut those diamonds. If a retailer wishes to sell only the best-cut diamonds, then it’s easy to see that their inventory will carry a higher overall premium than a vendor who is less picky and rejects fewer diamonds from their supplier.
Of course, it helps everyone when the manufacturer has excellent cut consistency. But the reality is that nearly all diamonds will have some kind of flaw and it just depends on how close you need to look to find them. This is a hallmark of a product that is handcrafted.
Some retailers such as Whiteflash are able to offer a premium product, the A Cut Above, and keep their prices competitive by also offering a line of Expert Selection diamonds for those that miss the mark instead of completely rejecting these diamonds.
Buying a virtual or wholesale diamond can save you money. In fact, I help clients buy the best virtual diamonds on a daily basis, and that’s a good option for those who aren’t looking for the best cut diamonds. But whenever someone asks me to help them evaluate a diamond they are being offered from a ‘wholesaler’, alarm bells start to ring.
The reality is that the dangers of buying from a manufacturer usually outweigh the benefits unless you’re an expert yourself or you find a dealer who will work for nothing. Otherwise, once you add a middleman earning a modest commission, you will end up paying a price that is very close to buying a virtual diamond online. When you take into account the value adding policies and convenience of buying online, buying from a wholesaler really isn’t worth it at all.
If you’re planning to take out insurance on your diamond, then a branded diamond offers you a lot more protection than a non-branded diamond. When you insure a diamond, make sure your insurance policy reflects the fact that you’re insuring a branded diamond.
If something happens to your diamond and your insurer goes to replace that diamond, they will usually replace it with something similar. If you purchased a virtual diamond, it’s more than likely that you’ll be disappointed when your insurance company replaces the diamond with another diamond they deem is similar just because it shares the same 4Cs. Insuring a branded diamond means the insurance company will have to replace it with another diamond from the same brand.
This is where that brand’s cut parameters become important. Unlike your initial purchase where you can work with me to secure the best diamond from any super-ideal vendor, the insurance company won’t care about how perfect your old diamond was.
Getting a branded diamond from a brand with tight cut parameters ensures that you will at least get a diamond that is comparable, and that vendor may even have a flexible exchange/upgrade policy that will allow us to work together to find another diamond that meets your expectations.
Value Adding Policies
When you buy a diamond direct from a manufacturer, you usually don’t get a return policy, upgrade policy, trade-in policy, buy-back policy, or free shipping.
When you buy a diamond, study these policies well and choose the vendor with the policies that make the most sense for you. Think hard about whether you’re likely to upgrade your diamond sometime in the future. If you have a diamond to trade-in, compare your options of selling your diamond and trading it in. If you’re ordering a diamond from abroad, the length of the return policy becomes very important. Finally, when diamond prices are falling, a generous buy-back policy can be extremely valuable.
I hope that this article has shed some light on why I advocate buying a branded diamond. The benefits in cut quality, insurance, and value-added services certainly outweigh the added costs of getting a branded diamond.
Also, when you buy a diamond from a reputable online vendor, you’re getting peace of mind, convenience, excellent customer service and after sales support, access to many designer settings and custom setting services. Perhaps most importantly, these vendors provide me with the information I need to help you get the best diamond.
With diamonds, there’s no one size fits all. Although I generally recommend that you buy a branded diamond, your unique circumstances may mean that it makes sense for you to get a non-branded one. Regardless of whether you are in the market for a branded or non-branded diamond, understanding the value of your diamond means getting the best deal. If you find that you would like some guidance on your diamond search, please don’t hesitate to contact me for help.