Dr Shihaan Larif
In this section I will cover the answers to frequently asked questions asked by our clients, before they buy diamond jewelry.
1) Is it important to learn, educate yourself and ask questions about diamonds before you buy?
Try to learn as much as you can about diamonds before buying. It is important to learn about diamonds, weather you are buying a regular engagement ring or a high end investment grade colored diamond. That way you will know that the diamond you bought is worth the price tag on it. Ofcourse there are exceptions to this, ie high end rich buyers (billionaires and some millionaires) who can easily hire a diamond consultant/appraiser to explain the basics of diamond grading.
Try to learn about the basic 4c's of diamonds
ii) Carat weight
and Cost (5th C- according to some experts). Please refer to my guide on buying diamonds and jewelry.
Always ask!. Know that it is your right to ask before you buy. Most jewelry stores and even wesites have sales peope whose duty is to explain to their customers why they should buy their product. On the other hand you will understand what they tell you when you educate yourself about diamonds. When you learn the basics of diamond grading you will also know what to ask from the sales person.
2) Yes! I want to learn more about diamonds. Where can I get independent information?
Our website provides FREE, expert information on diamonds, including a special section- Dr Shihaan's Guide to Buying Diamonds and Jewelry.
We also have a very popular forum, where I answer the questions FREE of charge.
There are also numerous books you can buy from Amazon on diamond grading and guide to buying diamonds and diamond jewelry. There are also books on engagement and weeding rings. For more details on diamond books, please see our book section.
You can also find information on diamonds on the internet. Just 'Google' by yourself to discover many great online resources on diamonds.
3) Is it safe to buy diamonds on the Internet?
Of course it is safe to buy diamonds on the internet.
Presently in the US and EU over 10% of jewelry is bought on line, and it is increasing everyday. These days the risk of buying almost anything online is minimal, thanks to state of the art online credit card processing facilities. Companies that sell online are also very careful these days so as not to spoil their reputation. The internet is well connected than ever before, due to the popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook.
Some important points to consider when buying diamonds online:
i) Read the return policy, make sure you are ok with it. Dont forget to read the 'Terms and Conditions' on the website before making the purchase.
ii) Look for an online retailer that provides diamond certificates from a well established laboratory (see below).
iii) When the stone arrives always try to get it appraised by an independent appraiser. The appraiser will be able to verify if the diamond sent to you matches the one in the certificate. However this may not be necessary if you are buying from a reputed/ branded online store.
iv) Does the store provide insured shipping? Most retailers and dealers in the US use Federal Express or UPS overnight servises.
Do not accept packages that show signs of tampering. Let FedEx keep it while you contact the retailer and shipper immediately.If you are using an overseas online shopping, contact them about the details of shipping and the procedure of returning a parcel- Which is usually done via registered mail for overseas customers.
4) Do I need to always get the diamond appraised by an independent appraiser?
No!. But it is good if you can get it appraised by an independent appraiser. If you are buying from a reputable jeweler online or offline it is usually not necessary.
My advice: If you are going to buy the more expensive diamonds (eg >USD 5000) it is good to get it appraised, to be on the safer side.
Make sure that the appraiser is 'truly independent' and does not have business interests eg. referal from a jeweler for comission. One should also avoid appraisers who sell jewelry themselves.
5) Why should I buy certified stones?
It is always safer to buy diamonds that are certified by an established laboratory. Other terms used for diamond certificates are 'Lab certificates', 'lab reports', 'certs', 'diamond report' and 'diamond grading report'.
Although GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is considered to be the authority on the grading of diamonds, other well established laboratories also produce excellent reports. The grading of diamonds all over the world is done using guidelines set by the GIA. Do not confuse a diamond grading report issued by the GIA GTL (The Gem Trade Lab of the GIA) with a diamond grading certificate signed by a G.G (Graduate gemologist- a degree issued by the GIA).
Here is a list of few of the well established labs:
i) GIA- Gemological Institute of America
ii) AGSL- American Gem Society Laboratories
iii) HRD- Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD) or Diamond High Council of Antwerp
iv) EGL International- European Gemmological Laboratory
v) EGL USA
vi) IGI - International Gemological Institute
vii) DCLA - Diamond Certification Laboratory of Australia
My advice on diamond certificates: "Always ask for a diamond certificate from a reputable lab, especially if the diamond is purchased for a value >US$500 and try to insist that you get a GIA certificate for diamonds purchased for a value of >US$5000.
6) Am I eligable for a VAT refund if I buy diamond jewelry?
You might be eligable for a VAT refund, if you are visiting another country/region to purchase the diamond jewelry. For example, if you purchase a diamond engagement ring from the UK and you are a visitor from outside of the EEC (European Economic Community) you are entitled to reclaim the VAT (Presently 17.5%) on the purchase- If the item is exported/taken outside of the EEC within 3 months from the date of the invoice.
7) Is after sales service important for diamond jewelry?
Yes! after sales service is very important. The after sales service should preferably be provider by the same jeweler/store from whom you bought the diamond.
The most important aspect of after sales service is to ensure that the diamond is still set securely. Some jewelry stores offer free 'check ups' for their clients. Repolishing of diamond jewelry is also included in the after sales service.
You may also find out about after sales service from the jeweler before you make the purchase.
8) Is it advisable to check the prices from many stores?
Yes!. This is the main reason why online sales of diamonds are becoming very popular. The competitor of a store is just a click away. You may also search online for diamond stores. There are also many online price comparism websites whichmay be helpful.This also applies offline.
You are welcome to discuss this post/related topics with Dr Shihaan and other experts from around the world in our FORUMS (forums.internetstones.com)
Dr Shihaan Larif
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