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Destineé (from Lee Hwa Jewellery)

I like Lee Hwa very much. They have very nice contemporary jewellery, nicely designed and die cast. In fact, I bought my wedding bands from them.

Their staff are also polite and professional at all times. Unfortunately, like most jewellery stores in Singapore, the sales staff know little about diamonds, or any other gemstones for that matter. If you have diligently gone through the 4Cs section of this website, you would definitely know more than them.

Fortunately, the Destineé Diamonds I have seen so far were very brilliant. There were some duller ones, but they are few and far between. I would still advise you to read up the 4Cs section of this website, and bring an Idealscope/Lightscope to weed out the poorer performers.

What are Destineé Diamonds?

Destineé Diamonds are Hearts and Arrows diamond that are cut to the AGS Triple Ideal standard. Destineés have 57 facets. This is because they do not have a culet. However, this is not unusual because most premium diamonds nowadays are cut with a pointed base (no culet). Unfortunately, being an AGS Triple Ideal does not mean that the diamond will perform. You will know this if you have read the section on Ideal Cuts.

Some Lee Hwa sales staff told me that Destineé is Lee Hwa's own brand, and the diamonds are supplied from USA. On the other hand, some of them told me that Destineé is an international brand, with the head office in the USA. They are convinced that the 'Destineé Company' supplies them with great diamonds.

I do not know what is the truth. But I know that none of my American or European friends have heard of the Destineé Diamond before I told them about it. There may exist a Destineé Company in the US, but it would probably be related to Lee Hwa in a big way. Destineé's website is registered by Kean Ng from Aspial, and is hosted by Aspial's name server.

So, if you are buying Destineés for the extra prestige it offers, you have to be aware that the brand is not very well known beyond the region. They have very strong branding in Singapore. I am sure that most of your friends are very impressed by the beauty of the Destineé Diamond. But if you want international prestige, you should choose a real international brand, like Tiffany's, EightStar or Hearts-on-Fire, Leo or Gabrielle. Unfortunately, these are less well known in Singapore. You will have to decide what you really want.

I seriously doubt that Destineé cuts their own diamonds. Most successful diamond brands employ and supervise their own team of diamond cutters. This is the only way to ensure consistent quality. Destineés are hand-picked diamonds. Lee Hwa is probably supplied by a few diamond manufacturing outfits in the US, and selects their better diamonds.

Quality of Destineé Diamonds

Most of the Destineés I have seen so far are very nice diamonds, with good light return, but then again, all brands have their small share of poorly cut stones. A friend of mine was quoted S$9,238 (before discount in Oct 04), for a Destineé with the following specification:

Although the specifications are all within AGS0 for cut proportion, it only scored a 2.2 on the Holloway Cut Advisor, which is short of an Excellent grade. It can only be graded as 'Very Good'. The crown angle is too steep at 34.9° to complement the pavilion angle of 41.0°. On closer inspection using an IdealScope she brought, the pattern showed distinct paleness in the centre as expected. Although it would not be considered blatant leakage, I think Destineé customers deserve better, at the kind of price premium they pay.

Perhaps what Lee Hwa can improve on is the amount of information it provides. They could give us a Idealscope/Lightscope image, which could help us weed out the really bad stones. But I doubt that they would do it unless the market demands it, because they would have a hard time selling the poorer stones, especially with the price premium they charge. As consumers, it would be wise to bring your own Idealscope/Lightscope in this case since you don't want to end up with a mistake that could cost you thousands.

Pricing

If you have gone through the section on pricing, you would be aware that the fair retail price of a AGS Triple Ideal Hearts & Arrows diamond should be about 110% of Rap (before GST). As I mentioned, shops usually buy diamonds from wholesalers at prices below the Rap price. As a retail chain with shops in malls with expensive rent, it may be fair for them to charge a little more. I will give you the numbers and let you decide if what they are charging is fair.

Below, I have a chart of Destineé prices in July 2004 (when I shopped for my proposal ring). Notice that the Rap price I use is for mid September 2004 because I cannot get information on June/July Rap prices since I am not in the trade. However, Rap prices rose significantly from July to September. So, the Rap price for July should be even lower, and the ratio of Destineé prices to Rap is even higher.

Also, Lee Hwa gives us a 10% discount on their Destineé Diamonds all the time, so I took that into consideration.

     
 
Carat Color Clarity  Price in July   Price After 10% Disc   Mid Sep Rap Price  % of Rap 
0.52 E VS2  S$  7,588.00  S$        6,829.20  S$  3,890.64 176%
0.53 F VS1  S$  8,638.00  S$        7,774.20  S$  3,965.46 196%
0.57 F VVS2  S$  9,998.00  S$        8,998.20  S$  4,760.64 189%
0.57 F VVS1  S$10,578.00  S$        9,520.20  S$  5,058.18 188%
0.61 E VVS1  S$12,148.00  S$      10,933.20  S$  5,837.70 187%
 
 
(FX Rate: USD1=SGD1.74. . Retail price quoted in July 04 while Rap price is for Sep 04 due to availability of information.)
 
     
 

This shows that Destineé Diamonds are priced at about 80+% above Rap. Assuming that they buy in their diamonds at exactly Rap prices, the markup for Destineé Diamonds would be about 80+%. These are conservative numbers because Rap prices for July was even lower, and I believe that a retailer in Lee Hwa's position should be able to negotiate better prices for their inventory.

Conclusion

Destineé Diamonds are very nice diamonds, but they are very expensive. Personally, I think diamonds are commodities, and they have their fair prices. But I will let you decide if sticking a fancy name on them can possibly double their worth.

 
     

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