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Buying Over the Internet

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I bought the diamond for my proposal ring over the internet. It was a fairly smooth process. You can find out more by reading my Diamond Proposal Story.

You can get a much better diamond for a fraction of the price if you are willing to buy a diamond online. However, common sense will tell you that the risks are real. Else everyone would have done it and the local shops would have packed up long ago.

Pros of Buying Online

Price: It is usually cheaper, because of the lower overhead. The amount of savings is quite substantial. This is a big plus.

Selection: You have a wide choice of diamonds from many vendors

Information: This is dependent on vendor, but you would at least get the full Sarin proportion measurements. In most cases, you would also get the photomicrographs, LightScope/IdealScope images and the Hearts & Arrows scope images. But do bear in mind that you will have a much better chance of buying a performing diamond if you choose a vendor that provides you with the most information.

Objective Analysis: We select the diamonds based on analysing the information that professional diamond buyers use. We are not affected by the halogen spotlights that are found in jewellery shops that are not representative of normal lighting conditions. I think this increases the probability of picking a winner.

Comfort: You do not need to walk around. All you need is a PC.

Service: Again, this is vendor dependent. However, my experiences with the vendors I selected were all very positive. They were quick to respond to emails and provided all the information I needed. Most importantly, they were not pushy at all. They can hold the diamonds you are interested in for a reasonable period of time while you decide.

Return & Refund Policy: Most internet vendors have a return and refund policy. If you are not happy with your diamond in any way, just send it back within the stipulated period and the amount you paid for the diamond will be fully refunded to you. You will have to bear the shipping and insurance costs though.

Cons of Buying Online

No Visual Inspection: You cannot visually inspect the diamond yourself when you buy over the net. This is a big drawback because we buy diamonds for its visual beauty. We cannot confirm the visual appearance until we receive the diamond. We also cannot inspect the inclusions, and so we have to rely on the vendors to make sure that the diamond is eye-clean.

Heavy Reliance on Vendor: You rely heavily on the vendor's honesty and skills. It is important to pick an honest and knowledgeable vendor who is able to spot the flaws of the diamond (if any) and inform you before confirming your purchase.

Shipping & Insurance: In the event that you are not happy with the diamond, you have to ship it back by courier, and pay the insurance. The shipping and insurance cost incurred by the vendor to ship the diamond to you also cannot be refunded. The actual amount can be in excess of US$100 each way. You must work these costs into your decision making process.

Custom Duties : When you buy on the internet, you will have to pay the custom duties (which is the GST) of 7%. This is not really a bad thing, since we have to pay taxes even if we buy locally. However, if you do not like the diamond you bought for any reason and decide to return it, it is a hassle to apply to the Singapore Customs to claim your duties back. While it is possible to claim back the duties paid in this case, it is granted on a case-by-case basis by the custom officers. Therefore, there is some risk involved here.

Lost in Transit: This is rare, but possible. If the diamond is lost in transit, insurance will take care of it. However, you must make sure that the vendor is willing to bear the cost of the shipping should the diamond be lost. You must also be prepared for the trouble.

Appraisal: Some people think that buying over the internet is troublesome because we have to bring the diamond to the appraiser to have it checked. However, I disagree with this because I believe that you should bring the diamond to an appraiser even if you bought locally. It is just a wise thing to do.

Dishonest Vendors: You may encounter a dishonest vendor who takes your money and gives you rubbish. However, this risk depends on the vendor you select. Most reputable vendors will not do this because their reputation s worth a lot more than the one diamond they sell to you. You should check with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and the Better Business Bureau. If the vendor is listed there, they should be a business with good standing. You can also check the reliability of the vendors at forums like Pricescope.

The Buying Process

It is quite simple to buy online. First, you will have to familiarise yourself with the 4Cs, but that is true even if you want to buy at a local shop. You will have to decide on the acceptable quality of the diamond you intend to buy. After that, you can go to Pricescope to do a search, or just post a request for help and other forum participants will suggest a few stones within your budget and requirements.

Next, contact the vendors and ask them for more information on the diamonds you picked. You can ask them to hold the diamonds for a couple of days while you make your decision. You can ask them about how the diamond looks in general, as well as the visibility of the inclusions. They are usually honest because it is not in their interest to sell you a diamond you do not want since returning it just creates trouble for them.

After that, just pay through telegraphic transfer and await the arrival of the package through the mail.

You will have to pay tax. The courier will send you a bill for the GST (5%), which you have to pay by cheque.

After that, you should send the diamond to an independent appraiser to have it appraised or authenticated, depending on your needs. I cannot emphasise enough, the importance of this.

Finally, you will have to send the diamond to a jeweller for setting.

Pricing

Just to give you an indication of what kind of prices you are expected to pay, I have listed down the prices from the 2 vendors that I contacted, which are Good Old Gold and Diamond Ideals.

 

 
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Good Old Gold Prices

 
Carat Colour Inclusion  Sep Price in USD  SGD Price (inc. GST & US$100 Shipping)   Mid Sep Rap   % of Rap 
0.50 E VVS2  US$ 2,625.00  S$ 4,969.88  S$ 4,437.00 112%
0.56 D VVS2  US$ 3,188.00  S$ 5,998.48  S$ 5,359.20 112%
0.57 F VVS2  US$ 2,669.00  S$ 5,050.26  S$ 4,760.64 106%
0.61 E VS1  US$ 2,879.00  S$ 5,433.93  S$ 4,882.44 111%
0.63 E VS1  US$ 2,906.00  S$ 5,483.26  S$ 5,042.52 109%
 
(FX Rate: USD1=SGD1.74. Please note that the prices in SGD above are inclusive of GST and the US$100 for shipping to Singapore.)
 
   

Good Old Gold is not the cheapest amongst internet vendors. However, if you visit their site, you will notice that they provide us with the most information. Jonathan, from Good Old Gold, picks his diamonds using the latest technology available. Besides analysing the diamond's sarin measurements, he uses new technology like the BrillianceScope, which measures the light return of the diamonds (subject to a margin of error of about 5%). Although the BrillianceScope is a young science, and often criticised by those in the diamond trade, I welcome all the information I can get since I cannot see the diamond.

Also, Jonathan picks his diamonds very well. So, most (not all) of his diamonds are within a very cherry set of proportions. Consequently, you will notice that most of his diamonds have excellent LightScope images.

Since he picks diamonds using all these information, they are naturally provided with each diamond he has for sale. I really appreciated the amount of information I got (See the information that came with the 0.62ct D VVS2 diamond I bought), so I thought Good Old Gold was the clear choice for me.

 
     
 

Diamond Ideals Prices

 
 
Carat Colour Inclusion  Sep Price in USD  SGD Price (inc. GST & US$100 Shipping)   Mid Sep Rap   % of Rap 
0.514
E
VS2
US$ 2,166.00
 S$ 4,131.28
 S$ 3,845.75
107%
0.563
E
VVS1
US$ 3,034.00
 S$ 5,717.12
 S$ 5,387.91
106%
0.648
E
VS2
US$ 2,730.67
 S$ 5,162.93
 S$ 4,848.34
106%
 
 
(FX Rate: USD1=SGD1.74. Please note that the prices in SGD above are inclusive of GST and the US$100 for shipping to Singapore.)
 
     
 

Diamond Ideals is another vendor I dealt with when I shopped online. Megan from Diamond Ideals is just amazing. She is very responsive to your requests for information. She will hold the diamond you are considering for a few days, and she is not pushy at all.

As you can see, their prices are slightly better than Good Old Gold's. However, they provide considerably less information. Their information (eg. this 0.56ct E VVS1 diamond I was considering) mainly consist of photographs, images, as well as the AGS Diamond Quality Document.

In addition, most of Diamond Ideals' diamonds are just AGS Triple Ideal Hearts & Arrows diamonds. Not all of them are within the AGA 1A grade. Most of them are rather good quality because they hare hand picked by the company. However, from my analysis, I opine that Good Old Gold's diamonds are, in general, better than Diamond Ideals.

You will have to ask for the information and select your diamond carefully. Since you will be paying the premium for an AGS Triple Ideal, Hearts & Arrows diamond, it makes sense to make sure that you get what you pay for.

Conclusion

You can get great deals over the internet. However, you will have to get over the psychological hurdle of buying before you see the actual product. Although I find the information accompanying the diamond very convincing, I know of many people who cannot bring themselves to make that leap of faith. You must be aware of the risks and the potential cost of returning the diamond if you are not satisfied with it. The risk of picking a dishonest vendor is also real. Weigh the pros and cons yourself, just as I did. Just because I had a good experience does not mean that you will. Only you can decide for yourself. Drop me an email if you need to discuss my experience further.

Our Services

If you do decide to buy online, but you have some reservations because of the numerous risk stated above, you may make use of the services we provide to help you get over your fears and mitigate some of the risks. We provide a whole suite of services, from our free diamond advisory service, to a fee-based low risk diamond import service. We hope to be of service to you. At least drop us a mail and talk to us. We guarantee you will not regret it.