Some local jewelry stores have an almost $7,000 difference in price for the same stone, Washington Consumer’s Checkbook reports.
Checkbook used undercover shoppers to compare prices for two different but both excellent-cut diamonds at Washington-area stores and online retailers.
“We specified a very narrow parameter of diamond that we were looking for,” Checkbook Executive Editor Kevin Brasler said. “Had to be in a very narrow color range, clarity range, size range, excellent cut, GIA graded.”
Checkbook said it found prices ranging from less than $11,000 to more than $18,000 at different stores.
“Within each store we found really big price differences for what was essentially the same diamond,” Brasler said.
Familiar name retailers didn't necessarily offer the best deals.
“We actually found that the highest prices were predominantly offered by the big national chains,” Brasler said.
Among the local stores undercover shoppers shopped, they found May Jewelers, Masika Jewelers and Quest Fine Jewelers had the lowest prices for the specific stones Checkbook requested.
Checkbook offered this advice when shopping for a diamond:
- Make sure it's certified by the Gemological Institute of America, known as GIA certified or graded. If it's not, ask to see another stone.
- Make sure the store shows you multiple options. Ask to see loose stones laid out in front of you because some stores preset lousy diamonds to hide flaws. “Really try to compare loose stones against one another and determine whether or not that $1,000 difference between diamond A and diamond B is meaningful, whether there is a difference to your eye,” Brasler said.
- Carefully review the return policy. Buy from stores that offer returns with a full refund within 30 days.
- Get an independent appraisal. Even though you'll pay between $50 and $200, it's good insurance to make sure you didn't end up with a diamond of lower quality than what you paid for.