There are many places to go to get a diamond. In this day and age you don’t even have to leave your house—the diamond will come to you. You have three general options of where to purchase your stones: chain stores, independent stores, and online retailers. The quality and price range of the goods each kind of store offers further divides the groupings. You probably already have an idea of which retailers fall where—De Beers versus Tiffany’s versus Macy’s—and as you start shopping you’ll figure out which is right for your needs. To take us back to the car-shopping metaphor, consider a Kia and Lamborghini. Yes,they are both cars, but they are vastly different types of cars. The distinctions between the two makes are similar to those between jewelers.

Cartier’s signature red box.

A chain store is a corporate retailer with multiple stores located regionally, nationally, or even internationally. A few of which you have probably heard of are Tiffany’s, Harry WinstonCartierJaredMacy’s, Kay Jewelers, and Walmart. At such stores you will often find a larger selection, more established designers, brand options, the ability to pull from the stock of another store, and to have your ring serviced at any of their locations in the future. On the other hand, you will often pay for the name (especially at a store like Tiffany’s or Cartier), be charged a higher mark-up price—how else could they mark it down 50%?—and you likely won’t be able to customize your piece (though at Jared and Kay you can).

Independent stores are those that are privately owned—they may have multiple locations, they may not—and within this seller category you’ll find a large range of styles and offerings. Examples include the woman creating couture pieces from of her living

Fink’s location in Greensboro, NC.

room, the jeweler known only to your neighborhood, and Finks, an independent jeweler with fourteen locations. To find an independent jeweler, start with a quick Internet search for suggestions and recommendations. At an independent retailer you can usually expect more intimate service, a selection of designer and branded options, as well as more customized options. These customized options can be a line of pieces they produce themselves to ones made just for you. Many women find two rings they like, blend the different designs together, and end up with the one they love.

Lastly, you have the online retailers, such as Blue Nile. Truth be told, most diamond retailers now have an online option in order to remain competitive. Online you can very easily access a large bank of diamond choices and hone in on the diamond that you are looking for. The biggest difference between online retailers and independent or chains stores is that you cannot see the actual in person. To combat the potential issues with this lack of visibility, many online shops will send you a stone that you will be able to return if you wish. If going this route, do make sure to research the store’s return policy before you purchase anything.

Each store you check out will have a different feel, offerings, and range of goods. Your shopping experience is not only about finding the store from which you should buy but also the specific sales associate you want to work with. When I worked in retail, I found that the best sales associates knew when they were not the right match for a customer and who to suggest instead. If they don’t, you will get a sense of if the associate is something who you feel comfortable with and who gets you and your style.You’ll know to whom you want to give your money—and trust.

Buying a diamond is a memorable and significant experience. Ensuring you know what you want, what you are getting, and whom you are buying from will make it a positive one. No one wants a lemon. Especially not for life!


Go back: Buying Diamonds 101 – Part I: An Introduction

Go back: Buying Diamonds 101 – Part II: What You Want to Buy

Go back: Buying Diamonds 101 – Part III: What You Are Buying


Bye for now,
Alicia Gardner Kozikowski, G.G.