Thursday, April 23, 2009

The thing about buying diamonds from Costco

Costco was my favorite store to buy anything and everything... till the day I started looking out for a diamond. With their 100 % return - no questions asked policy you could be sure of buying the best of everything from Costco. But read on to get the real picture.

With the search of 'the perfect ring' while helping a friend, I went into Costco, picked up the jewelry pamphlet which described their diamonds as select pieces and that they carry only the higher ranges in the 4 Cs.

Now for anybody who would be least interested in the 4 Cs of a diamond, these are the 4 basic description of the properties of a diamond namely, Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat.

Clarity: Describes the 'internal inclusions' in a diamond and runs from the grade of F (Flawless), IF (Internally Flawless), VVS (Very very slightly included), VS (Very Slightly included), SI (Slightly included) and I (Included). Costco claims that the diamonds that they sell range from VS and above. This is very much above average clarity grade.

Color: The whiter the diamond, the more colorless it is and hence more expensive. The color range of diamond ranges from D (being the best) to Z onwards to fancy colors. Costco uses diamonds from the range of near colorless or the color "I" and better which is good.

Carat: This is the weight of the diamond and can start from anywhere from 0.005 in round brilliant cuts to ~. Costco starts the sale of loose round brilliant cut from 1 ct and bigger something that relies upon your personal preference and budget.

Cut: Now this is usually the most neglected and yet an integral of the 4 Cs of a diamond. The cut of a diamond is that which describes the quality of cut of a diamond as Signature Ideal, Ideal, Excellent, very good, good, poor or very poor. A well cut diamond with appropriate proportions is probably the most important factor that determines the final brilliance, fire and scintillation produced by that diamond. The difference between the price of a poor cut diamond vs an excellent cut when all other parameters are the same, can be as much as 4 times lower.

Unfortunately, in my observations of the diamonds for sale on Costco many of them do not acknowledge the cut of the stone that you are looking at.
As I dwelt further into the concern, I realized that several stones at Costco have a GIA certificate which clearly indicates the 4 Cs and other important factors describing the worth and describe the value of those diamonds, but several others have no such indication.

Instead, the jewelry brochure of Costco clearly states that they use round brilliant cut diamonds of very high standards but no real mention of exactly what is that cut.

Shape: This describes the peripheral shape in which a diamond has been cut/ polished. It can be a round brilliant with 51/52 facets, princess cut (square), baguette (rectangle), trillion (triangle), cushion cut, heart shape, oval, emerald (rectangle step cut), or other fancy shapes. This is something that Costco just as any store tells the customer with pride... round brilliant cut.

Currently I await a reply from the customer service at Costco about this concern. But where my own judgement comes into play, I feel sort of cheated with partial information from costco. The thing about buying a diamond is that there are 2 parts to it... identify the worth of your diamond by judging the 4 Cs and other physical characterstics of the individual piece and then getting finally getting it for a good value. I am very sure Costco gives you value, but what I want is also to know whether or not the product is worth it.

Read more.. Comparing Tiffany diamonds with Costco
Silver Jewelry from Costco a Good Value?


Michael Cohen said...

Growing Incidence of Undisclosed Treated Diamonds in Australia

DCLA has seen an alarming increase in the number of treated diamonds being submitted as natural diamonds to the laboratory for certification.

It should first be said that diamond treatments are neither good, nor intrinsically bad in and of themselves. There is nothing wrong with buying a treated diamond, provided that the treatment is fully disclosed and that you pay the appropriate price for the diamond. Because of their lower cost and value, treated diamonds can allow a person to buy a diamond that appears to be of a higher quality than it truly is.

However, too often the presence of such diamond treatments is concealed. Whether this deception is by intent or negligence, such concealment is tantamount to fraud.

Not only does artificially treating a diamond significantly reduce its value, but most diamond treatments are unstable and reversible. For this reason, all internationally accepted rules for diamond grading forbid the certification of treated diamonds. An extremely disturbing discovery just recently in the DCLA Laboratory was that of a coated diamond accompanied by a certificate from a supposedly legitimate Australian ‘laboratory’.

Members of the diamond industry have a responsibility to consumers to convey accurate and transparent information, and each individual that handles a diamond as it moves down the diamond pipeline from the mines should be held accountable for making known any treatments that a diamond has undergone.

It is deceptive and unfair to fail to disclose treatment of a diamond when it has a significant effect on a diamond’s value. In its pursuit of consumer protection, DCLA is offering a ‘Diamond Amnesty’ for diamond owners Australia-wide – any diamond brought in with its matching diamond grading certificate will be verified for grading accuracy and tested to ensure that it is natural and free of treatments. This service will be provided free of charge.

Diamond Intelligence Briefs:

National Jeweler Netork:

Surbhi S Gupta said...

The best way to protect yourself from buying an undisclosed treated diamond is to buy from a secure source. The seller should be a reputable store which will survive long enough that if you ever decide to get your stone examined and decide that you have been a victim of fraudulence, you can sue them and in the very least get your money back.

Make sure that the return policy of the store is flexible enough for you to send your stone for appraisal and you should be able to return it without hassle if you are not completely satisfied.

You should not have to loose money if you need to return the stone if it is below your expectations.

Try to buy a stone with a GIA certificate. You pay a bit more but this is the proof you will need to buy for your own satisfaction.

-Surbhi S Gupta

Unknown said...

I've done a lot of research on costco, going as far as even talking to some of their sources from their distribution centres.

The diamonds they offer are of similar quality to many high end jewerlry stores without the high end price;
Considering all costco diamonds have a return policy (unlike some jewelry stores like European Jewlers) you are always able to appraise the cut independently if you have concerns.

Another thing about information supplied from costco:
They don't advertise that they source all their diamonds from UNKC suppliers; Costco does not buy conflict diamonds and checks to make sure that their diamonds are obtained through legal channels set out by the United Nations Kimberley Process.

They don't have a huge selection, nor can you customize, but if you're looking for a high quality diamond, they've nailed the market!