Man Frustrated with Buying a Diamond Online

Pitfalls of Buying a Diamond Online

Let’s start with the obvious: I’m biased. I started Kimberfire almost two years ago because I truly believe we offer consumers the ideal platform from which to buy diamonds and diamond jewelry. While the web is a great place to buy many things (very happy with my new winter coat!), it is not a great place to buy all things.

With that out of the way – I have heard from many customers and friends that starting the diamond search is overwhelming, and it is challenging to know what to look out for. It’s convenient to start out online and definitely a good way to get a sense of design styles and what’s out there generally. If you’re thinking of actually buying online, though, here are some things to keep in mind.

Large Selection is Not Always a Good Thing

You check out a site and they have a huge list of inventory. Seems great, right? Not always.

A little known fact about the various online-only diamond merchants is that many of them don’t own every diamond that is offered for sale. These websites are all linked up to virtual inventory – diamonds currently owned by and sitting with diamond manufacturers around the world. In practice, this means that these online retailers may not be able to tell you what they think of a certain diamond, or how it looks. If asked, they will call the manufacturer and ask for an assessment of the diamond to relay back to the customer, who then has to make their own judgment call.

Unfortunately, many of these websites do not actually see the diamonds they sell… EVER. To save on costs, the diamonds often get shipped directly from the manufacturer to a jewelry sub-contractor who sets the stone in a ring and ships it to the customer’s door. An important purchase like this deserves a bit more quality control than that.

A Penny for Your Dollar

Ring builders are a lot of fun. But often when you select a given set of characteristics, a wide range of prices come up for similar diamonds. Certain things can make a big difference – for example, there is a bump in price when you hit 1 carat – so a 0.95 carat diamond and a 1.00 carat diamond will be priced further apart than, let’s say, a 0.70 carat and 0.75 carat diamond would be. Often times, though, the differences are not as clear.

I always advise my clients to see their diamond in person. This allows you to be confident that it was a good deal without having sacrificed anything on quality, or if a more expensive diamond is chosen, seeing the diamond in person will help you understand why it is more expensive. Without understanding exactly what is going on inside your diamond, it is just impossible to tell if a given price is justified, in either direction. I say this a lot because it’s true: no two diamonds are the same. There are very different types of inclusions within the same clarity grade, different tints within the same color grade, etc.

Recently, I brought a diamond into the country for a client and, on first look at both the certificate and an image, it seemed like a truly amazing stone – not just for the price (which was great too). The image showed minimal inclusions for a diamond of its clarity, and the inclusion plotting on the certificate seemed very minimal. The diamond even looked great on first glance in person. On closer inspection though, the diamond had a very apparent haziness to it, which was very off-putting when put side-by-side with another diamond of similar characteristics. It turns out the diamond received its clarity rating of an SI1 not due to any particular inclusion but due to a cloud of microscopic inclusions that were spread throughout. The material was not attractive and needless to say this diamond went back to the manufacturer and was replaced by a diamond the client was able to truly fall in love with.

If this client had received the diamond at his home, he may have been satisfied and carried on with it. Unbeknownst to him, though, he would have had a diamond that truly was not the great deal he expected it to be, did not shine like it should, and worst of all would not be an attractive option on the resale market if ever needed at any point in time.

Kimberfire, Your Diamond Expert

The bottom line is that buying a diamond is one of the most important purchases you will make in your life. Without a guide on your side, it is easy to be mislead, uncertain, or to be stuck having to exchange a number of diamonds for one that you’re really happy with.

Trust and knowledge are big parts of the diamond game. Traditional jewelry stores certainly offer a high level of service and quality control, but are not for everyone. This is why I created Kimberfire: to provide you with prices competitive to online merchants and at significant discounts to traditional retail, while still enabling you to inspect your diamond in person alongside someone you can trust.

If you’re interested in working with us to find your perfect diamond, be sure to check out our website or call us at (416) 861-8110 to book your free private consultation. I look forward to meeting you!

GIA HRD AGS IGI EGL Diamond Certificate Logos

Diamond Grading Certificates: Are They All Created Equal?

When purchasing a diamond, it is extremely important that the specifications of your selected diamond are verified by a third party (whether the diamond is a Kimberfire diamond or is purchased elsewhere). For insurance purposes, for your peace of mind, for future value, there are many reasons why this third party certificate is critical. Which laboratory can you trust though?

Making the (Diamond) Grade

There are many diamond grading laboratories out there, but only a few with well-established reputations. Often, smaller labs are for-profit entities with various conflicts of interest. To ensure you receive an objective, reliable certificate, my recommendation is to always stick to the big guys. Diamonds carrying certificates from the larger grading laboratories may come with a small premium as the international labs charge more and their closest office may be out of town, but it is worth the nominal cost for a certificate you can trust and rely on.

GIA vs. EGL Diamond Grading Certificates

The most notable of these labs, and the certification body I stand behind, is the Gemological Institute of America (“GIA”). The GIA is widely known to have the most consistent and strict grading process out of any lab out there. Independent studies have shown GIA to be strict, consistent and, most of all, ethical when it comes to their processes and resulting grades.

Other well-known and reputable labs are the American Gem Society (“AGS”), HRD Antwerp and the International Gemological Institute (“IGI”).

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the labs that are known to be consistently inaccurate or lenient. The most well-known example of these lenient laboratories is the European Gemological Laboratory (“EGL), particularly their Hong Kong and Israel offices. In the trade, diamonds with these certificates sell at a substantial discount to the others. As a result, when passed through to the retail consumer, EGL certified diamonds may come off as being sold for an unbeatable price. As is the case with most too-good-to-be-true diamonds, EGL certificates are known in the industry to typically be two colour and/or clarity grades off, compared to the more-reputable graders. To be confident in what you are buying, I always suggest sticking to the more reputable labs mentioned above.

Proof Is In the Independent Studies

For more information you can view a recent study on the accuracy of the various labs, conducted by a major industry organization. In conducting this study, the team at Rapaport sent the same ten diamonds (of various sizes and qualities) to six different labs for grading. They found significant differences between laboratories grading the same diamond… no two diamonds are alike, and neither are their grading certificates apparently!

The six labs tested by Rapaport included the GIA, IGI, HRD, EGL USA, EGL Israel and EGL Hong Kong. Rapaport found the GIA to be the strictest of the group, thus setting the benchmark. EGL Israel and EGL Hong Kong were found to be one to two clarity and/or colour grades more lenient (if not more) in quite a few instances. This same trend also applied to cut and fluorescence grading by the EGL laboratories.

So Which Certificate Do YOU Trust?

While a diamond accompanied by an inferior diamond grading certificate may appear to be a bargain – the recommended course is to stay away. You can always purchase a GIA graded diamond, for the same price, that on paper is one to two clarity grades lower than the poorly graded diamond. You will walk away with the same product at the same price, but will then have the confidence of knowing that the diamond you purchased will be appreciated as such by anyone who may evaluate it in the future.

I’m always happy to answer any questions in the comments below! And, as usual, please share this article if you know anyone who may benefit from reading it.

Katie and Jon Engagement Photo with Graffiti Wall

A Toronto Engagement Ring Story: Jon & Katie

Part of our ongoing series profiling Kimberfire’s diamond engagement rings in Toronto, and the awesome people who wear them.

Will you be my partner in crime?

I’ve seen Katie pull off many a stylish ensemble – and pretty soon, she will be all dressed in white. Artistic, and a natural beauty, Katie describes her fiancé, Jon, as “sweet, rambunctious and caring … and he can always make me laugh.”

Jon was drawn to Katie’s easygoing, positive personality and fell in love with her adventurous spirit and ambitious drive, as well as her creative and silly side.

Katie and Jon Engagement Photo

The couple initially met through an online dating site. After a few emails back and forth, they realized that they worked in neighboring office towers and decided to grab a coffee and meet in person. After their coffee date ended, Jon wasted no time, and asked Katie out right away. On many of their dates, you could find them gallivanting across the city of Toronto, checking out funky restaurants, jazz clubs and art galleries.

Katie still remembers having their first kiss in the middle of David Pecaut Square. Jon must have remembered that kiss as well because that’s where he proposed to Katie.

Katie can’t pin point an exact moment when she realized that Jon was ‘the one’. What she does know however, is that over time, Jon went from being her goofy boyfriend, to best friend, to true love.

“I’m lucky to have him as my partner in crime for the rest of my life.”

Katie would say that her engagement ring buying process (rather than just the ring itself) represents her relationship with Jon, ‘to a tee!’ Jon and Katie started discussing diamond rings a few months before he proposed. Being the artistic type, Katie had many ideas on the cut she wanted.  Initially she desired a marquise diamond with baguette diamonds on the side. Then, she had her sights set on an emerald cut diamond with a skinny band.  “Poor Jon, I basically made him so confused. So, just as he does with everything else, Jon tried to ground my decision making process by taking me to try on a few rings.  That’s when I realized that I wanted something simple – round cut with a halo.”

Enter Kimberfire

Jon and Katie are both ‘entrepreneurial wannabes’ and do their part to support small businesses. When they found out that Jonathan Goldberg had left investment banking to launch a fine jewelry business, they just knew they had to get their ring from him.

Jon went to Jonathan Goldberg with an idea or three… for a ring design. After a few design tweaks and some recommendations on clarity, colour and carat, Jonathan Goldberg brought the idea to life! The end result was a beautiful 19k white gold ring with a round diamond in the middle and a single halo around the perimeter. The diamonds sit in a beautiful vintage setting that sports a skinny band with diamond embedded throughout. Instead of traditional nickel, palladium was used for the alloy, ensuring a very bright white finish. Katie couldn’t be happier and said, “I absolutely LOVE my ring!”

Katie's Kimberfire Engagement Ring in Toronto

Katie also commented that, “even after I received the ring, Jonathan provided nothing but top notch customer service. When I mentioned that my ring felt a bit loose, he got it sized for me right away. Additionally, he added two sizing balls to the inside of my band to stop my ring from twisting on my finger! Such a great idea!”.

Katie says her ring definitely reflects her personal style, which she describes as ‘sophisticated and classy.’  Katie prefers her style to always be timeless as opposed to trendy. Katie’s timeless taste reflects the vintage setting and classic cut of her engagement ring.

We wish this happy couple all of the joys and happiness in their journey together and appreciate them sharing their story with us (and you!).


(Photo Credits: Laura Nicholson Photography)


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