Looking for a Diamond (not Justin)
December 13, 2009 2:26 PM   Subscribe

It's Diamond time people. Where in the Americas could you find the best deal on a certified Diamond? South America? Central America? Blue Nile? It's probably worth a flight to buy a diamond if it's thousands cheaper, no? Or do I just need to take matters into my own hands?

I don't care if it's rough or set... I'm just looking for a high quality certified diamond for a you-know-what special occasion. Minimum 1 carat, in case you were wondering. Trying to get this ready by New Years... I'm under pressure now.
posted by namewithhe1d to Shopping (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Diamonds in the raw
posted by hortense at 2:32 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This way you don't have to support the De Beers cartel or get something for your loved one that is concentrated human misery.
posted by Locobot at 2:34 PM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

The best deal on a diamond is a lab-grown one that is identical in almost every single way, but whatever floats your boat.

Diamonds from developing countries may not be stained red, but they're likely to be just as bloody - though there are a few exceptions. If you go for the cheapest you can find, be careful - fraud is far far more common in developing countries than developed.
posted by smoke at 2:35 PM on December 13, 2009

Seconding artificial diamonds. There is no difference between them and mined diamonds, except they're in all ways better.

If it helps you rationalize away the silly cultural/corporate-propagandized mysticism surrounding "natural" diamonds, cultured diamonds can be made to be more "perfect" than naturally occurring ones. Just like your love.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2009

Diamonds tend to find their way to the hubs - afaik, rough stones go to Tel Aviv, South Africa and India to be cut, and cut stones go to Antwerp and New York. This is what I've heard, so I'm not sure.

I can tell you for sure it's not an industry where an outsider can find a backdoor, a direct line to a supplier to get a thousand-dollar-off deal. I am marginally involved in the jewelry industry in South America and I can tell you that the stones come from Antwerp most of the time (and most of the time through non-official channels, hence the difficulty to "get in" if you're not very well known to the people in the biz).

If you want to stay in the Americas, I'd do a little bit of homework to know what to look for (what makes a quality diamond, what to avoid, standard quality rating) and head to 47th Street in NYC.

And congratulations :-)
posted by Opal at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

The other day I heard while not paying much attention that "Banks and Biddle" ("Biddley Banks and Biddle"- ?) was going out of business. I would google it and see (60% off)..
posted by marimeko at 2:49 PM on December 13, 2009

I heard that a friend of a friend purchased his diamond in Panama for a great price. I understand that there may not be "back doors" but there are certainly exchange rate discrepancies. For example, just about everything in Peru/Bolivia/Argentina are cheaper than the same thing in the US after you exchange dollars. However, if the regional jewelers are making their purchases in dollars, then there really wouldn't be any real discounts, except perhaps lower demand, thus slightly lower prices.
posted by namewithhe1d at 2:50 PM on December 13, 2009

And thank you, Opal
posted by namewithhe1d at 2:50 PM on December 13, 2009

I just realized that maybe when you say "rough" what you mean is not set, and not really a rough diamond before it's cut. Right? In that case, if you want a better deal, look for the stone by itself and either have a local goldsmith make a ring, or look for a ring that will fit your stone in local jewelry stores (these are made by the hundreds in China and cost immensely less than the stone), or, if you do make it no 47th, negotiate so you can get he ring at cost from the same place you get the stone.

As far as blood diamonds, not even laser-engraved, numbered stones are 100% "safe". You simply cannot, 99% of the time, tell exactly where or how a stone was extracted. If I'm not mistaken, Tiffany is the only retailer in the world that guarantees their stones don't come from conflict areas. If that is a real concern, you're better off with the artificial ones.
posted by Opal at 2:52 PM on December 13, 2009

Oh and if you want dealers in South America to try better rates, let me know and I can hook you up with a few.
posted by Opal at 2:54 PM on December 13, 2009

This calls for a pm... Check your inbox ;)

Thanks to everyone else as well, I may be following up with some of the *manmade kinds. I have certainly thought about it before. I mean, if it is identical, what's the big deal? Maybe I'm missing something?
posted by namewithhe1d at 3:03 PM on December 13, 2009

Rough = loose. My bad
posted by namewithhe1d at 3:05 PM on December 13, 2009

You might consider picking up a diamond tester.
posted by gregr at 3:22 PM on December 13, 2009

"I can tell you for sure it's not an industry where an outsider can find a backdoor, a direct line to a supplier to get a thousand-dollar-off deal."

Not true. I am a total outsider but through a friend-of-a-friend diamond dealer (not a jeweller) and paying cash, I bought a stone in London which is now insured for 60% more than I paid for it.

Based on my personal experience, I would recommend finding a contact through your own network: basically, ask every single married guy you know till you get the right hook-up! Just my view, but I imagine turning up in Managua (not my favourite Central American city) or wherever with an envelope full of greenback to buy a diamond won't end well...
posted by b.an.dekker at 3:36 PM on December 13, 2009

For the record, you can get lovely diamonds mined in Canada, and there's no additional premium. OTOH they are stillall owned by DeBeers.
posted by furtive at 3:40 PM on December 13, 2009

I mean, if it is identical, what's the big deal? Maybe I'm missing something?

posted by rokusan at 3:59 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're American and thinking about going overseas in search of a deal, you need to realize that the US dollar has been falling. What you make on a superb price, you'll almost certainly lose even more on the exchange rate and the cost of travel.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:02 PM on December 13, 2009

(If you are interested, there have been a number of threads about diamonds on here over the years - click on your tag "diamond" to see some of them. Some have info about how the diamond industry works, others have info about where to buy, buying manmade diamonds, and other alternatives.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:39 PM on December 13, 2009

please check out pricescope.com, a message board I am not a affiliated with but a fan and former/infrequent poster on, for all the information and hive-style support you could ever desire re: purchasing diamonds and gems at good prices , synthetic, simulated, ethical, estates or other. Also lotsa proposal tip and such.
posted by lalalana at 5:04 PM on December 13, 2009

DIY? Of course it isn't guaranteed that you'll find the big one but at least it will be blood-free.
posted by JJ86 at 7:30 PM on December 13, 2009

I may be following up with some of the *manmade kinds. I have certainly thought about it before. I mean, if it is identical, what's the big deal? Maybe I'm missing something?

No difference at all, though you wouldn't know if from how hard De Beers is working to mandate doping of man-made stones. As an added bonus, man-made stones don't involve child slavery and an incredibly evil multinational conglomerate.

Gemesis stones look fantastic, but I'm not positive you can buy loose stones from them. You couldn't as of a year ago when I was looking, but they promised that was coming soon. Most of their distribution goes through cooperating retailers, so you might be able to work something out with a jewelry shop (on their 'find a retailer' page). Wholesale, they're much cheaper than stones dug out of the ground.
posted by Mayor West at 4:24 AM on December 14, 2009

An update... Gemesis only has fancy color diamonds for sale. The other pioneer in manmade diamonds is Apollo Diamond who has colorless diamonds for sale. Unfortunately, it's not part of their core business and only sell them set, and in very limited quantities. I'm not sure I want to buy from just any manmade retailer, so I guess I'm back to square one and looking for a mined diamond.
posted by namewithhe1d at 7:03 AM on December 14, 2009

There is no sales tax in the US Virgin Islands. Depending on how much you are looking to spend this can very well pay for a trip there. St. Thomas also has an awesome number of stores, but you need to do your homework and haggle quite a bit. Spending a few hours haggling can seriously save you thousands - and always walk out the first time when they give their "best price".
posted by I love You at 7:18 AM on December 14, 2009

I bought my wife's diamond in the diamond district in NY. (I bought a loose diamond and had them set it in a ring I already had.) Even though I went to the store and picked it out myself, they offered to ship it to me, or anyone outside of NY, to avoid having to pay sales tax on it. So, I think it's not uncommon and something they'll be prepared to do.
posted by bDiddy at 9:50 AM on December 14, 2009

Seconding the recommendation for Pricescope.com. An incredible amount of knowledge there. FWIW, I've had good experiences buying very well-cut stones that are not overpriced from Good Old Gold and Engagement Rings Direct.
posted by Addlepated at 11:07 AM on December 14, 2009

We had a good experience buying our certified diamond in the NY diamond district. Had it made into a ring back in our home town.
posted by arcticseal at 12:02 PM on December 14, 2009

For the man-made diamonds, D.NEA sells loose diamonds and has grown whites up to one carat, though only has them around 1/2ct currently in-stock. Apollo has whites up to 1/2ct, but as you said, they don't sell them loose. Gemesis only has yellows and Chatham grows blue and yellow up to 1/2ct.

White diamonds are incredibly difficult to grow. They take much longer than the yellow or blue diamonds, so are more prone to failure, bad colors, low clarity, etc. I'll second Pricescope as an excellent resource to learn about diamonds, though their education pages on man made diamonds could use some work.

Full disclosure: I'm the president of D.NEA
posted by EEFranklin at 7:30 AM on December 15, 2009

Update: Bought the diamond and setting on Bluenile.com. Basically, I found that most of the diamonds being purchased in South America were done with dollars, then resold in local currency. I don't really get any huge deals when it operates that way. Checked stock in the U.S. as well and couldn't come anywhere close to the deal I was getting for a 1.25ct diamond and platinum setting.

I'll have one more update for you after Dec. 30th. Let's hope good news!
posted by namewithhe1d at 12:29 PM on December 23, 2009

thirding pricescope for the future. they also have an *awesome* colored stone forum/group that i have more experience with but its all and all a great site.
posted by knockoutking at 1:12 PM on December 27, 2009

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