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From the moment you walk into Americus, one thing is clear; this company certainly believe that bigger is better. The astronomical size of the store (24,000 square foot) places it in a realm all of its own and it has even been considered an Austin attraction, due to the sheer magnitude of the shop. After all, this is Texas.
But does this stack them high attitude translate to a positive shopping experience? And, more importantly, does it result in good quality diamonds at fair prices? I have completed this review of Americus diamonds so that you can weight up the pros and cons for yourself.
The Americus Shopping Experience
Americus is an example of bricks and mortar shopping at its best. There is a premium to be paid on their jewelry (more on this later), but if you have read any of my reviews before, you will know that this is to be expected from a traditional jewelry store. What makes Americus different, is that it is possible to see where at least some of this additional cost is going.
My experience of the Americus salespeople has been positive, and it is clear they have received a rounded education on diamond jewelry as often you will find that the staff have exceptional sales training with negligible technical knowledge. I cannot speak for the Americus staff in their entirety, but there is certainly a sense of commitment to the company training and keeping the customer informed.
Americas feels in every way as a luxury jewelry store should. It would be easy for a store of this size to fall into the trap of feeling budget-eqsue or like an industrial warehouse, but Americus avoids these pitfalls. The lighting is fantastic and allows the diamonds to sparkle in all their glory. The cabinets are well ordered and nicely presented, with a clear cohesion and flow from one style to another.
The size of the store is a crucial factor in the most important perk of the Americus experience; the selection. Americus holds at least 10x the amount of diamonds that your average retail jewelry store will have on site. You can see a huge variety of diamond shapes and sizes is a number of different settings. This sets Americus apart and makes them a standout choice for those who want to see and feel their diamond jewelry before buying.
On a slightly less positive note, it seems that Americus are keen to deter shoppers from buying online. I witnessed a number of scare tactics being used to push a sale and move a customer away from shopping online. I find this feature of the sales ‘pitch’ to be unnecessary and unhelpful; yes, there are some shocking diamonds sold online by unreputable traders, however with the proper knowledge, buying online ensures a better diamond for a better price. It is a shame that Americus feel they need to use an underhand method to close a sale, as I believe this store truly has a lot going for it.
This company is all about the in-house experience. I would not even bother visiting their website as it is extremely outdated and a poor reflection of the store itself.
In recent years, Americus have stopped buying in EGL diamonds, meaning that all of their diamonds are GIA certified. This gets a huge thumbs up and removes the risk of being oversold an underperforming diamond with an inferior certificate.
Their pricing is transparent and fair. The diamonds I have looked at were ok to good quality and the GIA certification is certainly a great safety net for shoppers with minimal knowledge. Americus is geared towards combination and customization, meaning that should you see a style you like with a particular diamond, it is possible to have it made into a different metal/add additional diamonds etc. This flexibility, combined with their extensive stock, means that with a little time and some helpful guidance, you are certain to find a beautiful ring.
Americus diamonds come in around 20% more expensive than the equivalent diamonds from James Allen, Blue Nile and Whiteflash. This is no surprise as we know that you will always get more for your money when buying online. Americus offer a basic trade-up scheme as well as standard aftercare services, such as re-sizing etc. It seems that these services do come with some fine print, and some customers have returned only to be told these add ons do not apply. Make sure you get total clarity on these points before buying.
The knowledge of the salespeople at Americus is good, but beyond a GIA certificate their knowledge of diamond cut is fairly rudimental and this comes as no surprise. This is the case for most bricks and mortar stores. If you are looking for a super-ideal cut diamond, it is unlikely that Americus will be able to give you the necessary information (although I have no doubt that there are some beautifully performing diamonds among their collections). For all things technical and specialist, you are better off spending your money with experts such as Whiteflash, who are among the market leaders for super-ideal cut diamonds.
Ultimately, we know that buying online is cheaper, however if experience is important to you, Americus absolutely deliver on this aspect, plus their diamonds are of a high quality. If I had to recommend a bricks and mortar retailer, Americus would certainly be near the top of the list.
The Final Word
Unlike most bricks and mortar stores, Americus truly offers a unique and enchanting experience. They are a loved and respected institution in Austin and with over 40 years of success under their belt, it is clear that they are doing something right.
Take your time, and enter the store armed with your diamond knowledge; this will stop you from getting overwhelmed and carried away with the huge selection of sparkling diamonds on display. Although my recommendation would still be to buy your diamonds online, if you are willing to overlook the 20% price hike of Americus, you could certainly do a lot worse than choosing this unique jewelry store. I rated them at 3/5 just because there are better quality diamonds and settings available online.
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