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There is a lot to like about diamonds direct. From their engaging beginnings operating out of Israel and the United States, to their sleek Instagram profile and charity commitments, Diamonds Direct stand in opposition to large chain jewellers with excellent customer service and the passion we want from an independent jewelry store.
I reviewed the quality, prices and overall customer experience that you can expect from Diamonds Direct so that you can decide if this is the right place to shop for your diamond jewelry.
The history of Diamonds Direct begins in Tel Aviv in the early 90’s. After years of cutting and selling diamonds to jewelry stores, the company decided to cut out the middle man and open a store of their own. Setting up shop in North Carolina, Diamonds Direct proved their business model was solid and continued to open stores. In November 2016 however they were acquired by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities, and the following year they increased in size again by acquiring Diamond Doctor, a company that were accused of committing diamond fraud and cheating customers.
Over the past two decades they have won multiple awards including the JCK award for the country’s most innovative retailer and the Best of Weddings award from Charlotte magazine.
For a company like Diamonds Direct, I am keen to start with the overall experience. If you have read any of my other reviews you will know that the bottom line always comes down to online VS traditional bricks and mortar, with shopping online winning nine out of ten times.
However, it is also important to cater to those who yearn for a positive in-house experience while shopping for diamonds. In a world of salespeople lacking technical knowledge and snapping for commission, Diamonds Direct are a breath of fresh air. The stores are fairly basic and traditional in their appearance but they are made up for by attentive and knowledgeable staff. This is a huge plus for those wanting a traditional bricks and mortar experience who are trying to avoid the pitfalls of this method of shopping which can include misleading information and subpar diamonds. Their stores hold impressive inventories and staff seem natural and comfortable with showing a variety of diamonds and styles. A big tick.
Community is also at the core of the Diamonds Direct ethos. The company champions local designers, allowing them a sophisticated platform for their work and bringing innovative and unique designs to their customers. They also established the Diamonds Direct foundation in 2004 which donates thousands of dollars to women’s and children’s charities in the areas surrounding their stores. These features are not reason alone to buy from Diamonds Direct, but they should still be commended for their social responsibility and commitment to their communities.
Diamonds Direct sit comfortably in the middle of the two usual diamond shopping experiences. The first is large chain stores/lower-end jewelers who focus very little on diamond quality. Their bread and butter is pre-set diamonds (harder to see inclusions and flaws) in generic settings and jewelry that carries large premiums.
The second approach is what I think of as the super-ideal diamond specialists. They give the customer a diamond education down to the most refined and technical details. They provide high-res images, 360 videos and additional performance reports (ASET, Sarine etc.) to give an in-depth look at the quality of the diamond.
Diamonds Direct do have clear, magnified images of their diamonds on their website, but beyond that the details are fairly basic. You can see the depth and table percentages as well as girdle thickness, but no details beyond those available on a GIA certificate. The image is static meaning the diamond can only be viewed from a table up position. Is it the best way to view a diamond? No, but it is likely to still come in handy if you choose to shop with Diamonds Direct.
Only GIA certified diamonds are listed in Diamond Direct’s online inventory which is positive, however they don’t sell AGS Diamonds. They do sell ‘in-house’ certified diamonds in their stores. Although everything about Diamonds Direct appears sincere and professional, I cannot recommend in-house certified diamonds from any vendor. My experience is that although Diamonds Direct have their roots deep in the diamond trade, in-house certification is still a shady practice that allows for larger profit margins and lower quality diamonds for the consumer. Stick to their GIA and AGS certified diamonds.
I compared the prices of Diamonds Direct settings and diamonds to give you an idea of where they sit on the engagement ring scale.
I looked at a round brilliant 1.00ct G-SI1 diamond with a cut grade of excellent. It was eye clean with negligible florescence. It was a lovely diamond – it had a good light performance and an acceptable sparkle. It didn’t blow me away but would make a nice engagement ring. The diamond was $7,038. I chose a simple four prong solitaire setting in 14K white gold for $210, bringing the total cost to $7,258.
I used the gradings (G-SI1) and found a 1.03ct round brilliant diamond from Whiteflash’s A CUT ABOVE® collection (AGS certified). These diamonds are some of the highest performing available on the market – it is a super ideal cut displaying true hearts and arrows and has incredible light performance. The high-res image shows the diamond is eye-clean and the additional light performance reports confirm that this diamond is a knockout. It is $7,095.
The Whiteflash diamond is $57 more expensive than Diamonds Direct. In this instance, we are not comparing apples to apples however. Only a tiny percentage of diamonds are given A CUT ABOVE® status. As a super-ideal cut diamond, the precision and accuracy required means that there is no question of light return and sparkle; this diamond will have it in abundance. The stringent parameters go far beyond lab grading meaning these diamonds are in a league of their own. The point to take from this is for a little extra, you can have something truly outstanding.
I am not horrified by Diamond Direct prices. There is a premium, but this goes with the territory for an independent bricks and mortar jewelry store.
They have some beautiful and unusual settings in a variety of precious metals. They are extremely well made and there is certainly something to suit every style. In this area, Diamonds Direct cannot be faulted. If you hail from the local areas of their stores you are likely to be enamored with their support of local designers and impressed by the variety on offer.
The Bottom Line
There is a lot to like about Diamonds Direct, but it remains true that you can find better diamonds for better prices if you shop with a trusted online vendor. If you cannot be swayed by the online ‘bang for your buck’ and yearn for a hands-on, human experience, beginning your search in one of their stores is a good place to start.
Take the time to carry out research, talk to specialist jewelers who are happy to pro-actively provide comprehensive image reports and videos. Please get in touch with me directly for free personalized advice as well.
Before making a decision I would highly recommend reading my reviews on Blue Nile, James Allen and Whiteflash.
Richard Jenkins, The Diamond Guru
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