Diamonds, Engagement Rings And Wedding Bands

Amazon.com is following their strategy of becoming an all-encompassing global e-commerce web-site by gradually expanding their product offerings and have recently added diamonds, engagement rings, and wedding bands to their inventory.

They’re doing this in two ways:

1. Listing established diamond and jewelry e-commerce vendors on their Amazon website with direct link-throughs. These vendors pay a monthly fee to have their products listed and a 15% straight commission to Amazon for each item they sell.

2. Selling their “own” merchandise directly to you.

These diamonds, engagement ring settings, and bands are not owned by Amazon, but by wholesalers who drop ship directly to the consumer.

Diamonds are certified by the American Gem Society (AGS) or the Independent Gemological Institute (IGI). Amazon does not physically inspect the merchandise prior to shipping and in the case of diamonds, no additional information such as Cut Grade Analysis or Light Performance results are included.

IGI is known in the trade for being very generous in their color and clarity diamond grading and is considered to be several rungs below the industry standard bearer, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the accuracy, consistency, and stringency of it’s grading.

AGS is considered to be on par with the GIA.

Choices and information on the Amazon Diamond order Form are limited in scope and information. A test order for a 1 carat diamond yielded these choices of three categories provided to the consumer:

1. Fair Cut; defined as a minimum of I color and I-1 Clarity,
2. Good Cut, defined as a minimum of H color and SI-2 Clarity,
3. Ideal Cut; defined as a minimum of G Color and VS-2 Clarity.
4. Carat weight; minimum of .95 carat.

IMO, there are several problems in buying a diamond in this fashion.

1. The fact that Amazon drop ships without examining the merchandise prior to shipping means that Amazon is not corroborating that the diamond is as described by the wholesaler. If there is a problem, Amazon gets caught in the middle between the wholesaler and the customer.

2. Not enough information on the Clarity Gradings. It is well known in the trade that there can be a qualitative difference between two diamonds that have the same Clarity Grading in the range of SI-1 down to I-1. Eye visibility of inclusions critically depends on their size, location, and color.

One diamond graded as SI-1 may be absolutely eye-clean in the face-up position whereas another SI-1 clarity graded stone may contain inclusions that are easily seen without magnification.

3. Definition of Cut is inaccurate as it is couched within the framework of Color and Clarity. Cut has nothing to do with Color or Clarity but is dependent on correct proportioning of facet size, facet angle, and facet placement.

A diamond’s Light performance which is what you’re buying (in laymen’s terms it’s called Bling-Bling) depends on the precision of the Cut proportions. The better the Cut, the better the face-up appearance of the stone. Amazon does not provide any information.

4. Carat weight is defined as a minimum, not an exact carat weight size. This a serious problem for two reasons:

1.There is a significant price jump (up to 15%) as you cross from .99 carat to 1.00 carat, and

2. Carat weight alone tells you nothing about proportion and proper spread. As the graphic below clearly demonstrates, you can have two diamonds of the same carat weight but differing proportions that will display significant differences in the quality of Bling-Bling.

You might very well be paying more money for less diamond.

Above: Diamonds of the same carat weight but with different Cut proportions.
Below: Light Performance Analysis (www.gemex.com) of two “Ideal Cut” Diamonds. Note the differences.

Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about diamonds and jewelry and demanding more information.

As internet diamond and jewelry sales are increasing at a rapid rate, it appears that Amazon wants a piece of the pie. Whether selling diamonds with their paucity of information will get them a large slice or the crumbs remains to be seen.