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|Diamonds - Beyond The 4 C's - Cloudy|
Cloudiness Causes Lack of Brilliance
The usual 4C's approach to diamond quality often stresses the negative aspects rather than the positive ones. Consumers who have gained a little knowledge pose the greatest danger to themselves because they may insist on using a 10x loupe (magnifying glass), and fail to find any inclusions, so assume that they are looking at a high quality diamond. They may fail to take a distant or normal look at the stone. One of the best ways of appraising diamonds for quality is to compare a number of stones directly against each other.
The whole point about diamonds is that they should look bright and sparkly when viewed normally, i.e. without any magnification. If a stone fails to look dazzling, then it may be worthwhile to take a close look to discover why it fails to sparkle.
Some diamonds possess a large number of microscopic or very small inclusions, which may not be visible with the naked eye, or even under 10x magnification. Despite this, the inclusions may be so numerous that the brilliance of the diamond is impaired so much that the stone appears to be almost lifeless. When we try to show this to people, many cannot see it for themselves, but can see the difference when comparing the stone with one of normal brilliance.
Fog and Rain
One example we have frequently used is comparing rain with fog.
In heavy rain, it is possible to clearly see the individual droplets of water, yet visibility might be several hundred metres. In fog, the water droplets are so fine that they cannot individually be seen, yet visibility might be down to a few metres. A large number of tiny water droplets in fog have a greater effect on the light passing through them than a smaller number of larger and more easily discerned droplets. So it can be with inclusions in diamonds.
A Practical Example
We have in stock a solitaire diamond ring with a 1.22 carat diamond, we have owned it for a few years now. The stone is quite a nice colour, and there are no inclusions which are readily visible to the naked eye, but it does not sparkle, because it is cloudy. When we show it to people, they often try to clean the surface because they assume it needs cleaning. The ring is for sale, and the price is reasonable for its quality, but it will probably be a long time before we sell it, if ever. For these reasons the stone is interesting enough, but there is also a story behind this ring which we believe is quite educational, so we will tell it here.
The Tale of the Unsparkling Diamond
Some years ago, a couple who were already customers came in to ask about buying a one carat diamond solitaire. It's amazing how many people have this one carat target in their mind. We thought that because they had previously bought from us, that we had convinced them that we offered excellent value on our diamond rings. It turned out that we were wrong. We showed them what we had in stock, and discussed various diamond qualities, explaining the difference between various stones.
Eventually they left and were going to think about it. This often happens if customers find it difficult to come to a decision straight away, and we are happy to encourage them to do so, as we would prefer our customers to be happy with their purchases on a long term basis. We prefer that they make the best decision and best purchase for themselves, even if it takes several visits, or perhaps waiting until we have something in stock which meets their desires.
We didn't get the sale. Maybe six months later, the couple came back in to ask about something else. After a few minutes we happened to say that they already knew that we gave excellent value, and they responded by saying that we hadn't done on the previous occasion, because they had managed to buy a bigger, better diamond for less money than ours. I would have believed any two of their claims on their own, but was sceptical about all three combined. I expressed interest in seeing the ring, but the lady was not, for some reason, wearing it that particular day. They promised to bring it with them the next time they called in. They also told me who they had bought it from, probably the most competitive of the retail jewellers in town.
When we did get to see the ring, I could see their mistake instantly. The diamond was dull and almost lifeless.
They had paid £1,600 for it, and it weighed 1.22 carats. Rather than tell them they had made a mistake, we showed them a number of our diamond rings, and let them compare our rings with their own. They rapidly came to the conclusion that their "bargain" was not such a bargain after all. Having seen the stone, and knowing many of the retailer's sources, we could guess which of his suppliers had provided the ring, on loan of course, to the jeweller.
Rather than point out bluntly where they had gone wrong, we showed them several of our diamonds, and were interested to note that they started to try to wipe clean their stone. It was obvious that they could see the difference immediately. They suggested their stone may need cleaning, so we cleaned it for them in our ultrasonic tank. Of course it made no difference, and they asked us to explain why their diamond was not as sparkly as ours. We were happy to do so. A few weeks later, we received a phone call from the customers asking how much we would allow in part exchange for their ring. On their next visit we did a deal with them and they left with a far nicer diamond, a purchase they could have made from us in the first place, but they thought they knew better.
Why Did They Buy It?
You may ask why they bought the cloudy stone in the first place. The answer is undoubtedly that the other jeweller showed them a small selection of stones, and didn't offer to advise them about quality, or to explain that the stone they were about to buy was cloudy. He made a sale and a profit. He did nothing dishonest, he simply gave his customers a choice. It is quite possible that the customers still make purchases from him, we don't know, but we are fairly sure that they know that we give good advice.
As we have said before, we still have their ring in stock. Our price for it is £1,066, which we think is a fair and reasonable price for it, although it doesn't look great value compared with other stones we have in stock. You may wonder why we bought it. We will always try to get together with a customer to get them what they want. What these customers wanted was to get rid of their poor buy, and exchange it for a better ring. We gave them a very good allowance for their ring considering its quality, and made a profit on the transaction. The downside from our point of view is that our profit and more is now locked into a poor piece of stock which will be difficult for us to sell. The benefit from our point of view is that we can tell this story, and we have the diamond ring as a teaching aid. One day somebody may buy it, and in one sense we will be sorry to part with it. You can be sure that if we do sell it, we will have explained to the buyer exactly what is wrong with the stone, and shown them plenty of alternatives.
Diamond Beyond the 4C's Tour - Next Stop - Consignment
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