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Diamonds - Beyond The 4 C's - Compability|
Compability Report for Well Known Discount Jewellers
In December 2003, we were approached by a leading member of the media, to provide expert advice and opinion about an "independent report" which had been carried out for a well-known High Street discount jeweller, comparing three of their product lines against similar products offered by four competing stores. Before studying the details and conclusions of the report, we applied logical and scientific methods to determine how the survey had been carried out, and how the concusions in the report had been reached.
- The report fails to state what expertise the writers have in the matter of judging diamond quality, and it would appear their expertise is minimal. This point alone probably indicates the potential reliability of the report as low.
- Alternatively, it is possible that the authors have considerable expertise but have chosen to conceal it, or use it to distort its findings. The choice of the word "Make" as one of the headings could be a Machiavellian attempt to convince the reader that the quality factors of proportion and accuracy of cutting, generally known as "make" have been properly taken into consideration. Nowhere in the report are proportion or accuracy of cut mentioned.
- The commissioning company are well known in the jewellery trade as "The New Ratners", having largely filled the vacuum left when the Ratners changed their name, image, and product mix. Stating this publicly risks the threat of legal action by the owners of the Ratners trademark. It is also commonly held opinion in the jewellery trade that the commissioning company company sell "crap". This would probably draw legal action from them, even though the statement would be substantially accurate, and in the public interest. For this reason we will not identify either party here.
- How the three rings from the commissioning company were selected is not stated. This is unlikely to have been at random, and there is no evidence that the company was not able to select diamonds of disproportionate and unrepresentative quality.
- Certification of diamonds is important in the absence of reliable consumer judgement. This is particulary important for larger and more expensive diamonds.
- None of diamonds were graded by the GIA or the London Gem Lab, two laboratories with strong reputations for high standards.
- It is difficult to compare diamonds accurately, even for experts, unless seeing them side by side.
- Pitfalls in placing reliance on certificate include latitude within grades, different standards applied by different labs.
- Proportion and "make" (accuracy and quality of facetting and polishing) were not stated for any of the diamonds. This would lead me to suspect that there is a reason for this important omission, that it would show the commissioner offers in poor light, although it could be because of ignorance or lack of expertise by the authors.
- After analysing the data for offer #1, we conclude that 4 of the 5 offers are too good to be true, and that the 5th is doubtful. Unless the diamonds are extremely badly proportioned, it is not possible to procure diamonds of the stated grades in any quantity, and sell them profitably at the stated prices including VAT. It is almost certain that all the grades of all the stones are exaggerated, or that there is omission of important information.
- We calculated a standard value on each of the diamond rings (offer #1), compiled using a highly respected source of wholesale diamond prices. Of the five, supplier #1 (the report commissioner) came out in third place for value, suppliers #3, and #2 being first and second.
- For offers #2 and #3, the commissioning company came in first place in our value comparisons, which is the result we would have expected, but none of the 10 rings from any of the 5 stores appeared to be good value. This is surprising in view of our findings for offer #1.
- We have in the past been shown, by consumers, items which have been purchased from the commissioning company. In one case a 1 carat diamond which hade been bought for £1,700 which had reduced transparency (it was cloudy), and in our opinion represented poor value. The purchaser mistakenly believed she was buying at about half price. In another case, a pseudo coin ring had been bought as a gift for a man. It had distorted badly after only a few days wear. In our opinion the ring wa not fit for the purpose for which it had been sold. Its cost worked out at £13.51 per gram, and this was claimed to be half price. We believe a reasonable retail value would have been between £10 and £15 per gram.
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