Most people buy diamonds to remember something significant in their lives, such as a promotion, an engagement, or a birthday. Ideally, you would want to get it right the first time, buying a stone that wows people and makes you pop. But it can be immense pressure for someone who still does not know how to tell a cushion cut from an emerald diamond. Making a perfect choice means rolling up your sleeves and doing in-depth research. A good place to shop for your dream stone is London.
England's capital city has a wide range of stores that offer almost every stone in the market. Variety in the city is not an exception but a norm, and so it is paramount to understand the jewelry retail market.
At the least, you must understand the technical valuation system that determines diamond quality. For instance, how well can you distinguish between diamond and diamond-like substances? Things like grading certification are also paramount, which also holds for lab-grown diamonds.
Another crucial tip is to understand the jewelry retail market. London is a prestigious city, and therefore, most stores here sell first-grade diamonds. It is good news as far as quality is concerned, though quality understandably does not come cheap. So, it would be best if you are prepared to spend a handsome amount on your diamond. But it does not mean that every luxury diamond should cost an arm and a leg. You will always get great bargains if you know where and how to look.
Is London a Great Place to Buy Diamonds?
London is a beehive of diamond stores that boast a vast collection of spectacular jewelry.
The variety reflects favorably in customer experience. The stiff competition for jewelry buyers works to your advantage. You can expect exemplary customer care services in most London jewelry stores. Besides, jewelry consultancy is a notable service that some London diamond stores offer over and above their regular services. Of course, these additional services reflect on the final price of diamonds, but it is worth it.
Due to the intense competition, you will usually meet dealers that try to upsell their diamonds. If in doubt, you can consider ordering diamonds online from reputable stores. By ordering online, you get excellent quality at industry-competitive rates. But even if you intend to do so, you should do your due diligence so that you can avoid the pitfalls that many shoppers face, especially when dealing with a diamond store for the first time. A common pitfall is receiving a diamond different from what the store has in its display.
What’s the Most Popular Place to Buy Diamonds in London?
If you are from the US, you are probably already familiar with the term Diamond District. Like most US cities, London is a reasonably well-planned city. The city has a clean and vibrant Central Business District.
Close to London's CBD is the city's version of a diamond district, known as Hatton Garden. Having gotten its name from Sir Christopher Hatton, Hatton Garden is a commercial street in the Holborn district. Initially, it began as a mansion for the Hattons. With time, developers turned this mansion and adjacent gardens into a plush residential development. The Hatton Garden eventually emerged as one of London's most famous diamond trading centers.
The center boasts approximately 300 jewelry outlets. Hatton Garden has hosted prominent jewelry merchandisers throughout its existence, including, among others, DeBeers, Regency Jewels, Webley London, and Hearts of London.
Like most diamond trading centers, Hatton Garden comes with numerous advantages and pitfalls. For starters, it is an excellent place to bag fair bargains on diamonds—fair, in this sense, implies exceptional quality at reasonably affordable prices. As mentioned, the street features plenty of jewelry stores, each of which endeavors to outdo others to market their merchandise.
Apart from quality and fair rates, the Hatton Garden also promises variety. Whether you are looking for loose diamonds, diamond engagement rings, or solitaires, the Hatton Garden has it all.
Furthermore, diamond merchants in Hatton deal in various brands, and when it comes to jewelry, brand loyalty is paramount. You want to buy from a renowned brand to get quality—Tiffany & Co is one of the district's favored jewelry merchants.
Perhaps the most prominent advantage of Hatton Garden is its well-advanced security offerings. Unlike most diamond districts, this street features additional security measures. As you may know, shopping for any jewelry comes with concerns. Thankfully, the Hatton Garden features an extensive underground network of vaults. Therefore, it is not only easy to buy diamonds and other jewelry in this street, but you can also store them under tight safety conditions.
However, please remember that the UK does not feature among the top ten diamond-producing countries. Therefore, much of the trade that takes place at the Hatton Garden deals with imported diamonds. Also, like every other imported product, imported jewelry comes with hefty markups on them.
For instance, the UK's default Sales Tax Rate (STR) is at 20 percent, which applies to all goods that are not locally-produced, including jewelry. The default rate is nearly four times what countries like the United Arab Emirates charge for similar merchandise. But do not even think that it is cheaper importing your diamonds from the UAE on your own. If you escape the STR, you will still pay about 20 percent in VAT. Therefore, you will be better off buying locally than importing your diamonds from other countries.
Please note diamonds cost higher in the UK than in countries that mine them due to the incidental costs that come with value addition. As always, it is the consumer like you that shoulders these markups.
Additionally, remember that as a diamond trading center, prices are not always stable. It is common to find massive price variations for the same quality of a diamond. It all comes down to how much of your attention these merchants can get, which is a common drawback because you cannot expect everyone to play by the rules. You will occasionally bump into merchants that offer their diamonds at industry-competitive rates. But if you are not lucky, you could pay exorbitantly for a not-so-great quality.
Is Hatton Garden the Most Ideal Place to Buy Diamonds in London?
Typically, diamond trading centers should offer variety and affordability in one package, and to some extent, they do. But for the most part, these centers are not as excellent as you may think. If you weigh the benefits of shopping at a diamond trading center against the drawbacks, the scale will almost always tilt towards the drawbacks. Thus, Hatton Garden may not be an ideal place for buying diamonds in London after all.
First, and as already mentioned, prices are not always standardized. Unstable prices translate into significant price differentiation, which may work for the jewelry traders. But it will surely not work to the advantage of a diamond buyer. As a buyer, you should feel sure about getting good value for your money, and so you must begin by understanding how gem experts price diamonds. This knowledge will help you establish whether a given price tag is fair or not. It will also help you when it comes to haggling. Price negotiations only make sense when you understand the prevailing industry rates.
We discussed variety as a benefit of shopping for diamonds in the Hatton Garden, though diversity can be a two-edged sword. When there are too many forms of the same merchandise, your judgment of the best quality may be compromised. You need a market where the flow of jewelry is well-regulated so that you can tell which form of diamond is trending. You will also understand the most prestigious shapes and popular color shades, among other parameters. Diamond trends in a country like Russia are different from those in the US, which is why every diamond that gets into the UK should be standardized for quality assurance.
We also highlighted the Hatton Garden as one of the most secure diamond streets globally, but only until four men changed the narrative. In April 2015, Hatton Garden witnessed one of the most audacious jewelry heists in recent history. According to a CNN news article, the carefully-planned and meticulously-executed robbery targeted a 6-foot-thick-wall. When it was finally over, the villains made away with jewelry merchandise worth £14 million. The incident proved that diamond trading centers might take reasonable proactive measures against crime, but they are not entirely theft-proof.
What Precautions Must You Take?
Right off the bat, your best bet when shopping for diamonds in London is to buy online. We will cover a few advantages of buying diamonds online later. But for some reason, you might consider buying diamonds from a brick-and-mortar outlet in Hatton Garden. To get a great bargain, you should take heed of the following standard precautions.
Assess the Four Cs:
You are probably already familiar with the four main parameters to consider when choosing diamonds, such as Carat, Cut, Color, and Clarity. Each of these factors impacts the price of diamonds one way or another. For example, Ideal Cut diamonds are pretty costly. The same holds for flawless diamonds.
To get it right:
- Establish your tastes and preferences.
- Assess your budget needs.
- If you can afford it, settle for nothing but top-quality diamonds.
However, it could happen that your budget is not sufficient for the quality you desire. In such cases, you may consider sacrificing any component of the four Cs, though it is usually a tricky balancing act. Thankfully, you may enlist the services of a certified gem consultant.
Check for Grading Information:
After establishing what your needs are and finding a diamond store, check the grading information. Most jewelry merchants in Hatton Garden sell their diamonds along with grading certificates. But as it were, not all grading certificates are reliable. Thus, you should not trust certifications from reputed organizations like the GIA and the AGS.
A diamond grading report from the GIA covers all the Four Cs. After analyzing such documents, you can now determine whether the price tag is worth it or not. But it is not all that the certifications contain. Besides the Four Cs, grading reports from reputable organizations also provide information on other parameters, such as the width, depth, and table size of the diamond. The findings may also consider further details, such as symmetry, polish, and finish. All these aspects go into determining the final price of the gemstone.
Take Your Time:
After you take care of every other precaution, take your time and sample all the available offers. With all factors remaining constant, remember that diamond prices vary from store to store.
Please do not fall for sellers that appear to be rushing you into buying their diamonds because even if they are of high quality, their prices may be equally high. Take your time and compare prices across as many stores as possible. We must again reiterate that the best place to compare prices is online.
Why Should You Buy Diamonds in London Online?
Buying diamonds online comes with numerous advantages, but we will only highlight some of them. For starters, you can shop from the convenience of your residence. It does not matter where you are in London, all you need to do is place your order. Then, wait for the store to deliver your jewelry.
Shopping for diamonds online also enables you to compare prices, which is not easy in brick-and-mortar because you would need to walk from store to store physically. However, the case is quite different when shopping online. You can compare prices in as many stores as possible right in the same window. Some stores have incorporated price calculators that you can only operate online. Price calculators come with respective fields. You fill in these fields with various parameters such as color, carat weight, etc. Each time you do, the calculator works out an estimated price for your diamond.
Another notable significance of buying online is that you get variety. It is often strenuous walking through an entire physical store scouting for your preferred diamond. But when shopping online, you can seamlessly sample through the displays. You do not have to worry about the visual appeal of these displays either. Some stores make use of 360-display technology. With this technology, you can examine a diamond from all dimensions—a visual appeal nearly as realistic as that of the real physical store.
But buying online does not always guarantee the best deals, and so you must insist on trading only with reliable diamond dealers.
What are the advantages of buying online from a reputed store?
First, reputed diamond traders offer variety, and regardless of the design, shape, or style you require, they will have it. From their vast stockpile of diamonds, you are likely to find a custom-made stone for you. Whether you need halo settings or custom solitaire rings, you will always find them with professional diamond dealers. That way, you will not be wasting time getting the seller to custom-design your diamond.
Another reason you might consider reputed stores is their fantastic feedback. Shopping for jewelry is primarily a learning experience. It does not matter how many times you have done it before; you will always have something new to learn. As you shop for the stone, questions will keep popping up. Such issues vary depending on the reasons for which you are buying the diamond. For example, you would need to inquire about a diamond engagement ring thoroughly. The last thing you want to do is buy a ring that your significant other finds less romantic. Therefore, you deserve a professional store that can offer interactive feedback. Such feedback could be in the form of online chat support, phone calls, or quick emails.
Reliable online diamond merchants also deal with high-end, luxurious brands, such as Ritani, Verragio, Vatche, Danhov, to mention but a few. These are some of the brands that you may not find in the London diamond district. But if you somehow do, their prices will be higher than what reputable diamond stores charge.
Last but not least, reliable stores come with exceptional returns policies. Such policies often come in handy on the off chance you need to make a purchase return. A notable mention here would be the Blue Nile, which not only offers exquisitely-cut diamonds but is also locally available. You may desire a brick-and-mortar experience after sampling their offers online. In that case, you can head to their physical offices in Dublin.
London is a prestigious city, and that tag reflects nowhere else than in the city's commerce and industry. Most commodities tend to be highly-priced in London than in neighboring cities, which also holds for jewelry prices. With that in mind, you should go shopping with only one mission: to get it right. Moreover, because retail dynamics are often challenging, you should always buy diamonds from reputable dealers. We recommend buying your diamonds online. But if you prefer a physical shop, consider Hatton Garden, the heart of London's diamond industry.