Most people buy diamonds to remember something big in their lives, like a promotion, an engagement, or a birthday. And you’ll want to get it right the first time. A stone that wows crowds and makes you pop. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who still doesn’t 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. And a good place to shop for your dream stone is London.
The capital city of England has a wide range of stores that offer just about every stone in the market. Variety in the city is the norm rather than the exception. It’s paramount you 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. And that holds truer for lab-grown diamonds.
Another crucial tip is to understand what the jewelry retail market is. London is a prestigious city. Therefore, most stores here sell first-grade diamonds. That’s good news as far as quality goes. However, quality doesn’t come cheap. So, you should be prepared to spend a handsome amount on your diamond. But that doesn’t mean 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. And with that comes 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. 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’s well worth it.
Due to the intense competition, you’ll usually meet dealers that try to up sell 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 buying online, you should do your due diligence. That way, you will avoid some pitfalls many shoppers face, especially when dealing with a diamond store for the first time. A common pitfall is receiving a diamond that’s totally different from what the store has in its display.
What’s the Most Popular Place to Buy Diamonds in London?
If you’re from the US, you’re 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. Hatton Garden is a commercial street in the Holborn district. The street got its name from Sir Christopher Hatton. 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. Throughout its existence, Hatton Garden has hosted prominent jewelry merchandisers. Some of them include DeBeers, Regency Jewels, Webley London, Hearts of London, to mention but a few.
Like most diamond trading centers, Hatton Garden comes with numerous advantages and pitfalls. For starters, it’s an excellent place to bag fair bargains on diamonds. Fair, in this sense, implies both exceptional quality at reasonably affordable prices. As we mentioned, the street features plenty of jewelry stores. And as you may expect, each of these stores endeavors to outdo the other in a bid to market their merchandise.
As well as quality and fair rates, the Hatton Garden also promises variety. Whether you’re looking for loose diamonds, diamond engagement rings, or solitaires, the Hatton Garden has it all.
Also notable is the fact that 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 as that way, you get quality. Tiffany & Co is one of the favored jewelry merchants in this district.
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 its security concerns. Being such a precious gem, you could easily fall victim to muggers. Thankfully, the Hatton Garden features an extensive underground network of vaults. Therefore, it’s not only easy to buy diamonds and other jewelry in this street. You can also store them under tight safety conditions.
However, you should remember that the UK doesn’t feature among the top 10 diamond-producing countries. Therefore, much of the trade that takes place at the Hatton Garden deals with imported diamonds. And like every other imported product, imported jewelry comes with hefty mark-ups on them.
For instance, the UK’s default Sales Tax Rate (STR) is at 20 percent. The rate applies to all goods that aren’t locally-produced, inclusive of jewelry. The default rate is nearly four times what countries like the United Arab Emirates charge for similar merchandise. But don’t even think it’s cheaper importing your diamonds from the UAE on your own. If you escape the STR, you’ll still pay about 20 percent in VAT. Therefore, you’re better off buying locally than importing your diamonds from other countries.
All in all, diamonds cost higher in the UK than in countries that mine the gem. That’s due to the incidental costs that come with value addition. And as always, it’s the consumer like you that shoulders these markups.
Additionally, remember that as a diamond trading center, prices aren’t always stable. It’s not uncommon 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. And that’s a common drawback because you can’t expect everyone to play by the rules. You will occasionally bump into merchants that offer their diamonds at industry-competitive rates. But if you aren’t so 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. To some extent, they do. But for the most part, these centers aren’t 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. So, Hatton Garden may not be an ideal place for buying diamonds in London after all.
First, and as we’ve already mentioned, prices aren’t always standardized. Unstable prices translate into significant price differentiation. Such differentiation may work for the jewelry traders. But they sure won’t work to the advantage of a diamond buyer. As a buyer, you should be sure you’re getting good value for your money. Therefore, you should first begin by understanding how gem experts price diamonds. That knowledge will help you establish whether a given price tag is fair or not. The information 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. But 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. That way, you will be able to tell which form of diamond is trending. You will also understand the most prestigious shapes, popular color shades, among other parameters. Diamond trends in a country like Russia aren’t the same as those in, say, the US. That’s 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 in the world. That may have been true 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 may take reasonable proactive measures against crime. But these centers aren’t entirely theft-proof.
What Precautions Must You Take?
Right off the bat, let me say that your best bet when shopping for diamonds in London is to buy online. We will cover a few advantages of buying diamonds online much 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.
1. Assess the Four Cs.
You’re probably already familiar with the four main parameters to consider when choosing diamonds. The parameters include Carat, Cut, Color, and Clarity. Each of these factors impacts the price of diamonds one way or another. For example, Ideal Cut diamonds are quite costly. The same holds for flawless diamonds.
To get it right, establish your tastes and preferences. Then, assess your budget needs. If you can afford it, settle for nothing but top-quality diamonds. However, it could happen that your budget isn’t sufficient for the quality you desire. In such cases, you may consider sacrificing any component of the four Cs. It’s usually a tough balancing act. Thankfully, you may enlist the services of a certified gem consultant.
2. Check for Grading Information
After establishing what your needs are, and finding a diamond store, check on 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. You should only 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 that’s not all that the certifications contain. Besides the Four Cs, grading reports from reputable organizations also provide information on other parameters. Examples include the width and depth, as well as the table size of the diamond. The findings may also take into account further details, such as symmetry, polish, and finish. All these aspects go into determining the final price of the gemstone.
3. Take Your Time
Even after you’ve taken care of every other precaution, take your time and sample all the available offers. With all factors remaining constant, remember diamond prices vary from store to store.
So, don’t fall for sellers that appear to be rushing you into buying their diamond. The chances are that even if those diamonds are 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. We will only highlight some of them. For starters, you can shop from the convenience of your residence. It doesn’t matter where you are in London. All you’ve got 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. Comparing prices in brick-and-mortar stores isn’t easy. That’s 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. You can only operate these calculators 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’s 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 don’t 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. That’s a visual appeal nearly as realistic as that of the real physical store.
But buying online doesn’t always guarantee the best deals. At the very least, you should 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. Whatever design, shape, or style you require, they have it available. From their vast stockpile of diamonds, you’re likely to find a custom-made stone for you. Whether you need halo settings or custom solitaire rings, you’ll always find it in professional diamond dealers. That way, you won’t have to waste time getting the seller to custom-design your diamond.
Another reason you might consider reputed stores is their fantastic feedback. Shopping for jewelry is mostly a learning experience. It does not matter how many times you’ve done it before. You’ll 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’re 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 call or quick emails.
Reliable online diamond merchants also deal with high-end, luxurious brands. Some of these brands include Ritani, Verragio, Vatche, Danhov, to mention but a few. Such are brands that you will unlikely find in the London diamond district. And if you 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 that you need to make a purchase returns. A notable mention here would be the Blue Nile. The store not only offers exquisitely-cut diamonds, but they’re 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. The prices of most commodities tend to be higher in London than in neighboring cities. And that goes for jewelry prices as well. With that in mind, you should go shopping with only one mission – to get it right. And 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, Hatton Garden is the heart of London’s diamond industry.