Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2014 at 4:29 pm by Kim
An interview with Chuck about Antwerp Diamonds
Q.) Why do you travel all the way to Antwerp, Belgium to buy diamonds? Can’t you get diamonds here in the US?
Of course, we can buy diamonds domestically, and we often do. However, Antwerp, Belgium has been the Diamond capital of the world since the 1500’s. When we’re in Antwerp, we are in diamond-cutting offices that have millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds. We literally look through hundreds, if not thousands of diamonds, cherry-picking the very best of the best. Diamonds are pre-sorted into lots. These parcels are grouped together by approximate size and approximate quality, meaning that a parcel of one carat diamonds may have a hundred diamonds in it, ranging from 1.00 to 1.15 carats each, in SI-1 to SI-2 clarity, G-H-I colors. The price per carat is the same for whatever is in the parcel, priced per carat (by weight). By picking the very best of the entire parcel, we can get the best value for your money. This takes a long time, but it’s worth the extra work. We take great pride in offering the very finest diamonds available anywhere.
Q.) So you literally look through hundreds of diamonds to pick one?
Sometimes thousands. It’s like a challenge to find the very best of the best. I love diamonds; it’s why I do this for a living. The cutter unlocks the brilliance of the diamond. Not all J SI-1s are alike. An ideal cut diamond throws brilliance out and makes that diamond stand out from the crowd. Those are what I am looking for.
Q.) Do most stores do it this way?
No. In fact, very few have the option. We are members of IJO, the Independent Jewelers Organization. As an organization of over 800 jewelers, who have been screened to be among the top jewelers in America, we are allowed into cutting offices that usually deal only with extremely large manufacturers. This gives us a great advantage in selection and pricing of our diamond supply.
Q.) How do you know what to look for when you’re going through the parcels?
I am a Master Graduate Gemologist...one of only a few in Pennsylvania. My GIA training, coupled with a lifetime in the family business, gives me the knowledge I need to pick the very finest quality diamonds. Unfortunately, most jewelers aren’t Gemologists. They rely on lab reports to tell them what the best is. Sadly, over the years, the lab reports have, in my opinion, become largely worthless. The internet has demanded huge numbers of reports to sell diamonds that haven’t been actually seen by the potential buyer. These internet diamond sellers have become very important customers to the various labs, demanding huge numbers of reports. I believe these customers are demanding easing of quality grades to enable them to offer for sale what appear to be deals. In other words, sell a diamond with a report that says one grade, but any Gemologist would argue the grading is totally wrong.
Q.) Isn’t that illegal?
You would think so! Unfortunately, a lab report, like an appraisal, is an opinion. These papers can be totally wrong, and there’s nothing the public can do about it. Part of the problem is that folks buy diamonds based on paper, instead of looking at diamonds! Like I said earlier, I look through thousands of diamonds to pick one! I never would buy a diamond based on a piece of paper, and the public shouldn’t either. It’s like looking at a menu to decide if food is delicious, you need to taste it. Reading a menu doesn’t tell you anything!
Q.) So if lab reports are so inconsistent, how can the public compare diamonds and prices?
There is the problem! I’m not sure how you can! I think ultimately, people have to buy diamonds from people they trust. It sounds self-serving, I know, but it’s the truth. We’ve been in business for 66 years and two generations. We stand behind what we sell, and everyone knows that about our store. My father started this business in 1948 and I continue the tradition today. We want to sell the finest diamonds that will last a lifetime, not commercial quality garbage that you can get anywhere. We take great pride in our quality, and our customers can see that instantly when they see the diamonds we sell.
Q.) When’s your next trip to Antwerp?
I leave April 5. We are already taking pre-sales.
Q.) What’s a pre-sale?
Customers give me a budget and a shape they want. We talk about what they can expect in terms of qualities. Then I go to Antwerp and search through hundreds of carats of diamonds and find the very best for them. If they aren’t delighted when they see their diamonds, their deposit is refunded. By the way, that has never happened! Everyone has always been absolutely thrilled with what we’ve found for them. Any size and shape, fancy colors, unusual cuts, matched pairs, you name it. Antwerp has them all. It’s what we do. I already have several diamond engagement rings in the works for this trip for customers, and promise that some women are going to be very happy when their man gets on his knee and opens a green Gala box!
Q.) So if someone wants a diamond, what does he do?
Simply stop in the store or give Chuck a call at (412) 672-9631.