Let’s Compare Tiffany & Co. to GIA!
More specifically, Tiffany’s Certified Diamonds to GIA’s Certified Diamonds.
Why Compare these two?
Because I always tell people to Buy ONLY GIA Certified Diamonds… And Tiffany & Co. does NOT sell GIA Certified Diamonds (really called Diamond Reports).
Tiffany certifies their Diamonds themselves with their Tiffany Gemological Laboratory.
When I asked Tiffany WHY they didn’t sell GIA, they explained to me that their own certificates were BETTER than GIAs.
GIA wrote the 4C’s. GIA devised the Diamond Grading Standards that are used across America.
How can they be BETTER?
I went to Tiffanys & Co. in person, and also called their Hot Line (1-800-843-3269) for more information.
Tiffany told me that they did sell GIA Certified Stones at one time. Up until about 25-30 years ago. It seems like GIA couldn’t keep up with their demand in volume, so Tiffany went and established their own laboratories and certificates.
Tiffany goes on to state that their labs are better and more strict than GIA because GIA doesn’t Guarantee the quality of the Diamond. Tiffany does!
This is true. GIA doesn’t guarantee the actual quality of the stone, it even says so right on their Diamond Report:
“This Report is not a guarantee, valuation or appraisal. This Report contains only the characteristics of the diamond described herein after it has been graded, tested, examined and analyzed, by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory under 10x magnification using the techniques and equipment available to GIA Gem Trade Laboratory, including fully corrected triplet loupe and binocular microscope, master color comparison diamonds, electronic carat balance, non-contact optical measuring device, and ancillary instruments as necessary, at the time of the examination, and/or has been inscribed by GIA Gem Trade Laboratory.
The recipient of this Report may wish to consult a credentialed Jeweler or Gemologist about the importance and interrelationship of cut, color, clarity and carat weight.”
But then again, GIA doesn’t buy or sell Diamonds either, they only grade the quality of the stone as accurately as they can (with the most sophisticated instruments in the business).
Tiffany (who is a retailer, and not a wholesaler) told me “We guarantee 100% that the quality of the Diamond is accurate, and if not, we will replace it or refund that Diamond Free for a lifetime!”
My Question is:
If the quality is 100% accurate, then why would they need a guarantee that would return or refund it?
Obviously not everything nor everyone is perfect. No one is. So there are always exceptions and mistakes that could and do happen.
It happens to the best of us.
But does this claim justify that they are BETTER at grading Diamonds than the leader in the industry?
Tiffany says they are stricter and tighten up GIA’s own highly admired Grading Scale.
Tiffany’s Policy States:
If the Diamond is not as promised in the Certificate, we will, at your option, promptly:
- accept the return of the Jewelry and provide you with a refund of the full purchase price, or
- replace the Diamond with a diamond that meets or exceeds each of the characteristics warranted.
Their warranty remains in effect during the lifetime (original owner only) for so long as you own your jewelry.
This sounds good, but if it’s not the quality of Diamond stated, why would one wait 30 years down the road to figure that out?
This wouldn’t happen!
When people buy Diamond Engagement Rings they will usually get them checked out or appraised shortly after.
Generally that’s within a week or two of the purchase date.
And you know what?
Most other jewelry stores will do just the same thing. They usually offer a 1-3 month return policy just for that circumstance. So it gives you ample enough time to get the Diamond checked out for quality and to verify that everything is as stated. And if not, you just return it.
Easy as that!
Needing an entire lifetime for this is not necessary. When you’re 60 are you going to say “Hey, let me have that Engagement Ring I bought back in 1970, can I have it checked out for accuracy!” Not going to happen!
A lifetime guarantee on quality sounds good, but I don’t see it being used very often.
Now I’m not dogging on Tiffany and Co., but when you make claims like “We are better than GIA“, then it deserves a closer inspection (with a raised eyebrow).
As stated before, GIA doesn’t sell Diamonds, they only grade them. Jewelers are the ones that sell GIA Certified Stones, and those Jewelers are the ones that would “Guarantee” the Diamond against quality, returns, refunds or authenticity.
Kay Jewelers sells GIA Certified Diamonds (as well as other Certified Stones). And they DO give you a Lifetime Diamond Guarantee with your purchase that covers the Diamond in case of loss or damage (like Chips or Cracks or if the entire stone falls out of the mounting).
Tiffany gives you no such Warranty!
In fact, Tiffany’s Warranty clearly states the opposite, and that it “does not cover damage to the Diamond that occurs after the date of sale“.
One interesting thing about Tiffany’s Grading Process is this: They grade Diamonds BEFORE and AFTER they’ve been set. GIA doesn’t do this. GIA ONLY grades loose stones so they can see everything inside and outside of the stone. They don’t grade mounted Diamonds.
Grading Stones that are already set can actually hide Inclusions. Flaws on the outside of the Diamond, or near the outer edge of the stone, can actually get covered up by the Prongs or the Metal Mounting.
Which means, the Flaws may go unnoticed, and possibly get graded Wrong!
Read this statement by GIA from their own website:
Tiffany views the stones BEFORE and AFTER as a double check method.
Other stores may not do so well. Other stores could have a Diamond with a huge black spot near the edge that gets covered up by the mounting. The stone would possibly get a loose grading of SI2, I1 or worse. But once that Inclusion is mounted and covered, then without being able to see the Flaw, it could be in-house graded as a SI1, VS or even a VVS Diamond instead.
That’s a big difference in quality and price. Which is why I never advise buying Diamonds that are pre-set. There’s too much room for error.
What’s so curious about all of this is the fact that Tiffany says they never grade a Diamond as Flawless. They say the mounting could obscure the grader’s view of the Diamond, making the award of a perfect grade questionable. As seen in their Brochure here:
This Statement to me is Questionable!
They are saying that a Diamond could be Flawless to begin with, but once it’s set it’s not?
I don’t get it.
They tried to explain it to me over the phone and all they kept saying was that it was a pre-cautionary standard that they use.
Pre-cautionary to what? It doesn’t make sense!
A Flawless Stone is a Flawless Stone regardless if it’s loose or mounted. To me, it makes it seem like Tiffany is saying that they grade the stones AFTER they’ve been set and that’s the true rating they get.
Am I wrong in thinking this?
In my opinion, grading a stone BEFORE it’s set is the ONLY true way of knowing what the accuracy of that Diamond Quality is.
So if you grade a Diamond as SI1, then it’s an SI1 AFTER it’s been set as well.
Now let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons to a Tiffany Certified Diamond:
Pros & Cons to Tiffany Certified Diamonds
First up… The Pros!
- Tiffany will Return or Refund the Diamond for a full lifetime if it’s not the quality stated.
- Tiffany is highly respected and has been around since 1837 (over 75 years).
- Tiffany says that they will always grade borderline stones with the lower grade so that their Diamonds will either be exactly what is stated, or better (GIA does the same thing).
- Tiffany offers a free ring sizing for 90 days of purchase (most Jewelry Stores also offer a Free first ring sizing).
- Tiffany sells Diamonds of at least SI1 Clarity or higher (entry level).
- Tiffany Diamonds are at least I Color or higher (white stones).
- Tiffany does not sell Diamonds that have Strong or Very Strong Fluorescence (but they will sell Diamonds with Faint Fluorescence).
- Tiffany does not sell Diamonds with Extra Facets, Knots, Clouds, Unsightly Naturals, Significant Graining, Surface Inclusions, Laser Drill Holes, Chips, or Visible Black Inclusions (Per their little Diamond Booklet).
- Tiffany does utilize GIA Standards, but they say they tighten them up.
- All Tiffany Diamonds are Cut to “Excellent” Precision (equal to GIA’s Excellent Grades). They will reject any Diamonds with Symmetry Flaws.
Now let’s look at the Cons to buying a Tiffany Engagement Ring…
- Tiffany states that they are better than GIA. Their is no proof to this claim, all it does is leave a sour taste in my mouth.
- Tiffany states they Guarantee the Diamond, and GIA doesn’t. This is irrelevant since GIA doesn’t sell Diamonds. Jewelry Stores sell Diamonds (like Tiffany), and those Jewelers WILL Guarantee GIA Certified Diamonds!
- Tiffany sells Diamonds with Faint Fluorescence, so your Diamond could possibly look Milky, Foggy or even Hazy (as well as glowing-in-the-dark).
- Tiffany states that they are 100% accurate in grading, but will exchange your stone if it’s not accurate. ??? Since nobody is perfect, this claim contradicts itself!
- Tiffany verifies the Diamond Quality AFTER they are mounted, which could affect the Clarity or Rating of that Diamond. What’s to verify? Isn’t it already graded?
- Tiffany doesn’t guarantee the Diamond for Loss or Damage (lots of other Jewelry Stores do)!
- Tiffany never grades a Diamond as Flawless, even though it could be (Still a mystery to me!)
- Tiffany doesn’t sell Loose Diamonds, only pre-mounted ones.
- Tiffany is Extremely EXPENSIVE!
Let me repeat that last line…
Tiffany is Extremely EXPENSIVE!
Tiffany has more Pros than Cons to buying their stones (not by much), but the cost difference does not justify the sale with me.
It’s also important to note that Tiffany does not Cut their own Diamonds (like the U.S. Patented Hearts on Fire does with their Dream Cut Diamond). Tiffany buys loose Diamonds just like everyone else. They make sure the Cut of the Diamond is Excellent, which any Jewelry Store could do. Then they sell these stones with their own Grading Certificate.
Tiffany does make sure the Clarity is Good (SI1 is Good Quality, VS2 or higher is Great Quality), and that the Color of the stone is Average (I Color is just okay Color, I really advise buying Colorless Diamonds like D, E or F instead).
But the real fact is this: Tiffany sells these Diamonds at a Much Increased Price!!!
Hear me again: Much Increased Price!!!
If you truly want a Tiffany Diamond Ring, by all means buy one. That name is costing you a lot of cash.
But what would you say if I claimed I could get you the EXACT same Diamond with equal or BETTER Quality for much, much less?
Let me Prove it!
Tiffany & Co’s Website lists an Engagement Ring (The Classic Tiffany Setting) for $11,000 (Update: it’s now gone up even MORE). It doesn’t list the Carat Weight, Quality (as in Clarity or Color or Cut), nor is any other info given. As seen here…
So I called Tiffany (800-843-3269) and spoke with a “Diamond Expert“.
The lady quoted me for their cheapest 1 Carat Diamond online. The Clarity and Color of that Diamond could be either: VS2 Clarity, I Color, or, SI1 Clarity, H Color. The choice was mine for which quality I could have for that $11,000 price tag.
She also said that all of their Diamonds were “Excellent” in Cut (the BEST there is by GIA’s Standards). And that the Symmetry and Polish was also “Excellent” in grade. 3 Excellents, or Triple Excellent is the highest rating in Cut ever, and it would be equivalent to 0,0.0,0 (Top AGS Grades for Cut, Color, and Clarity).
Other companies also sell these Triple Excellent Diamonds, and they go by different names as well. Names like Hearts On Fire (HOF), Blue Nile’s Signature Ideal Cuts, Premium Cuts, and James Allen True Hearts. They all mean the same thing: Excellent Grades in Cut, Polish and Symmetry!
This Excellent Cut of Diamond exhibits the Hearts and Arrows Pattern that all Top Cut Diamonds have. When viewed through a special eye-loupe from the Top View the Diamond will show the Arrows Pattern, and when viewed from the Bottom, the Diamond will show the Hearts Pattern. Like shown in the image below…
Excellent Grades in these characteristics (Which I always advise buying) will make a HUGE impact on how the Diamond Sparkles and how Beautiful the Diamond is.
Diamonds Cut triple Excellent will outshine any other Diamond on the market.
Cut IS the most important C of the 4C’s!
Tiffany knows this and pushes the Cut and the Sparkle!
My Favorite Diamond Quality:
I ask the lady for a Price Quote of my Favorite Clarity and Color: VS2 Clarity, E Color (With NO Fluorescence of course).
She came back with a price of $17,800 (for a 1 Carat Diamond).
Now let’s Compare!
I go to James Allen to compare their Diamond Prices (James Allen always seem to have the best prices on the web).
I plug in the exact same specifications as Tiffany quoted: 1 Carat, VS2, E, No Fluorescence, Triple Excellent (TRUE HEARTS), and get this stone… As seen here:
And this is the Listed Price…
That’s a difference in price of $6,650.00.
These two stones side by side would appear identical. There is no difference between them other than the James Allen Diamond is BIGGER by 9 Points, and the actual mounting of course… James Allen sells this Diamond Loose, and picking out a Classic Tiffany Style Mounting would add on an extra $180.
That’s still a difference of $6,470!!! I’m sure your pocketbook would feel that! :)
So what kind of Diamond could you get for the same price as Tiffany’s $17,800 Diamond?
Now that’s a BIG Stone!
Buying the Loose Diamond first, and then picking out a mounting is what I always advise!
Even with this much bigger Diamond from James Allen, you STILL Save $2,800.00!!! That’s a lot of dough!
If you want a Tiffany Ring, or I should say, if she’s bent on that and nothing else, be prepared to get a good quality of Diamond that Sparkles a ton. But also be prepared to spend a hefty amount.
If you want an Equal, Better, or Bigger Diamond, then look at James Allen and you’ll LOVE the money you save.
The Bottom Line:
In my opinion, and the only one I can give, I don’t think Tiffany’s Diamonds are any better than anyone elses Diamonds all things considered equal.
You can certainly get the same Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Weight AND GIA Certified for much, much less.
After all, a SI1, H Diamond with Triple Excellent can be found anywhere, and possibly with a better Lifetime Diamond Guarantee that DOES cover Loss or Damage!
The one thing that Tiffany does have going for them is their Name! They have built themselves up to be the “Ultimate Diamond Engagement Ring” that all girls want and desire. But really, it’s all in the Sparkle. Triple Excellent Diamonds Sparkle like crazy (a huge Selling Point)!
Personally, I’d rather save the $7,000 for the actual Wedding, or the Honeymoon.
It’s your money. It’s your choice.
The Name, or the Money?
I know which one I’d take! :)
James Allen is a leader in diamonds. Their real time interactive diamond inspection is the best in the industry. View and rotate any diamond under 20x magnification. Their prices, selection, lifetime warranty, 24/7 customer support and hassle free returns are unbeatable. Visit James Allen today.
Blue Nile is the largest and most well known respected diamond dealer online. They are highly trusted, have a huge inventory, and low low prices (compare anywhere and see for yourself). If you want to save money, or build your own ring, this is the place to shop. Visit Blue Nile today.