Colleen Bennett - Sotheby's International Realty

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: May Your Valentine’s Day and Engagment Proposals Glitter Like Diamonds

February 4, 2012
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Koko wants you smiling and laughing about your Valentine's Day and engagment proposal purchase, rather than frowning from buyer's remorse.

Koko wants you smiling and laughing about your Valentine's Day and engagment proposal purchase, rather than frowning from buyer's remorse.

Valentine’s Day is almost here. Engagement proposals promising June weddings also are beckoning.

With so much romance in the air, we thought it also a good time to clear the air about some longtime jewelry-buying myths.

Nothing Bundt Cackes

To add a dose of reality to the romance, we visited Koko Vartanian, owner of Rodeo Jewelers in the new Von’s shopping center in La Verne.

First, I asked Vartanian if I couldn’t I buy a diamond on the internet cheaper than purchasing one in a retail store, where the overhead is greater?

“Not true, my friend,” he assured me. “Buying jewelry is a personal issue. You want to look at it, touch it, feel it, you want to fall in love with it.

“Then, there’s the problem of the bait and switch. You may read about the stone’s characteristics on the internet, but end up get something quite different.

“Then, if something goes wrong,” he added, what recourse do you have? Who knows how long it will take them to respond?

“Compare that with buying your diamond from a local, legitimate jeweler who can inspect it and do whatever needs to be done to the piece to make it right.”

What about size versus quality? I asked. Again I got an earful.

“Which stone would you want, a 1.5 carat diamond that looks as if a civil war has been raging inside it or a .75 carat diamond that has no occlusions? Bigger isn’t better in my business.”

I also asked him about the popular notion that a stone weighing in at 1 carat (200 milligrams) is far more valuable than one tipping the scales just under a carat (.99 or less).

“That’s just another gimmick,” he said laughing, amazed that I, as a reporter, would be so gullible and fall such for a marketing ploy. “A few points shy of a carat is not going to make a difference. You’re still going to pay for the value of the stone. The only time it would make a difference is if you come down substantially in size.”

Next, I had to ask about all those commercials promising that whatever diamond you buy from the seller will appraise at twice the retail value.

“It’s just one more marketing trick to get you into their store,” Vartanian said. “Why would you ever want an inflated appraisal? You’re just going to pay more for your insurance premiums, and over 20 years, you might pay out more than your stone is worth.”

Hearing that, I wondered whether one should even to bother with insurance.

“Yes, it provides peace of mind, should a stone fall out or whatever, but the premium you pay should be based on the replacement value. Indeed, if your appraisal is over-inflated, your insurance likely will only give you the replacement value, not what the appraisal says your ring is worth. Get a quote from your insurance agent. A separate rider is often less than you might think.”

Finally, I asked to whom should I go for an appraisal. Did the appraiser need fancy initials after his or her name, like GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or some other designation?

“Institutes often just give a description of what the stone is,” Vartanian replied. “They may not attach a value to it. You’re better off bringing it to a local jeweler who can clean it, inspect and evaluate it. The sales price you pay out the door is often the best indication of value. Keep your receipt.”

Before leaving the store, Vartanian had a few last words of advice.

“Getting the romance right is difficult enough. You shouldn’t have to feel uncertain about what you’re buying to show a symbol of that affection. If you don’t feel comfortable about the purchase you’re making, don’t do it.”

And what about the advice you hear that the purchase price should equal about three months of your hard-earned salary?

“Another myth,” he laughs. “Buy what you can afford and comfortable with. There are lovely pieces of jewelry in every price range.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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