A guide to buying a diamond ring at Costco

When you consider buying a diamond ring, Costco may not be the first store that comes to mind. But the glittering jewellery boxes often placed near the entrance of wholesale club stores are enough to make many shoppers curious about the wisdom of buying fine jewellery there.

Before buying a diamond ring from Costco or anywhere else, you should know the following.

Key points

  • Many hypermarkets like Costo sell diamond jewelry.
  • Costco does not provide cleaning or repair services for its jewelry.
  • As of January 2021, the most expensive ring is over US$360,000, but the price is more affordable.
  • Unlike stores such as Tiffany, you cannot have rings of the right size because they are prefabricated items.

Understanding 4C

Most jewelry retailers use the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color, clarity, cut, and carat weight standards (also known as 4Cs) to determine the price of gems. The grade of these characteristics determines the quality of the diamond. The cut is a matter of personal taste, but the quality of the cut is very important to its brightness.

Clarity is a measure of the purity of a stone, with names such as VVS1 or very, very slight inclusion and VS1, which means very slight inclusion. Colors are rated on a scale from D to Z, with D being the best or colorless quality.

Costco guarantees that the clarity of the diamonds it sells is at least VS2 and the color is Grade I. A diamond ring with a center stone of 1.00 carat or larger is accompanied by a GIA diamond grading report. Diamonds over one carat are certified by the International Gemological Institute (IGI) and can be used to secure high-end jewelry investment.

Shoppers going to Tiffany & Co. do not have to independently understand technical reports.

During the shopping process, Tiffany provides consultation to diamond experts through in-store, phone or email.

Diamond price range

The price of a one-carat diamond ring ranges from US$3,500 to US$27,000, depending on 4C, setting quality and retailer.

As of December 2020, the ring listed on the Costco website starts at $249.99 for simple stackable rings set with 14k gold and 0.08 carats of VS2 diamonds. At the time of writing, the most expensive product is a platinum ring worth $364,999.99, set with a 7.45 carat diamond with VS1 clarity.

Tiffany does not use 4C to describe its ring, but relies on proprietary craftsmanship to hand-craft gem-set jewelry. Many of the rings displayed on its website are decorated with diamonds, usually clustered with other gemstones. The solitaire diamond ring starts at approximately US$13,000 and has many customizable sizes, colors, and setting options.

Online diamond retailer Blue Nile Inc. sells loose diamonds and pre-set diamond rings. The listed 1-carat diamonds start at approximately US$2,400. Blue Nile shoppers can choose a variety of setting styles for the diamond of their choice, but at an additional cost. It uses the GIA rating system.

Customization and service

Old-fashioned jewelry stores allow customers to customize their purchases. If you like the setting of a gem in one ring, but the setting of another ring, many jewelers will make a customized version for you. Some even allow you to design your own ring and will work with you to make a unique ring based on your description.

When you buy a ring from a traditional jeweler, you can usually retrieve it when it needs cleaning or repair, and you can even reset the gems in new jewelry.

All Costco diamond rings are prefabricated and buyers cannot choose to customize them. The specifications on the Costco website list ring sizes, but if you need to adjust the ring size to a suitable size, you must bring the ring to the jeweler.

Costco does not provide cleaning or repair services for its jewelry.

Tiffany and Costco

In August 2017, a federal judge ruled that Costco owed Tiffany at least $19.4 million in damages, lost sales, and interest on the sale of rings falsely promoted as Tiffany jewelry. The trial was conducted after the judgment of Costco by the U.S. District Court in Manhattan in 2015. The jury found that the company was guilty of trademark infringement for using Tiffany to describe rings in its jewelry boxes. Costco has argued that Tiffany is a general term used to describe the style of ring setting.

If nothing else, this notorious case shows that consumers considering high-end jewelry should understand the basics before buying high-end jewelry.

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