The 5 Cs: Buying a Diamond Ring at Costco, Part 2

February 3rd, 2011 · 11 Comments

1.5 ct Diamond Solitaire

1.5 ct Diamond Solitaire

If you didn’t catch the first part of this series of posts, you might want to read it for all the good information.  It covered all of the background about what you need to know before purchasing a diamond ring, at Costco or anywhere else.  I also covered some of the reasons why you should actually consider buying your diamond ring from Costco; it is all about value and quality.  However, today I’m actually going to do a bit of price comparison to see where Costco stacks up when compared to Tiffany & Co, as well as Blue Nile.  I’ll be comparing prices on diamonds of a comparable size and quality, as well as the setting from the online sites for the retailers.

For the ease of comparison, I’ve chosen to concentrate on simple, round solitaire diamond rings with a platinum setting.  I did a few of differences in carat, color, and clarity too.  Although the comparison shows which of the three retailers are most likely to give the best deals for rings of the same quality, you can also see how changes in the clarity and color really change the prices.  Unfortunately, Tiffany & Co do not list the color and clarity on their website, so I’m just assuming it is as good as the comparable selections from Costco and Blue Nile.

Store Shape Carat Color Clarity Price
Costco Round 1.00 I VVS2 $6,899.99
Costco Round 1.00 F VS1 $9,299.99
Blue Nile Round 1.00 I VVS2 $7,094.00
Blue Nile Round 1.00 F VS1 $9,093.99
Tiffany & Co Round 1.00 ?? ?? $9,200.00
Costco Round 1.50 E VS1 $12,999.99
Costco Round 1.50 F VS1 $11,999.99
Blue Nile Round 1.50 E VS1 $17,887.00
Blue Nile Round 1.51 F VS1 $16,681.00
Tiffany & Co Round 1.50 ?? ?? $17,800.00
Costco Round 2.01 F VS2 $27,999.99
Costco Round 2.04 I VS2 $18,299.99
Blue Nile Round 2.01 F VS2 $27,884.00
Blue Nile Round 2.04 I VS2 $19,651.00
Tiffany & Co Round 2.0 ?? ?? $30,200.00

So, I highlighted all of the best prices for each carat weight and clarity in bold orange text. You can see that Costco does a very respectable job with the best prices in 4 out of the 6 comparisons.  You can pretty quickly see that you get the biggest price differences with rings over 1.5 carats.  At 1.50 ct, there is a difference of several thousand dollars between Costco and Blue Nile or Tiffany; around $5,000.00 less at Costco.  That was the size with the biggest differences.  At 1.00 ct and 2.00 ct, the prices are more comparable, I think.

At Costco, you get standard shipping (just like it were a toaster, strangely) with an estimated delivery time of  7 – 10 days from the time of your order.  As I mentioned in the previous post, you can return your ring to any Costco location for a full cash refund.  However, they do mention on their website that when returning diamonds of 1.00 carat or larger, they may take an extra couple of days to verify the diamond and will credit your return after verification can be made.

At Blue Nile, you get free FedEx shipping with Priority Overnight service (for anything over $500, which a diamond ring would surely be).  They also offer a 30 day return policy for a full refund or an exchange.

At Tiffany & Co, you will not get free shipping, but will have to pay $15 – $20, depending on speed, to get your ring in 3 – 5 business days.  However, they do offer a full cash refund if you need to return the ring.   And while I can’t seem to locate the information on their website, I do know that if you buy a ring from them they offer you lifetime cleaning and will also check the setting to make sure the stone is secure.  Tiffany also has a great program where they will let you exchange a more modest ring for something fancier when perhaps your finances are a little more amenable to such a thing.

All three jewelers will provide you with a diamond grading report and appraisal for your specific diamond.

So, there are good points and bad points for each of these jewelers.  I think on the whole I would prefer Costco over a purchase at Blue Nile because they have stores that you can return your purchase to, should you need to, and for a full cash refund too.  I do wish that they offered a better free shipping service for their diamond rings.  I’m thinking that if I am shelling out $20,000.00 for a diamond ring through their website, the least Costco can do is send it via FedEx Overnight.  I also think that it appears that Costco prices are just as good, and in most cases better than what you will find at Blue Nile for the same quality of stone.  Now, with Tiffany & Co you are paying for that little blue box and for the other little benefits of buying from them like the cleaning and ring upgrade program.  However, is that really worth the price difference?  I don’t know, I’d have to think long and hard about that.

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11 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Jeremy // 2011.03.10 at 12:17 pm

    Here is a neat offer in the diamond sector! .01 short of 1 million!
    http://www.costco.com/Browse/ProductSet.aspx?whse=BC&topnav=&prodid=11628794&ec=BC-EC877-CatHome&pos=3&lang=en-US

  2. 2 Gee // 2011.03.08 at 6:58 pm

    One thing that you failed to mention is the tax savings when purchasing a diamond from blue Nile over Costco or tiffany’s… Yes you should declare, but given that most don’t, this savings is considerable 5-9.75% depending on where you live.

  3. 3 Maria S // 2011.03.02 at 10:45 pm

    There is a HUGE range in color and clarity. I took my now husband (never seen a diamond up close) to several mall jewelers with their sales talk and certified sparklers and microscopes. He leaned over asked me what all those dark spots were. It was hysterical. I worked at a jewelers in college. We asked friends for a reputable, local jeweler the next week. I went for coffee, he went shopping.

    KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING – If you haven’t looked at 20-30 diamonds already, by the time you get to Costco, they are just going to look like pretty sparkly things. The difference between E and I color is like a Lexus and a Kia… so is the price… BUT if the I graded stone is at the TOP end of the grade and the E is at the bottom, they are not so far. The same goes for inclusions. If the VVS has black inclusions in the middle of the stone that block the reflective qualities, then a stone that is VS with white inclusions near the mounting point is a MUCH better buy. Really, it’s not just size that matters here 😉
    That is my brief discussion on diamonds…

  4. 4 Weddings with Costco: Kirstie Kelly Wedding Gown Line for Costco | Addicted To Costco! // 2011.03.02 at 4:57 am

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  5. 5 Kimberly C // 2011.02.22 at 11:12 am

    One thing to keep in mind is that a diamond is a naturally occurring stone and as such there are variations across the board. With Costco, the price is for a “range” of color and clarity. When my mom bought a new diamond ring, she drove around to several area stores and asked to look at a few of the rings in the style she wanted, and then went with the highest quality one since they are all the same price.

  6. 6 DiamondMax // 2011.02.12 at 4:57 pm

    Comparison shopping is very important. On 2/13/11:

    Costco has 1.50 ct Round, G Color,VS1 Clarity, Ex Cut Grade, GIA Certified, Item # 564860 , Price =$14,699.99 (includes Diamond Solitaire Platinum Ring. Notes: the diamond has faint Fluoresence, and Very Good Symmetry. Total Price $14,699.99

    Blue Nile offers similar diamond: 1.50 ct Round, G Color,VS1 Clarity, Ex Cut Grade, GIA Certified, Price =$14,595, but you can pay by bank wire and the price for the diamond will drop to $14,377. This diamond has no Fluoresence, and the Symmetry is graded as Excellent. A Platinum ring will cost you $660 dollars more. Total Price with wire transfer payment discount = $15, 037.

    Max’s Diamond Price Guide Suggested Retail Internet Price difference between the two diamonds: the one from Blue Nile a worth $365 more.

    Thus if you subtract $365 from $15,037, you get $14,672. (compare to Costco price of $14,699.99. Thus, the Blue Nile price is just a little less than the Costco Price for what you get, assuming the two platinum rings are equivalent.

    Max

  7. 7 Mike // 2011.02.04 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for the article. When you factor in the customer service, the low price and 2% cashback, Costco is a compelling choice for jewelry purchases.

  8. 8 Emily (Bentobloggy) // 2011.02.03 at 5:17 pm

    With T&C you are definitely paying a hefty premium for the name and the box. Is it worth it? I don’t think so. Great chart, thanks!

    • 9 Kimberly // 2011.02.04 at 5:37 am

      @Emily – I agree, I don’t think it is worth the premium for the little blue box. I just doubt I will be getting my ring cleaned and the setting checked enough to warrant the hefty price difference.

  9. 10 Travis // 2011.02.03 at 9:59 am

    Something else to consider might be, though perhaps menial, executive members save another 2% off the top. It all adds up! Though I am stunned at the price differences between the 2.04 carat selections.

    • 11 Kimberly // 2011.02.04 at 5:42 am

      @Travis – That 2% can certainly add up though when you make a big purchase like a diamond ring – $200.00 for every $10,000 that you spend. So that more than pays for your membership for the year.

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