The Diamond Pro

Canadian Needs Help Getting Diamond Under Budget – Avoiding Canadian VAT & Customs

The following is a real email conversation between The Diamond Pro and a reader just like you who contacted us.
Personal information is always removed. Learn from these posts, or contact us yourself to get free personalized help.

Are you willing to help a Canadian buyer?

I am looking to buy a diamond for an engagement ring (solitaire).

My price range is about $3500 (Canadian) for the stone. If you have any leads on one, that would be great.

Thanks for writing!


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write again.  It’s really my pleasure.

Actually the James Allen service may be doable in terms of taxes and duty if it were a cheaper diamond (possibly the 2500 ish range). What do you think?

I also just wanted to take the chance to say that, your site has been a huge help to me, and I’m sure you hear it all the time, but, it’s really a wonderful service you’re providing people in terms of your epert guidance and explanations.

thank you!

Sorry it took so long to respond this time.  I don’t touch my computer during the Jewish Sabbath which ended about an hour ago here in Israel.

First of all, I really appreciate the kind words, but please save them until after you’ve received your beautiful engagement ring!
We can do that (go down to a cheaper diamond), but first lets try to be creative and figure out a way for you to benefit from that $500 and not the Canadian government.  I once advised a guy in the UK who was ready to drop $10,000 on a diamond to fly to NY to pick up a diamond online, since VAT & Customs in the UK is about 20%.  It just made more sense for the guy to enjoy NY for a day, and save $1000 on his ring.

So lets go through a few quick questions?  Where in Canada do you live?  Can you drive to the US?  Which state?  How much are flights from your area to the states? Trains?
Don’t give up just yet!

I’m currently in eastern Canada, which puts me about a 10 hour drive from Maine (completely do-able for me). Would this work? How could I put something like that together…what I mean is, how could I have it shipped to pick it up there?

The next problem is that I’m only in Canada until August.24th (at which point I’m going back to Korea).
Any advice you could give me to make this work would be excellent, as I could easily make a trip to Maine to get the ring!

Thank you again, and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Maine would be tough since I don’t know anyone who lives there.  I was kind of hoping for NY or NJ.   Let me think about it for a few hours and I’ll see if I can come up with something.

Also, I was thinking – Is it worth it to drive for 20 hours to save $500?

Actually, in my case, to have a ring of that price sent to me in Nova Scotia would cost about $1000 for duty and taxes, and $100 for shipping.

I was reading their website, and I was thinking this: Could I just have it shipped to a Fedex centre in Maine where I could pick it up? Or is this just wishful thinking?

I did a bit of leg work for you.  This looks like the northern most Fedex location:

975 Skyway St
Presque Isle, ME 04769-2081
(800) 463-3339

I called Fedex right now and they said it is a possibility.  It has to be shipped “express” and not “ground”.  The sender has to note on the airway bill to “Hold at Location”  This option is only available for express service and not ground.  You will have to present the tracking number and a government issued ID to receive the package.

You should just confirm with James Allen customer service that they are capable of doing this.  I don’t see it as a problem.  If they say no, let me know, and I’ll call a contact I have there and make sure they do it for you.

Thank you so much…however, I feel like you’re going through so much effort just for me. Thank you feels inadequate.

I thought that the nearest Fedex location would have been Bangor, but Presque Isle is even closer!!
I will call James Allen in the morning (Eastern time, I believe they’re closed on Sundays) and check it out with them. I’ll get right back to you after I speak with them.

Will my Canadian government issued driver’s license suffice then? Clearly all of my government issued id will be from Canada and not America.

Again, you have been most helpful for someone you have never even met. Thank you again, and I hope that you enjoy your day.

Don’t feel inadequate at all.  The online vendors pay me a commission to refer business to them.  I have deals worked out with Blue Nile, James Allen, and about 5 others.  I get 5% of the sale as long as you clicked on a link I sent you to get to their site.  It, of course, doesn’t cost you anything.

I consistently refer people to JA over the others simply because I know from the inside that their margins are the lowest, and because they have pictures so I can be confident when I recommend a stone to somebody.

Anyway, it really is a pleasure to help people.  Buying diamonds is a daunting experience for someone out-of-the-know.  I’m glad the knowledge that I’ve gained through the years in the business can now help people save money and get more for their money.  I never had such positive feedback when I worked on the wholesale side of the business.  It’s really a pleasure.

I just got off the phone with James Allen, and they said it would be fine, so long as the Fedex location is a  “hold it” location. Thanks again.

I have one more last minute question to throw at you before I go ahead with the order. Between your $2500 and $3000 “daily diamond” suggestions, which would be the better value to you? The price difference isn’t bad at all, but I just want to know which would be best. They seem to have similar statistics, though the .92 carat diamond seems to have better dimensions (59% x 59%) than the 1.10 carat.

Also, With them both having “very good” and considering their inclusions, will they still reflect light well? Or should I go for a smaller diamond with better cut/color?

Sorry to seem unsure, I just want to make sure I get “the right one” haha.

Before I give you my final recommendation, please tell me more about how you’re going to have the diamond set.  Are you going to order a setting from James Allen, or will you have it set yourself afterwards?  What kind of setting?  White Gold/Platinum or Yellow gold?  Will it have side stones?

I plan to order the setting from James Allen as well. It’s 18k white gold 6-pronged setting, with no side stones.
You can see it on the site, item number: 11011W ($340). It’s actually the same shape as a setting my girlfriend and I had been looking at in Korea.

yeah.  It definitely helps.  I just wanted to make sure the diamond didn’t have to match another diamond.

I just went back and looked at both stones.  There’s one crucial difference: the 0.92 has a diameter of 6.36mm whereas the 1.10 has a diameter of 6.66mm.  That 0.30mm is a very noticeable difference.

Other than that, they’re very similar in terms of value.  Regarding return of light and sparkle, color and clarity won’t have much of an effect at all.  The only thing that could improve that would be finding an “excellent” cut grade diamond.  There is a slight visual benefit to going to excellent from Very Good, but it is very slight.

And even though the 1.10 is graded “VG” by the GIA, it still, interestingly enough, falls within James Allen’s own definition of “ideal.”

I just took another look at James Allen’s inventory, and I don’t really see anything that strikes me as better than either of those two picks.  I, personally, would go for the 1.10.  It’s significantly bigger, and a great value.  To get a 6.6 mm stone for just over 3000 is really really hard to come by.

Let me know what you decide!

That’s excellent. I’ll go ahead with the order in the next few hours then. Thank you so much for all the help you’ve given me.
One thing however, regarding your commission. I’ll be ordering the ring through the phone, not the website. Should I mention that I was referred by you, or is there osme sort of standard procedure here?

While on the phone with you, they’re going to send you an email and ask you to click the link in the email while on the phone.  You’ll click that link and it’ll bring you to their site.  Once that happens, the cookie gets synced up.  As long as you clicked originally on the link from my site, it’ll be fine.  Thanks for being concerned!

I just wanted you to know that I went through with my order today, and everything seems to be set.

I just want to thank you once again for all of your help and patience with me. I’m sure you hear it all the time, but please add my thank you to the pile. You and your site are an excellent resource, and I’ll be sure to refer any of my associates to you when/if the time comes.

That’s great to hear!  Thanks for your very kind words. I wish you all the best!

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