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|Michael Fried||Overall Score:2.17||Price:3.5||Selection:1||Customer Service:2||Pros||Cons||Other Recommended Retailers|
In the past, when Costco sold their diamonds with GIA certificates, they had legitimately very good prices. Now that they have relaxed their standards (yet still charge the same price), their value has dropped significantly.
Costco has fundamental drawbacks inherent to their business model. They have no service in the store and their selection is very poor. Contrast their selection with the thousands of possibilities you can see at a jeweler. Take James Allen’s inspiration gallery, where you can look at endless diamond and setting combinations, for example.
With their drop in quality/value paired with their lack of service and selection, you should not be buying engagement rings from Costco. You will be much better off buying your diamond from a top online dealer like James Allen or Blue Nile. If you prefer some personal help in finding the right ring, feel free to contact us.
There is no reason for me to bother with a history of Costco — the company’s reputation precedes them. Speaking personally, I love Costco. My family and I have been long time customers of Costco and I admire the company’s philosophies.
Costco has built a fantastic business model of providing bulk items with razor thin margins. For a major retail chain, their service is second to none. They also have a legendary return policy.
Costco used to have a great reputation for jewelry as well. Speaking from experience, from the perspective of a supplier, I used to be impressed with their quality control. Unfortunately, the quality of their jewelry has seemed to have slipped over the last few years.
When I started with this site, I would get emails from readers asking about Costco diamonds. They used to have diamonds with GIA certification. As you will see below, this is no longer the case.
1) The Experience
Costco is a phenomenal retailer, but they are a terrible jewelry store. There are no knowledgeable staff members and no value added services. You pick out the diamond the same way you pick out a shampoo bottle or one of their delicious cheesecakes. I went with a 0.70ct I VS2 round in a solitaire setting.
This is where you start to see cracks in the Costco experience. Not only was the diamond lacking a GIA certificate, it didn’t have any certificate at all.
To their credit, the diamond was well cut (I can’t give specifics as it was mounted already) and the clarity grade was fair. However, the diamond was a J color, not the I color they claimed it to be.
The actual setting, while simple, was fantastic. It was a classic four pronged platinum solitaire. The craftsmanship and quality was on par with any company that I would entrust. Overall, the ring I purchased was a nice choice, right in line with our recommendations (an eye-clean, well cut J color for a solitaire).
2) Lackluster Setting Selection
Another issue that crops up is their lack of selection. At any given store, they will only have 10-20 options. The quality and craftsmanship is fantastic, but that leaves little room for individuality and personal tastes. Even if you look online, their options are limited. They only have about 7 different solitaire setting options for round diamonds. To contrast, James Allen has about 50 settings covering a vast array of styles and Blue Nile has an eye-popping 66 different solitaire selections. The ring we bought was a perfect example. While it was very nice, my friend (who joined me for the secret shopping and tried on the rings) was not overwhelmed by the style. Afterwards, we were looking online and she was immediately drawn to a more delicate style like this 1.5mm comfort fit setting.
3) The Value
Though the ring is nice, the value is just not there. The ring cost $3,503.99, including tax. Any way you cut it, the price is not justified by the product. Two comparisons can be made here, one based on my grading (J VS2) and one based on their grading (I VS2).
Here we have a beautiful 0.70ct J VS1 to go along with this platinum solitaire setting from James Allen. This is a virtually identical ring, retailing for $2,610, a whopping 25% cheaper with sales tax included. Please don’t take our comparisons here as recommendations for what you should buy (though that is a great looking diamond). We are just trying to find similar diamonds so we compare apples to apples. If you are looking for help buying an engagement, contact us and we will make personal recommendations for you.
Even if you want to go with their grading (despite them no longer using GIA certification), you would still save 28% if you went with this 0.70ct I color VS2 Clarity Excellent cut from Blue Nile and paired it with this solitaire setting.
Those savings, while significant, are not as dramatic when comparing other brick and mortar retailers to online retailers. Given Costco’s lack of diamond service, however, I think that drop is very significant.
You don’t have service for sizing, any sort of warranty, and there is a very limited selection of setting/diamond options. While you can do some research and due diligence on your own, there is no personal service at Costco.
You won’t be disappointed with the quality of your purchase. However, Costco is nowhere near close to being the best bang for your buck.
If you are buying an engagement ring or stud earrings, you can get far better value and service using a legitimate online retailer. Additionally, you should never buy a diamond without a legitimate certificate (like GIA or AGS).
For items that don’t require certification, such as diamond jewelry, they could be a worthwhile option.
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