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Are you wondering whether Diamonds Direct is a good option for purchasing an engagement ring? If so, we’ve got you covered. Diamonds Direct is one of our favorite physical retailers out there. As we discuss below, you can save some money by purchasing online, but with Diamonds Direct you actually get something for the small premium they charge.
Over the last ten years, I’ve secret shopped thousands of locations around the world. It’s no secret that we feel you are better off purchasing a diamond online from a retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile. That said, our favorite secret shopping experiences at physical retailers have been at Diamonds Direct.
Diamonds Direct has a great business going. Their customer service was everything you need it to be: Helpful, friendly and informative. They had a decent selection of products and the ambiance, though room for improvement, was fine.
Diamonds Direct prices were in no way unreasonable. It looks like you’ll end up paying about 20 – 25% more than if you purchase from a reputable online jeweler like Blue Nile or James Allen. But that is not an unreasonable premium to pay if you are one of those customers that prefer to buy in person. If a reader of ours mentions they are getting a diamond from Diamonds Direct, we have no reservations endorsing them (we are happy to comment on specific diamonds from them or any other company if you contact us directly).
My latest secret shopping trip found me in St. Louis. I had already secret shopped three of their locations over the last couple of years, and had met with some of the people at the company. So this wasn’t exactly a ‘secret’ shopping trip. I asked them if it would be ok to film in their store and they happily obliged.
Aside from this video, I did sit with one of the sales people (Veronique). She was an absolute delight. Informative, knowledgeable and helpful. To highlight how much I enjoyed the store, I brought my sisters in to shop there. One of them moved to St. Louis recently and if she was going to buy something, I wanted her to purchase from Diamonds Direct. My sisters loved the store.
Diamonds Direct is a unique independent retailer. In 1995 a diamond manufacturer based in Tel Aviv decided to remove the middlemen and opened up his own store in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their business model seemed to be successful, and they have grown to seven locations around the country.
In late 2015, Diamonds Direct was acquired by a major investment fund, Blackstone. A few years later, in 2021, Signet Jewelers — the company behind several diamond jewelry chains — acquired Diamonds Direct in a $490 million deal.
Diamonds Direct may be owned by Signet, but they still maintain that local independent feel. Whether it was Dallas, Charlotte or St. Louis, the stores seem to be a part of the community and have long time salespeople, instead of your typical chain store experience.
Diamonds Direct had some beautiful diamonds. Every diamond we saw had GIA certification which is a huge plus. They had a fair range of quality and you’ll have to find the best balance for you (we give you tips on selecting a diamond here), but all in a range that we’d be comfortable with.
After a little perusing the showcases, we settled on two different rings. The first ring was a 1.21ct round E VS2, in a platinum pavé setting (with 0.60cts worth of sidestones) for $16,950. This diamond had its merits. It was by no means a bad diamond. But the diamond was missing a little something in terms of sparkle. For a very good cut, the specs were pretty good. But I would have liked something better.
The second diamond was fantastic. It was a 1.61ct K SI1 round diamond in a white gold split shank pavé settings (with 0.40cts worth of sidestones). This ring would cost $11,900. Annie was instantly enamored with this ring. We saw several dozen rings on this trip to this point and I never saw such a positive reaction from Annie.
I should note that we generally do not recommend a K color diamond with a white gold pavé setting. You should keep in mind that those are guidelines. Did we notice the yellow? Yes, we did. But the diamond was very brilliant and we did not think the diamond color was distracting. Overall, we much preferred this ring to the “higher quality” 1.21ct ring we previously looked at.
This is where Diamonds Direct really shines. Not only do they have their own beautiful settings, but they have some of the most popular designers as well. Verragio and Tacori both have creative designs that I love.
Whichever setting style you like, Diamonds Direct is likely to have it. They do a phenomenal job (as mentioned above with the K color diamond) finding the perfect diamond to match the setting and their craftsmanship is flawless.
Starting with the first ring we looked at, here is a gorgeous 1.26ct E color, VVS2 clarity excellent cut round diamond from Blue Nile for $10,783. This diamond is far superior both in cut and in clarity. It will look larger and have more brilliance than the diamond from Diamonds Direct. I found this similar setting on Blue Nile’s website. Adding the two together, you’ll end up shelling out $12,983. That is a savings of 25% while getting a far superior diamond.
Now let’s move on to the second diamond we looked at in Diamonds Direct. Here is a beautiful 1.61ct K color, VS1 clarity excellent cut round diamond from James Allen for $7,870 (at the time we wrote the article). As you can see from the photo, the diamond is incredibly bright for a K color and the GIA certificate confirms the diamond is superbly cut. I decided to add that diamond to this split shank ribbon engagement ring that is similar to the one we saw at Diamonds Direct. The total cost for the ring would be $8,930. So you would be getting a comparable (in fact, the James Allen choice is slightly better given the higher carat weight and clarity grade) diamond ring for 25% less.
On our most recent secret shopping trip, Annie and I needed to come up with an excuse to visit Franklin’s BBQ in Austin. San Antonio was close enough to justify a trip. Fortunately, Diamonds Direct has a nice free-standing store on the edge of The Shops At La Cantera. The store looked very nice from the outside. Walking in (after the brief pause in their super secure entranceway), we made our way into the store. The receptionist greeted us warmly, welcomed us in and notified a salesperson.
The store was precisely what I would expect of a local independent jeweler. It was very nice, clean and bright, but it did not have a particularly luxurious feel to it. I would have preferred a slightly more luxurious feel. I don’t mean to be nitpicky, I’m just trying to give a little constructive criticism. While Diamonds Direct was definitely the best overall experience for us in San Antonio, in this particular area they lagged behind the competition a bit.
David promptly made his way over to us. He was very helpful and made us feel like he has been there for ages, helping countless couples find the perfect ring. We had a nice chat about our expectations and a general idea of what we wanted. He also put us at ease, by ensuring that the overwhelming majority of diamonds were GIA certified. He said a few of them were “certified” in-house. I presumed these were smaller or very cheap diamonds, and we didn’t come across any of them while secret shopping.
As of 2023, Diamonds Direct now offers lab-grown diamonds. The bulk of their product line contains natural diamonds, but they have loose lab-grown diamonds for engagement rings as well as some lab-grown diamond jewelry.
Diamonds Direct has been around since 1995. Started by Itay Berger and his brother Amit, they have grown the brand to cover many metropolitan areas in the United States. In 2021, Diamonds Direct was purchased by Signet, which operates large retail chains like Kay, Zales and Jared.
Diamonds Direct operates as a local jeweler. As we discuss in our review, that is what makes them unique. They expanded to 25 locations and were acquired by Signet in 2021. But even today, Diamonds Direct operates on their own and has that independent jeweler feel.
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