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Now having said that – we absolutely stand by our conclusion, which, in a nutshell is this: Fink’s is a great store, but is overpriced by 30% or so when compared with the largest online vendors (yes, our affiliates, James Allen & Blue Nile). The giant red bold all caps type is to prove a point to Fink’s legal team that I’m not afraid to disclosure our affiliate relationships because the facts are the facts. Fink’s is overpriced compared to our affiliates.
Overall, our secret shopping experience at Fink’s Jewelers was very positive. I would have been a lot happier if the premiums Fink’s charged in comparison to the online stores were a bit smaller. Had the number been 20 – 25% (instead of 30%) I would have no problem giving our readers the thumbs up if they asked us about a ring like this.
So if you are dead set on buying your diamond ring from a physical store, Fink’s is not a bad choice. You will be paying a premium. Unlike at many other stores, you are getting a beautiful product and fantastic service for that premium. But overall, you get better bang for your buck from an online retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile.
Fink’s Jewelers is yet another regional chain that we had a chance to visit, which is family owned and operated. Going back 80 years, Fink’s Jewelers started out in Roanoke, VA back in 1930. In contrast with their current chain of luxurious stores, Fink’s has humble beginnings in the jewelry business. During the Great Depression, Nathan Fink would push a jewelry cart around neighborhoods, selling watches and other jewelry on credit.
With those trying times in the rear view mirror, Fink’s Jewelers has a much different look today. They currently operate 14 stores scattered around Virginia and North Carolina.
Annie and I had a chance to visit Fink’s Jewelers while visiting Richmond, Virginia. We took a quick trip to Short Pump Town Center in Henrico. The shopping center had a very classy feel to it, and Fink’s lived up to the expectations. The store had a calm and elegant feel to it and we were immediately put at ease.
Despite us going there to secret shop engagement rings, I could not help gravitating towards the Rolex display as it was quite prominent and alluring. After spending a few minutes being distracted, we made our way over to the engagement ring section.
The staff at the store kept discreetly out of our way, allowing us to peruse the showcases without feeling pressure from the salespeople. As soon as we seemed ready, Carlos ambled over to chat with us. Carlos had a fantastic demeanour, giving off a friendly vibe without the over the top cheeriness you often get from salespeople.
Carlos was also very well informed and helped guide us through the selection process. He talked a bit about the qualities so we’d understand what we were looking at, without overwhelming us with an avalanche of technical minutiae.
With help from Carlos, we settled on two great choices. The first one was a 2.01ct F color, SI1 clarity GIA certified cushion cut in a platinum solitaire setting for $27,850. No doubt about it, this diamond was a home run. The cut on the cushion was superb and it showed in the brilliance of the diamond. It was also very square, which seems to be the preferred shape for cushion cuts (personally, I love the look of a cushion cut with a 1.10 L:W ratio, but that’s just me).
The second diamond we settled on was a 2.01ct J color, VS2 clarity excellent cut round diamond in a platinum setting for $18,850. This one had a GIA certificate as well. This diamond was not as nice as the first choice, but still pretty nice. While it is an excellent cut, I did not like the large table (61% really is the extreme edge for excellent cuts) and I felt that didn’t help the color of the diamond. But overall it was a nice ring.
It’s so nice when the jeweler actually offers nice diamonds. This way I can easily compare their offerings to diamonds I would recommend from online retailers and it’s comparing apples to apples.
So let’s find a cushion cut to compare to the Fink’s stunner. Here is an equally stunning 2.02ct E color, SI1 clarity GIA certified cushion cut from James Alen for $18,560. If you add it to this solitaire setting, the total cost is $19,860. The ring will look virtually identical, yet the cost will be almost 30% less.
Moving on to the round diamond, let’s take a look at something from Blue Nile. Here is a comparable 2.01ct J color, VS2 clarity excellent cut diamond from Blue Nile for $12,305. It’s very similar, only the table is more in line with our recommendations. If you add this platinum solitaire setting, the price ends up being $12,935 for savings just over 30%.
The store had just the right feel of luxury without being overly stuffy. If Carlos is any indication of their staff at other locations, then you are in good hands walking into a Fink’s Jewelers. The actual product selection was nice as well. There was a limited selection of rings, but the diamonds were fantastic.
Value is a tricky thing for me to pin down. As we have talked about at length, there is no way a physical store can compete with the online powerhouses like Blue Nile and James Allen when it comes to price and selection. But there can be added value from the in store experience. Based on feedback from our readers (and our own secret shopping), the customer service on live chat with James Allen and Blue Nile is top notch. But some people may want to be there in person, talking with someone like Carlos. How much is that service worth? Every person has a different number.
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