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|Michael Fried||Overall Score:1.33||Price:1||Selection:2||Customer Service:1||Pros||Cons||Other Recommended Retailers|
Helzberg has one category of diamond that is admittedly a beautiful product – the Masterpiece Collection. The only problem is that you can get the same quality diamond from one of several online diamond vendors (ie, Brian Gavin Diamonds, Blue Nile, or James Allen) for much much less.
Helzberg is one of the oldest jewelry chains in America. They recently celebrated their hundredth anniversary, having opened their first store in Kansas in 1915. They steadily grew into a mid-Western force with 15 locations by 1958.
From there, they grew steadily that by the end of the 90s, Helzberg had more than 200 locations around the United States.
Helzberg has all the markings of a mall store. Bright, sterile interior with no luxurious ambiance (or any ambiance for that matter).
Three days after our secret shopping of Helzberg, I ran into a LensCrafters to pick up my niece’s glasses.I was struck by the similarities in experience that I had walking into a Helzberg to look at $15,000 diamonds. It just seemed off.
The first salesperson we spoke to clearly didn’t know anything. But they immediately rectified the situation and a slick talking salesperson in a suit took over.
I’ve met pushy salespeople and salespeople that didn’t know what they were talking about. But honestly this was the first time that I ever felt the clichéd “used car salesman pushing the rustproofing package.”
Not only did he make some comments about diamond cutting that were just plain wrong (we didn’t bother correcting him and there is no point in listing it here as it has no impact on the final product), but he made flat out false statements about the uniqueness of their diamonds.
Specifically, he went on and on about how they have the only super ideal cut diamond out there. Not only are they not the only ones, they are nowhere near the leading the brand in the field.
We’ve discussed super ideals in many places, but the best place to look would be our Brian Gavin Diamonds review (they are our favorite supplier for super ideal cuts, and you will see why below).
Helzberg has a two-tiered system and it was hard to figure out what type of diamonds they push the hardest. On the one hand, they have your run of the mill mall junk.
It wasn’t terrible, but they used lesser certificates to make you think you were getting something better without actually offering something nicer.
The first diamond we were shown was a GSI certified 1.00 I I1 round diamond for $5,500. Including tax, the net price for the diamond was $6,022. GSI is not a great lab, but they aren’t terrible.
The I1 was a hard I1, but it was definitely not an I2. The I color was at best a mediocre J. Giving credit where it’s due, the cut on the diamond was very nice.
Next up were the Helzberg Masterpiece options. We were shown two AGS certified diamonds. Helzberg only sells their Masterpiece collection mounted, so you can’t pick and choose your setting and diamond.
The second one was a 1.034ct G SI1 set in an 18kt white gold channel setting with 1ctw worth of sidestones. With taxes, this one will set you back $16,425.
So how were the diamonds? Stunningly beautiful. Simply put, they were fantastic. If you’ve read many of our reviews, it’s rare for us to really love the quality of the diamonds. That was not the case here.
The tough question isn’t whether they are nice, but whether you should buy one of Helzberg’s Masterpiece diamonds. Should you?
Lets swing back to the problem we had with the Masterpiece selections. The diamonds were very nice (we’ll get into the value in a second), but the fact that you can’t mix and match on your own is a very real problem.
Lets say you want to get a solitaire setting. Taking a look at their website, it looks like Helzberg only has 2 or 3 setting styles for you to choose from. Taking a look at Brian Gavin’s selection, they have dozens of different solitaire styles to select. You can go for anything from a simple elegant style like this, or try a truly unique tension style setting.
Let’s get the riffraff out of the way. The 1.00 I I1 is a terrible choice (the quality wasn’t very good and the price is obscene. Take a look at this 1.01ct I I1 I found on James Allen; this diamond is practically a carbon copy of the one we saw at Helzberg for 42% less money.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend either diamond, but why pay an obscene premium for a diamond that is undesirable? It seemed pretty clear that there was no value whatsoever in this line from Helzberg and they just keep diamonds like these around to compete with the other mall stores.
The two masterpiece diamonds, on the other hand, are beautiful choices that one would be proud to wear as an engagement ring. But are they decent value?
Not so much.
Despite the salesman’s heady claim, there is nothing particularly unique about a “super-ideal” cut diamond. As we linked to above, there are beautiful options elsewhere.
Take a look at these:
Here we have a 0.962ct I VS1 from Brian Gavin for $6,579. This is a comparable setting from Brian Gavin Diamonds. The diamond and setting are every bit as stunning as anything you’d see at Helzberg (or anywhere for that matter).
Adding the $850 setting cost, and you have a grand total cost of $7,429. So you can get the same “crème de le crème” diamond engagement ring for 35% cheaper going with Brian Gavin over Helzberg.
Moving on to Helzberg’s second Masterpiece, here is a 1.003ct G SI1 from Brian Gavin for $7,779. I was really happy because Brian Gavin, despite having a larger (and beautifully crafted) selection of settings, did not have the same setting style in stock.
This would give us a chance to see what their custom design team could come up with. They did not disappoint. They designed a beautiful setting in the same spirit of the Helzberg setting with 1.10ctw of sidestones in an 18kt white gold setting for $2,450.
This highlights one of my frustrations with Helzberg.
Their Masterpiece diamonds are beautiful, but it’s a real drag being limited to the currently mounted pairs. Who says the exact diamond you love will be in the exact setting you want? Why can’t they offer options?
At the very least, you’d expect to save some money when getting less service. Yet the price (even with a jaw dropping custom ring) was 38% cheaper going with Brian Gavin.
If you have some ulterior motive to buy from Helzberg (maybe you own stock in Berkshire Hathaway or you have a store credit), then the Masterpiece collection are fantastic choices. But the prices are incredibly high.
From the sterile interior to the subpar salesmanship, I felt like there was nothing (positively) noteworthy about the buying experience with Helzberg. I would rather save 30-40% while having more options and having a better experience by shopping elsewhere.
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