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Lee Hwa Diamonds Review

By Mike Fried,
Overall Score:2.332.5 Rating2.5 Rating
Lee Hwa Jewellry
Price:22 Rating2 Rating Selection:2.52.5 Rating2.5 Rating Customer Service: 2.52.5 Rating2.5 Rating
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Bottom Line Recommendation

Lee Hwa had beautiful looking stores, but we found the experience and product underwhelming. As you will see below, there were major inconsistencies with their product and customer experience. Overall the prices were far too high to find any sort of value there. You are better off shopping at a reputable online retailer like Blue Nile or James Allen. Barring that, there are better physical retail options in Singapore.

The History

First shop was set up in 1970. Lee Hwa Jewellery is the first publicly listed jeweller in Singapore. Its market-leading, innovative design philosophy has led to its celebrated position as the official Singapore licensee of Forevermark, a diamond brand from the De Beers group of companies.
A strong believer in innovation, the company introduced the world’s first 19K solid Purple Gold in 2000. It was also the first to popularise white gold – positioning it as a lifestyle product to appeal to the fashion savvy modern woman and touting 15 boutiques island-wide.

The Experience

Outside Lee Hwa in the Diamond Promenade in ION
Outside Lee Hwa in the Diamond Promenade in ION

We visited two locations for Lee Hwa. The first experience was at the Diamond Promenade in the ION Orchard shopping mall. The Diamond Promenade is an interesting area. While ION Orchard is bright and airy shopping mall with upscale jewellers (Tiffany & Co, Harry Winston etc) the Diamond Promenade seemed a bit like a cramped afterthought squeezed into a connecting walkway.

That said, Lee Hwa was one of the two jewellers in the promenade that had a larger store which felt like a diamond retailer. The store was bright with a modern feel. We walked around for a minute or two before the saleswoman came over. The saleswoman was a bit pushy for my tastes. We were also not allowed to take photos in the store.

There was very little discussion she just asked which ones we wanted to look at. We asked to see the certificates of the diamonds and we got a lot of pushback for that. Ultimately, we managed to look at one certificate. Additionally they had a security guard standing over our shoulder the entire time. It was really weird. I know that jewellery retailers have serious security concerns but I rarely feel like I am being shadowed by a security guard.

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.
Outside Lee Hwa off Orchard Road
Outside Lee Hwa off Orchard Road

The second store was a much better experience. Located off Orchard road, we thoroughly enjoyed the second stop. The store felt more luxurious and elegant compared to the first location. The salesman didn’t speak English that well, but he was very friendly and helpful. Not only was he patient and friendly, but he also allowed us to take pictures.

Deal Alert: Get 30% off lab-grown diamonds during a limited time sale at James Allen.

The Product

0.73ct diamond in a split shank pave setting at  Lee Hwa
0.73ct diamond in a split shank pave setting at Lee Hwa

The first ring we looked at was 0.73ct E color, VS1 clarity diamond in a split shank pave setting. The diamond was stunning. It was well cut and proportioned and there were no issues at all. The total cost for the ring was 16,608 SGD.

1.01ct round diamond at Lee Hwa
1.01ct round diamond at Lee Hwa

The second diamond we looked didn’t quite live up to the standards we expected. This one was a 1.01ct D color, VS1 clarity round diamond in a double pave setting. This diamond was not nearly as well cut, with a 67% depth and a fair cut grade. Despite being a D color, the diamond was very dark due to the depth. The price for this ring was 15,916 SGD.

The Value

0.73ct diamond at Lee Hwa in ION Orchard
0.73ct diamond at Lee Hwa in ION Orchard

Let’s start with the first diamond. Granted it was a beautiful 0.73ct E VS1, but I’m not sure it was worth the price. Here is a stunning 0.74ct E color, VVS2 clarity diamond from Blue Nile for 4,312 SGD. Here is a comparable split shank pave setting for 1,600 SGD. The total ring from Blue Nile will cost you 5,912. That is a whopping 64% less than the ring we looked at in Lee Hwa.

The second diamond we looked at was a 1.01ct D VS1 poorly cut diamond for 15,916 SGD. Here is a comparable 1.00ct D color, VS1 clarity diamond from Blue Nile for 7,767 SGD. If you add it to this setting, the total cost comes to 10,017 SGD. That is a seemingly more reasonable 37% less than the Lee Hwa ring.

The first ring we saw at the Orchard Road Lee Hwa
The first ring we saw at the Orchard Road Lee Hwa

But that doesn’t seem more reasonable for the consumer. The feeling I got was that Lee Hwa offers beautiful diamonds with extremely high markups and for those looking to save money, they offer poorly cut diamonds with more reasonable markups. Either way, you the consumer loses.

In Conclusion

Like most physical retailers, Lee Hwa charges significantly higher prices than online retailers like James Allen and Blue Nile. Higher prices in a physical store are understandable, since it’s necessary to pay rent, salespersons’ salaries and other costs that online retailers don’t have.

However, the markups at Lee Hwa are simply too large to recommend shopping here. For the diamonds we viewed, you could save between 37 and 64% simply by buying similar diamonds and settings online instead of shopping in-store.

Sometimes, a high markup can be explained somewhat by a store offering a great experience for shoppers. This wasn’t the case at Lee Hwa. While the second store we visited felt luxurious and elegant, the first felt unwelcoming and overly obsessed with security.

Final Thoughts

The biggest advantage a physical retailer like Lee Hwa offers over buying a diamond ring online is that you can see it in person before you make a purchase. However, the poor value for money and inconsistent shopping experience make it hard to recommend this as a good option.

The prices at Lee Hwa were significantly higher than what you’d pay for similar diamonds from an online retailer, especially for the more beautiful diamonds. In general, you’ll get better value for money and a larger selection from an online diamond retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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