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|Michael Fried|| Overall Score:1|| Price:1|| Selection:1|| Customer Service:1||Cons||Other Recommended Retailers|
Please do not buy an engagement ring from Wallace Bishop. Yes, we feel strongly that you should buy a diamond online from a reputable jeweller like Blue Nile or James Allen. But this isn’t about that.
This was the worst in-store experience I have ever had. You may say I’m biased, and in some ways we are. But we have no relationships with any of the other jewellers we visited in Australia, and we wrote about far superior experiences. If you don’t want to purchase online, visit a Cerrone Jewellers in Sydney or Melbourne. Or you can visit Diamonds International (a few blocks away from Wallace Bishop). Heck for the prices they charged, you can go to Hardy Brothers in Sydney.
Since 1917, Wallace Bishop has been owned and managed by the same family for over 100 years.
Mr Bishop, and his son Stuart Bishop, are both skilled and fully qualified jewellers. Mr Bishop completed his watchmaking traineeship in 1950, and as CEO for much of the 1970s and 80s, Mr Bishop would complete all valuations and diamond buying himself. Stuart, the current CEO, was awarded the prestigious international DeBeers award for Jewellery Design in 1997.
We visited Wallace Bishop during our time in Brisbane. Wandering down the bustling Queen Street, Wallace Bishop was pretty hard to miss. The store, perhaps more than any other store we visited in Australia, reminded us of an American retail experience. The location we went to was large and airy, despite being in a busy area of the city. There were plenty of displays with a varied choice of different jewellery.
We made our way towards the back and one of the salespeople showed us to the engagement ring display. I need to apologize for the lack of straightforward details and comparisons. That is because we had a bad salesperson experience and wasn’t provided with basic info on the diamonds.
Did you ever have an experience while shopping where you went into a store looking for something and the people at the store just don’t understand what you want? Like going to an electronics store asking for a specific cable and they have no clue what you are talking about? Or being in a health food store and the person there is baffled by you asking if something is gluten free?
That was my experience at Wallace Bishop. Let me be clear. Modesty aside, it’s a safe bet that I know more about diamonds (and the diamond market) than 99.9% of salespeople working in a given store. I have had extensive experience and education that a retailer just won’t have. Yes, there are some lifetime independent jewellers that know their stuff backwards and forwards. But they are few and far between. I just wanted a positive in-store experience where the salesperson provided basic info on the diamonds.
We started off by asking for a one carat round diamond. So of course we were shown a 3/4ct princess cut. We had to adamantly ask to see some round diamonds. Finally we were shown a round one carat diamond.
I must have asked three times what the color and clarity was before being told it was an H color SI clarity. We were not told if it is SI1 or SI2. Then we asked if the diamond was certified. The salesperson would not answer. It was like we were in a bizzaro world. I don’t know if the salesperson refused to tell us or if they just didn’t know.
To be fair, the diamond seemed decent (though I can’t really tell without having a certificate or a loupe and color paper to grade it myself). But the price was insane. We were quoted AU$ 28,000.
I know that many retailers work off of commission, but I never experienced such hard sales techniques. We clearly stated we were just beginning our search and were not going to buy that day. This did not deter the salesperson. First we were informed that we can get a discount if we purchased today. They would likely not give us the discount another day. We still said no thank you.
Then the salesperson told us that they may actually raise the price in the next few days so we better buy now. I’m not gonna lie; I was disgusted. I understand the pressure of working on commission, but you can’t make the customer uncomfortable. Threatening to raise the price if you leave the store is not advisable. People aren’t dropping 10 bucks on some deodorant. Spending so much money requires time to make a decision.
We looked at two other rings, but honestly I don’t see the point in discussing them. They were equally baffling (not sure about the quality claims and seriously overpriced), so let’s look at the H, SI1 one carat in an 18kt white gold solitaire setting for AU$ 28,000.
Let’s be nice and assume it was GIA certified, excellent cut and no other issues. Here is an absolutely stunning 1.02ct H color, SI1 clarity excellent cut diamond from Blue Nile for AU$ 8,182. If you add it to this comparable setting, the total cost is AU$8,695. That is an insane 69% cheaper than what we saw at Wallace Bishop.
I know that they were offering a discount, but the salesperson also threatened that the price may be more. I don’t know what discount they would offer, but even if they cut the price by 10,0000, it would still be more than double what we just showed you on Blue Nile.
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