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Jewelers Row is the most famous and well-known place for diamond jewelry in Chicago. Comparable to New York’s Diamond District, Jewelers Row has made a name for itself because it is home to many large, impressive, and well-loved jewelry stores. There are hundreds of them, which can be intimidating. But to the seasoned professional, such as myself, Jewelers Row provides that heady mix of excitement, risk, and the opportunity of finding something truly special.

So is it worth buying from? How do you get the best deal? What should you avoid while shopping there? I’ve answered all of these questions in the Jewelers Row Chicago review below.

The History of Jewelers Row

Jewelers Row sits along Wabash Avenue, between East Washington Street and East Monroe Street. The buildings there are fairly historic, being built between 1872 and 1941, and were designed by a wide variety of noted architects. If you’re an architecture fan, it’s worth making the journey just to see the variety of designs on show, including Art Deco and Italianate.

For over a hundred years, jewelers have been setting up shop in the area. Today, there is a vast amount of jewelry stores. One major establishment is called the Jewelers Center, which is a 21-story building containing almost 200 jewelers under one roof.

Shopping at Jewelers Row

New York or Chicago, you’re going to have a pretty similar experience. Countless jewelry vendors, each vying for your hard-earned bucks. Some places are well-worth spending money in, others? Not so much. This means that you need to do your research before purchasing any diamond. Be wary of the diamond without certification, or the one that doesn’t look exactly eye-clean.

What you may find is that, on average, diamonds on Jewelers Row are a little more expensive than those you can find online. This is usually because a brick-and-mortar store has overheads, such as rent, to deal with, which will be reflected in the price. So if you’re looking for value for money, or even to save money on a specific quality of diamond, I would recommend shopping around online.

Where To Look for Diamonds Online

Buying diamonds online is easier than ever. Finding a place to start looking? That’s still a difficult task, especially for a first-time buyer. Fortunately, through my years of working in the diamond industry and learning about what this exciting world has to offer, I’ve learnt what it takes to be a fantastic, trustworthy online diamond retailer.

Through that, Whiteflash sit at the top of the pile currently for their diamond quality and service, James Allen are a super option for fancy shaped diamonds, and Brilliant Earth are great option for lab diamonds. You can see why I’ve decided this in my reviews of these diamond perfectionists here.

Should You Buy from a Physical Store?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with buying from a bricks-and-mortar store. It’s nice to have human service, and it’s especially worthwhile being able to see the diamond in front of you. The perks of buying online are self-evident; better prices, ease-of-access, global shipping—the list goes on. However, having a good experience with a knowledgeable, friendly member of staff is an undeniable boon.

Jewelers Row prices can be up to 50% more expensive than what you would be expected to pay at an online retailer for a diamond of similar quality. It all comes down to what you want out a buying experience. Being able to physically see a diamond is truly invaluable, and you’ll never fully get that with an online experience.

How to Buy a Diamond From Jewelers Row

Here are four tips you’ll need to use if you’re ever buying diamonds on Chicago’s Jewelers Row:

1.   Look for Certification

Diamond certification is everything. If a diamond fails to include either AGS or GIA certification, do not buy it. This is the documentation that proves the diamond contains the qualities it is described as having, qualities which may not be apparent to the naked eye. Certification proves the diamond is legitimate, showing you whether the asking price is accurate. Due to this, certification is invaluable.

2.   Choose an Eye-Clean Diamond

When a diamond is eye-clean, it means it has no perfections that are visible to the naked eye. This is very important, as it means you can actually save some money by choosing a diamond with lower clarity that still looks good. Inclusions exist in pretty much every diamond on the market, so you really don’t have to waste money by choosing a completely flawless diamond, when a lower clarity, eye-clean diamond looks just as good.

3.   Investigate Diamond Cut

Cut is one of the all-important Four Cs. It’s the thing that most affects the light performance of a diamond, and therefore how beautiful it can be. I recommend choosing a diamond that has either Ideal or Excellent cut, as this means you’ll be experiencing the optimal light performance for that diamond, guaranteeing a large amount of fire and brilliance.

4.   Grade the Color

The best diamonds are colorless. This means they have no yellow or brown discoloration. Yellow or brown hues can be found in diamonds with low color grading. However, if you choose a diamond with either a D, E, or F color-grading, you’ll have no issue with a yellow-looking diamond.

Final Thoughts

Like the NYC Diamond District, Jewelers Row in Chicago is an exciting place to explore, even if you’ve no intention of shopping. While I would recommend choosing other places—especially online stores—before Jewelers Row, just from a value-for-money perspective, there’s no reason why you can’t find an amazing diamond and a great deal there. However, if you’re a first-time buyer and new to the diamond market, it may be hard for you to find what you’re looking for.

How to Find the Best Diamond for You

A key piece of advice I will always repeat to anyone looking for a diamond is ‘do your research’. There’s absolutely no point in just blindly stumbling into a deal, which will more than likely not benefit you.

As a buyer, you need to develop a strong knowledge of the basics of diamonds. Get to grips with the Four Cs, understand why a larger carat weight doesn’t necessarily mean a better diamond, and how you can make your money go that little bit further in every diamond purchase you make.

To find out these key pieces of information, head to the Diamond Expert education section, where you’ll find the knowledge needed to find the perfect diamonds.