There is an undeniable appeal to shopping in the world’s renowned diamond districts, and of all of these, LA has an unmistakably glossy veneer that will pique the interest of tourists visiting the City of Angels.
If you have never shopped in a diamond district before, or are consider a trip to the LA diamond district to buy a diamond, I implore you to read this review before making any decisions.
The History of the LA Jewelry District
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Most of the LA diamond district spans the historic core of downtown Los Angeles. With stunning, 1920’s architecture, it is a beautiful area of the city that is sure to entice customers with a sense of history and grandeur. The influx of diamond and jewelry shops in this area began in the 1960’s when an interest in investment gold skyrocketed. The LA diamond district once boasted over 5,000 stores, however, changes in buying habits has seen it reduced to around 1,500. A large portion of these are located on Hill Street. It is the largest diamond district in the United States; the atmosphere can range from an exciting buzz to an overwhelming and somewhat shady vibe.
Issues Shopping in the LA Diamond District
There are some challenges to shopping the LA diamond district; some of these are the usual pitfalls of shopping any large district, others are unique to the LA experience. This is what buyers should be aware of:
The Size: You need the skills of a sharpshooter to find the best stores in the district and with over a thousand stores to choose from, if you go without a plan it will be a long day with little success. You simply couldn’t visit all the stores so unless you have a very reliable tip off for a good store, the whole exercise is likely to prove confusing and stressful.
The Sales Tactics: Like all diamond districts, and indeed, bricks and mortar stores, you are likely to observe every trick in the book during your experience. From the ‘one-time only deal’ to merciless upselling, the modern buyer must be alert and informed to avoid falling into sales traps. This can be harder than you think in a face to face setting. In my time helping customers find diamonds, I have seen even the hardiest business people leave a store scratching their head, wondering how they came to spend thousands of dollars above their assigned budget.
Cut Quality and Certification: These are two extremely important areas of diamond buying that are neglected across many stores in the LA jewelry district. Diamonds with performance issues are common place and can be very hard for a diamond novice to spot until it is too late.
LA Diamond District: Myth Busting
I am inundated with messages from buyers who believe they’ve found a wonderful deal in a diamond district; they are wise to double check before buying, because all is not always as it seems.
The Myth: Certification guarantees a good diamond
The Truth: Only GIA and AGS certification are reliable, and they still don’t guarantee the diamond is beautiful
Across the district you are likely to hear alternative certificates being offered, with the salespersons assurance that they are as good as, if not better, than a GIA or AGS certificate. This is not true. Any diamond expert worth their salt knows that only the GIA and AGS offer reliable and consistent grades and are recognised the world over as leaders in unbiased diamond analysis. Furthermore, an AGS or GIA certificate does not guarantee a beautiful diamond, they only ensure the grades on the report reflect the quality seen in the diamond. To guarantee a beautiful diamond a certificate must be combined with diamond light performance imaging.
Myth: The LA Diamond District is a great place to get a deal on a diamond
Truth: The diamonds are significantly pricier that the leading online vendors
The sales tactics and margin to bump the price down to the close the sale leads buyer to believe they’re getting a great deal. In fact, they are still paying more than they could be. Buying online from reputable vendors is the only way to legitimately save money on a diamond. The overheads of a bricks and mortar store alone send the prices of their diamonds sky high.
Myth: The salesperson can guide me towards a better diamond
Truth: The salesperson can guide you towards a more expensive diamond
You are more likely to be shown diamonds with higher clarity/color/carat than a better cut quality. This usually means overspending on qualities that cannot be appreciated by eye. Allowing the salesperson to show you ‘better’ diamonds is the quickest way to go over budget on qualities that didn’t require an upgrade.