Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Macy's For Fine Jewelry ... Yes Or No?

With holiday gift-giving approaching, consumers may wonder: Is Macy's a good place to buy fine jewelry?

My answer is yes with conditions: I would not instantly buy a diamond engagement ring at any department store, including Macy's. First of all, for such an important piece of jewelry, a buyer is smart to shop around to compare the quality of diamonds vs price. In the best of all possible worlds, you can find a trustworthy jeweler at an independent jewelry store to sell you a nearly flawless diamond at a reasonable price. An independent jeweler should have top diamonds. Department stores often don't sell the very best diamonds; or sapphires; or rubies; or emeralds.💎

So why buy fine jewelry at Macy's? Because everything you own doesn't need to be the apex of quality, and you probably couldn't afford it if it were.

Rubies and diamonds
Using a sapphire (top image) as an example: Naturally, I'd love a rich Ceylon blue sapphire from Sri Lanka, but they are rare and thus, super expensive ... perhaps costing as much as a new car for a bigger stone. If you can afford them, go for it. However, if you can't you must either go smaller or darker. Personally, I can accept darker-yet-still-blue natural sapphires. The deal breakers for me are sapphires, that are not blue, but black; teeny-tiny stones; or beyond-crazy-expensive. So know yourself!

Macy's at Herald Square in New York City has a big inventory of mid-price jewelry at a good value if you shop the sales. However, don't buy their jewelry at the inflated marked-up prices at any other time. Always shop the sales and wait for your sparkler to go on sale. Rock bottom (yes a pun!) prices will be when your ring, earrings or bracelet becomes the Black Friday (or another holiday) Special or gets reduced by 65%-70% during a Friends and Family SaleThis is the time to buy it! It won't get any cheaper. The trick is to watch it for a while so you recognize the rock bottom price.

At Macy's you will notice that although the jewelry ends up in the 70% off display case, it often returns at a higher price. So don't feel any pressure to buy if undecided; plus don't worry as your jewelry won't disappear after the sale.

What I like about Macy's is the beauty of their designs, the wide selection, the sales and the customer service -- all good. I bought a few pieces at Macy's -- 14k gold, reasonably good stones at unbeatable prices  -- over the years that I am happy wearing, and when something goes wrong (i.e. a small stone falls out), the retailer will often repair it for free.

The salespeople behind the fine jewelry counters are knowledgeable and straightforward. The associates are upfront about the quality of the stones and the good buys. They have never tried to con, rush, or pressure me into buying something. Without reservations, it's the place to find a good value on fine jewelry under $4,000 (meaning sale price, not original listed price for larger pieces like necklaces, bracelets). A browse will find lovely pierced earrings, or rings for under $300 (sale, not retail price). Nonetheless, you end up with a piece of fine jewelry -- i.e., real gold with real diamonds and gems that you haven't paid for with an arm and a leg.
Indeed, the diamond district offers better stones, but the cost is 3 or more times higher. Usually, customers do not get a deal regarding price there. Pay the piper when it matters, such as an engagement ring; but can you shell out $7,000+ for every ring, earrings, or bracelet you buy? Or give?? If set well, less than perfect jewelry is pretty too.

Never consider jewelry an investment. Unless you are a queen, it is not. Without the fame, you will never get back the price you paid for your jewelry. Think of it as beautiful and a luxury buy, to be enjoyed; and once you own a piece keep it sparkling by cleaning it.

Extra tips: 

1) Buy 14k gold to lower cost. An 18k gold or platinum setting is about $200 - $300 higher but not much different in appearance. While 18k gold is purer (75% pure gold) verses 14k gold (58.3% pure gold), 14k gold is more durable. Gold is mixed with another metal to harden it.

2) Save a couple hundred dollars by buying a stone slightly under the carat. A tad under 1-carat looks much like 1-carat. Slightly under 2-carats looks as big as 2-carats to the naked eye. Trust me, you will not miss the small difference.💍

3) Based on my personal research, a good Macy's sale can beat the offers of Blue Nile and James Allen (online retailers known for their reasonable prices and stone quality) at comparable quality. This may be because Macy's has a big inventory and relationships with a number of fine jewelers.

You may also enjoy:
In My Jewelry Box
Lovely Freshwater Pearls
Jewelry & Beautiful Things
Extra Photos: Prince Leopold, Duke Of Albany


  1. Diamond District is an invitation to get ripped off, unless you are recommended to the seller. At Macy's flagship store, I bought a Skagen watch a few years back. Thought I was a cool Euro-Danish dude until I discovered that Skagen is part of Fossil.

    1. Yes, you must be in the know to not overpay in the Diamond District, Barry.

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