union diamond review
In business since 2001, Union Diamond is attempting to carve a name for itself in the highly competitive diamond industry. Working from within their own in-house diamond lab, they ensure only the highest quality diamonds and diamond jewelry are sent to their customers. Perhaps the truest sign of the high calibre of craftsmen they employ is their custom diamond ring service--a service that allows customers to literally create their own custom diamond ring or jewelry. From an idea in your head, to a sketch on a piece of paper, to a model design, to the finished product. If you want it, you can get it at Union Diamond. Of course, like all of their competitors, they have their relative strengths and weaknesses, so take a few moments and read about my secret purchase experience with Union Diamond.
My reviews are meant to be completely fair and honest, covering both the good and bad, and if I'm being completely honest I would have say that Union Diamond could use work in the website design area. It's not that the site doesn't function properly or doesn't contain plenty of relevant, easy-to-find information. It's just lacking a certain sleek design that would lend more credibility to their branding (which, incidentally, could also use updating).
However, as I mentioned in the opening of this review, Union Diamond is revolutionary in their ability to create custom diamond rings and jewelry for their customers. We're not talking about a "build-you-own" engagement ring like all sites offer, where you select your diamond and then choose from a list of available settings (although you can certainly do that at Union Diamond). This a true custom process where customers work with Union Diamond's experts, and they will design exactly what you are picturing in your mind. If you want to really blow someone's mind, designing a one-of-a-kind custom diamond ring is a pretty good place to start. But be forewarned: it will be very expensive.
This is a neat service they are offering customers, and if you have the money and creativity then by all means give it a look. However, design is often best-left to professionals, and if you take a chance at designing and it turns out wrong, you'll have a very expensive learning experience on your hands.
This is one area where Union Diamond holds up fairly decently versus its competition. A quick side-by-side comparison of identical diamonds tells me that their pricing is sometimes on-par with the lowest priced vendors. They have a fully stocked inventory of loose diamonds, so you should have no problem finding the exact stone you are you looking for.
The major online diamond companies have has made it easier than ever for customers to compare prices by using the loose diamond search feature. Simply load up a tab with each of the sites you're comparing, search for identical diamonds and see who's offering the best price. Cost can be a very important factor when purchasing an engagement ring, so I highly recommend taking a few minutes and doing a little price comparisons. Five minutes of your time could save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.
Union Diamond's order process involves a couple of confirmations on the customer side. This appears to be an effort to curb any type of fraud, but the reality is that it's a bit of a nuisance. The first manual confirmation comes immediately after you place the order online, via an automatic email. Once your order has been picked up and verified by one of their polite employees, you will be contacted a second time for final confirmation. I'm sure they have good intentions with all this, but in my opinion they're creating more hassle than is necessary.
My ring shipped approximately five business days after I ordered it, which is acceptable, but could be faster. They shipped via FedEx Overnight shipping and it arrived on-schedule.
The packaging was very professional, ensuring that there was no possibility of the ring being damaged during transit. While I do like the dark blue color scheme, there is definitely room for improvement in the overall presentation. Aspects of the presentation seemed downright home made and do not give off an "expensive" feeling. The ring came with all the necessary documents including receipt and GIA certificate. See some sample pictures below.
(click HERE to enter Union Diamond photo gallery)
The particular ring I bought from Union Diamond would have cost me 43% more if I had bought a comparable ring locally. Part of my review process is getting the ring appraised for a local replacement value. Keep in mind that these numbers will be different depending on where you live, but my James Allen ring appraised for 87% more than I paid for it. Allowing for the fact that appraisals generally come in on the high side, I feel I got a good deal compared to my local stores.
The return process was the easiest one I've been through during my reviews here for this site. I didn't even have to make a phone call--I just emailed the customer service rep I had been dealing with, told him that I unfortunately had to return the ring and left it at that. I was expecting a phone call back, or at the very least an email pleading with me to change my mind. Neither happened. He replied to my email with the return instructions and that was that. I popped the ring in the mail the next day, and I received my refund a couple days after it was successfully returned. No worries whatsoever in this aspect for any potential buyers--you will get a refund if you want one, and the process is painless.
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Recommendation: Union Diamond fared decently well in my grading process. Their website could use some work but overall is acceptable. Their pricing is more-or-less competitive with other major retailers, and their customer service--while sometimes a little too persistent--is very good. Overall I wouldn't tell anyone NOT to give them a look, it's just that there's nothing that really stands out about them. The biggest drawback in my opinion is the low-end presentation of the ring. It doesn't give off a high quality feel--the "wow" factor. Which, ultimately, is what a lot people are looking for when they spend thousands of dollars. In my opinion, both James Allen and Blue Nile offer a better overall product.