Are Macy’s Engagement Rings Worth It?

Macy’s jewelry departments may be one of the first places you go to choose an engagement ring. In this guide we have considered the criteria for determining whether Macy’s rings are worth it.

Macy’s engagement rings may be worth considering for their range of styles. They also offer a wide range of carat weights.  However, their color, clarity and cut are lacking compared to other retailers such as Harry Winston or Tiffany & Co. While Macy’s may offer more affordable options, it may be worth it to invest in a ring from a retailer with a reputation for higher quality diamonds and craftsmanship.

Grade Of Macy’s Engagement Rings Vs Competitors

Diamonds are graded by organizations like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) who analyze the stones for their quality.

The four aspects of a diamond used to determine its grade are color, clarity, cut and carat weight.

Are Macy's Engagement Rings Worth It?

Color

Overall the color and clarity of Macy’s diamond engagement rings is poor. The most common color grade of the diamonds used in their engagement rings are I to J.

While these are not bad grades they are at the lower end of the Near Colorless spectrum which runs from G to J.

In contrast, Harry Winston features rare diamonds in their engagement rings.

These are selected only from the Colorless spectrum which is the top range in diamonds.

The color scale goes from D which is completely colorless through to Z which is lightly colored.

Clarity

The clarity of a diamond is the measure of how flawless it is, internally and externally.

Inclusions are internal flaws and blemishes are external. A flawless diamond is extremely rare.

Clarity ranges from Flawless to Included with each category subdivided into 2 or 3 grades.

Macy’s diamond engagement rings contain stones which only rank in the bottom three categories of clarity. These are Very Slightly Included, Slightly Included and Included.

The majority of Macy’s diamonds are from the Included category with 711 of their engagement rings in this range.

They have 155 diamond rings in the Slightly Included range and just 50 in the Very Slightly Included group.

This means that 75% of the diamonds are from the very lowest category of diamonds in relation to clarity.

As a comparison Harry Winston only sells diamond engagement rings with stones from the VS2 category through to Flawless.

So their stones only come from the highest three grades of diamonds for clarity.

Cut

The cut of a diamond has a huge impact on its grade.

The cut determines how well the diamond captures light through its facets. Cut is graded by most jewelers as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor.

The cut of Macy’s diamond engagement rings is only mentioned in their GIA certified diamond engagement rings.

The cut of these stones is categorized as Good.

Blue Nile who primarily sells their diamond engagement rings online only sell Very Good and Good cut stones and each stone is graded as such.

Tiffany & Co have their own Triple Excellent Cut which is the highest grade for round brilliant diamonds.

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They also offer brilliant cut, step cut and a mixed-cut which is a combination of brilliant and step cut.

Carat Weight

Macy’s offers an approximation of the carat weight of the diamonds in their engagement rings.

There is a declaration in the description of all their diamond rings that the total weight is approximate and that there may be a variance of up to 0.05 carat.

While this may not seem a lot it can mean that the price does not reflect the true carat weight of the diamond ring.

Macy’s have 22 GIA certified diamond engagement rings and these certificates will show the actual carat weight of the corresponding rings.

Tiffany & Co. display the actual weight of a diamond ring as does Harry Winston and Blue Nile, there are no estimated weights with these retailers.

Treated Diamonds

Macy’s declares on their website that almost all of the gemstones in their diamond engagement ring collections are treated to enhance their beauty.

As a result they suggest that the ring requires special care.

While treatment of diamonds is accepted in the industry it is normally reserved for lower quality diamonds and serves to improve their appearance.

A treated diamond should always be declared as such.

The fact that Macy’s diamonds are almost always treated is an indication of their quality.

Some have cracks that are then filled with a glass like material. Most gemologists will not apply a color or clarity grade to a fracture filled diamond.

Other treatments include laser drilling and internal laser treatment which reduce the amount of inclusions.

Color treatments such as surface coating or High Pressure High Temperature Treatment are also used to enhance lower quality diamonds.

Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co, and Blue Nile do not offer treated diamond engagement rings.

Settings

One of the complaints about how Macy’s diamond engagement rings are designed is in their settings.

They use illusion settings which can take different forms, all of which are used by Macy’s.

Illusion settings use groups of small diamonds set close together to give the illusion of a larger stone, hence the name.

They also use textured metal in place of pavé diamonds along the band of the ring.

Channel settings are another style used by Macy’s to give the illusion of getting value for money.

This setting puts spaces between the diamonds meaning that there are fewer stones in the ring.

Macy’s Vs Competitor’s Diamond Certification

Macy’s Engagement Rings

A diamond’s certificate contains all the information about the grading of that particular stone. It will include the color, clarity, cut and carat weight of the diamond.

These certificates can be issued by accredited gemological laboratories.

One of the best known is the Gemological Institute of America. Just 22 of Macy’s diamond engagement rings are certified by the GIA.

A diamond ring that is uncertified can result in the grades of the diamonds being inflated.

For example, a H color grade VS2 diamond may actually be a K color grade and in the Included category.

To an unwitting customer there is no way to tell the difference without a certificate.

Brilliant Earth offers certification from gem grading labs including IGI, and GIA, HRD and GCAL for their 28 stores across the US or their online service.

You can also request an electronic copy of a diamond’s lab certificate.

All of Harry Winston’s diamond engagement rings are certified by the Gemological Institute of America.

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Tiffany & Co. however have decided to no longer offer GIA certification as they claim their own standards are more stringent.

They offer Tiffany Diamond Certification and a Valuation report on all their diamond engagement rings.

Price Of Macy’s Engagement Rings Vs Competitors

When it comes to price, Macy’s engagement rings are similar to their rivals such as Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co. and Blue Nile.

However as we have seen they are lacking in the quality of their diamond engagement rings.

The majority of Macy’s diamonds are of lower quality than their closest competitors.

Most are uncertified and as Macy’s themselves confirm they treat most of their gemstones to enhance their appearance.

Even the stones that are certified in Macy’s engagement rings are low tier certifications due to the inferior quality of the diamonds compared to Harry Winston and Tiffany & Co.

An example of this price versus quality inequality is this comparison between a diamond engagement ring from Macy’s and one from Tiffany & Co.

  • Macy’s ring is a GIA certified diamond solitaire, 1 ½ carat in white gold with H-I color grade, SI2 clarity and good cut. The price of this ring is $15,000.
  • Tiffany & Co’s ring is 1 carat set in platinum with H color grade,VS1 clarity and excellent cut. The price of this ring is $15,700.

With just a $700 difference let’s look at both rings more closely for comparison.

Comparing Macy’s Vs Tiffany & Co’s Diamond Solitaire

As previously noted the carat weight of Macy’s diamonds is approximate, so it is not clear if the ring is more or less than the 1 ½ total carat weight stated.

The Tiffany & Co. ring however is declared as being 1 carat and as Tiffany measures diamonds to 1/1000th of a carat it is assumed to be an accurate and precise weight.

The Macy’s ring is made from white gold while the Tiffany ring is made of platinum.

It is virtually impossible to tell the difference between white gold and platinum so in terms of visual effect they are almost identical.

However, platinum is between 40-50% more expensive than white gold.

This is because platinum is used in 95% of its pure form whereas white gold is an alloy of yellow gold, silver, palladium, or nickel.

The color grade of the Macy’s ring is not precisely given as H to I. So it is not possible to know if it is H or I. In contrast, the Tiffany ring is stated as being a definite H in color grade.

At this point it is worth mentioning that the Macy’s ring is GIA certified while Tiffany & Co have eschewed the GIA certification in favor of their own internal certification and valuation reports.

The GIA provides a certificate which gives the color grade of the diamond.

These grades are decided by a consensus among different diamond grading professionals. A GIA certificate would have just one color grade, not a choice of two.

Macy’s ring has clarity of SI2. This means it is in the Slightly Included category, which is the fourth out of five categories of diamond clarity.

This category is subdivided into two, so the diamond is at the lower end of this range.

The Tiffany & Co. ring is VS1. This is the Very Slightly Included category which is also subdivided into two. In this case, the ring is in the higher range of this category.

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Finally, the cut of the Macy’s solitaire diamond is classed as good which is the mid-point of the industry categories of diamond cut.

The Tiffany diamond is classified as an excellent cut which is the top of the industry category of cut.

In this particular comparison it is difficult to see how the Macy’s ring can be priced at just $700 less than the Tiffany & Co. ring given the obvious differences between them.

The Macy’s ring does appear to be overpriced.

Customer Service & Staff Knowledge

A department store such as Macy’s has a wide variety of products on sale, and it is impractical to think that they have an expert on each product they sell.

So when approaching the jewelry department in Macy’s diamond expertise is not what you are going to get.

Taking the previous example, if someone is expected to pay $15,000 for a diamond engagement ring they would expect the person selling it to be able to explain and justify the ticket price.

However, the majority of jewelry department staff are not qualified to explain to an uneducated customer what SI2 clarity is or how the cut grade affects the price of the diamond.

For this reason, buying a diamond engagement ring from Macy’s isn’t the best option for someone who is unfamiliar with diamond jewelry and how it is graded.

Whiteflash is an online store with a physical presence in Houston and has two GIA Graduate Gemologists on staff.

Harry Winston’s Client Services offer appointments and assistance to customers. Tiffany’s also offers appointments to potential clients.

Final Thoughts

Having looked at all the aspects of the engagement rings that Macy’s have to offer it seems that they are best avoided in favor of a dedicated jewelry retailer such as Harry Winston or Tiffany & Co.

The grading of the diamonds in Macy’s department stores is lacking, and the diamonds are of lower quality than the competitors mentioned above.

Most of Macy’s diamond rings are uncertified and those that are certified have low tier certifications.

Their diamond rings do not hold up in comparison to the competition from Tiffany & Co. in terms of price.

Finally, there is a serious lack of staff knowledge about diamonds at Macy’s jewelry departments which puts uneducated customers at a disadvantage.

Lisa Plaitt