Ever since we analyzed the song ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’ by Kanye in a high school Modern Conflicts class, it’s been difficult to look at diamonds the same way. Obviously it sounds dumb but considering I still remember the lesson, clearly you can learn something about the controversy of the diamond industry listening to that song. What Diamonds From Sierra Leone by Kanye doesn’t teach you is just how sneaky diamond jewelers really are. Fortunately, the YouTubers behind “I Want What Its Worth” went on a stealth mission to reveal the truth.
“I Want What Its Worth” sent a member of their team named “Jason” to Fifth Avenue in New York City to investigate four different jewelry shops with a hidden camera. “Jason” spent time at Tiffany’s, Cartier, Van Cleef, and Harry Winston. Warning: what he found might make you feel really bad about the premium you paid to make your fingers and earlobes sparkle.
“Jason” first crushes our dreams by telling us that despite the convincing marketing, no matter where we buy a diamond, they’re all pretty much the same. (Unless of course you buy it from a vendor on the beach in Cabo in which case, you definitely got something rare.) Stores make customers believe their diamonds are “special” in order to justify their exorbitant prices. Everything related to pricing is hush, hush, stores don’t allow flash photography in person, and they’re super protective of diamond’s statistics. It’s weirdly convenient that discussing the cost of a ring or necklace is taboo.
In the hidden camera video, we see each jeweler do their best to convince “Jason” that they have the world’s best diamonds which sounds completely insane when you take a second to think about it. And even more insane when you think about the fact that it actually works. Toward the end of the video, “Jason” takes a closer look at the numbers he recorded and shares the average markup for a solitaire ring at each of the four jewelers he visited.
Tiffany average markup – 253%
Cartier average markup – 276%
Van Cleef average markup – 314%
Harry Winston average markup – 336%
According to the video, each of these rings is essentially the same and can be found at places like Costco. Huge bummer if you bought a diamond recently and coincidentally read this article. The good news is, now you know! Better luck next time.