Get Tips, advice and FREE Diamond Recommendations

Ask Liz!

Kay Jewelers

.5 Stars (.5 / 5)

Kay Jewelers began in 1916 when two brothers, Sol and Edmund Kaufmann started their humble jewelry business in the corner of their father’s furniture store. Today’s Kay Jewelers is a far cry from the family owned small business it used to be. Kay Jewelers is now a division of the subsidiary company Sterling Jewelers and operates as the number one mall-store brand for jewelry in the United States. Sterling is the largest specialty fine jewelry company in the United States and operates well known brands including: Jared’s, JB Robinson, Marks & Morgan, Belden Jewelers and many others. These are all wholly subsidized by their parent company Signet Jewelers headquartered in the UK.

Kay Jewelers – The Leo Diamond Graded By GSI (What’s That?)

Kay Jewelers sells both loose diamonds as well as pre-set diamond engagement rings. Their Leo Diamond is their signature brand and is offered with a GSI diamond grading report. GSI is a relatively unknown diamond grading lab and has very little strength in the diamond industry. Most jewelers prefer to work with diamonds that have been graded by either GIA or AGS in America.

Just because the Leo diamond boasts itself as, “The first diamond ever independently and individually certified to be brighter”, doesn’t necessarily make it true. The reason they can say this is due to their partnership with with GemEx Systems which is the developer of the BrillianceScope. The BrillianceScope is a selling tool that claims to measure light returned to the observer (aka a diamond’s brilliance). However, many online diamond vendors that are known for their highly ethical diamond selling reputation don’t put much clout into the BrillianceScope’s findings. Whiteflash.com for example has written extensively as to why they choose not to give this tool much merit.

Leo Diamond – 66 Total Facets (8 More Than The Standard Tolkowsky Cut)

The Leo Diamond is actually considered a modified round brilliant cut diamond; meaning it has more facets than the traditional 58 facet round brilliant as originally designed by Tolkowsky. It was in 1999, that Leo Schachter (2nd generation diamond polisher) branded his 66 facet round brilliant the “Leo Diamond”. The extra 8 facets are found in the pavilion (lower half) of the diamond. This is significant because Leo Diamonds are only sold at select stores and are accompanied by GSI diamond grading reports. This makes it extremely difficult to accurately compare a normal 58 facet round brilliant with a standard GIA or AGS grading report to a Leo Diamond because these diamonds are not a true apples to apples comparison.

Just because these diamonds are all branded “Leo Diamonds” does not mean that these diamonds will have the same cut quality. Some Leo diamonds have better cut quality than others. The Leo diamond is also priced higher than the traditional 58 facet round brilliant diamonds because the competition is less (not many stores carry this diamond brand, thus they can justify higher pricing).

The Only Way To Judge A Diamond: By It’s CUT

The most important characteristic to a diamond’s ultimate beauty is its cut. That is why I always recommend purchasing a loose diamond from diamond vendors and websites that take pride in their top quality cut diamonds. For example, if we were to evaluate a random .69ct H SI1 Leo Diamond from Kay Jewelers this is what we’d find:
Leo Diamond .69ct H SI1 from Kay Jewelers

A .69ct H SI1 Leo Diamond from Kay Jewelers. This diamond is shown to have a ‘very good cut’ but the magnified picture indicates that this particular diamond is cut too shallow, thus leaking light out from the pavilion. Stones cut like these appear dark in the center. This stone is priced at $4,799.99.

The above diamond can be compared to another .618ct H SI diamond from Whiteflash.

.618ct H SI1 Whiteflash Diamond

A .618ct H SI1 Expert Selection diamond from Whiteflash. This diamond is shown to have an “ideal” cut and the magnified picture plus ASET image proves this diamond has excellent light reflection. This diamond is cut to ideal standards and will shine brilliantly with no loss of light through the pavilion. This diamond is selling for $2,063.00.

There are two obvious differences between these diamonds. First, the cut is obviously not the same quality. The Whiteflash diamond is far superior in it’s brilliance as proved through it’s ASET image found above. The second obvious difference is the price. Why is the Leo Diamond priced more than 40% more than the Whiteflash diamond? Again, we go back to the fact that the Leo Diamond is a branded diamond with 66 total facets and is sold through only select stores. This makes them appear more “rare” and therefore the price is justified at being more expensive. However, the question is, do you think this diamond is worth it? Diamond education is very important, especially when you are investing several thousand dollars in a lifelong commitment.

Kay Jewelers – The Tolkowsky Diamond

Kay Jewelers also offers diamonds that are branded Tolkowsky ideal diamonds. Tolkowsky diamonds are branded diamonds from Jean-Paul Tolkowsky (son of legendary diamond cutter Gabi Tolkowsky). Jean Paul owns Execlo which is based in Antwerp, Belgium. These diamonds are primarily cut in Thailand and Botswana and are all IGI certified.

Again, let’s pull a random .70ct I SI1 Ideal Cut Tolkowsky diamond from Kay’s online inventory and take a look at what is being offered:

.70ct I SI1 Tolkowsky Diamond

Tolkowsky .70ct I SI1 from Kay Jewelers. As seen through the magnified image, this diamond is not eye-clean. The culet is not perpendicular to the table facet; indicating less than ideal symmetry. This diamond is selling for $5,199.99.

Again, we pull another diamond from Whiteflash to compare. Here is a randomly pulled .704ct I SI1:

Whiteflash .704ct I SI1 Diamond

A .704ct I SI1ACA diamond from Whiteflash. This diamond is shown to have an “ideal” cut along with hearts and arrows optical symmetry. This diamond is cut to ideal standards and will shine brilliantly as indicated by the bright red ASET image. This diamond is selling for $2,888.00.

Once again we see a clear example of diamonds that aren’t the best cut quality at Kay, but yet are selling at 55% more than the lesser known competition. When it comes to diamonds, be sure to evaluate based on cut parameters and light reflection. These are the only true ways to ensure that your diamond will reflect the maximum amount of light and shine brilliantly.

Kay Jewelers Offers:

– Lifetime diamond and color gemstone guarantee (as long as 6 month inspections have been performed and documented by a store representative). This ensures that you shop at Kay’s at least twice a year, thereby allowing them to sell you another piece of jewelry.

– Lifetime diamond trade-in policy (as long as you at least double your original purchase price)

– 60 day return policy with up to 90 days for an exchange.

– Free delivery to your home or local Kay store if purchased online

Final Thoughts:

The clear examples pulled from Kay’s online diamond inventory show that they are selling inconsistent cut quality diamonds at very high prices. Although Kay Jewelers is a name brand and offers familiarity and convenient mall and online shopping, it wouldn’t be a place where I would personally shop or recommend my readers to shop.