We’re not trying to be the cheapest manufacturing jeweller in South Africa. We’re trying to be the best manufacturing jeweller in South Africa.

There’s a lot of competition in the diamond, gemstone and manufacturing jeweller arena in South Africa. A quick search online will bring up hundreds of private jewellers (like Katannuta Diamonds) in addition to your regular retail jewellery stores.

You’ll see paid ads on Google, boosted Facebook posts and sponsored Instagram posts, as diamond “dealers” and manufacturing jewellers tout their wares and share their creations.

Often, you’ll see catch-phrases like “Best prices guaranteed”, “We will beat any price”, “Wholesale diamonds” and “Cheapest diamond rings”. Sometimes these are click-bait, sometimes the company can hold true to their claims.

As a predominantly internet-based business, we’ll often get an email enquiry that is sent to multiple jewellers at the same time, asking for a quote on a particular ring. We’ve had people send us quotes from other jewellers with a “Can you beat this price?” request, the “Is this your best price” question and the “So-and-so is cheaper” statement.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with comparing quotes and shopping around (you need to get an idea of what is available), quite often the clients asking these questions are the people that are purely price-focused, and aren’t necessarily focusing on quality.

From the start, Katannuta Diamonds has positioned itself as a competitively-priced jeweller, not as a cheap jeweller, with a focus on South Africa. Our priority has always been, and always will be, exceptional quality, outstanding workmanship and magnificent gemstones. It’s entirely possible that there are other jewellers in South Africa who may offer cheaper prices, but before committing to the cheapest option you find, ask the following questions:

  1. Are you comparing two like-for-like diamonds?

Despite what an independent laboratory certificate may say about the 4C’s of a diamond, no two diamonds are the same. Nor are the diamond laboratories the same either, and this can radically affect diamond price. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is considered the world-standard in diamond certification and a GIA-certified diamond will often cost more than a diamond from another laboratory, such as the EGL (European Gemological Laboratory), the D.I.A. (a local South African laboratory) or the I.D.L. (also a local South African Laboratory). Some diamond laboratories are considered more trustworthy than others and some hold to more rigorous classification standards than others.

Thus, a G colour, SI1 clarity diamond as graded by one laboratory could be (it shouldn’t be, but it could be) completely different to a G SI1 from another laboratory. If you’re being offered a diamond certified by a laboratory other than the GIA, it makes sense that the diamond would be cheaper.

GIA diamond South Africa

A GIA certified diamond.

What are the cuts of the two diamonds you’re comparing? An excellent cut diamond (a premium stone) will be more expensive than a very good or good cut diamond. The cut is what affects the fire and brilliance of the diamond, so this is one area you should never compromise on.

What is the fluorescence of the diamonds you’re comparing? If one has no fluorescence (again, a premium diamond) and the other has strong blue fluorescence (considered lower quality), the strong fluorescing stone will be cheaper. Fluorescence may sometimes affect the visual quality of the diamond, so be aware of this.

Does the cheaper diamond you’re being offered have any brown, grey or milky (referred to as BGM) overtones? These are all considered undesirable colour overtones and these stones will be significantly cheaper than stones without these tones. The EGL will certify some stones as “ECG”, which means equivalent colour grade. These are typically stones that have some sort of overtone to them, and by removing the overtone, the colour would be equivalent to I, or J, or whatever the stone is certified as.

These are just a few of the factors to take into consideration when comparing diamonds from different suppliers.

  1. What is the quality of the small diamonds in the design?

One of the easiest ways of a jeweller cutting his manufacturing cost without you knowing it is by using lower quality small diamonds (meleé) in your jewellery. These small diamonds would be the stones in a halo surrounding a central stone, or in the shank of a ring, or even, in some cases comprising the entire ring itself.

In the diamond trade, the best small diamonds are known as “white goods” and these will typically be of G and H colour. Sometimes slightly better colours may be available, but if a quote mentions “D, E, F” colours for small diamonds, you can assume some creative classification has taken place.

The “near white” small diamonds will be I-J colours, followed by more tinted diamonds of K-L colours. Prices of these diamonds decrease as you go from GH down to KL colours. A quote with KL coloured small diamonds will naturally be less than a quote with GH colours, so make sure your quote specifies what diamonds you are getting. 

  1. Is the diamond you are being offered a natural or laboratory-grown (man-made) diamond?

Laboratory-grown diamonds are becoming more easily available in the industry and sell for much lower prices than natural diamonds, for obvious reasons. The proliferation of laboratory-grown diamonds makes it even more important to ensure that any diamond you purchase comes with an independent laboratory certificate, like a GIA or EGL certificate. These laboratories run rigorous testing to ensure that the diamond they are certifying is a natural diamond, not a synthetic diamond.

Man-made diamond certificate

Independent laboratory certificate for a laboratory-grown (man-made) diamond.

There are some strict regulations regarding the sale and marketing of laboratory-grown diamonds (although these are not enforced in South Africa, yet) and the onus is on the seller to make sure that the customers knows what they are buying is a synthetic diamond. If you see a diamond being marketed as “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “above ground real diamond” or “eco-conscious”, you can be 100% sure it’s a laboratory-grown diamond. Another smooth description used often in marketing is “cultured diamonds”.

There is nothing wrong with buying a laboratory-grown diamond, if that’s what you are looking for. Just make sure if you’re comparing diamond prices across suppliers that you’re comparing two natural (mined) diamonds or two laboratory-grown diamonds, not a laboratory-grown diamond with a natural diamond.

  1. Are the coloured gemstones you’re being offered natural or synthetic?

Just like diamonds can be created and made in a laboratory, so can coloured gemstones. In fact, whilst synthetic diamonds were first grown in the 1950’s, synthetic coloured gemstones date back to 1873, when flux-grown ruby was created for the first time. Synthetic precious gemstones such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires and tanzanite are easily available and like diamonds, the cost of a man-made gemstone is significantly less than a natural gemstone. Again, make sure you’re comparing the cost of a natural gemstone you’ve been quoted on with another natural gemstone, not a synthetic one.

Synthetic ruby

A synthetic ruby boule, ready for cutting and polishing into faceted synthetic ruby gems.

  1. Is the piece of jewellery being made (or has been made) in South Africa, or is it an import?

Much of the jewellery you’ll see in South African retail jewellery stores has been mass produced in Asia. Huge factories are making thousands of pieces of the same style of jewellery, using as little metal as possible. If you take a close look at these mass-produced pieces of jewellery, they will often be hollowed out as much as possible to reduce the weight of metal used, and thus the price. Hand-made jewellery will always be heavier and more substantial than mass-produced jewellery. Jewellery manufactured in South Africa should have a “ZA” stamp on the inside of the ring, so you can identify that it was locally manufactured and not a cheap import.

manufacturing jeweller south africa

One of our bespoke platinum rings, with the “ZA” stamp indicating local manufacture.

Mass-produced vs bespoke ring

A mass-produced ring (left) vs a bespoke Katannuta Diamonds ring (right). Compare how the mass-produced ring is virtually hollow, minimising the amount of gold required, whereas our bespoke ring is solid and more durable.

If you are purchasing a retail jewellery store ring with a diamond that comes with an independent laboratory-certificate, don’t assume the ring was made in South Africa. The ring may be a “semi-mount”, which is a mass-produced ring mount, pre-set with small diamonds. The retail store will then fit a proportional diamond in the ring themselves.

Diamond ring semi-mount

A semi-mount for a princess cut diamond ring. Note how it’s already set with two side stone diamonds, allowing a jeweller simply to set a princess cut diamond of particular dimensions, but any quality, in the setting.

  1. What carat gold are you being offered?

In South Africa, 9ct and 18ct gold are the two standard qualities of gold offered by jewellers. In America and some European countries, 10ct and 14ct are the standard, and some South African manufacturers will offer jewellery in 10ct and 14ct gold. These pieces of jewellery may often be imported, but there are some South African workshops who will manufacture locally in 10ct and 14ct (Katannuta Diamonds manufactures locally in 9ct and 18ct gold in yellow, white or rose gold). Make sure that if you’re comparing the same quality of gold when you’re comparing prices. If we quote you on a piece of jewellery in 18ct gold, it will naturally be more expensive than the same jewellery in 9ct gold, because the 18ct gold has a higher gold content.

luxury jeweller south africa

One of our bespoke engagement rings manufactured in 18ct rose gold, with the gold stamp clearly visible.

For context, 9ct gold is only 37.5% gold (with the remaining 62.5% of the metal comprising alloy metals), whereas 18ct gold is 75% gold (with only 25% alloy). Thus, 18ct gold contains twice the amount of gold than 9ct gold.

  1. Is the piece of jewellery being hand-made, cast according to your individual design, or mass-produced?

Much of this question has been answered in question 5, but it’s worth repeating. If you are having a piece of jewellery designed and manufactured especially for you, it’s going to be more expensive than a mass-produced item that you’ll find in entry level retail stores. A hand-made item of jewellery may be more expensive than an individually cast piece, depending on the level of detail involved.

private jeweller johannesburg south africa

Making jewellery by hand requires considerable skill and expertise.

  1. The immediate price may be cheaper, but what are your long-term costs?

Often, clients fail to distinguish between price and cost when they are shopping around and comparing prices. Price is a one-time thing; cost is a life-time thing. The price of an item is what it costs you at the time of purchase. The cost of an item is an accumulation of expenses that you may incur after purchasing cheap jewellery. If the item of jewellery is manufactured to an inferior standard, with minimum gold, will any gemstones fall out? What will be the monetary and time cost of replacing the stones. Will any part of the jewellery crack or break? What would the associated cost of that be? Read the story of Reggie*, a client of ours who discovered many hidden costs after he opted to buy a cheap diamond elsewhere.

Do some research with regards to reviews of some of the large South African retail jewellers on their Facebook, Google and Hello Peter pages. You may be surprised at what you find.

Supporting the South African economy

When you buy an item of jewellery from Katannuta Diamonds, you are consciously choosing quality over quantity. You are choosing to support a proudly South African, local business; a business that itself supports local manufacturing and contributes to our national economy.

Our products are premium products and aren’t necessarily for everybody, but for those who do appreciate that great work takes time. For those of you who look for the best quality you can find, we’d be delighted to help you with your bespoke piece of jewellery.

Give us a call on +27 (0) 83 2340247 or drop us a line via our contact form and let us know how we can help you.