May 5, 2017

Jewelers Row Philadelphia: How to Save on Engagement Ring

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Thinking of shopping for diamonds in the Philadelphia Jeweler's Row? Read this helpful local guide for the best tips to get the perfect engagement ring.

Philadelphia - the birthplace of America! It's home to a number of America's "firsts," including America's first birthday, the first newspaper and hospital, and even the making of the first American flag (that may or may not be a myth). It's no surprise that Philly is also home to America's first diamond district, known formally as Jeweler's Row.

First built at the turn of the 1800s, it was America's first row housing project. Throughout the century, various businesses occupied the area until by the 1900s, it became predominantly a jewelry center. Today, you can find jewelers on Jeweler's Row who have been in business for 5 generations.

It’s easy to have a horrible and frustrating time here if you’re not prepared. But you can have a lovely time instead. We’re going to show you how.

In this guide:

Oldest Diamond District in America

Jeweler's Row
Jeweler's Row © Terry Robinson (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

The Jeweler's Row is located in Philly's historical Center City district, with more than 300 retailers located in an approximately T-shaped area. You'll find the majority of the jewelry stores on Sansom St. between 7th and 8th, and on 8th St. between Chestnut and Walnut streets.

Just mere steps away from Jeweler's Row are the famous Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. This is an exciting area where American history, arts and culture, past and present architecture, and modern gastronomy meet.

Getting There / Parking

By metro: There are a couple of public transit stations just a short 2-3 blocks from the Jewelers Row:

  • PATCO Line: Stops at 8th & Market, and 9-10th & Locust
  • SEPTA Rail: Stops at 5th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line

By car: Some shops offer free parking. But if you don't manage to find any, there are plenty of parking garages and valet lots in the Center City area. You just may need to pay quite a bit. Some of the larger ones close to Jeweler's Row include:

  • SP PLUS @ 733 Chestnut St (8th & Chestnut)
  • LAZ 618 @ 11 S 7th St (7th & Market)
  • Park America Down Town Club Parking @ 45 S 7th St (7th & Chestnut)

Tip: For a more stress-free time, you can use an app like BestParking to find and reserve a spot even before you arrive.

What You Should Know Before You Go

Now, it’s no secret that we’re huge advocates of shopping for an engagement ring online. But we understand that you may want to look at some diamonds in person. Plus, it’s fun to go around to the different stores and try on different styles (okay, maybe this is just fun for girls).

So here’s what you should know before you go:

The number 1 rule is to never go unprepared. You don’t have to walk into a store an expert, but if you sound like a total newbie, you may as well have a huge red target painted on your forehead. Some stores will be only too happy to take advantage of your cluelessness.

At the very least, spend some time to:

  • Learn about the 4C’s. To not get ripped off, it’s important you learn a little bit about diamonds and what drives diamond prices. This is a good place to start for beginners. We break down each C (carat, cut, color, and clarity) and explain its level of importance, what you should prioritize, and what you can “sacrifice.” We also show you how going up and down grade levels for each C affects the price of the diamond.

  • Research pricing online first. Even if you want to buy your diamond from a store in person, start your search with online retailers first. Play around with different settings for each of the 4C’s to get an idea of how much a diamond costs with certain characteristics.

    James Allen and Blue Nile are both great places to start to get a feel for prices and what you can expect.

  • Make a list of what stores to visit: There’s an overwhelming number of shops in the jewelry district. Some will be good and some not-so-good. You won’t have time to pop into each one or hope that you just randomly stumble into the perfect store. Do some research beforehand and read reviews.

We’ve listed a few stores below, but you probably want to do your own research too in case you’re looking for something specific.

Notable Stores to Check Out

Philadelphia's Jeweler's Row has over 300 jewelers within the 3 blocks. If you're not sure where to start your search for the perfect engagement ring, we've got a few suggestions. These stores all have developed strong reputations for customer service and trustworthiness.

  • Marchi (737 Walnut St.): John Marchiafava has over 35 years managing stores on Jeweler's Row, and Marchi is his small store where he represents hand-selected artists specializing in unique handcrafted jewelry. He is also a passionate jeweler himself, who loves bringing customers' ideas to life. From traditional rings to more unique and alternative stones, Marchi's goal is to help everyone create the perfect engagement ring within their budget.

  • Harry Merill & Son (124 S 8th St.): Now into the 3rd generation, this family jeweler aims to provide an intimate and relaxed place to learn about diamonds and shop. They treat each customer like family and take the time to guide them through this big purchase. They specialize in custom designs, but also have a large selection of estate jewelry and retro rings.

  • Safian & Rudolph (701 Sansom St.): A family business that's been on Jeweler's Row for 3 generations, Safian & Rudolph earned their trusted reputation for top-notch customer service. They believe that everyone deserves to be heard. Their goal is to help customers create the perfect piece to express their love. They make beautiful, unique pieces with diamonds and other gemstones.

Tips for Shopping in the Philadelphia Jeweler's Row

© CreditDonkey

So now comes the fun part: going shopping.

Unfortunately, this experience could also be stressful and unpleasant, especially when faced with pushy salespeople. Here are some tips to keep in mind in order to have a happy experience:

  • Do not ever feel pressured into making a purchase. And do not ever feel uncertain about a diamond or the price. If you had spent some time learning about the 4C’s and diamond prices, then you should have some idea of what to expect.

    If you’re at a store and feel like the salesperson is pushing the hard sell or is using shady tactics (such as “This awesome deal only lasts today. Normally the price is $XXXX, so I’m giving you a good deal!”), then walk out. You should always feel comfortable and happy about the purchase. And deals on diamonds don’t exist.

  • Ask to examine the diamond. A good store will let you examine the diamond with a professional jeweler’s loupe and even light performance tools. If a store does not let you examine and compare diamonds and claim that their diamond is high-quality without any proof, that doesn’t sound very trustworthy. Take your business to another store who does not try to hide information.

  • Make sure you get a certification from a reliable lab. We recommend only buying diamonds graded by GIA or AGS, as these two labs have the highest standards, and more importantly, are reliable. Other labs may not grade to the same standards. So a diamond graded as having a color of H by one lab may in actuality only be a J by GIA or AGS.

  • Understand the store refund policy and warranties. A lot of stores will offer a full refund within 14-30 days. But some stores may only offer store credit (which is useless, because why would you spend your money there again if you didn’t like it the first time around?). Be very, very clear about the store’s policy before handing over any money. Also ask about their other policies such as warranty and diamond trade-up.

  • Use a credit card for purchase protection. We don’t mean that you should charge the ring if you don’t have the cash (because ideally, you should only spend what you can afford). But a credit card does give you certain protections, such as if the item you received is not what was promised.

  • Get a receipt and have all agreements/policies written down. This is very important. After you have made a purchase, make sure the receipt clearly states the store name, address, item, purchase amount, and date of purchase. In addition to that, have the store rep write down all verbal agreements and the refund policy, just in case a less-than-reputable store tries to go back on its word later.

Conclusion

We’re not going to lie and say that shopping at a diamond district (anywhere) will be completely stress-free. But if you do your homework beforehand, you’ll have an easier time. We cannot stress it enough: research, research, and research. Learn about the 4C’s and diamond prices, and read reviews of stores you may want to visit.

Just remember, you should feel comfortable every step of the way. Don’t ever feel like you’re being pressured. If a salesperson is making you tense, just walk out. There are hundreds of other stores you can visit instead. We hope we gave you a good starting point in our shortlist.

And lastly, are the prices at the Philadelphia Diamond District really cheaper? In our opinion, not really. Of course they’re cheaper than prestigious branded stores, but for the most part, prices are on a par with online stores such as James Allen. So if you like being able to look at diamonds in person, you may find better prices compared to high-end stores, but don’t expect outrageous deals either.

Have fun and good luck!

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

More from CreditDonkey:


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How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring


Best Place to Buy Engagement Ring Online

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