Hidden Camera Video Reveals Just How High Diamond Markups Can Be

jewelry store diamond markup
Jacob Worth took a hidden camera to high-end jewelry stores and here’s what he found out about markups.

If you’ve ever suspected that the price markups on jewelry, diamonds in particular, was pretty high, a new undercover project reveals just how extreme it really is.

Jacob Worth took a hidden camera inside some of New York City’s most luxurious diamond retailers, including Tiffany, Cartier, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef. According to the footage Worth captured, many jewelers are selling diamonds virtually identical to each other, under markups well beyond the average for retail. With his investigative work, Worth determined which of the luxury brands charges the most for the same stones.

As Worth states in the video, “Brand-name stores depend on people believing their diamonds are special. It’s how they get away with charging you so much money.“ And he set out to find out exactly how much.

Watching the video, a few key things are learned. Firstly, none of the stores Worth visited allowed him to take photos of the jewelry or their price tags. He took pictures anyway. Secondly, some of the salespeople spout nonsense in order to make a sale, such as telling him their luxury diamonds are mined in the U.S. (they’re not — the only diamonds produced in America or synthetic). And, lastly, the markup on virtually the same diamonds may far exceed what you’d expect.

Tiffany’s markup for a solitaire engagement ring: more than 250 percent. Cartier’s markup was over 275 percent while Van Cleef’s was 314 percent and Harry Winston’s clocked in around 336 percent. Most retail markups, according to business resources like Entrepreneur magazine are around 50 percent. Is a shiny rock worth that much markup? In the end, that’s up to you, the “buyer” part of that old adage, “buyer beware.”

Worth, not coincidentally, is the founder of a web company called I Want What It’s Worth that helps individuals restore and sell jewelry, so it’s clear he’s not exactly an objective bystander. However, he does point out that he’s not attempting to condemn markups. Taking a wholesale price and adding a percentage on top of it is what drives profit in most, if not all, businesses. But if any lesson is to be learned from his secret videos it’s that you should never take anything as precious as a $75,000 piece of jewelry at face value.

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