What exactly does a personal jeweler do?

A personal jeweler, often called a “private jeweler,” usually refers to a person (or a small group of people) who makes custom pieces of jewelry on behalf of clients, as opposed to operating a retail jewelry store. A good personal jeweler can offer expert advice as well as a level of one-on-one service that isn’t usually achieved by even high-end retailers. Like a retailer, a personal jeweler typically works with third-party gem dealers and craftspeople to fabricate his or her jewelry.

My brother-in-law has ``a guy” on 47th street - why do I need you?

First, there are good people in the diamond trade, and there are not-so-good people. Even a reputable dealer may present stones to you that have good GIA gradings but may have other issues that you are not trained to recognize. If you don’t have an informed representative who can inspect the stone you’re getting, you are putting yourself at risk.

Second, while dealers on 47th street are typically excellent salespeople, they often lack design insight and can’t provide the type of guidance you should expect in terms of how to showcase your stone’s beauty through its setting. You can go to them for simple settings, but you likely aren’t going to end up with a luxury-looking piece.

Serpentine Jewels protects its clients from dealers trying to offload subpar inventory (don’t assume that a dealer who is a friend-of-a-friend has your best interests at heart). We also offer design expertise that will elevate even the finest stone to another level.

Are you a designer too?

Yes. Serpentine Jewels’ Founder Ali Galgano holds a certificate in Fine Jewelry Design from the GIA and is well known for her aesthetic sensibility. We also collaborate with a team of established master designers to ensure every detail of your vision is captured.

Do you sell other designers’ jewelry?

Yes. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to design a piece of jewelry from scratch if exactly what you want is already out there. If you’re looking for a ready-made piece, or something very similar to what’s already on the market, we can source it for you from the wide network of designers we work with — maybe even at a discount.

How do you make money?

For an explanation of our business model please see the “How We Work” page here.

Where do you get your diamonds?

We have access to the same quality stones, from many of the same dealers, as high-end jewelers like Harry Winston, Cartier, and Tiffany. We also use many of the same manufacturers that these brands use for their highest-end offerings.

Are any of your diamonds conflict diamonds or “blood diamonds?``

We work only with diamond dealers who source conflict-free diamonds. Serpentine Jewels never, ever, ever sources or sells conflict diamonds.

Isn’t it cheaper to buy a diamond online?

Stones for sale online are very often “bottom of the barrel” stones. We strongly advise against buying a stone that you (or someone you trust) can’t touch and feel. Though the GIA grading system that determines a diamond’s quality and value is reliable, there are idiosyncrasies that make each stone respond visually in a different way than the numbers might suggest. This is part of the vetting process we offer with our services so that you are only presented with the most spectacular stones. Online retailers also almost always use cheaper cast settings, while our settings are entirely handmade.

Why is a handmade setting so important?

Like a custom-tailored suit, having a handmade mounting means that it’s been made for the exact dimensions of your stone. This means that your ring has the minimal amount of metal required to accommodate its design and structure. The end result is a more brilliant and beautiful final product. However, it’s just as important that your ring is handmade by the right person. Our experience is that highly skilled artisans are hard to come by and we’ve spent years cultivating those relationships.

How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

Everyone’s budget is different. Our goal is to work with you to maximize value within that budget. We’ll let you know if what you’re looking for isn’t possible within your budget and provide creative alternatives to make sure you can get a truly special piece.

I’m not in NYC - can I still buy something from Serpentine Jewels?

Certainly! We work with clients around the world by video chat, phone, and email.

But won’t my girlfriend want a little blue box?

In our experience, the vast majority of women would prefer a nicer or larger stone over a brand name ring. Our high end rings are of equal quality to those sold by the highest end retail stores, made with the same quality stones by many of the same manufacturers as those stores, but at a much fairer price point.

Can I involve my girlfriend in the process of purchasing her engagement ring without it being awkward?

Increasingly, we find more and more women getting involved in the process. Although it may feel like it eliminates a bit of the surprise element, practically speaking, it helps ensure that she’ll love the ring. We can include her in the process and still have it feel romantic. You can also ask her to fill out a personal profile and we’ll take care of the rest together.

I found a stone at retail with the specs I’m looking for an incredible price - what’s the catch?

Not all stones with the same GIA or “4C” gradings are created equal. You often can’t judge a stone by looking its certificate, and if it feels like you’re getting a bargain, you probably aren’t. It takes an expert who knows what she or he is doing to help you discern between stones, even with the very same specs. The source of your diamond is as important as its price, and bargain stones are priced that way for a reason.

Why is a handmade mounting so important?

Like a custom-tailored suit, having a handmade mounting means that it’s been made for the exact dimensions of your stone. This means that your ring has the minimal amount of metal required to accommodate its design and structure. The end result is a more brilliant and beautiful final product. However, it’s just as important that your ring is handmade by the right person. Our experience is that highly skilled artisans are hard to come by and we’ve spent years cultivating those relationships.

May I purchase just the setting from you?

Definitely. We work with many clients who inherit stones or have fine jewelry they want to repurpose.

May I purchase the diamond from you and take the stone elsewhere to have it set?

You may, but we strongly advise against this approach unless you’ve thoroughly vetted the manufacturer’s past work.