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Who This Article Is For
This article is made to help my readers gain clarity and confidence in their purchase. Whether it’s buying a loose diamond or a set engagement ring, you will learn how to choose with confidence. Get ready to save money as well by avoiding unnecessary overspending. Buying a diamond can be tricky. And walking into a jewelry store with no education can be costly. Follow along with my Diamond Buying Guide and learn How To Buy Diamonds with confidence.
1. Set a budget:
The first rule of this Diamond Buying Guide. Let’s get rid of the old rule of 2 months of salary. No rule applies to everyone and their situation. This is a symbol of love and commitment not going above your means. With that said, it’s important to know your significant other expectations. Do they prefer dainty like this classic .96 engagement ringsolitaire ring? Or do they like more flair and dazzle like this 1.54 carat on a stunning Cambridge Halo Platinum Ring? But learning you can adjust your search with small changes. As a start get a baseline.
My advice, compare pricing using these two top vendors to see what diamonds they offer and compare.
Round is the most popular and is labeled the Cut King. If your significant other isn’t leaving hints of their favorite shape, take a look at their Pinterest or maybe ask a best friend to be sure you pick the diamond shape of their dreams. Round is the most popular following Princess, Oval, and Emerald.
3. Learn the 4 C’s and Narrow your search:
Once you have chosen the shape, it’s time to understand how the 4 C’s (Carat, Clarity, Color and Cut) interact with it. The 4 C’s represent the most important definitive characteristics of a diamond.
I always recommend starting with your goal in carat weight. So when you go to search a site like James Allen, you can specify only to choose to see 1-carat diamonds. See below a sample of what the search sliders look like.
Start at the goal carat weight. You can then adjust the values to see where the prices is in conjunction with your budget. A quick tip. Shopping for a .90 can yield a deep discount versus a 1 carat. Typically, every .50 of a carat means a jump in price. Sometimes you find a rare 1.85 at a great deal.
Next is Cut Grade. If you are searching for a round diamond, I suggest you search for an ideal cut. A fancy shape(any other diamond other than round) does not come with a cut grade from GIA. Too many variables at play so the cut is left for the viewer to decide. I have two articles that I will list showing how to find the right cut grade in both sites. Follow those guide lines if you need a fancy cut.
Color is the next choice to make. You do not need to pick a D or E color. The human eye can’t typically even see the difference between a D or an H-F color. Depending on the shape of stone you choose, a G-I color is a perfect range to shop for. Round diamonds hide color very well and a H-I color works perfectly.
Clarity is your next option to choose. The main criteria is to make sure the diamond is eye clean. If I show you a Flawless diamond next to a SI1 that’s eye clean, is there a benefit to the flawless other than bragging rights? Save money and choose an eye-clean SI1 if possible. Diamonds like emeralds typically require a vs1.
If you are under budget, congrats! Feel free to go for heavier carat weight. If it’s over budget, keep adjusting the parameters of clarity and color to see how close your budget is reached. Hopefully, you have found this Diamond Buying Guide helpful thus far. Reach out and email me if you need help navigating these sites. To go deeper in this How To Buy Diamonds Guide, Click on this article to learn more about the 4 C’s.
Once you have found some options, go even deeper and check their length to width ratios, fluorescence, table percentages, etc. Feel free to reach out to me, A GIA trained Diamond Expert to help How To Buy Diamonds.
4. Choosing your engagement ring:
What I love about the different engagement ring options is they can help with the visual tremendously. Let’s say you were shy about reaching a certain carat goal. A ring choice like a Halo, Vintage style, or 3 Stone ring will give it the extra size to appear much larger. So a .80 carat diamond on a beautiful Halo diamond engagement ring setting can be a stunner.
Again personal engagement ring preference of your significant other is important. If you are unable to find any information, you can always go by whats popular. Click on this link or banner to see an article from Blue Nile on their Top 20 Engagement Ring Styles. This will give you an understanding of what engagement rings are popular. You can also go to recently purchased rings from clients, filter the shape, price, and style to see what others are doing and get inspired. Click here to see some recent clients rings.
Here is a video I made showing how to navigate online search bars and help you narrow down your search.
The first task to complete in this journey is finding out what Diamond Shapes you are going to buy. If you’re lucky enough to know; that is one less thing to be stressed about. If you are unsure then hopefully this guide can shed some light on your concerns. Read on to learn whatattributes to look for. If you need any advice click on this link to contact me.
SCROLL DOWN TO FIND YOUR DESIRED DIAMOND SHAPE
DIFFERENT DIAMOND SHAPES
Considered KING when it comes to brilliance. The original round brilliant-cut was developed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. The modern round brilliant consists of 58 facets. The Round Diamond is King in terms of the popularity of Diamond Shapes. Known to be the diamond with the most brilliance, fire and sparkle, it’s no wonder why it’s loved. It’s classical and timeless. The diamond’s CUTgrade impacts this diamond shape the most. In addition, its known to be pricer than other cuts due to 50% of the rough being utilized to create it. But, It’s also a diamond shape that hidesclarity imperfections and lowercolor best. Of all Diamond Shapes, Round is the most popular.
BUYING TIP– Look for a length to width ratio of 1.00-1.03. Remember rounds hide imperfections and lower colors best. Buying the Diamond Shape round with a grade of very good is still a beautiful diamond. Excellent is of course ideal and sometimes doesn’t have such a high premium. Cut is king so if you’re gonna stretch a budget, cut is the thing to do it for.
A round diamond cut quality is dependent on certain variables such as table and depth percentages, girdle, polish, and symmetry, for a prefiltered list of top cuts click here
Each site has a premium round. I would say with proper homework you can find a beautiful round diamond outside of these prime selections. Consider these no guesswork, hand picked selection for ideal cuts.
James Allen sells the Ultimate in Diamond Brilliance, look for a Hearts and Arrows True Hearts Diamond. Seen from above, a Hearts and Arrows diamond shows an arrow pattern. When displayed on its pavilion side, the diamond presents the eye with 8 hearts with tiny ‘v’ shapes. Genuine Hearts and Arrows have these patterns visible at a single glance, indicating that the diamond has perfect optical symmetry.
What I love aboutJames Allen is they provide actual photographs of all the True Hearts Diamonds. You know when you go this route, you are getting the top of cut, symmetry, and polish for a reasonable premium.
Blue Nile has their Astor line. Here is a link for a filtered Astor Round Diamond. This is Blue Nile’ s hand picked selection with triple excellent diamonds scoring excellently in Cut, Symmetry and Polish. On their website it reads, “Exceptionally rare, only 1 in every 1,000 diamonds possess the potential to achieve Astor by Blue Nile™ status. They are curated and analyzed by two independent industry experts to unlock ultimate brilliance.”. Sounds like a steal if the price is right.
I tell my clients, it doesn’t hurt to compare your findings against a top tier selection. Sometimes the premium is slight which if it’s in the case inside of budget, a perfect cut is the most valuable aspect of the diamond. This is not the only way to find a beautiful diamond, it just takes the guess work out.
The princess cut is the second most popular cut shape for diamonds. The princess cut is a relatively new diamond cut, having been created in the 1960s. It is cheaper to buy than the round as the rough is utilized more. Compared to other diamonds in the same shape, Princess cut diamonds give out more brilliance and sparkle than the others. Beware when purchasing. BUYING TIP. GIA CERTIFICATE DOES NOT grade CUT for the princess. It’s very important to use a company like James Allen or Blue Nile that has detailed images of the diamond. A diamond with a good shape and sparkle will stand out. The only certificate that grades CUT in fancy shapes like the princess is AGS . Of all Diamond Shapes, Princess is the second popular.
Here are things to look for:
For Table Percentage, stay under 75%. Avoid princess cuts whose table percentage is higher than 85% or lower than 55%.
A Depth between 65% and 75% for the best balance of brilliance to size.
Length to width ratio of 1.0-1.05.
Longer Rectangular Princess will be cheaper and may look better to you(subjective)
Hide lower clarity and color well.
A Princess diamond cut quality is dependent on certain variables such as table and depth percentages, girdle, polish, and symmetry, for a prefiltered list of top cuts click here-
AGS certification is the only trusted cut grade for Princess. Click HERE, I have created a custom search link in James Allen for Princess Cuts with only AGS certification. Here you can ensure you have a great cut certified. You can also ways play with search criteria from these sites under certification. It’s not the only way to find a great cut. Images help the buyer see the diamond sparkle. You can always contact us by clicking here for search advice.
Brian Gavin has a selection of their personal collection they have cut themselves for Princess, all coming with AGS certification as Excellent cuts. I would say this selection is Brian Gavin’s biggest strength. Click HERE to find them.
Oval-Cut Diamonds give a beautiful sparkle and style. It’s recommended you choose an H color to be on the safe side and Si1 clarity. Occasionally you can find an SI2 that looks great but it’s not too common. The length to width ratio is equally important to ensure you have a classic oval shape. The oval diamond is a beautiful and popular choice for those who want to make their hand look slimmer. In addition, these stones are usually priced lower than round Brilliant cuts which makes them an even better purchase!
One must evaluate an Oval diamond closely as it’s not as simple as a round diamond to grade. GIA doesn’t classify cut grades for any shape other than round. An Oval diamond cut quality is dependent on certain variables such as table and depth percentages, girdle, polish, and symmetry, for a prefiltered list of top cuts click here-
Take a look and click on this link to view an oval diamond that has the same 4 C’s but has a drastic difference in cut and looks. Stone A vs Stone B You can see the shape of the diamond is the most important feature, not the traditional 4C’s.
FOR A FULL OVAL DIAMOND BUYING GUIDE CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW
Growing in popularity, the cushion cut is known as the romantic stone. Known for its sparkle in a candlelit setting. Once referred to as old mine cut. It combines a square cut with rounded corners, much like a pillow (hence the name). Traditional cushion cut diamond shapes return light in a chunkier pattern than modern cuts. I would say that the cushion looks amazing in a vintage style ring. If vintage is your thing, the cushion is a winner. They are not available in abundance, so online is the way to go.
Cushion cut in an ideal shape is bottom heavy. When searching, find Cushions with a depth under 70% and a table under 70%. Any depth over 70 runs the risk of extreme bottom heaviness. Causing the diamond to go lifeless and appear smaller from the top view. This is not to have you shy away from this purchase but that’s just the nature of the shape.
BUYING TIP .
GIA CERTIFICATE DOES NOT grade CUT for CUSHION DIAMONDS It’s very important to use a company like James Allen or Blue Nile that has detailed images of the diamond.
Here are things to look for:
Cushion-Cut Diamonds are usually square but can be rectangular as well.
This Diamond was made for a vintage style setting and compliments the look.
Keep your length to width ratio of 1 – 1.06. If the stone is on the long side, 1.15-1.30.
You always want to see an image of what you are buying because proportions play a big role here.
Know that it will not look larger than a round. An Ideal Cushion is likely a bit middle & bottom heavy. This will cause it to appear smaller from top view.
Cushion Cuts have a larger table-So don’t go lower than SI1. Imperfections are more visible. Color also shows strongly. H color or better.
Don’t expect a super shiny brilliant diamond. Cushion Cuts are not known for this.
A Cushion diamond cut quality is dependent on certain variables such as table and depth percentages, girdle, polish, and symmetry, for a prefiltered list of top cuts click here-
Since GIA doesn’t give Cushion Cuts cut grades, I highly recommend clicking this link to Brian Gavin’s Cushion cut hearts and arrowsline. Its all AGS certified as excellent cut. Brian Gavin is a master diamond cutter that has created Excellent cut grades for Cushion, Princess and Emerald.
James Allen also allows you to search for AGS certified only stones. Here is a custom search link only showing AGS certified stones. Again, this isn’t the only way as you can inspect cut with your eye or reach out to me here. This way only takes the guess work out.
PEAR SHAPE DIAMOND:
The Pear Diamond is so unique, often referred to as the teardrop shape. Probably not the most popular but stands out. It’s probably one of my personal favorites. Its different has a beautiful sparkle and gives a large appearance. The pear is a combination of a round and a marquise shape, with a tapered point on one end. Another big plus is it hides imperfections well like the round. Color has to be H color or better.
Color starts from the tip of the diamond which is front and center to the eye. See the example of a J color.
Length to with Ratio is a Huge factor in this shape. Usually between a 1.50- 1.70 is considered ideal. This is also Subjective. To short and you have a stubby diamond. Too long and it looks like a skinny tooth. See below.
As you can see, its vital to see a picture or detailed 360 image like James Allen or Blue Nile has when buying this shape.
WARNING- Look out for the Bow Tie Effect. It’s usually going to be slightly evident but you don’t want a strong characteristic of the bowtie. See the images below to learn why they call it the bowtie effect.
BUYING TIP: While the length to width ratio of classic pear-shaped Diamond Shapes is 1.40-1.70, personal preference will again dictate the choice.
things to look for:
H color or better, as stated earlier color shows strong from the tip. Feel free to go to SI1-SI2 for the best value. Try to not get any imperfections on the table of the diamond.
The unique look of The Emerald Diamond is created by the step-like cuts. Its table is wide open and the diamond has a mirror effect rather than a shimmering diamond characteristic. This diamond may not have a lot of sparkle, but its classy and elegant.
Length to Width is a huge buying feature to look out for. a 1.50 is considered the ideal length to width ratio, however, the 1.30 l/w is starting to get popular. This goes down to personal preference. Take a look at the samples below for length to width ratios and how they change the appearance of the diamond.
As you can see, its vital to see a picture or detailed 360 images like James Allen or Blue Nile when buying this shape.
Because of how clear the diamond is, you can see imperfections much easier. Take a look at this sample round diamond with a SI2 rating and then the Emerald with a VS2 rating. Lesson hear you want to stick to vs2 and above. Remember placement of imperfection is everything.
Brian Gavin has a Specialty Line Of Emerald Cuts with Excellent Cuts. Worth investigating for a premium cut. Emerald is not known necessarily known for there brilliant shine, but a perfect Diamond Shapes helps bring out the most from it.
Diamond Shapes all have their pros and cons. Follow the following link to go deeper than Diamond Shapes and learn about the 4 C’s.
diamond cut quality is dependent on certain variables such as table and depth percentages, girdle, polish, and symmetry, for a prefiltered list of top cuts click here-
The right answer depends on you, the buyer, expectations and what you are comfortable with. Thank DeBeer’s and their marketing ploy in the 1930’s for the 1 carat diamond ring and beyond. Linking diamonds with emotion and here we are today in a world full of expectations. Knowing the expectations of your significant other is a good start. Their personality can give you subtle clues. Is your significant other a simple, free-spirited hippy who loves walks on the beach and staying in. Or rather an ambitious globe trotter with a thirst for luxury items. Know their expectations to avoid negative vibes.
The average size hovers around a 1 carat engagement ring. CreditDonkey conducted an independent survey across several major cities in the U.S. The results we found were:
Los Angeles: 0.83 carat
New York City: 1.45 carat
Chicago: 1.29 carat
Dallas: 1.04 carat
Miami: 1.08 carat
More important is getting something you can afford. This is supposed to be a symbol of love so don’t go in over your head. This leads me to the next topic. How to buy smart and maximize your purchase. Here are some great tips to get you to a 1 carat engagement ring and beyond.
Getting the best value
The 4 C’s describe the buying criteria for buying Diamonds. Cut is of the highest priority as it is the aspect that impacts the beauty of the diamond the strongest. A well-cut .90 carat will look like the same size as a decent cut 1 carat. See the sample image below.
These two Princess cut Diamonds are the same carat weight. Can you see a visible difference in size? Its clear the diamond on the left is bigger. Their measurements on left are 5.65 x 5.61 vs the right 5.32 x 5.14.
NEWS FLASH! DIAMOND CLARITY IS OVERRATED!
Choose A Lower Clarity! Si1 is the perfect grade to choose from. You can occasionally find a great choice in SI2. Below is an example of how you can filter different attributes like clarity and color.
I suggest you leave in the slider SI2-SI1 and VS2. The reason for leaving VS2 is there are sometimes deals happening and you may find a great find with higher clarity. For a more expensive debate on Clarity Click Here on My Diamond Clarity Article.
Sites like James Allen has HD 360 viewing of every diamond on their site. You can see diamonds zoomed in by 20x-40x. This will give you confidence in your purchase.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A 20X ZOOMED IN DIAMOND ON JAMES ALLEN
As you can see some Inclusions(diamond flaws) are white and are deeper or off centered causing them to not be as noticeable. Further proving the point that not all SI1 Diamond grades are the same. This is again why I only recommend vendors such as James Allen, Blue Nile & Brian Gavinthat have proven track records of thousands of happy clients and real images and video of their diamonds in regular lighting magnified so you can judge and evaluate more accurately.
click on the image above to visit James Allen and learn more.
The reason why its so important to be able to clearly see a diamond.
The more closely a diamond approaches colorless, the more they are valued. As a tip found in mydiamond color guide, you will see the sweet spot for value is in between H-J color. In terms of hierarchy in the 4 C’s of Diamonds, I consider it 3rd in importance. See below for a sample chart.
A Diamond color under M is not recommended. In the illustration below you will see samples of color. HOWEVER, when the diamond is facing up that color is harder to see. Consequently, this is why I love that H-J color. Again see myColor guide for tips best colors depending on what diamond shapeyou are buying. See this example of a J Color Diamond mounted below. Learn how Diamond Florescence can improve your J color diamond.
DO YOU SEE A LOT OF COLOR?
example of a J Color Diamond mounted
color chart showing color illustrations
Most noteworthy, remember Color starts from the tip of the stone towards the face. Different shapes can affect diamond color. A round diamond hides color very well. In contrast, when buying a Pear shape or Emerald, you must choose a higher color. See images below for an example. For recommendations per shape regarding color, visit myColor page for deeper info.
Diamond Carat is considered 4th in importance in the 4 C’s of Diamonds. Costumers usually default to this because size is easily visible to the human eye. While color and clarity are hard to see. It’s the obvious aspect that adds expense as there really isn’t a way around it. Size cost money. A 0.95 carat vs a 1 carat diamond has a large price jump. Each fraction can make a large difference in cost. There is no shame if your budget doesn’t allow for a good quality 1 carat diamond ring. A beautifully cut .90 or .74 can look beautiful and almost the same size as a 1 carat engagement ring. Not to mention you have options in engagement rings like halo and double halos that add to the presence of the ring.
Click on the image below to view samples of created rings purchased by real people to get an idea of what it can look like.
Below are pages from James Allen & Blue Nile that shows you real rings created by recent customers. This can help you get an idea of what your ring can look like.
SAMPLE IMAGE OF BLUE NILE’S RECENTLY PURCHASED.
CLICK IMAGE TO VISIT SECTION FOR IDEAS.
SAMPLE IMAGES OF JAMES ALLEN RECENTLY PURCHASED.
CLICK IMAGE TO VISIT SECTION FOR IDEAS.
you can filter 1 carat diamond ring and different shapes and sizes
“A 1 carat diamond ring may be the average, but it’s not the rule”
5 Reasons Why Buying Diamond Engagement Ring Online Is Better + The Nitty-Gritty: Walking into a jewelry store feels a little like walking into a car dealer. A salesperson is there to upsell you and push you to a stone not because its the perfect match for your needs. But rather because it’s one of the few, they have that match your price point. Retail stores spend easily over 10k to 30,000 in special lighting to make a Diamond Engagement Ring dazzle. You may be looking at a flawed diamond but the lighting enhances the sparkle masking imperfections. The Bottom line- Yes you can find a beautiful diamond in a retail store BUT! It will be 20-45% higher price point with a risk of buying a diamond improperly certified(paying more for an inferior diamond grade). Jared and many mall jewelry stores are notorious for this. Read Below for the 5 Reasons Why Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online Is Better Than Retail.
1. Massive amounts of inventory
Imagine you walk into a store. Say you want a princess shape and a budget of 5,000. They may have 2-3 stones that match your price point. Now you are forced to evaluate 2-3 stones that may not even have the right combination of attributes that you want. Maybe if the two options they have, one stone is bottom heavy and the other has a long length to width ratio. The last stone is great but way over budget. You are forced to choose between two undesirables and going above your means. Online, we can find hundreds. We have the power to critically filter the most important attributes and get the best quality diamond at the best price. Sites like James Allen & Blue Nileclaim access to 150,000 diamonds.
2. Better Pricing
It makes sense that buying a Diamond Engagement Ring Online is cheaper. An Online Business has no expensive retail storefront needed. No sales teams, commissions, security, or heavy insurance needed. Those savings get passed on to you. Online Vendors like James Allen & Blue
Nile makes small percentages and rely on more transactions versus bigger profit margins to keep the retail doors open. If you have an unlimited budget and it doesn’t bother you to pay more for the same product then retail stores are for you. If you are more price conscious and prefer more budget to be spent on a better diamond then online is the best option.
3. You can’t TOUCH – BUT You Can SEE BETTER Online!
Let me explain. As stated in The Nitty Gritty, when you walk into a retail store, they will present a diamond under enhanced lighting. They proceed by placing it on a table in front of you to evaluate. As you try to see it with your naked eye, its so small its hard to evaluate. Especially when its sparkling under enhanced lighting. There can be a big black spec in the middle but every time you turn the diamond light hits your eye and its not noticeable.
They then hand you a loupe. A loupe is a small finger 10 times magnification tool. This is when you can get a better look if you are able to use the Loupe tool correctly. Even worse if the store gives you a mounted diamond. It’s Even harder to evaluate with the prongs hiding additional imperfections
You have to hold the diamond with tweezers in one hand and hold it up to your face with the loupe on the other hand. Sure it works, but its cumbersome.
HERE IS THE DIFFERENCE– Vendors like James Allen , Blue Nile and Brian Gavinhave 15x-20x zoomed images and video of the diamond. They light the diamond in standard lighting to grade subjectively. A huge advantage for buying your Diamond Engagement Ring Online.
This is HUGE. This is how you can search on James Allen. This is what I consider a strong benefit Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online. I may not be able to touch, but I can purchase with more confidence because I can see clearly without pressure and choose what’s right for me. Not based on enhanced lighting and a salesman pushing me. This leads me to 4.
4. No Pressure, Buy On Your Time At Your Pace
Search for diamonds on your lunch break, at home or whenever convenient. Instead of driving to three stores which can take hours. Just visit another website and compare your findings with a clear mind. Nobody likes a salesman pushing you towards a certain purchase. People may not realize this but certain stones that have a better profit margin will be pushed to clients by sales reps. The sales reps advice may sound sincere but clients don’t realize the hidden agenda.
5. Save On Sales Tax
To top it off you get to save an additional 7% off of tax. Online does not tax your sale. Big win for online.
Buying Diamond Engagement Ring Online For The Win!
CONCLUSION: Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online Wins in my book. If you are hesitant. Feel free to go to a retail store to get pricing. Write down the attributes of the diamond and compare. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with the online savings.
Here is a video I made showing how to navigate online search bars and help you narrow down your search.