buying diamond online

How To Buy Diamonds | Diamond Buying Guide

A Diamond Buying Guide | How To Buy Diamonds 

This Diamond Buying Guide 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 ring solitaire 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.

Click Here for the starting page for James Allen.

Click Here for the starting page of Blue Nile.

2. Pick a shape

The beginning of your search must be the diamond shape.  Each diamond shape has different search criteria such as clarity, symmetry and color that works best.   Each shape has a different cost so searching multiple shapes at the same time will leave you frustrated.  For example, Take a look at this 1 carat SI 1 clarity H color Princess cut diamond for $3,340 vs   this Round 1 carat SI1 clarity H color Diamond for $4,610.  Each shape has there pros and cons.

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.

How To Buy A Diamond | Diamond Buying Guide

click on the image above to go the their search page

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.

James Allen Cut Guide –  Bluenile Cut Guide.

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 criterion is to make sure the diamond is eye-clean.  If I show you a Flawless diamond next to an eye-clean SI1 Diamond, 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 a 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 what’s 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. 

Is an Engagement Ring over 1 Carat necessary?

Is a 1-carat engagement ring necessary?

Is buying an engagement ring over one carat necessary? This is a question that I get asked a lot here and it’s a valid one. After all, spending upwards of $9,000 on a piece of jewelry is not something to take lightly. However, there are a few things to consider before making your final decision. Here’s what you need to know about carat weight when shopping for an engagement ring.  The right answer depends on you, the buyer, your expectations, and what you are comfortable with.  Thank DeBeer’s and their marketing ploy in the 1930’s for the 1-carat engagement 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.

1. The average cost of an engagement ring is $5,000 – is it worth it to spend that much on a piece of jewelry?

Engagement rings have always been seen as a symbol of commitment and love, but are diamond engagement rings worth the hefty $5,000 tag price? Some may consider it to be a questionable purchase, however, diamond engagement rings can remain beautiful for years to come if cared for properly and can truly ensure an everlasting bond between two people. Whether spending $5,000 or less on an engagement ring, the promise made through commitment is invaluable and will undoubtedly last much longer than the diamond itself

Getting the best 1-carat engagement ring 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. 1-carat engagement ring

These two Princess cut Diamonds are the same carat weight. Can you see a visible difference in size? It’s 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.

2. How does the size of an engagement ring affect its value?

Although 1 carat engagement rings are the traditional size of an engagement ring, it doesn’t mean that 1 carat is always best when it comes to value. The size and weight of an engagement ring does affect its value; a larger diamond will be more expensive due to its rarity and perception of grandeur. Going bigger might seem like the obvious choice, but it’s important to consider how large you want the ring – too big can create a lack of balance while too small could make it look insignificant! It all boils down to finding that sweet spot where size meets value. Ultimately, it’s not about how big your ring is – they say diamonds are forever, and you can guarantee that 1 carat rocks just as much as any other stone!


3. Are there any economical ways to get an engagement ring that still looks expensive and luxurious without spending as much money?

Certainly, there are ways to play with variables to get the best priced value stone.  Popular music video talk about t VVS1 diamonds but that type of quality is not necessary. Diamond quality is increased in small nominal levels. Ofetn, clarity grades like si1 and I or H color are the sweet spot.  If a human eye cant perceive the difference between an SI1 clarity and vvs1, then why pay more?  See more examples on this below.


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.

buying 1 carat engagement ring

click on image to view James Allen Search Methods

buying a 1 carat engagement ring

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.


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 Gavin that 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.

Save Money Buying Your Engagement Ring

Click on the image above to visit James Allen and learn more.

The reason why it’s so important is 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 my diamond 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.

Diamond Color Chart

A Diamond color under M is not recommended for a 1-carat engagement ring.    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 my Color guide for tips best colors depending on what diamond shape you 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? 4 C's of Diamonds

example of a J Color Diamond mounted

4 C's of Diamonds

color chart showing color illustrations

Most noteworthy, remember Color starts from the tip of the stone towards the face.  Different shapes can affect the 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 my Color page for deeper info.

4 C's of Diamonds


4 C's of Diamonds

Diamond Carat is considered 4th in importance in the 4 C’s of Diamonds.  Customers 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 costs money. A 0.95 carat vs a 1-carat engagement ring 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 they 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.






1-carat engagement ring

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”

Lab diamonds

For those of us who are budget conscious but don’t want to skimp on a statement-worthy engagement ring, lab diamonds might just be the trick. Lab diamonds, also known as lab-grown diamonds, offer the same visual appeal and quality craftsmanship as a traditionally mined diamond without the hefty price tag.  They test positive for diamonds and they are optically and chemically the same.  It’s a great way to save money while still having a luxurious-looking accessory – it may be your bank account and soon-to-be fiancé that actually sparkles!



4. Why do people spend so much money on engagement rings when they could buy a car or put the money towards a down payment on a house instead?

It’s an age-old question – Why do people typically spend so much money on engagement rings when it could be used for a down payment on a house or even a car? If you were to trace the roots of this phenomenon, you’d likely come across DeBeers. The diamond giant has popularized the notion that two months’ worth of salary should be spent on an engagement ring since the late 1930s. While DeBeers has stirred up controversy around their campaigns, they have succeeded in making diamond rings one of the most popular gifts for newly engaged couples which perpetuates the cycle. Whether it’s due to deBeers’ marketing campaigns or something else, diamonds remain embedded in our culture as signifiers of love and commitment.


All in all, buying an engagement ring is a very personal decision. There are many factors to consider besides just the cost of the ring. Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not you think the ring is worth the price tag. Just remember, a bigger diamond does not necessarily mean a better diamond. And if you are looking for ways to save money on an engagement ring without skimping on quality or style, there are definitely options out there for you – so don’t be afraid to ask around or do some research before making your final purchase. So tell us, what size carat are you going to buy?




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