I’ve recently come to the realization that the classic “build-your-own” engagement ring process that many visitors to my site are interested in (ie, choosing a loose diamond and setting separately on the same site) is not necessarily the best option for everyone. Many people simply don’t have the time to spend weeks learning about diamonds to ensure they’re buying the best possible stone for their money. For many fiances-to-be whose girlfriends have simple tastes, a basic solitaire setting with a half-carat diamond fits the bill perfectly. And if that’s the case, then there’s really no need to drive yourself crazy with the intricacies of diamond education and diamond buying.
You’ll know, however, from perusing other articles on my site that buying blindly online can often spell disaster and disapointment.
That’s what motivated me to write this review. I saw the usefulness of my diamond earrings review article, and I figured that you might find other product reviews helpful as well. Since I’m mainly involved in guiding consumers towards purchasing the right diamonds for engagement rings, I realized that pre-set engagement rings would be the most natural place to begin.
For the review, I anonymously ordered pre-set diamond rings from the four best online jewelry vendors who offer the product (Mazal Diamond, B2C Jewels, DiamondWave and Diamond.com). The rings were professionally photographed by Photography by Depuhl, and then I subjected each one to a thorough inspection.
For this review, I ordered the simplest solitaire setting pre-set with a 1/2 carat round diamond from each of the vendors mentioned. Several of those vendors offer at least two different quality levels. To keep things consistent across the board, I chose each vendor’s “SI” quality. In most cases, this was matched with an H/I minimum color. In the case of Mazal Diamond, however, they offer the customer very specific customizations with their pre-set diamond rings. So for this review, the closest I could get to the rest of the pack was a G Color SI2 Clarity. When I was finished evaluating all the rings and photographing them, I returned the rings. I recorded notes during the entire process, giving special attention to the packaging and diamond quality of each vendor.
The results are presented below. First I will present an explanation of the results, followed by the side-by-side comparisons of all of the vendors together, followed by the detailed findings of my research vendor by vendor.
Since there were several factors which led to my final recommendations, I thought it was important to include a clear explanation of why I chose different vendors for the different sizes I reviewed. My goal in performing this review was to discover a vendor I could recommend to you that I would be confident would provide you with an ideal cut high performance diamond that you could rely on being completely eye clean — all for a competitive price.
Immediately this eliminated B2C and Diamond.com since I felt that these vendors diamonds posed too great of a risk of having eye-visible inclusions. That left Mazal Diamond and DiamondWave. Mazal Diamond’s pre-set engagement ring was definitely worthy of recommendation – I just felt that you could get more for your money going for an H/I (see my article on diamond color) that would be significantly less in price. The difference in color between their E color diamond and DiamondWave’s H color diamond was barely noticeable since the stones came already set in their settings. The differences in price, however, were significant.
That left DiamondWave. Not only were their diamonds great quality and at a great price, but their setting was also a very high quality and significant piece.
Additionally I felt that DiamondWave’s quality control was a bit more stringent which in a full 1 carat stone could be the difference between an inclusion being eye visible or not. So for the full 1 carat, I leave the decision up to you. If you want to try to land an upgrade in color or clarity, then give Mazal Diamond a shot. If you want to be guaranteed an eye clean stone, then I think you can’t go wrong with DiamondWave.
Quality Comparison of the Four Vendors (Out of 5 Stars)
Price Comparison of the Four Vendors – Recommendation per Size in Bold**
|1/4 Carat||1/3 Carat||1/2 Carat||3/4 Carat||1 Carat|
|Mazal Diamond (Certified F/G SI)||750||838||1435||2416||4857|
|B2C Jewels (Solitaire prices – not like reviewed piece)||394||551||1061||1796||3413|
|DiamondWave (Ring 2.9mm wide on top 1.9mm on bottom)||699||N/A||1280||N/A||4699|
**Vendors may change prices at will so these prices might not be up to date
Packaging – As I noted in the studs review, Mazal’s packaging is the most unique among all of the vendors. Instead of offering the classic snap-open jewelry box like everyone else, they provide an outer black cardboard box (shown in the picture to the right) with a lift-off lid. Inside this box, you’ll find an attractive felt-lined leather pouch with a pink ribbon tie. It’s certainly not what I would have expected — when you think about it, though, it’s definitely more useful than a classic jewelry box. It’s true that you can’t use it to present the ring to your beloved, but after that moment, you can always use it to store the ring. The ring will stay polished in the pouch, and the pouch is also a great carrying case.
Another thing unique to Mazal Diamond was that wax seal you see in the picture. They claim that the online jewelry industry is rife with recycled goods. I honestly can’t comment one way or the other. In order to distinguish themselves in this regard, they will only allow returns on products that still have their seal in place. This is their way of saying that you can trust them because they will not accept any piece of jewelry that has been worn. You can be sure that Mazal Diamond will never sell second-hand goods.
Diamond Quality – One nice thing about Mazal Diamond is that they claim to regularly offer customers upgrades in color and/or clarity when feasible on their end. For this review, I paid for a combination of G color and SI2 clarity. I received an E color SI2 clarity stone – a significant upgrade. Furthermore, in their unique diamond selecting tool which allows you to choose the size, color and clarity, they offer a 0.50 carat size category and a 0.55 carat size category. And as you can see in the certificate on the left, they sent me a 0.54 carat stone even though I had ordered a 0.50 carat stone.
The diamond they sent me was certified by IGI, but they claim that they will gladly send the customer a GIA certified stone instead if he or she so wishes for the same price.
As for the specific diamond I received, it had a very high quality ideal cut. The E color was very nice. The SI2 was unfortunately large and located dead center, but it was an almost translucent clear color. It was very hard to see with the naked eye.
Packaging – As you can see to the right, B2C Jewel’s packaging was very weak. At the time I ordered the ring for this review, I also ordered a pair of diamond stud earrings to incorporate in my studs review. This is why you see two jewelry boxes in the photo. When you open the fedex shipping box, all you are presented with is a laser printout of your invoice on standard copy paper and a white cardboard box containing the basic red jewelry box inside. Neither are very attractive. There is very little thought or energy put into their packaging. In fact, the “made in china” sticker was still stuck to the bottom of the box!
Diamond Quality – To the right you can see the certificate/appraisal of the pre set engagement ring from B2C Jewels. I’ve never heard of “Gemologic” before. It’s one of a hundred no-name “labs” out there. They’re most likely not reliable — you’ll see why below.
I mentioned above that I tried my hardest to keep all of the rings I ordered consistent. After browsing B2C’s site, though, I couldn’t find any plain solitaire pre-set rings, so I ended up ordering the diamond in the simplest setting from their “preset diamonds” menu.
I realize now that the error was mine. They do, in fact, offer a plain solitaire – it’s just hidden deep inside poor menu navigation. If you click on “engagement rings” on the left menu bar, then you can find solitaire pre-set engagement rings options at the bottom. But if you pull down the drop down menu on top labeled “Engagement” and then click on “Preset Engagement Rings” (which is what I did), then you’re given a fixed list of rings that contain no solitaires.
Anyway, back to the diamond evaluation. The diamond to the left is most definitely NOT an SI2 as the certificate claims. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, an I1. Click on the picture to enlarge it. At 12 o’clock in the picture, you can see a very large white icy inclusion. That alone is worse than an SI2, but there are also those clouds of small black inclusions running through the middle of the stone.
To be fair, neither the clouds of black dots, nor the large inclusion at 12 o’clock were particularly noticeable to your naked eye. But once I knew that the large inclusion was there, it was very easy to identify with my naked eye. As a consumer, if you were to buy this ring, you would probably initially be impressed with its appearance. But like most consumers, you would spend hours studying your new purchase and you would eventually locate the primary inclusion. From that moment on, you would be able to easily identify the inclusion.
Packaging – As you can see in the picture to the right, DiamondWave’s packaging was fairly standard – pretty much like everyone else in the middle of the pack. There were, however, three notable differences between DiamondWave and the rest of the vendors. First, they don’t use one standard box style for their different types of jewelry.
The ring I ordered was sent in a ribbon-tied black leather snap-up jewelry box while the studs I ordered came in a felt-lined button-releasing jewelry box. Second, the boxes were loose inside the shipping box – not sitting inside a cardboard containing box. Most importantly, DiamondWave’s jewelry comes with a very professional looking laminated appraisal, as you can see to the left.
Diamond Quality – DiamondWave offers their pre-set engagement rings with a GIA certified stone. Additionally, DiamondWave, claims that just about all of their GIA certified stones come from Canada’s Northwest Territories mines and are polished to a very high standard. There’s no real way for me to verify this – diamonds mined in different parts of the world all look the same. One mine might have a great deal of one type of rough, but no one mine holds exclusivity over any one type of diamond rough. The only noticeable benefit to buying a Canadian stone is to be rewarded a completely clean and free conscience when it comes to conflict diamonds.
As you can see in the picture, the quality of the diamond from DiamondWave was superb. You probably will never find an SI1 GIA certified diamond looking cleaner than this one. If you look closely, you can see that the inclusion lies on the girdle of the diamond just above the 3 o’clock position. While it’s true that the diamond “only” received a Very Good cut grade, but I suspect this is because it was graded with Good Symmetry. GIA’s rules stipulate that if a diamond receives a grade of Good or lower for its Polish or Symmetry, the maximum cut grade it can receive is Very Good. I suspect that this is the reason this stone did not receive an Excellent cut grade. But if you read my articles on Polish and Symmetry, you’ll see there that no human eye can really tell the difference between Good and Excellent Polish or Symmetry. In my mind, this stone is just as nice as a Triple Excellent.
My only real gripe with this ring is that it was not set very intelligently. Here you have a very small inclusion right on the girdle. This stone is a perfect candidate for covering an inclusion with a prong. It’s just a shame they didn’t bother doing it on this ring. You could just imagine how clean this diamond would be if the prong covered the inclusion.
Packaging – Diamond.com’s packaging was actually a very nice pleasant surprise. They certainly weren’t on the level of James Allen (see my review of diamond stud earrings here), but I do think that they held a clear advantage over the rest of the pack. Diamond.com was the only vendor to actually ship their two different products in two different Fedex boxes. I suppose this isn’t something really beneficial in and of itself, but it’s definitely a plus if you order more than one product from them and one of them is not available for shipping immediately.
Their presentation was a bit nicer than most others. As you can see in the picture above, Diamond.com provides a nice stiff cardboard envelope containing the necessary documentation (invoice and certificate/appraisal for the diamond ring – just an invoice for the studs). The blue felt snap-up jewelry boxes were packaged inside of classy silver ribbon bow-topped cardboard boxes. Little touches like this can be very impressive.
Diamond Quality - The pre-set diamond rings from Diamond.com come certified and appraised by IGI. I encourage any reader interested in a ring from Diamond.com to first read my article about IGI certificates. They certainly have more credibility than the “Gemologic” certificate that B2C Jewels provided, but they’re not quite on the level of GIA. As you can see in the certificate, the diamond from Diamond.com was certified as an E/F color and a I1 in clarity. It’s hard to see at a quick glance because of the glare on the diamond, but once you notice it, you see the I1 inclusion rather clearly. The inclusion is large and icy white. It sits between 12 o’clock and 1 o’clock on the girdle in the picture to the right and is shaped like a banana. The inclusion extends into the facet that is not visible because of the reflection from the flash of the camera. For an I1, it’s not terrible because it’s on the side and, in theory, part of it could have been covered by the prong on this stone. Unfortunately, as it’s set now, the inclusion was definitely visible to the naked eye.