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Ask a Diamond Pro: Diamond Stud Earrings on a $3,000 Budget

By Mike Fried,

Although most of the emails we receive from readers are about engagement rings, we also get a lot of messages from readers seeking help choosing diamond earrings.

Diamond stud earrings, which have a simple but elegant appearance, can make fantastic gifts and offer an incredible amount of versatility. They’re wearable in almost any environment, and have a classic understated look that can match nearly anything. 

Round Brilliant Diamond Stud Earrings
Round Brilliant Diamond Stud Earrings from James Allen

Recently, a reader emailed us asking for some help choosing a pair of diamond stud earrings, with a budget of approximately $3,000. 

Here’s the reader’s email:

“This will be my first ever diamond purchase and I’m tied between getting 1 carat solitaire earrings (0.5 ct each) versus 0.5 ct (0.25 each). I’m tempted to buy the 1 ct, but it’s a huge purchase, so I’m undecided right now.

I’m looking for a round, ideal cut, D, VVS1, 1 ct total weight pair. My budget is around $3000.”

As we’ve discussed in our diamond stud earrings guide, we usually suggest choosing a pair of matching diamonds with Excellent or Ideal cut quality, an equal carat weight (within 0.05 carat) and color and clarity in the G to I and VS2 to SI1 ranges, respectively. 

This reader’s color and clarity preferences are significantly above this, which is fine, but it does mean that some of their budget is taken away from what could be a larger carat weight. 

Switching From One Pair of Diamonds to Another

Normally, when we receive an email from a reader, we send back several diamond suggestions and help them find something that matches their tastes and budget. 

In this case, we recommended that the reader reduce their clarity and color grades very slightly, which would allow them to afford a pair of 0.50+ carat diamonds without going over their budget. 

More specifically, we recommended picking this pair of 0.50 carat, ideal cut, G color, VS1-VVS2 clarity round diamonds from Blue Nile.

Stud earrings from Blule Nile

Despite their lower color and clarity grades, these diamonds appear colorless to the naked eye and eye-clean, meaning they’re free of any inclusions or other blemishes that can be seen in a real-life setting.

Choosing a pair of diamonds that are eye-clean and colorless despite not having a perfect color or clarity grade allows for more of the reader’s budget to be put towards an excellent cut quality and a large carat weight. 

However, shortly after sending our email, this reader contacted us again to inform us that they’d purchased a pair of diamond earrings from Blue Nile already. 

They had chosen a pair of 0.50 carat, D color, VVS1 diamonds, also from Blue Nile, going over their original budget in the process. 

Diamond stud earrings

The pair of diamonds looks good and will make nice earrings, but they do have a problem: they have medium fluorescence. On diamonds with a high color grade, such as the D color grade of this diamond pair, medium fluorescence can create a hazy look. And if you can’t see them prior to buying them, it’s a risky purchase.

These diamonds are also deeper than we typically recommend for the round brilliant cut, which can affect brilliance and cause the diamonds to look less impressive. 

Picking Round Cut Diamond Earrings

Depth refers to a diamond’s measurement from its top (table) to its culet (bottom). It’s one of the most important aspects of a diamond’s proportions, because it plays a significant role in any diamond’s ability to reflect light.

For a typical round brilliant cut diamond, we generally recommend a depth of between 60 and 62.6 percent. It’s important not to go higher than 62.8 percent, as this can start to have a visible negative effect on the diamond’s light performance. 

Diamond's Depth

At 63 and 63.1 percent depth, the diamonds this reader originally chose are significantly deeper than we’d recommend for the round brilliant cut.

Luckily, this reader contacted us shortly after they placed their order, meaning it was possible to change from their original choice of diamonds to a new pair that didn’t have the same depth and fluorescence problems. 

Based on their tastes and budget, we recommended these two D color, VVS2 clarity diamonds from Blue Nile. Both diamonds are beautifully cut and eye-clean, with no fluorescence to cause a cloudy appearance or depth issues to affect brilliance and fire.

Our Recommendation

Diamond stud earrings are elegant, timeless and versatile. Like with other diamond jewelry, it’s important to understand what to prioritize — and, just as importantly, what not to — to make sure you get the best possible deal if you’re considering buying a pair of diamond earrings.

In general, we suggest prioritizing cut quality and carat weight when you’re comparing diamonds for stud earrings. 

Since earrings are worn in a visible location but usually viewed from a distance, a color grade of H to J and a clarity grade in the VS2 to SI1 range will usually provide an appearance that’s free of color and eye-clean in “real-life” conditions. 

In this reader’s case, a D color grade and exceptional clarity were features they were looking for and willing to pay for. However, for the most part, going above an H grade for color will provide a small, almost unnoticeable benefit at a significant cost.

Similarly, there’s no need to aim for flawless clarity when it comes to stud earrings, especially as the round brilliant cut is excellent at concealing small inclusions and other blemishes. 

If you’re considering a pair of diamond stud earrings and want help comparing your options and finding the best diamonds within your budget, feel free to contact us.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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