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Ask a Diamond Pro: Buying a Round Cut Diamond Ring in Australia

By Mike Fried,

We frequently receive emails from readers located internationally, often in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world. In fact, a huge percentage of our reviews of diamond jewelry retailers is devoted to vendors located outside of the USA.

This particular email comes from a reader in Australia looking for a round brilliant cut diamond in the 1.20 carat range, with a white gold band with either smaller diamond side stones or a classic pavé setting. They had a total budget of $8,000 for the diamond and setting together. 

Here’s a slightly abridged version of the reader’s original email:

“Wow, there is so much to take in when researching this stuff!! Thanks for such a great site (it has certainly helped a LOT), hoping you could give some more of your time to answer a few more questions?

I’ve got a budget of about $8K for the entire ring. I’m aiming for a round brilliant centre stone of around 1.2ct, set in a white gold band with smaller diamonds either side of the main diamond. 

Regarding the centre stone, what should I be looking for? Your guidelines recommend the lowest eye-clean clarity possible, ie SI1/VS2, Ideal/Excellent cut, Good or better symmetry & polish which I am happy with.

You suggest H-J colour with Medium Blue fluorescence as a good ”bang for your buck” buy (particularly in a silver coloured ring). Is this still a good idea given that there will be other diamonds beside it in the setting?

Can you suggest any particular diamonds that would be suitable? Also, can you offer any guidance for the smaller stones, or is it better to purchase locally from the jeweller who ”assembles” the ring?

Something else that I need to bear in mind is that anything that I import from overseas will incur about 15% in customs duty and taxes, plus insurance. Am I way off the mark with my budget?

I appreciate your help and thanks again for such an informative website.”

Tips to buy engagement ring

There are several topics to cover here. The first is whether it’s better to buy an engagement ring locally or online from a US-based vendor such as James Allen or Blue Nile. The second is what to look for in a round brilliant cut diamond that’s going to be set in a pavé or side stone band. 

Finally, there’s the cost question. Is it possible to get a beautiful diamond shipped to Australia for the reader’s total budget of $8,000?

We’ll give more detailed answers below, but let’s quickly go over these. First, buying online will usually be the best deal, but it ultimately depends on your specific country. For Australia, you’ll generally get better deals buying from James Allen or Blue Nile than by buying locally.

Second, with this reader’s budget, finding an eye-clean diamond in the 1.20 carat range should be very possible. The key, as always, is to understand where to spend most of your budget and where to make intelligent compromises.

Importing a Diamond Ring vs. Buying Locally

One of the most common questions we get from international readers is whether it’s still a good deal to buy a diamond engagement ring from our list of recommended diamond jewelry vendors if you’re located outside the United States.

The answer, like with anything involving international commerce, shipping, taxes and duties (not exactly the most exciting topics), is “it depends.”

Import rules, regulations and duties can vary from country to country, meaning there’s no single “rule” when it comes to buying online from a US-based vendor versus buying locally from within your country (or from an online vendor that’s based in your own country). 

In the case of Australia, any jewelry that’s worth more than $1,000 AUD is subject to import duty (five percent of the total value) and GST (goods and services tax, or sales tax, of 10 percent of the total value of the item).

The Australian Border Force provides a useful guide to buying jewelry and precious metals here that explains the duty system in more detail. 

This essentially means that if you purchase an engagement ring from a US-based vendor as an Australian resident, you’ll need to add an extra 15 percent to the listed price.

So, is it worth buying online from the US or domestically within Australia? In general, purchasing a diamond from a vendor based in the US and having it shipped to Australia will be a better deal for several reasons.

The first is that the 10% GST rate is applied regardless of whether you buy an engagement ring in Australia or online from the United States. The only difference is that if this reader would buy from an Australian vendor, the GST would be “baked into” the regular retail price on the tag.

The second is that prices are simply better online. As we’ve discussed before, online diamond vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile have efficiencies and economies of scale that let them sell their diamonds with lower margins than their brick-and-mortar competitors. 

For example, we’ve previously visited and reviewed several Australian jewelry stores such as Gregory Jewellers, Cerrone and Hardy Brothers. All provide high-quality diamonds, albeit with prices that are anywhere from 30 percent to 100+ percent higher than US online vendors.

This is a huge difference in pricing, and it’s one that’s unavoidable due to the cost of rent and other expenses involved in running a jewelry store in an expensive city such as Melbourne or Sydney. 

Buying diamond online

For this reason, we still generally recommend buying online from the United States if you‘re in Australia, especially thanks to the free insured delivery that’s offered by James Allen and Blue Nile (both companies also offer international returns, albeit with some small fees).

Even with the GST and import duty, you’ll still end up getting a better deal by purchasing online compared to buying in person.

As for other countries, it’s essential to check any import local regulations, duties and restrictions before you import a diamond ring. However, with just a few exceptions, online from a US vendor is almost always the way to go for overall value for money.

Buying a 1.20 Carat Round Cut Diamond Ring for $8,000

Now, let’s get to the fun part of this reader’s email: finding a stunning round brilliant cut diamond that’s an Excellent or Ideal cut, eye-clean and colorless enough to mount in a pavé setting for a total budget of $8,000. 

As we’ve covered in our guide to the round cut diamond, the round cut is excellent at concealing both inclusions and color. Inclusions (internal characteristics) and blemishes (external characteristics) can have a significant negative impact on a diamond’s appearance when they’re visible, which is common for many diamond shapes.

Diamonds are graded for clarity from FL (flawless) to I (included). As the GIA states here, an FL diamond has “no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification,” while an SI diamond has inclusions that are “noticeable under 10x magnification.”

Because of the round cut’s facet pattern, most small inclusions that are visible under magnification are impossible to see with the naked eye once the diamond is mounted in a setting. They’re still there, but they’re concealed from your eye (and the eyes of others) as a result of the diamond’s light reflection and refraction.

The same is largely true of internal color. This means that you can find some truly stunning and very well-priced diamonds in the SI1 to SI2 clarity and I to J color ranges.

For example, this beautiful 1.20 carat, I color, SI1 clarity diamond from James Allen is available for $6,900, leaving this reader with just over $1,000 to spend on a setting. This white gold pavé setting is priced at $950, resulting in a total price of $7,910. 

pave round cut diamond engagement ring
An example of a 1.20ct diamond pavé engagement ring from James Allen

With import duties and GST added in, this comes to a total of approximately $9,100, or slightly above the reader’s budget.
This ever-so-slightly smaller 1.15 carat, I color, SI1 clarity diamond, also from James Allen, is available for $6,120. Paired with the setting above, it’s available for $7,160 before duties and GST, or $8,234 after — right around the reader’s target price.

Both diamonds can look absolutely stunning in a pavé or three-stone setting, and all are significantly more impressive than anything available from a local diamond jeweler for the same price.

Our Recommendation

Buying a diamond ring online, especially from another country, can feel daunting. However, the experience is amazingly smooth when done with a reliable vendor, and the value on offer is far better than anything available locally. 

To make things sweeter, vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile offer free international delivery via courier. 

With this said, it’s important to know exactly how much you’ll end up paying ahead of time. This means understanding the relevant duties and taxes in your country and checking the exchange rate before you make a purchase.

Doing it this way means you’ll end up with a gorgeous engagement ring at a fantastic price, all without any nasty financial surprises. 

If you need help choosing the right diamond, setting or just have questions about the process of buying an engagement ring, feel free to contact us. We help hundreds of readers select and buy their ideal diamond jewelry every month, and we’d be happy to help you too.

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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