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Ask A Diamond Pro: Help Finding an Oval Diamond for Around $20k Budget

By Mike Fried,

Engagement rings are a beautiful thing. They tell a lot about the wearer and therefore it’s important to pick the right one. Some people choose to surprise their partner, others take their partner with them and shop together. There is no right or wrong way — do what suits you the best. 

The same applies to choosing the diamond shape. Don’t let others convince you about the latest trend or what you should like. Go with the shape that speaks to you so you can be sure you’ll like it for the rest of your life. Recently, we received an email from a couple looking for an oval cut diamond for their engagement ring. 

oval cut diamond rings

Here’s the reader’s original email:

“Hi Diamond Pro,

My boyfriend and I have started looking at diamonds together so he (and I) can better understand what kind of engagement ring I want. My favorite shape, by far, is the oval but I do not like the bow-tie effect (I understand that the bow tie effect is almost inevitable with an oval). So we want to minimize the bow tie effect while maximizing brilliance. Here is the range of diamonds that we have been looking at:

Carat: 1.5-2.0
Clarity: VS2 – VVS1
Color: G – D
Ratio: 1.35-1.42 (preferably)

I have found some diamonds within this range that appear to have minimal bow-ties. I would greatly appreciate any feedback/guidance that you can provide.




Also, I had several questions:

1. In reviewing the diamonds on James Allen’s website, I noticed that the diamonds are laid down on their side for the 360 view. Does that affect one’s ability to discern how the bow-tie effect will look once the diamond is mounted?

2. One thing that we have been told to look for diamonds that are well-placed (e.g. that are not on the table; and are on the pavilion or lower girdle) so that the inclusions do not affect the brilliance of the diamond. Is that true?

3. What factors does one look for to identify a well-cut, brilliant oval vs. one that will not shine as brilliantly once you see it in person?

Thank you.”

Every diamond shape has its specifics and it’s never a bad idea to ask questions if you don’t know something. These readers were unsure about a lot of things and it’s great that they reached out to us to make sure they wouldn’t buy a lifeless diamond. 

In this post, we will be talking about the oval cut bowtie, the importance of getting an eye-clean diamond and how to choose an oval that is brilliant and full of life.

Oval Cut Diamond – Bowtie Effect

There are some shapes that when light shines through them, they show something called “bowtie”. The name of this windowing effect isn’t accidental. The bowtie looks like a black figure eight (or a bowtie) that runs north-south through the center of a diamond. See below on the left:

Ovalc ut diaond with a visible bowtieOval cut diaond without a bowtie

This is a look you want to avoid. A visible bowtie in an oval cut will distract from its beauty. It’s usually the first thing people notice when they look at the ring. The diamond example above on the right is a great example of an oval cut without a significant bowtie effect. And that’s where you should aim. 

The reader was worried about the videos on James Allen being horizontal and not portraiting the true picture of the bowtie. This actually isn’t a problem whatsoever. The horizontal view of oval cut diamonds helps you see the bowtie more clearly which makes the diamond-selecting process much easier.

Eye-Clean Oval Cut Diamonds

As with every other diamond shape, it’s not important what clarity grade a diamond has, what’s essential is that the diamond doesn’t have any imperfections visible to the naked eye. You want to avoid big inclusions on the diamond’s table (that’s the flat surface area on the top that’s visible when you look at the diamond from above). With diamonds above 1ct, there is a clarity plot in the GIA certificate locating all the important inclusions that might affect the brilliance or eye-cleanliness. Make sure to keep an eye on those.

example of a clarity plot in the GIA certificate
Clarity plot in a GIA certificate of an oval cut diamond

What Color/Fluorescence To Choose For An Oval Diamond

We recommend G/H color grades for an oval cut diamond. Anything above won’t have any significant difference in appearance but would cost substantially more. Going lower isn’t an issue but we recommend putting it into a yellow gold setting instead. 

As for the diamond fluorescence, there’s basically no difference between none and faint. Medium fluorescence can help H and lower color grades to look slightly brighter but not a grade or two. It might happen that a G color stone without any certification will look more colored than an H or I color GIA/AGS stone. That’s why you should purchase a stone with one of those two certificates. 

The reader wanted G+ color because they said they could easily see a warm-ish tint in H color. This isn’t very common. If you compare two GIA certified stones, one G and the other H, the H might have more color in it. At the same time, the vast majority of our readers will find H color stones colorless. However, there are some people out there who are very sensitive to color so knowing what you want is important.

$20,000 Diamond Engagement Ring

Setting a budget for your ring can help you not to overspend in the end. This reader wanted a $20,000 diamond engagement ring which is enough for a beautiful 2ct, such as this 2.00 carat G color SI1 clarity oval or this 2.00 carat H color VVS1 clarity diamond. It’s also important to leave some room in your budget for the setting itself. A simple solitaire setting can cost a few hundred bucks, but an intricate halo can come up to a few thousand. 

Our Recommendation

In the end, the reader ended up with a beautiful 1.90ct G VS2 oval that fit their budget and taste. Remember, it’s not about the paper, it’s about the physical diamond. A 1.90ct can sometimes look bigger than a 2ct diamond. It’s all about the diamond cut. 

We know that keeping everything in mind while looking for THE diamond can be quite difficult. That’s why we’re always happy to answer any questions and help with any search we can. Just send us a message and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

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. Now save 50% at James Allen Holiday Sale!
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.
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  • 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
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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
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