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Ask a Diamond Pro: Choosing a Round Cut Diamond For a Solitaire Setting With Up to $5,000 Budget

By Mike Fried,

Most young people’s wish is to receive an engagement ring one day. In most cases, they dream of a diamond ring. The first image you think of when you hear the words “engagement ring” is a classic solitaire style setting with a round cut diamond in the middle. And why? Not only is that style of ring shown in every emoji, animated movie, or cartoon imagery, but a round cut is also the most popular diamond shape in the world. 

Round cut diamond solitaire ring graphic

One of our readers has recently asked us about a ring just like that for their $5,000 budget. 

Here’s the reader’s original email:

“Hello there,

I’m looking for a round 1+ carat solitaire diamond from James Allen for $5,000, not including the setting.

Do you recommend 14K or 18K white gold or platinum for the band? Is a 1.5mm band a good size or should I opt for a 2mm? Is a size 5 ring at Tiffany’s also a size 5 at James Allen?

Thank you so much!”

Later on, they mentioned that they would like the clarity of VS1 or VS2.

The clarity grade they asked for is definitely possible to find within their budget, but they could get a larger diamond or pay less if they chose an eye-clean diamond with SI clarity.

As for the metal, we prefer white gold over platinum. But it’s ultimately up to everyone which route they are going to choose.

Round cut diamond solitaire style engagement ring

How To Choose a Round Cut Diamond

Getting a brilliant diamond is the key to a beautiful engagement ring. If the center stone is dull and lifeless, it won’t have the wow effect everyone is looking for. And since the round cut diamond is the most brilliant diamond shape, knowing what to look for is essential. 

Here is a brief summary of the most important things you should look for:

  • Diamond cut: A round cut diamond is the only shape that GIA gives cut grades to which makes things easier. If you stick with Excellent cut grade, you’re on the right path to a beautiful diamond.
  • Diamond clarity: Start your search at the SI grades and work your way up to VS1 clarity. It’s not uncommon to find eye-clean VS/SI diamonds, especially in smaller carat weights. Anything above VS1 will look the same to the naked eye but it’ll have a higher price tag. 
  • Diamond color: For a solitaire setting, a round cut diamond with I color or J color is the best option. Higher colors won’t look any better but will cost you significantly more. 
  • Diamond certification: There are a lot of grading laboratories out there but not all of them are trustworthy. Limit your search to GIA diamonds or AGS diamonds only (AGS no longer exists, but you can still find diamonds issued by them) and you can be sure to get an accurately graded diamond. 
example of an eye-clean I SI1 round cut diamond
example of an eye-clean I SI1 round cut diamond

What Is Better: White Gold Or Platinum? 

Generally speaking, choosing the metal type is up to your personal preference. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type, so it depends on what you like and want. 

If you asked us, we would recommend white gold over platinum. The reason is the huge disparity in upfront costs. As our article about ring metals says, white gold has to be dipped every few years and platinum needs to be polished regularly as well because it scratches. So ultimately, platinum costs you more in the beginning and doesn’t end up saving you any money in the long run. 

When it comes to types of white gold, there are two that are used for high-end jewelry: 14 karat and 18 karat. We like 14K gold more as it’s slightly cheaper, more durable, and resistant to tarnishing. And if you saw them both next to each other, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. 

Diamond Options For a $5,000 Budget

A $5,000 diamond engagement ring can look many different ways. You can go with the biggest diamond you can get, such as this 1.30ct J VS2 diamond from James Allen with a reasonably priced setting (usually around $500) or you can opt for a smaller diamond like this 1.03ct I SI1 diamond from Blue Nile and get a custom made setting of your dreams. The options are (almost) unlimited. 

In the end, the reader was very pleased with the 1ct size and bought this gorgeous 1.00ct I VS2 diamond. Paired with a simple solitaire setting, he got what he wanted for less than he expected. 


If your budget is around $5,000, there is no reason to worry that you won’t be able to get a stunning ring. Knowing what color and clarity to choose, as well as the type of metal and style of ring, you are sure to pick the perfect engagement ring for yourself or your partner. 

And if you run into some questions, contact us and we’ll help you get through them.

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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