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What you need to know before buying a diamond

Michael Fried
Michael Fried

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    We are reader-supported. Buying through links on our site may earn us commissions. Learn More.

Buying a diamond can be an extremely daunting task for the uninitiated. Along with educating yourself about all the different factors affecting diamond prices, equally important is learning how diamond sellers attempt to increase their profit margins by cheating the consumer. We will help you accomplish both.

What Carat Weight Range Should I Choose?

This is probably the most important question you will ask yourself when buying loose diamonds, because compared to all the other factors, carat weight has the greatest effect on a diamond’s price.

If you can’t speak to her about it, try to speak with her friends or family.  In most cases, the answer will be “the larger the better,” but it’s always good to know what her expectations are.

What Shape Should I Choose?

The second most important issue you’ll have to figure out is what shape is your girlfriend expecting?

For this question especially try consulting her friends. If you can’t get the answer then the safest bet is the Round Brilliant, the most common shape.

OK to Risk It

Most sites have a 30-day return policy, so if you order it close enough to the proposal date, you can always send it back and buy what she really wants.

Keep in mind, however, that all else being equal, round diamonds cost more than the other shapes.

What Cut Quality Should I Choose?

Now that you know how big of a stone you need and what shape it should be, you need to decide on the Cut Quality.

Reviewer’s Advice

My advice for cut grade is this: If you are looking for a round brilliant diamond, only search for “Ideal/Excellent” grade diamonds.  If you are searching for a fancy shape, however, then you can disregard the cut grade altogether.

This is not to say that cut grade is not important, it’s simply that many vendors don’t correctly report fancy shape cut grades.

What Color Grade Should I Choose?

More so than Clarity, Color has a serious effect on both a diamond’s appearance and price.  For recommendations as to the best color to choose, shoot us an email.

It is important to remember that different shapes reflect color at different strengths, so your choice of optimal color will depend greatly on what diamond shape you’ve chosen and the color of the metal of the setting.

What Clarity Grade Should I Choose?

As opposed to Color and Carats, I evaluate Clarity not in terms of a sliding scale of grades, but as a binary grade.  All I care about when evaluating clarity is whether or not a diamond is clean to the naked eye.

You’re best off buying the lowest possible clarity grade that is still clean to the naked eye.

Evaluating Clarity Online

With most vendors, this isn’t possible because you can’t see the diamond before you buy it.  James Allen, however, lets you get beyond this hurdle.   With their “Virtual Loupe” you can evaluate a diamond before you buy it.

If you have any doubt as to whether or not a stone’s inclusion pattern will be clean to the naked eye or not, please feel free to email us a link to the stone.

Which Diamond Lab’s Certificate Should I Look?

You should consider only GIA Certified Diamonds and AGS Certified Diamonds in your search for a loose diamond.

Follow these general guidelines, and you’re sure to land a beautiful stone at a great value.

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. Save 25% on wedding rings and  Save 10% off Lab Created Diamonds during limited time 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.
  • 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. Blue Nile have generously offered our readers an exclusive one-time use coupon. (Click Here to save $100 off engagement ring settings)

Please enter your email address to receive your personal one-time use unique coupon code:

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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