The Diamond Pro

Help finding the best Round Brilliant for $6000

The following is a real email conversation between The Diamond Pro and a reader just like you who contacted us.
Personal information is always removed. Learn from these posts, or contact us yourself to get free personalized help.

Hi Ira — Great website and postings on best values. I’m in the market for an engagement ring, and my budget is about $6000 (or less if I can) for a center diamond. Looking at at least a carat (6.5mm+ in diameter), eye clean, near colorless (G, H, I), and as sparkly as possible. I found several diamonds on JamesAllen that look good for about that price, but wondering if you have any guidance to offer. I found this – but also saw that you had a 1.54 carat recommendation the other day for about the same price. Could I get more carat / quality for my money than the one above? Thanks in advance of your help! Ryan

Hey Ryan.  Thanks for the nice words about my site. James Allen’s cut grades are very rudimentary.  Imagine concentric circles.  If all the parameters fit within the defined limits of the inner most circle, so then the stone gets “ideal.” If one or more of the parameters falls outside of the defined limit of the innermost circle, so then it’s given a “premium” grade, etc.  It’s rudimentary because it considers each parameter to be significant on its own.  10 years of GIA research has proven otherwise.  GIA now knows that a 59% depth stone combined (this is just an example, and might not be correct) with a 59% table will return the most light, but a 59% table combined with a 63% table might be awful.  So GIA won’t demote a stone unless the entire COMBINATION of parameters is a less good combination.

So I typically will ignore JA’s cut grade and focus solely on the GIA or AGS cut grade. They have put much more (unbiased) time and money into discovering the best cuts, and their methods are much more elegant and sophisticated.

The stone you selected looks good, but I personally (if I were buying for my wife), would lean more in this direction:

It’s 1.55 I I1. Excellent cut grade by GIA.  Eye clean (the inclusions are all on the sides).  And it’s BIG. – another similar stone.

If you’re afraid of going to an I1, then you could try this:
– 1.36 triple excellent GIA I SI2.  Eye clean. – 1.35 I SI2.  Excellent Cut grade.  cleaner than the previous stone.
– 1.30 I SI1.  Excellent Cut grde.  This is freakishly clean for an SI1.    Looks like a VS2 in the picture.

I know a went a bit overboard here with the suggestions.  Sorry about that.  Take a look, and let me know what your thoughts/impressions are.  I look forward to hearing back from you.

Hi Ira.  Thanks so much for the quick response.  Great suggestions.

Definitely not overboard on the suggestions — I appreciate your help!  It seems you’re comfortable with I color and the SI clarity range…and the ones you sent appear to be pretty clean.  As for color, you pretty confident it look OK in platinum and appear white? I saw a few diamonds in person the other day, and even one of the G color ones looked tinted yellow…made me doubt going that low? I like the last one you recommended, definitely looks nice. I noticed some of the others have feather inclusions (one has many) — think that presents any issues structurally?

Again, many thanks for your help.

Hey Ryan.  Yeah, I’m definitely confident that I or better will look white.  The only issue might be if you’re setting it with side stones that are G or better.  Then you’d have to upgrade the color of the center stone.  If the G color stones looked yellow, then something was wrong. Either the gold in the setting was starting to tarnish, or the stone wasn’t really a G, but had some low class cert that called it a G, or it was placed right next to an E or D color.

In all of my experience, I have never seen a round stone break unless it was an I3 or lower.  Those feathers will present no problems at all structurally.

My pleasure!  Please stay in touch and let me know how it all goes.

Thanks again. I’m eyeing up the last one you recommended.  Pretty large at 1.3 and very clean from the image, as you said. Good to know that feathers should present no problems.  I’ll think it over tonight and let you know how I make out. The 1.55 sounds tempting, too. Ridiculous value.  If I have any other questions do you mind if I contact you again?

You can for sure contact me again.  Just to let you know, I do earn a referral commission from James Allen, Blue Nile, and about 4 other online diamond vendors.  So this is really a job for me, so you shouldn’t feel shy at all about hitting me up for help.

It’s actually night time where I am now (Israel).  All the best.  Please stay in touch.

Thanks, Ira. I’m really just torn by the first and the last ones you recommended. I think if set correctly, the larger feathers at the top of the 1.55 will be covered, but I worry about them being visible. From a color standpoint it appears to be similar / same as the 1.3 (last one you recommended), but appears to be cleaner.  How much do you think the feathers in the 1.55 could affect its sparkle? Would I expect any discernable difference between the two?

By the way, I’m not seeking any large sidestones, just in channel set ones in a platinum band — this setting.

With an I color do you see any concerns?

Hope all is well in Israel — working across time zones — this is the real beauty of the internet! =)

Hey Ryan.  Maybe these will help you decide.  They are the full blown up pics of the stones you like:

You can ignore the different shades in the two stones.  That’s just an artifact caused by different photography setups at two different companies (JA doesn’t own their stones.   They set up vendors with the camera systems to use in order to list their stones with them).

The feathers will not affect the stones sparkle at all, but I do have a slight concern about the larger stone.  You see, technically, those inclusions are too big to really be eye clean.  I called it eye clean because they’re all on the side, and generally when you look at a diamond, your eye only notices what’s in the middle 65-75% of its face.  You usually don’t notice what’s spread around the edges.

If you bought the 1.55ct stone, and held it really close to your eye, and went hunting to find the inclusions, you will find them.  because of their size and orientation, you won’t be able to cover all of these inclusions.

I know my wife wouldn’t be looking so hard, and I also know if she did find the inclusions around the edge, she wouldn’t care.  But not all women (and men) were created alike.  So it’s a call you’ll have to make, I guess.  If you think seeing the inclusion around the edge when looking for it will bother you or the future fiance, then it’s probably best to stick with the 1.30.  If not, then go for the larger one.  I double checked, and the difference is significant.  0.3mm is a very noticeable bump in size.

These pictures definitely help.  Is there a way I can view them larger if I’m browsing myself? Didn’t know they exist.

I’m probably more comfortable with something that’s definitely eye clean, but as you said .3 is a noticeable bump in size. We both probably value quality over quantity if we had to choose between the two.  Decisions, decisions! The center of the larger one looks fine, which to your point, most people (including us) will probably focus on if they look at it. From your experience are these inclusions (especially the larger, more noticeable set at the top) able to be covered by a prong(s)?

So when you say ignore the shades, you mean the darker arrows don’t mean anything, it’s just a matter of photography?

I’m sorry, Ira.  I asked a question you already answered in your last note about covering the inclusions.  Sorry about that.

Thanks again for your help — it’s been great!

What makes the decision even harder is the 1.55 is $500 cheaper.

Do you have any other coupon codes you might be able to offer? I noticed your TAD0611 one on the site, not sure if you have access to anything else available.

I meant that the 1.30 looks more yellow than the 1.55 in the pictures.

Part of the largest feather can be covered, but not all of it.  But that will definitely obscure the rest of it enough that you won’t notice it.  As little as your eye notices the edges of the stone, it notices the small area around the prong even less.  But, even if you cover the largest one, you’ll only be able to cover whatever’s 90 degrees away from that one.  All the others will be exposed.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to view the larger pictures yourself on James Allen.  But if you see any stones whose pics you want a better look at, just send me the links and I’ll send you the pic links.

Nope.  That’s it.  Just the TAD0611.  You’ll get another 1.5% off if you pay by wire transfer.

I was curious, because sometimes what I’ll do for people is broker them a stone and take a 10% fee.  usually this ends up being significantly cheaper than the prices online.  I found these two stones on the largest industry website (  It turns out, James Allen is only marking these stones up by 10%!   So it wouldn’t even make sense for me to try to broker them for you.
To put it in perspective, I know that Blue Nile’s markup is up around 18% usually.

Excellent.  Sounds like a pretty good deal then?

I have to pay my bank to do a wire transfer, so it doesn’t really work out to my favor.  I get points with my credit card, and plan to pay off in full anyway.

So just to confirm — the yellow in the 1.3 is the photo, correct?  I think I understood correctly, but want to be sure.

Again, I appreciate all of the help. I’ll be sure to let you know when I purchase so you get the commission.

Fantastic.  yeah, the yellow int he pic is just the photo.

It’s been my pleasure!  I love freaks like me who answer emails right away 🙂

Me too! Glad you have — it’s an exciting time and I want to get things rolling, so glad you’re like me!

My friend Bill may contact you — he’s also in the market, and I was just telling him about your guidance. He’s dealing with a similar budget and stuff.  I shared a few you shared with me already, but he was looking for some guidance too.

awesome. I look forward to hearing from him!

Hi again, Ira. I’m just thinking things through as I make a final decision and wondering if you have any other recommendations that I should consider in the 5000-6000 range.  I found a few others that seem not too far off in size / quality from the 1.3 you showed me.  I have that on 24 hr hold right now while I make up my mind. Do you see any concerns with the radiance of the 1.3 — I understand it would not fall within AGS specs for an ideal cut, but it does for GIA.  Not sure if it makes much of a difference or not? I just want to make sure it produces a “wow”.  Would I be better off going smaller and looking for higher color and clarity ratings?  Here are a few others I found – thoughts?

Would be open to any others you think might be best within that price range.

Thanks again for all of your help.  I really appreciate it.

Hey Ryan.  I went through them all.  Here’s my thoughts:

1) I don’t think you should go significantly lower in size.  It’s not worth it.  You’re going to get things you wont be able to notice in return for the sacrifice in size.
2) Don’t worry about AGS vs GIA.  GIA was actually the pioneer in the new concept of grading cut.  When AGS saw it was losing a lot of business to GIA after they came out with their cut grade, so AGS quickly adopted a new model after them (I need to update my cut article, it’s out of date).    And I’m not so sure anyway that it wouldn’t receive Ideal from AGS as well.
3) Having said all that, I actually really like the 1.29 I SI1 (third one down in the list).  It looks just as clean as the 1.30, and it’s a few hundred dollars cheaper.  It’s just as big.  So why not!

As always, Thank you, Ira. The 1.29 and 1.3 appear pretty similar.  I’m curious about your take on the twinning wisps in the 1.29.  They appear to go right through the middle of the diamond, yet they’re not visible in the picture.  To be graded an SI1, something has to be viewable under magnification, right? I may be missing it because I’m not trained.  Or, could it be the photo doesn’t reveal them? Should it be a concern? Reading up about how they’re formed and looking at their size on the grading report, they just look/sound a little more risky than the types of inclusions (simple cloud, crystal) in the 1.3.  Thoughts?

I’m leaning toward the 1.3 even though it’s $300 more. Any other thoughts on the value there at $6k?

Sorry, as you can tell I’ve been laboring over this.

Hey Ryan.  No problem.  The truth about wispy inclusions is that they’re very desirable.  They’re typically the faintest, least noticeable to the naked eye type of inclusions.  Diamond dealers love them.  The only downside is that they look much more invasive in the inclusion plot than they do in real life.

It’s certainly possible that a wisp wouldn’t be noticeable in this picture because it’s either translucent, or because it’s so faint, you’d only be able to see it by moving the stone around while looking at it with a loupe.

In an SI stone, there’s nothing risky about any kind of inclusion.  That shouldn’t be a worry.  The only issue is whether you can see them or not.  I’ve seen over a million stones in my career probably, and I’ve never seen an SI round stone chip or break.   The only exception being a concentrated crystal right at the surface.

It’s a lot of money, a smart consumer should labor over it.

Thanks. Do you think it would help to speak to the folks at JA to get their take on both? Do they actually have the diamonds on hand, or work through distributors? I can’t recall, I’ve read so much I feel like I should know the answer but forget! The thing that had me worried was seeing an image of twinning wisps, and then the same stone viewed under florescent light / magnification, which made them virtually disappear. So wasn’t sure if the photo on JA was covering them up.  I should have this down to 2 stones if I stop looking again and again.  Let me know what you think about going to JA for guidance.

Hey Ryan.  JA doesn’t own the stones, but they only work with vendors within walking distance of their office in the NY diamond district for exactly this purpose.  You can request them to pull both stones and give you their opinion of both.  Tell them you’re definitely going to buy one of them but you want them to help you decide.  I think it’s a good idea.

Hi Ira – Heard back from the rep at JA.  They examined both and said they look almost identical — could probably be paired as earrings.  That said, they advised to go with the 1.29 since it’s less expensive. I have both on hold while I decide, but wanted to let you know that it was helpful to call.

I am wondering though, if you’re aware of any pricing games they play? The setting I was looking at the other day is priced $75 higher now – from $1600 to $1675.  Same for many others (maybe all) as well. I put in the TAD0611 coupon code to see what my total price came to w/ a diamond (though I could have done the math myself), but now with a price increase the savings is less.  Just curious if you know anything about how they adjust those prices.

Again, thanks for your help.

Hey Ryan.  I can’t say for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that the prices of their rings are linked daily to the market price of gold.  I don’t know if you follow it, but gold has skyrocketed in the last few weeks.  It’s recently hit a new high of about $1050/ounce.

I’m glad they were able to help.  Let me know how the purchase goes.

Hey Ryan.  Your friend Bill just contacted me.  I just wanted to say thanks!

Did you ever put the order in for that 1.29?

No problem, Ira. I told Bill he could get the 1.3 that was almost identical to my 1.29, but I think he wanted to do a little more searching and consult you as well.

Yes, I placed the order Friday afternoon.  Things got crazy so I didn’t have an opportunity to email you sooner.

It should arrive on Thursday — I’m pretty excited.

sounds great!  Please let me know when it arrives.  I’d love to hear your impressions.

Will do! I’m not sure if I’d asked you along the way, I think we did discuss it briefly…the JA folks said it shouldn’t be an issue that there are princess cut stones in the band (not big sidestones) that avg. G-H in color — and that it won’t be noticeable to the eye that the band diamonds have a higher color rating than the center stone.  You agree with that opinion?  Here’s the setting I chose:

We’ll see when it arrives, I guess, but your thoughts might help for piece of mind while I wait!

Hey Ryan. Don’t worry! Your stone will look great in that ring. You won’t notice the different colors.

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