The Diamond Pro

Q&A: $3500 Budget. First Wants Round Brilliant, then Changes Mind and Opts for a Princess Cut

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.

Ira, Thank you for such an informative webpage. I am so thankful I found this before making a rash decision and overbuying a diamond. I am looking for the following: Shape-Round Cut-EX or Ideal. Color-Prefer colorless (I saw that you recommend H) Clarity-SI1 or higher but depends on the location of the inclusion. Carat-About 1 carat, simply for the fact that most people I know have that size and I would like my bride to have similar. -Hoping to find the cheapest price and planning to use a setting of white gold/platinum. I found this diamond on James Allen: Or this one on Blue Nile: Blue Nile LD01653921.  Both are approximately $3500, is this the range I should be planning for? Can you help me find a better value diamond? Please let me know if you need any other details to help with my request. Thank you so much for your help

Thanks for the kind words about the site!

I took a look at the two stones you suggested. THey’re definitely great choices and will be beautiful and full of life and sparkle. I would only have 2 comments/suggestions:

1) I don’t recommend buying anything lower than a VS1 from Blue Nile since you can’t inspect the diamond before you buy it. Even VS2s, although rare, can be visible to the naked eye if they’re sufficiently ugly (black carbon in the center of the stone, for example). SI1s are certainly less rarely visible to the naked eye.

The stone you picked on James Allen definitely is eye clean. That stone I can wholeheartedly endorse because I was able to check it myself with JA’s magnified pic.

2) I would suggest taking a look to find an eye-clean SI2. Since both it, and the SI1 you suggested will be clean to the naked eye, why pay more for something that you won’t be able to appreciate in any event? I took a look, and here’s a good example: – eye clean. inclusion all on the side – can be covered by prong. Excellent Cut.

Anyway, have a look at that stone and let me know what you think!


Thank you for your feedback.  I am definitely leaning towards the James Allen diamonds as the virtual loupe takes some of the unknown out of the equation.

I know this probably depends on personal preferences, but would you say the TrueHearts cuts are worth the additional cost?  Or would you say it is more of a marketing tactic that doesn’t result in a much better than the ideal cuts?

For a TrueHearts, H, SI2, 0.9-1.0 carat range,  I found that this might work too:

It’s a little more pricey but within my price range.  What do you think?


It’s an interesting question. Here’s how I would put the answer: there is definitely a noticeable difference in brilliance between the regular ideal stones (I speak only of the ones that actually have an EX cut grade from GIA or Ideal cut grade from AGS – I don’t pay attention to James Allen’s own cut grade) and the Hearts & Arrows stones. The question is whether or not this difference is worth the extra money. And that’s really a difficult question to answer since everybody is different.

In the end, after a month of wear and tear, the diamond is going to collect enough dust, dead skin, and oils underneath to dull any added brilliance. So keep that in mind as well. For most people, it’s probably not worth it. But if you really want that stone to pop as much as is possible when you propose, then H&A is the way to go.

I hope I didn’t confuse you more 🙂


Thank you for the information.  After almost settling on the H&A diamond, my girlfriend mentioned that she is liking the princess cut a little more…so, I apologize but can you offer some options on the princess cut?

I would like to use your bottom line recommendations as a guide:

Color: VS2 or SI1
Clarity: H or I
Cut: Depth 65-75%, Table-Less than 75%

I found this one that seems to fit the above criteria and is eye clean:

In regards to size, is there a visible difference between a 1.0ct round and a 1.0ct princess?  There seems to be a big jump in price just by changing the cut.  Is there an explanation for this?

Can you also explain what setting would work best to protect the corners of the princess cut diamond?  It seems like I won’t be able to use the same solitary settings that I would have used with a round cut diamond.

Please let me know if you need any other info for my request.


Hi T, I’m happy to help.

First, to answer your questions. Princess cuts are much deeper cuts than rounds. This means that for a given carat weight, more of the diamond mass is distributed in its depth than its LxW (or diameter in the case of a round). This means a smaller looking diamond. For example, in the stone you suggested, the LxW is about 5.7mm. And that stone happens to be exceptionally well cut. most 1 ct princess cuts are closer to 5.5mm. An exceptionally well cut round diamond weighing the same amount would be about 6.5mm in diameter.

The answer regarding price is related to the first answer. Take a look at this article here: – I think it explains the answer to your question.

As far as the stone you selected is concerned – you did a great job. I’m not going to even bother looking for something else to show you because this is exactly what i would have looked for.

As far as the corners are concerned – don’t worry about it. Just go with the setting you like the best (don’t forget to use the coupon code TAD0611 to get 10% off). This stone has a “slightly thick” girdle which is perfect for a princess cut, as it will provide it with more durability, while not being Very thick or Extremely Thick (which would start to take away from the beauty of the stone).

Let me know anyway what setting you choose when you decide to buy, I’d love to get an idea of what your ring will look like!


Thank you again for the information. I was looking at the different Q&A sections and found that two of the diamonds that you suggested at different price points are still available and would fit into my budget. Would you simply rank the following diamonds according to price? Or does one jump out at you as better value than the others?


I think the cheapest one is the best value (the 1.01 I VS2).  It’s bigger in LxW than the 1.06 carat stone, and the 1.09 carat stone is just way more money, and I don’t see enough value there to justify the jump in price.


Thank you for the information.  I did order that I VS2 in a Pave setting and waiting for it to arrive next week. Is there any way to make sure that you get credit for directing me to the James Allen website?  I would have never even considered the James Allen site without your assistance.

I will be sure to let you know how things turn out.

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