The Diamond Pro

Q&A: Help Finding a Round Diamond for Around £2,000 Budget

The following is a real email conversation between The Diamond Pro and a reader just like you who contacted us.
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Hi there!

I am looking to purchase an engagement ring, and my girlfriend and I have set a cap of £2,000. I have looked at Blue Nile primarily, as I mostly prefer their settings and they seem to be better value (based on your reviews).

I am looking for a white gold setting (probably 14k, I see no reason to go to 18k), and my main wish is to be able to see the point of the diamond within the setting. Blue Nile’s Classic simple setting seems to fulfil these requirements, and is also relatively cheap. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated!

As for the diamond, assuming I went with the aforementioned setting, I would be looking at a budget of around £1,800. Naturally, lower is better, although I would rather stay above 0.5 ct for the diamond.

Having read your guides, I am content with a J colour rating, and have set my cut rating to ‘Ideal’ or higher.

I am therefore mostly looking for your advice on clarity (or rather eye cleanliness) and weight. The non-linear scaling of cost with weight categories is interesting, but I feel that I am able to maximise the carat weight while ensuring that the diamond is eye clean, up to my cost cap. Does this sound like a reasonable methodology to you?

I am not sure whether you offer advice on particular diamonds, or just general advice on how to go about finding a stone. If it is the former, I would be interested to see your recommendations!

These are the diamonds I am currently looking at:

Blue Nile LD13441774
Blue Nile LD13680451

This one seems nearly there:
Blue Nile LD13632242

And these three seem good; the inclusions are visible but light in colour and nearer the edge:
Blue Nile LD13546362
Blue Nile LD13330514
Blue Nile LD13581402

1) Choosing the setting is a question of personal taste and style. If their Classic Solitaire setting suit you the best then there’s no reason to go with anything else. It’s timeless and elegant, I like it a lot myself.

2) J color is the way to go. There wouldn’t be any yellowness and it allows you to spend more on the diamond itself. We recommend Excellent/Ideal cut (and we also further limit the search parameters to make sure we recommend diamonds with the best brilliance).

3) Re: clarity: I agree. The way we approach diamond buying is to separate the two categories; Negative characteristics to avoid and positive characteristics to focus on. The trick is to get closer to the line (without crossing it) on color and clarity. This drops the price dramatically and so long as don’t cross the line, has zero impact on the look of the diamond. I always search in the SI-IF range and pick the best/largest eye-clean diamond I find. Sometimes it’s an SI, sometimes a VS or VVS, there is no rule. I never recommend a diamond with a high clarity grade unless I have a good reason for it.

Eye-cleanliness is a bit tricky. The actual clarity grade is not so important. Clarity grade only tells you the size of the inclusion. That is one factor in determining eye-cleanliness. But harshness, location and reflection matter as well: You can find an SI1 (even an SI2) diamond that’s eye-clean as well as a VS2/VS1 that’s not. It always depends on a particular diamond and its inclusions. Generally said, large and dark inclusions (such as crystals or large feathers) often are noticeable while twinning wisps are fine in most of the cases. Sometimes the diamonds look just perfect but the ‘clarity grade is based on clouds not shown’ note is an issue. That means that there’s a large cloud that saps the brilliance from the stone. I also recommend avoiding diamonds with knots and cavities and diamonds <1ct with clouds – they don’t have a clarity plot in the certificate so you wouldn’t know the size and location of the cloud and the diamond might end up being hazy and less brilliant.

On to the diamonds you found:

I would exclude the first two as they are very cloudy.

Blue Nile LD13632242
I’m not a huge fan of the cut on this one. It’s a bit off. Ideally, the depth % should never exceed 62.5%.
Blue Nile LD13546362
The same issue here + the diamond is not eye-clean.
Blue Nile LD13330514
Not eye-clean.
Blue Nile LD13581402
Not eye-clean.

I looked around and found this one:
Blue Nile LD13646568
It has nice cut parameters and is eye-clean.

Thank you very much for your in-depth response! Also, thank you for bringing my attention to the importance of cloudiness, I had not come across this concept before. I wonder whether you might be able to find a slightly less expensive diamond? I really like the one you sent me, but I’d quite like to compare with a cheaper option, to see how the differences stack up. Perhaps one around the £1600 mark?

You’re welcome, I’m glad I can help.

How do you feel about something like this?
Blue Nile LD13447188 

That looks wonderful! A quick question: what is a feather inclusion? I can’t see any imperfection at all – which I guess is why you suggested this one! – but I’d be interested to know what it actually is. As for the purchase, I will probably go ahead with this one.

Feather is a small fracture within the diamond. There are many types of feathers, some of them are colored (usually black), some of them are transparent and unnoticeable (just like in the case of the diamond I suggested). It’s, of course, important to avoid large and deep feathers (usually found on SI diamonds), but the one on my diamond is tiny and not at all an issue. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have recommended it. Let me know if you have any more questions!

Wonderful. Thank you ever so much for all your help and guidance!

My pleasure.

Top Recommended Vendors
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 is currently running a limited time sale offering 15% on settings site-wide. Click here to browse some great settings.
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

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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