The Diamond Pro

Q&A: Skeptical About Truth About Diamonds and Buying Online in General (and Problem with Chipped Stone)

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.

Hello, I just came across your website. I am a little sceptical about buying a diamond online, but it looks like I can get a better deal. Not to sound bad, but why do you help people find diamonds if there is nothing in it for you? Thanks

Hey.  The answer to your question is that there is something in it for me.  I earn a commission when I refer traffic to a number of online diamond sites (blue nile, james allen, abazias, etc.).

If you’d like any help, just let me know!  From your side, the service is free 🙂

Thanks for the quick reply Ira and that makes sense.  Sorry, like I said I am just sceptical of making a big purchase like this through the interent.  I am needing something relatively soon, meaning by the first or second week in November.  I am planning on prposing to my girlfriend first week of December in Hawaii.  Here are the specs of what I am looking for and if you could help me I would greatly appreciate it.

Princess Diamond

Cut: Premium/Ideal

Carat: 1.15-1.4

Color: F-G Preferable

Clarity: VVS1-VS1

I am looking to spend no more than $5300.00 total.

Please let me know if you can help me out with this, I am having kind of a hard time, maybe my expectaions are too high.

Thanks again for your help Ira!!

It’s my pleasure to help out.  Just one quick question first – you mention you dont want to spend more than $5300 total – do you mean 5300 total (diamond + setting) or just on the diamond?  IF that includes the setting, what kind of setting are you looking to get?  Can you send me a link to a ring you like on James Allen?  I need to get an idea of how much is left in the budget for the diamond.

It would be $5300 total for just the diamond.  I was thinking of getting the setting locally so I can actually see it in person.  Also I plan on having the ring appraised by a third party appraiser just to make sure it is worth what the certificate says it is.  I could buy the setting through you and it shouldn’t be too hard since my girlfriend wants something very simple.  Let me know what ideas you may have.  I just want to make sure there is some kind of return policy in case the third party appraiser says something different from the specs and selling price.  Thanks again for all your help.

I generally recommend people buy from James Allen because they offer pictures of most of their diamonds.  They’re the only company that does this.  They also have a very nice selection of engagement ring settings.  So if what you’re looking for is something simple, then I’m sure they’ll have what you’re looking for.  And yes, they have a no questions asked 30 day return policy.  So you can definitely return the stone and ring no problem if there’s an issue with the diamond.

Regarding your desired parameters, I have two comments:
1)  For 5300, you’re only going to hit the lowest end of your spectrum (1.15-1.19ish G VS1). 2)  I would recommend you let me find you a stone with a slightly lower clarity that I can verify will be clean to the naked eye using James Allen’s photography, and thereby allowing you to buy a larger stone for the same budget.  I would also recommend expanding the search to include H color stones.  These will still look totally white in a white gold/plat setting.

Let me know what you think about my suggestion, and I’ll get started right away!

Thanks for the help and recommendations.  To be honest I have never done this before and have researched as much as possible to find that perfect stone for the money.  I am definitely willing to change some of the specs as long as I get a beautiful quality diamond.  I have been to a few places, i.e. brick and morter stores locally and it is a little hard to tell the difference betwen some of them so I really don’t know what I am getting.  Plus the stones that are way lower than my expectations are closer to $8K.  I know table & depth are one of the biggest characteristics and am still confused a little as far as that goes.  I would like to be around the 1.2 mark and doesn’t have to be that much bigger as long as I stay around that carat.  I am definitely willing to go to G color as long as you can’t tell a huge difference to the naked eye.  Also I will take your advice on the clarity as well on the VS1 mark as long as it is a good looking diamond.  I really appreciate your help and will look at the site when I get a chance for the setting.  It would be nice to knock it all out at once.  When I have the stone appraised here, do they have to take it out of the setting or can they appraise it in the setting???  Once again I really appreciate your help.  I have talked to a few different dealers online and no one has tried to actually help pick out a stone for me so thank you!!  I look forward to your reply.

It’s my pleasure to help.

Regarding the appraisal – a professional appraiser can do his job even if the diamond is set already.  He won’t take it out of the setting.

Take a look at these: – It’s E SI2.  1.37 cts.  If you look at the stones picture, you’ll see a few small inclusions near the center of the stone.  Those will be eye clean.  Those alone would be a VS2 or SI1.  If you look closely, there are some crystal-like inclusions on the right side that are almost totally clear.  Those are the reason the stone got an SI2.  This is the biggest and best option for you, I think.  Plus, this stone has an exquisite Princess cut make.  70.5% depth and 66% table is pretty much perfect for a Princess Cut.  Only problem is it’s 6140. – F SI2.  1.29cts.  $5480.  Also really really nice.  Great picture.  Looks really clean for an SI2.  Depth and table still really great, but not quite as perfect as the stone before. – 1.27 I VS1.  $5530.  Also very nice.

Have a look at these three and let me konw what you think.  I look forward to your response!

For some reason I can’t get a zoomed in picture of the stones???  By looking at the standard pic on each one they look exactly the same, alomost like a stock picture.  I really do not wantt o go over the $5300.00 mark for the stone, so I would rather try and get closer to 1.15-1.20 carat and see if I can get the clarity a little better to at least a VSI or VSII, is that possible???  Also, I am in Florida, please tell me I do not have to pay sales tax???  Once again thanks for your help, these seem like nice stones, just a little above what I wanted to spend.  Keep them coming and let me know if there is a way to get a zoomed in picture of the diamond.

where in FL are you?  I grew up in Miami.   There’s no sales tax from JA to FL, so don’t worry about that.

You can click on the picture/link that says “Real Diamond Image” on each diamonds page.  That opens James Allen’s “virtual loupe”.  Once in this screen, you can drag the little loupe around the picture with your mouse pointer and anything inside the loupe appears magnified.

Anyway, try these on for size: – It’s strong blue, so if you like this, you should ask james allen to inspect it for you to make sure it doesn’t have any negative fluorescent effects.

Have a look and let me know what you think.  I look forward to hearing form you again.

I actually just came back from Miami on business.  I am a little concerened about the “I” color, how much yellow does this contain??  Does this look pretty clear to the naked eye???  In all honesty I can’t tell much difference in the diamond with the vitual loupe, maybe that is because I do not know what I am looking for.  Anyway, let me know your opinions on the color when you get a chance.  Thanks again for all your help.

I color is just on the border of what will still look white to the naked eye.  Unfortunately, you can’t really tell color from the pictures.  If you’re concerned about the I, then you should go for one of the H colors that I recommended.  The H’s will for sure look white to the eye.

What do you tink about this one??

Is there anything you would have a concern with on this stone??  I am still confused on the girdle as well, it says slightly think to thick, what does that mean??

I think this stone is a little too deep.  If you can be picky (and you can bcz james allen has such a big inventory), I’d like to keep the depth 73% or under.

A very thick girdle isn’t good, as it concentrates the weight of the diamond in the depth and not in the length x width where your eye can see it.

I understand and I completely agree, I kind of like this one, but I am owrried about the I color being too yellow

What are your thoughts???  I really didn’t want to go under H??

THat’s a great looking stone. The only problem it would pose is if you were going to match it with a setting with side stones that were really really high in color (F or better).  Otherwise, it’s a great pick.

I am going the solitare route so there will be no other stones.  I am just worried that the I color will not look at clear or bright as maybe a E, F or G??

I know you seem somewhat associated with James Allen, but I would like your honest opinion on this stone of you don’t mind.;clar_min=VS1;color_max=G;color_min=E;ct_max=1%2e40;ct_min=1%2e18;id=2470839;lab=ALL;p_max=5500;p_min=4500;shape=PR;start=0

I am just trying to find the best diamond I can and I sincerely appreciate your help.

You should stear clear of EGL certified diamonds.   I wrote the following to someone last week who was asking me about EGL:

At the wholesale level, diamonds are priced in two ways.  If a stone is below the range of commercially viable GIA color and clarity grades (generally SI2+, but occasionally I1+, and J+), then it is priced as is without any certification.  At my former employer, for example, we had about 30 assortments from this level of I1 all the way down to I3/I4/Rejection.  It takes a lot of skill and experience to be able to sort diamonds to such slight gradations.  That’s exactly what separates a successful diamond dealer from an unsuccessful diamond dealer since each slight change in assortment is a difference (with 1 caraters, for example) of about $200-$300.   In most cases, that’s all the profit you can hope to make at the wholesale level. So if you’re off by just one assortment you can go from profit to breaking even or even losing money.  Stones within the range of commercially viable GIA color and clarity grades are sold almost exclusively with GIA and AGS certificates on the wholesale level.  The reason is simple – people with experience in the business know that EGL grades can’t be trusted, and therefore they would never every BUY a stone based on their grades.  The only exception is that sometimes a stone will be sold according to its assortment (as described above), but will come with an EGL cert or pre-cert (just a little slip of paper indicating its grade, but without the printed cert).  This is just to show the prospective buyer what a big upgrade he can get.

So if diamonds are almost never bought or sold at the wholesale level with EGL certs, where do they come into play?  It’s almost
always the wholesaler who is selling to a store, or the store who is selling to the end customer who wants to squeeze out a little more profit.

So what should you take away from this?  Every diamond has its fair value.  The purpose of EGL in the diamond industry today is to make a diamond seem more valuable than it really is.  You know what happens if someone has a stone they bought (either certified GIA or uncerted) and they send it to EGL and they don’t get a high enough upgrade to make more profit?  They simply throw out the EGL cert and pretend it never existed.

So in actuality, your reasoning (“And I feel like there is the potential to get a better diamond for my money with the EGL”) is
exactly the opposite of what’s true.  You are guaranteeing yourself to get a worse diamond for your money when you go with EGL.  Just about every EGL diamond on the market today at one point was a better diamond for the money, until someone made it more expensive by getting it ridiculously upgraded by EGL.  Another thing to consider is that you can’t rely on EGL’s cut grades. If you understand how to interpret the raw data (depth %, table %, etc), then you can figure it out for yourself, but if you dont know how, then you can’t rely on their cut grades.  They are extremely lenient. They’ll call stones that receive “Good” from GIA “ideal.”

Q: I understand and appreciate it, I never heard back from you regarding this stone???  I can see a few inclusions on this one, but not sure if they will be able to be seen by the naked eye???

I think it is between this one and the one you had looked at before, like I said, I do not really like the I color in it though.  Let me know what you think, also how often does James Allen get new inventory???

Here are two more if you wouldn’t mind giving me your opinion on.

I am definitely going to make a descision soon, I think it will be between these two and the one I just sent in the previous email.  How does payment work????  Do I need to send a check???  I know if you use a credit card there are additional charges???

Of the three stones you sent, I like the 1.24ct one for 4930 the best.  It has the biggest spread combined with a smaller table than the 1.22.  Also, it’s picture looks great.

The price posted on james allen is the credit card price.  If you want to pay by wire transfer, there’s a 1.5% discount.

Don’t forget to use TAD0611 to get 10% off the engagement ring if you decide to buy it from JA as well.

Please let me konw which one you go with in the end.  I can’t wait to hear!

Thanks Ira, I really appreciate your help.  I will narrow down the setting and finalaize everything.  How do I go about setting up a wire transfer?? A couple last questions, there is one small inclusion in the upper right corner of that stone, is that going to be noticable to the eye???  Also, if I get this apraised by an outside party who is certified, shouldn’t it be valued at the price I pay or higher???  Thakns again for all your help, I am ready to get this thing done!!!

That little inclusion will def not be noticeable. At some point in the ordering process I think there’s an option to check if you want to do a bank wire.

Yeah, you are right. An insurance appraisal will be for much more than what you paid for the ring.

I look forward to hearing how it goes!

Here is one more, it looks like there are a few inclusions in the stone, but how hard is it to see these with the naked eye??  Also, I have narrowed down the setting to four, I think we are making some progress here.  BTW, Diamonds are frustrating.


I believe I have finalized my decision.  I emailed James Allen and never received a reply back.  I am traveling with work startign Friday and won’t be back until Nov 3rd.  I told them I would like to purchase the ring now and have them hold it until Nov 3rd so i can receive it when it comes in.  Also, just in case there is a problem I do not want my 30 day return policy to start until it ships and I receive it. Like I said I am still waiting on a reply.  I have one quick question for you, I have decided on this setting

There is an option through the website to see it with a princess cut stone, but it won’t load.  I was wondering if they could send me a pic with a princess cut in that setting.  What are your opinions of that setting????  I kind of don’t like where the stone is actually cradled, but it is very simple and unique at the same time.  Let me know what you think.

I LOVE that ring.  I know it well.  I just had another reader choose it a few weeks ago, and I remember thinking it was my favorite setting on James Allen.  You have good taste!

Cool, thanks Ira.  I am just waiting for James Allen to email me back.  I sent it to them yesterday and expressed that I was ready to purchase.  Do you have any connections over there that could get back to me???  I was wanting to at least send $  to reserve it before I go on my trip.  I founf a stone a month or so ago I liked on another site and a week later it was gone, I don’t want that to happen again.

they’re pretty good with these things.  You’ll almost certainly hear from them today.  If you don’t want to wait, you can call them and do the order over the phone.

Good deal, thanks Ira!!

my pleasure.  if you order by phone, make sure to give them my coupon code TAD0611 for 10% off the setting.

Trust me, I will be doing that 🙂

I still haven’t heard back from James Allen.  I am going to call, but before I do I had another question.  The ring we ended up going with was $4930.00, I just checked it again today and it is $4860.00???  Is there a reason why it dropped $70.00 from yesterday???

It fluctuates with the price of gold/platinum.

Gotcha, thanks Ira, going to give them a call in a bit. I will keep you posted.

I went with this stone,

and the cross setting.  I am going to be out of town so I won’t be receiving it until the first week of November.  I really appreciate all your help, you were awesome and I couldn’t have made a final decision without you.  I called them and they made everything pretty easy.  I need to go to the bank tomorrow morning to finalize the wire transfer.  So in all honesty the little inclusion in the top right and the little tiny fuzzy marks on the left center will not be able to been seen by the naked eye right???

Not at all! The stone is going to be beautiful and totally eye clean.

Please be in touch and let me know how it looks when it arrives. If you like it, would you mind vouching for me on ivouch? (take a look at the Success Stories tab on the site to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Thanks Ira and I would definitely vouch for you.  Like I said I will be back in town Nov 3rd and should receive the ring Nov 4th.  As soon as I get it I will give a testamonial. Thanks again for all your help and we will definitely be in touch.

We have a problem, James Allen just called and said the diamond I picked is chipped.  They are calling to switch me to a new one, but the one he is recommending has a depth of 74+% and they are saying that doesn’t matter that much even though you directed me to go under 72%???  The guy I am talking to said he did not even know that James Allen commishonied people.  I am kind of stuck and need your help again.  I gues this guy is going to send me some pics, can you help me out again???  Even though I am glad they called me to let me know, I am a little upset right now.

That does stink.  But, trust me, this is a good thing.  Much better it chips while under their watch than yours.  You just saved yourself a big headache.

72% vs 74% is only relevant because usually a 72% depth stone will have a larger spread (LxW) than the 74% stone.  The 2% difference in depth won’t affect brilliance at all.  So what I would suggest is that you tell them that you want a stone with the same spread at the same price and quality (color and clarity).

BTW, I’m not commissioned by JA.  I am completely independent from them.  I have affiliate agreements with about 5 other online diamond vendors as well.  I generally push JA over the others because they’re almost always cheaper, they have pictures, and their customer service is always top top notch.

Most affiliates, just so you should know, don’t offer any of the services I do.  They’re almost always simple sites that put banner ads up for JA.   When people click on those ads, and then buy something, so that site will get a commission.  I might be the only affiliate of JA that offers the services that I do.

If you have any questions about the stones they suggest, just send me the specs and I’ll look them over with you and help you pick the best one.

One time something similar happened to another reader of mine.  The stone didn’t chip, but it was sold out from under him by the diamond’s owner the same day my reader bought it.  Even though JA didnt really do anything wrong, they took very good care of him.  They’re going to take care of you too, don’t worry about it.

Keep me informed!

Q: I went a little down in size to get quality, what do you think honestley???

That looks like a fine replacement for your stone.  The depth is still right in the sweet spot, and the table is also a really great (69%).  The small difference in LxW is so slight (about 0.15mm) that you’d have a hard time noticing the difference with your eye without actually measuring it.  I think this stone, or one of the original ones you were considering ( – also great depth%) would be worthy replacements.

Please let me know how things turn out, and don’t hesitate to ask any more questions!

I picked the 1.14, from what Josh was telling me it had better features than the 1.21.  I will be pretty happy as long as you can’t tell the difference in size from a 1.24 to a 1.14, that is the only thing that kinda bums me out.  I worked long and hard on this along with you and now it is what it is.  I swear I have crappy luck.  We will see what it looks like next week when I get back in town.

Don’t worry.  It’s going to be beautiful.  Whatever miniscule amount you’re giving up in size you’re gaining in color.  So I think it’s a wash either way.  You’re going to be very happy when you get the ring.  Don’t worry!

I hope your right, I am a little disappointed in having to do that, But I guess things happen for a reason.  I saw a chick working the desk at the hotel and if it looks close to that I will be super happy. Thanks again Ira, I will keep you posted as to what happens next week.

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