A Guide to Buying Diamonds in Los Angeles

By Michael Fried

Scared of getting ripped off? Don’t want to waste your money? Confused by all the choices? Contact us.

Despite the fact that New York is the largest market for diamonds, there’s no place more befitting to write a guide than in Los Angeles.

The city of glamour has an abundance of places to buy an engagement ring — and the customers are as varied as the choices. It’s also great to have the opportunity to visit LA while it’s snowing in my hometown.

Buying Online Vs. Buying From an LA Retailer

We strongly recommend buying a diamond online instead of at a jewelry store. Why? Because you get a wider selection and much better prices. For example, even after negotiating, the diamond rings in LA were 30-40% more expensive than the comparable rings we found online.

There are several online vendors to choose from. The most reliable vendors are Blue Nile and James Allen, because they offer excellent customer service, superb diamond selection, and competitive pricing.

We understand that some people don’t want to buy a diamond online. They want the experience of buying in person. To give our readers expert insight, we go secret shopping in places like LA.

Where to Buy a Diamond in Los Angeles

Rodeo Drive

It’s the place that puts everyone else’s glamour to shame.

LA Diamond Buying Guide
Ready to Shop for Diamonds on Rodeo Drive

There are two things you can be sure of when shopping on Rodeo Drive: the diamonds have the highest quality standards and the prices will be through the roof. At least if you’re spending that much, you can be sure you’re getting something fantastic.

To be honest, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed shopping on Rodeo Drive. When I visited last year, we had a terrible experience at Van Cleef & Arpels. You can read the review here. This time around we had fantastic experiences at every store we went to. Not a single snobby salesperson. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful.

Downtown Diamond District

This area gives off a very sketchy vibe to me. I’m not exactly sure who is compelled to buy a diamond here.

Diamond Shopping Downtown LA
Diamond Shopping Downtown LA

It’s true that you can get a pretty decent deal, but there are also loads of diamonds with certificates that inflate the quality claims and plenty of diamonds with “issues” that severely devalue the diamond.

You’re far more likely to end up falling into one of these traps than you are to get a nice diamond and save a small percent. The downtown diamond district doesn’t seem like the right value bet in my opinion.

Shopping at the Mall

Like any place in America, the large chain retailers dot the mall landscape in Los Angeles. You can find any of these places pretty easily. We went to a few malls — most notably the Westfield in Culver City. The quality is generally not up to snuff and there is very little value offered there.

5 Expert Tips for Buying a Diamond on Your Own in LA

As you shop for a diamond, it’s important to know what to look for. Based on our years of experience in the industry, we put together top tips for finding a stunning diamond at an excellent price.

1. Evaluate the Cut: What feature most greatly impacts the beauty of a diamond? How well it is cut. That’s why we recommend only considering excellent and ideal cut diamonds. But beyond its grading, you need to make sure the diamond has plenty of brilliance (sparkle). For round cut diamonds, the depth percentage is best below 62.5% and the table percentage should be below 60%. Read more about choosing the ideal depth and table for your diamond.

If you’re shopping for a different shape, review our diamond shapes guide for recommendations.

2. Verify the Certification: Every diamond you consider should come with either an AGS or GIA certificate. The GIA and AGS are the most reliable lab entities in the industry. A certificate from one of these labs ensures you’re getting what you pay for. If someone is encouraging you to buy a diamond with a certificate from a different lab entity, it’s best to shop elsewhere.

3. Opt for Eye-Clean: Any diamond you consider should be eye-clean. What does that mean? No blemishes or inclusions should be noticeable to the naked eye. Evaluate a diamond by moving it away from the bright lights in the jewelry store. Can you see any imperfections? If you can, the diamond is not eye-clean.

The eye-clean component is more important than the Clarity grading on the lab report. But you’ll also want to look at the report to see what the grading is. Typically, VS1 and VS2 diamonds will be eye-clean. While you could pay more for a VVS1 or VVS2 diamond, you’ll get the same eye-clean beauty with a much higher price tag.

4. Study the Color: You want to end up with a diamond that appears white in relation to its setting. Look at the diamond to see if it contains any yellow or brown tinting. Most often, diamonds in the G-I range will appear colorless, but cost far less than a diamond in the D-F range.

5. Slow Down: Shopping for a diamond should be exciting — but also wisely done. Feeling pressure from a salesperson or rushing a decision could cause you to end up with a diamond that’s less than ideal. Take your time shopping. Compare what you see in the store to diamonds online. Ask for the help of an expert to ensure you’re making a smart choice.

Notable Diamond Retailers in LA

Harry Winston (Click Here to Read Our Review)

It should be no surprise that Harry Winston is on this list. They are luxury and elegance personified. Of course, the prices are incredibly high. But if you are set on purchasing from a top luxury name, Harry Winston is the way to go.

Ben Bridge (Click Here to Read Our Review)

If you’re buying a diamond at a mall, we’d recommend going with Ben Bridge. The last couple of times we’ve secret shopped them, we’ve been impressed with their quality. You can still get a better deal shopping online, but they were pretty impressive.

Icing On The Ring

We were certainly not fans of downtown LA, but Icing on Ring stood out as the best option there. They had a phenomenal inventory of setting options and an interesting diamond selection. Be sure to limit yourself to GIA-certified diamonds and feel free to contact us for an opinion on a specific diamond.

Options for Buying a Diamond Online

Through our experience, we’ve found that buying a diamond online gives you the best selection and the best prices. Here we offer details on top-tier online vendors.

Blue Nile (Click here for Review)

Blue Nile is the world’s largest online diamond retailer. They offer high-quality diamonds and settings at competitive prices. The Blue Nile website provides a seamless shopping experience where you can tailor your jewelry to your style.

With Blue Nile, you’ll receive exceptional customer service and a satisfaction guarantee. They’re also fast: diamond rings usually arrive at your door within a week.

James Allen (Click here for Review)

James Allen offers an extensive collection of diamonds and settings at competitive prices. The James Allen website features the best diamond imagery in the industry. You can view every diamond up-close before purchase. You’ll also benefit from top-notch customer service and a lifetime warranty.  

Finding a Beautiful Engagement Ring

No matter where you shop — whether in LA or online — your ring should be stunning. Follow the steps to buying a diamond to choose a stone that offers plenty of brilliance. You can also use our 2 carat ring buying guide or contact our experts for help.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have the industry-leading largest available exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
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 at the point where it's almost the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Their customer experience is best in class, and they have recently upgraded their non-engagement jewelry inventory as well.
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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