The Diamond Pro

A Guide to Buying Diamonds in Orange County

By Michael Fried

Scared of getting ripped off? Don’t want to waste your money? Confused by all the choices? Contact us.
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Orange County is filled with more than just fantastic restaurants, beaches, and resorts. It’s home to many jewelers as well.

That’s why we put together a guide to shopping for an engagement ring and other fine jewelry in the OC. We cover the best places to find a diamond, tips for shopping, and specific stores that have the most to offer.

Buying Online Vs. Buying From a Local OC Jeweler

Our years of experience have shown us that buying a diamond online is more advantageous. You get a wider selection and better prices. Because of the way diamonds are distributed and sold, online retailers can sell diamonds at a fraction of the cost of bricks and mortar stores. For instance, even after negotiating, the retailers in Orange County were 30-40% more expensive than the comparable rings we found online.

The most reliable online vendors are James Allen and Blue Nile. You’ll get great service, excellent selection, and more than competitive pricing.

Some people don’t feel comfortable buying online — or they want the experience of buying a diamond in person. So we still go secret shopping, because we want to provide our readers with honest insight about jewelers in their area.

Annie Visiting Robbins Bros in Orange County
Annie Visiting Robbins Bros in Orange County

5 Tips for Buying a Diamond in the Orange County

When shopping for a diamond, it’s important to keep a few basics in mind. With these top tips, you’ll know how to find a gorgeous diamond that you’ll love for years to come.

1. Check the Certification

Your diamond should come with a certificate, but not just any certificate. You should only consider diamonds with GIA or AGS certification. These are the two most reliable lab entities in the world. Buying a diamond with one of these certificates ensures you’re getting what you pay for. If a salesperson is pushing you to buy a diamond with a certificate other than GIA or AGS, politely leave their store and shop elsewhere.

2. Evaluate the Cut

The characteristic that most greatly impacts a diamond’s beauty is its Cut. That’s why we tell our readers to only look at excellent and ideal cut diamonds. But the quality of a diamond’s Cut is more than just its grading. You need to ensure that the diamond has brilliance and sparkle. For a round diamond, the table percentage should be below 60% and the depth percentage should be below 62.5%. For other diamond shapes, check out our diamond shapes guide for recommendations.

3. Choose An Eye-Clean Stone

A diamond’s Clarity is determined by how many blemishes and inclusions it has. The fewer the imperfections, the better the Clarity grade. Beyond the grade listed on the certificate, you want to look at the diamond closely yourself.

Pull the diamond away from the bright lights in the store, as these can mask the inclusions in a diamond. Does the diamond have any noticeable blemishes or imperfections? If not, the diamond is eye-clean. That’s what you want: an eye-clean diamond. Typically, diamonds with a VS1 or VS2 Clarity grade will be eye-clean. While you can buy a higher grade, like a VVS1, you’ll be paying more for the same eye-clean status.

4. Assess the Color

The main goal is to end up with a diamond that looks white. In general, you can find a diamond in the G-I range that appears colorless. You could pay more by choosing a stone in the D-F range, but the diamond achieves the same result at a much higher price.

In addition to looking at the diamond Color by itself, you want to compare the stone to the color of your ring setting. If you’re choosing a yellow gold setting, for example, you may be able to choose an I or even J Color, because the stone will still look white in the ring.

5. Don’t Rush

You should never feel pressured or rushed to make a decision on a diamond. Shopping for a ring is an exciting time. But most importantly, you want to end up with a diamond you love for a price you also love.

If you feel rushed while shopping, remember to take a step back. Let the salesperson know you need time to make a decision. Compare what you saw in the store to what’s online. Ultimately, you should feel confident and informed when you make your purchase. If you want help evaluating your options, contact us. We’ll offer you our honest feedback on any diamond you’re considering.

Recommended Jewelers in Orange County

Over the years, we’ve visited many jewelers in Orange County. Here we provide insight on our top options.

Simone & Son in Huntington Beach

Simone & Son is a fantastic independent jeweler. While secret shopping, we were impressed with the salesperson. All of the diamonds were GIA-certified (with a few AGS certificates scattered about) and the prices were competitive for a physical retailer.

Ben Bridge at Main Place Mall (Click Here to Read Our Review)

Ben Bridge is an interesting option. Most of the diamonds are GIA or AGS certified. Our last secret shopping at Ben Bridge was quite impressive. You can still get far better value online, but the diamonds were beautiful and the price was fair.

Unique Setting at Ben Bridge
Unique Setting at Ben Bridge

Robbins Brothers in Santa Anna (Click Here to Read our Review)

Robbins Brothers offers a fantastic selection of engagement ring styles. Be sure not to purchase something directly from the showcase. Insist on purchasing a GIA-certified center diamond for your ring. Robbins Brothers maintains a large stock with a wide range of quality, so make sure to choose wisely (feel free to contact us).

Conclusion

There are some pretty decent options in Orange County. From the large retail chains (Ben Bridge) down to the local independent jeweler (Simone & Son), our experiences were surprisingly positive across the board. But if you are looking for the absolute best bang for your buck, check out our recommended online jewelers.

As always if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. One of our diamond consultants will be happy to assist you in finding the perfect engagement ring.

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
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. And for a limited time, take advantage of their 25% Off pre-Black Friday Sale!
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

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

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