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