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A Guide to Buying Diamonds in Portland

By Mike Fried,

Portland is my absolute favorite city in America. I always say that if I move back to the US, it will be to Portland. I love everything about the city, from the food pods to disc golfing, to last Thursdays on Alberta Street.

While the vibe of the city can definitely be described as “alternative “ (I mean come on, “keep Portland weird”?), many Portlanders are taking the traditional route of buying a diamond engagement ring. So I figured I may as well use it as an excuse to head on over and do some secret shopping.

Buying a Diamond Online Vs. Buying at a Local Retailer in Portland

If you’ve read the other articles on our site, you’ve probably realized that we prefer online diamond vendors to brick and mortars stores. Why? Because they offer a larger selection at much better prices. They have lower overhead costs, don’t need to house an inventory—or hire as many staff.

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

To put it in perspective, we found comparable rings online for 30-40% less than the prices we saw in Portland. For example, a beautiful engagement ring like this $4,620 round cut halo engagement ring from James Allen would probably cost about $6,200 at a Portland jewelry store.

We know that not everyone wants to buy a diamond online. Keep in mind, though, that when you buy from an in-store jeweler, you’re paying a premium. Make sure that premium is worth it.

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5 Tips for Buying a Diamond

When shopping for a diamond, make sure you’re getting the most stunning stone for your budget. Follow our expert tips to get the highest quality diamond at the best price.

Look at Cut Quality

A diamond’s cut is the greatest indicator of beauty. The cut either makes the stone brilliant and sparkly, or dull and lifeless. That’s why you should limit your search to Ideal and Excellent cut diamonds. Beyond that, for round cut diamonds, keep the table below 60% and the depth percentage below 62.5%. Check out our diamond shape guide for other recommendations.       

Verify the Certification

A diamond’s certification tells you a lot about the diamond and confirms what it is that you’re buying. It describes the diamond’s cut, color, clarity and carat, among other things. You don’t just want any certificate, though. You want one from a highly reputable lab entity: the GIA. This lab is the most consistent and reliable in the world, and we recommend only looking at diamonds with these certificates.

Evaluate Clarity

When it comes to diamond clarity, check what the certificate states, but also how the diamond looks. The main goal is to find a diamond that doesn’t have any blemishes and inclusions when you look at it with the naked eye. In most cases, you can find an eye-clean diamond with VS1 or VS2 clarity. In other words, you don’t need to pay for a VVS1 or VVS2 diamond. 

Choose White

When buying a diamond, look for one that appears white in relation to its setting. Typically, you can find a diamond in the G-I range that appears white to the naked eye. Rather than paying more for a D, E or F diamond color grade, you can find a beautiful white stone for less.

Compare Your Options

Salespeople, especially those working on commission, have an incentive for you to buy a diamond the day you walk into their store. But we encourage you to take your time. Buying a diamond is a big purchase, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most beautiful stone for the best price. Compare what you see in the store to what you can find online at a vendor like Blue Nile or James Allen. You can also send us a note with the GIA cert number of the stone you’re considering. We’ll take a look and see if it’s a smart purchase.

Where to Buy a Diamond in Portland

Based on our secret shopping experiences in Portland, here are the best places to look for a diamond engagement ring

Kassab Jewelers – Downtown

Kassab is a very nice independent jeweler based in Portland. They have three locations, but we only visited their downtown store. We found the service to be fantastic and they had an interesting selection of engagement rings.

Jared, The Galleria of Jewelry – Tigard

A little south of downtown we decided to step into Jared for a quick look. This was our favorite stop at a Jared in the five years I’ve been secret shopping around America. Yes, there were many diamonds there I would avoid. But we were very impressed with the First Light diamond they offered us.

Blue Nile Showroom – Washington Square Mall

This is where the best of all worlds meet. We mention all of the advantages of buying from an online retailer. Having the showroom to sit down and try the different settings gives you the best of both worlds. No other store can compete with this.

Options for Buying Online

As we mentioned, Blue Nile is one of our top choices for buying a diamond. They maintain the largest online inventory of diamonds and settings. With Blue Nile, you get a phenomenal selection at excellent prices. They also offer free shipping and hassle-free returns. 

We also highly recommend shopping with James Allen. They maintain an incredible inventory of diamonds and rings of all shapes and styles. They’re known for their great customer service and providing high-tech imagery of each diamond, so you know exactly what you’re buying.

You can also reach out to us with what you’re looking for and your budget. We can help you find a truly stunning diamond at an excellent price point. 

Engagement Ring Styles

From bezel settings to halo rings, there’s a wide range of engagement ring styles. You can find classic rings like this Round Cut solitaire from James Allen or more intricate designs like this Princess Cut with a twisted pave band from James Allen. There are also beautiful vintage settings for Oval cuts. All of the options available give you the exciting ability to design a ring that your partner will love.

Take each decision one at a time. Select your diamond shape and choose the setting style you like. Decide on your precious metal—whether that’s yellow gold, rose gold, white gold or platinum.

Most importantly, though, select a diamond with plenty of brilliance. A well-cut diamond will sparkles, while a poorly cut diamond appears dull. Check out our top tips for buying a diamond to find one that will shine for many years to come.

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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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. 
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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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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