GIA Certified Diamonds
Natural diamonds are formed in high temperature and high pressure conditions 100 miles below earth's surface. It is the only gem made of a single element: carbon. Diamonds are billions of years old, and of all the diamonds mined, less than 20% are considered gem quality per the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Buying diamonds online can be a safe and pleasant experience if you know what you are looking for and shop with a trusted vendor. Markups online on loose GIA-certified diamonds are as low as 10-20% compared to local retailers. Markups can go as high as 150%+ locally.
In a nutshell, James Allen.com is our number one pick for buying loose GIA-certified diamonds and engagement rings. The company is a pioneer in developing the ideal technology for showcasing diamonds in super HD videos. They also offer the most competitive prices and have unmatched customer service. The long-term benefits and support are also a great add-on. If you are interested in lab-grown diamonds, compare James Allen against Brilliant Earth. On the premium side, check Whiteflash for precision-cut AGS certified diamonds. Here is our complete list of the best places to buy diamonds.
Best Options for Loose Diamonds:
We recommend the following five options for buying a GIA or AGS certified diamond.
We highly recommend James Allen as our favorite online retailer for loose GIA-certified diamonds and engagement rings. James Allen is one of the largest diamond companies globally and has the best customer service in the industry. The company is credited for transforming the diamond industry. Also, they match prices with all other vendors. You can shop at James Allen here.
Brilliant Earth is a publicly traded fine jewelry company. They specialize in lab-grown diamonds and prioritize sustainability and ethical sourcing as their primary concern. However, diamonds sourced by our other top vendors are also ethically mined grown (learn more about lab vs. natural diamonds).
If you want the trust and reliability of a strong brand, Blue Nile is credited with changing the diamond industry as a whole. It has a significant influence on the diamond industry. We deeply respect the Blue Nile for its accomplishments over the last decade.
If you are looking for an ideal cut AGL graded diamond, after Whiteflash, we recommend Brian Gavin Diamonds. Brian Gavin is a well-known name in the diamond industry and is credited for his contribution to the cut of round-shape diamonds. He is the inventor of the Hearts & Arrows diamond. Brian is a 5th generation diamond cutter.
Our Owner has over a decade of experience in the diamond industry and has traded millions of dollars worth of diamonds. If you want a dedicated, knowledgeable diamond consultant to work with you, follow this link to consult with Sharif.
Factors to Consider While Shopping for a GIA Certified Diamond:
A diamond's shape, weight, cut, clarity, color, certification, and fluorescence are all crucial considerations when purchasing a diamond. These are the most important factors that affect the price of a diamond.
Listed below is a summary of what should be taken into account under each of the factors:
Factor 1: Diamond Shape
The shape is how the diamond looks, and cut refers to the quality of the craftsmanship while cutting a diamond into a particular shape, e.g., a round cut or an oval cut. A diamond's shape impacts its pricing since certain shapes need larger unpolished stones.For example, a round-shaped diamond is 20-30% more expensive than a princess cut or cushion cut diamond.
It could take a 2-carat rough diamond to cut a perfect 1 carat round brilliant cut while it might take a 1.5-carat rough diamond to cut a princess cut diamond - a round 1ct. is 6.5mm in diameter and a 1ct. princess cut is roughly 5.5mm in diameter. As a result of the size difference, round-cut diamonds are priced higher than other shapes.
Factor 2: Diamond Carat Weight
After determining the shape of a diamond, the next step is to learn about the carat weight of a diamond. Typically, a diamond is weighed in carats, and each carat is 200 milligram or 0.2 grams. The price of a diamond increases significantly as it reaches a full carat. Once a diamond reaches the 2-3 carat range, the price is multiplied by many times over because larger stones are rare and therefore more expansive. For instance, if all other factors are considered equal, a 2-carat diamond will cost three to four times the price of a 1-carat diamond. This is because a 2-carat diamond is rarer to mine than a 1-carat diamond.
Tip: if you want to save money, buying a 1.9-carat diamond may be less expensive than a full 2-carat diamond. The price jumps significantly once the diamond reaches a full carat range.
Factor 3: Diamond Cut
The cut of a diamond is extremely important because it is the only C that is determined by a cutter and not nature. The cut of a diamond is complex, and several factors need to be considered while evaluating a diamond. GIA assigns a cut grade to round diamonds, but they do not yet have a standard grading system for fancy-cut stones. As a result, GIA doesn't assign cut grades to them.
The good news is that we have published detailed articles about each shape and how to assess their cut. Please refer to these articles for assessing the cut of a diamond before buying it. For example, check our guide on oval cut diamonds before buying an oval shape diamond.
Tip: 1)Even among GIA excellent cut round diamonds, there is a way to differentiate between an excellent cut diamond and what we refer to as an “ideal supercut" diamond. The best way to differentiate between them is by thoroughly analyzing the cut proportions of the diamond (read our ideal cut proportions article).
Tip: 2)In both round and fancy cut diamonds, the depth and table are the most important factors determining the quality of a cut, followed by the size of the girdle, culet, crown angle, and pavilion. Length-to-width ratios are also important in fancy cut diamonds.
Tip: 3)Dealers tend to cut stones deep to save the rough stones, therefore avoiding a diamond with a great depth. A diamond with a big table is also not recommended because it won't have optimal fire and brilliance.
Factor 4: Diamond Color
Color in diamonds is the second most important C after the Cut of a diamond as the whole body of a stone is affected by it, not a particular spot which is often the case with Clarity.
Color refers to the presence of a yellowish hue or tint in a white diamond and is graded from grade D (colorless) to grade Z (light yellow). D-F grades are considered colorless, G-J are near colorless (however, there is a big difference between G and J color), K to M grades are Faint Yellow, N to R grades are very light yellow, and S to Z grades are light yellow.
Tip: We recommend D,E, F, and G as excellent color ranges. H and I diamonds are excellent budget options, with J being our lowest recommendation unless some yellowish tint is preferred in a diamond.
Factor 5: Diamond Clarity
The clarity of a diamond is important because it directly affects its brilliance. If a diamond is full of inclusions, the stone won't sparkle and will lack luster, fire, and scintillation.
The diamond industry has developed a sophisticated system for grading the clarity of a diamond, ranging from Flawless (FL) as the highest grade and Included 3 (I3) as the lowest grade.
FL and IF (Internally Flawless) are excellent grades. Very Slightly Included 1 (VS1) and Very Slightly Included 2 (VS2) are almost flawless clarity grades. VS1 and VS2 are after Very Very Included 2 (VVS2) and are often considered eye-clean diamonds. Slightly, Included 1 (SI1) and Slightly Included 2 (SI2) are at the lower end of high-quality diamonds and are close to being eye-clean in under 1-carat diamonds. Included 1 (I1) and Included 3 (I3) are the lowest clarity graded diamonds.
Tip: FL, IF, VVS/VS1 are excellent premium-grade diamonds. VS2 is a good option to consider while keeping quality and budget a priority. SI1/SI2 need extensive due diligence in above 1 carat diamonds to avoid inclusions that affect the brilliance of a diamond.
Factor 6: Diamond Fluorescence
Fluorescence is an invisible glow that a diamond emits when placed under Ultraviolet rays. It ranges from None to Very Strong Blue with Faint, Medium Blue, and Strong Blue as the other ranges.
According to a GIA study, the appearance of around 10% of diamonds was negatively affected among all diamonds that emitted fluorescence. Fluorescence can negatively influence the price of a diamond by up to 25%.
In summary, it is important to note that fluorescence can be a helpful factor to buyers on a tight budget. It can make H or above color diamonds look whiter because fluorescence is often blue, a complementary color to yellow.
Tip: Fluorescence can often be a plus in H and lower color grade diamonds. However, no fluorescence is always much better in higher color grades such as D to G color. If you go with fluorescence in D-G colors, make sure you have a valid return policy if the diamond is among the 10% percent stones that are badly affected by fluorescence.
Factor 7: Diamond Certification
While it is commonly referred to as "diamond certification," within the diamond industry, we refer to the "certificates" as grading reports. Among the many labs that offer grading services, the best lab is GIA (the Gemological Institute of America), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating customers about diamonds and other gemstones. AGS (American Gem Society) also has great labs for grading diamonds.
Tip: Our top lab is GIA because it is the most consistent grading lab globally. To avoid getting riffed off, we strongly encourage shoppers always to buy a diamond that GIA or AGS grades. If a dealer offers a good deal on a stone graded by a bogus lab or not graded at all, there is a strong reason to be concerned.
What to Prioritize While Buying a GIA Certified Diamond?
A balanced approach to buying diamonds is recommended, prioritizing the best of all 4Cs and fluorescence in a diamond within a given budget range. While carat weight is important, the quality of the cut should always be prioritized. Color and clarity are also important factors.
A balanced approach implies that instead of buying a 3 carat SI2, J color diamond, buying a well-cut 2-carat diamond with a better clarity and color grade might be better.
Here are four scenarios to consider: 1) buy a diamond in the investment-grade range that is very high in all four Cs; 2) buy a diamond that is high quality but also big. For example, excellent cut GIA graded round diamonds in the 2-carat range, E-G color, VVS/VS clarity, and no fluorescence hold amazing value if bought at the right price; 3) buy a budget option that is still eye-clean such as a diamond with H/I color and SI1 clarity, and 4) compromise on color and buy a big diamond with high clarity and a great cut.
In short, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that can be applied to diamonds because they are wonders of nature, each one unique with its own characteristics.
The Diamond Trade Globally:
Americans make up 40% of the buyers who purchase gem-quality diamonds in terms of trade. The market share of diamond jewelry is around $70-90 billion worldwide.
As explained below, because of the advancement of a systematic diamond grading system and transparency made possible by the internet, natural diamonds are slowly being treated as commodities. Natural diamond prices are also slowly becoming standardized similar to gold prices.
Internet & GIA Transformed the Diamond Trade:
The diamond industry has evolved and changed significantly over the last two decades, mainly due to technological developments. While traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are not happy about how the trade has evolved, the change is significantly in favor of consumers.
How? Because online competition and the standardization of the diamond grading system have brought transparency into the industry. In addition, before, there was no universal standard for grading diamonds, and now the industry has established a universal language and grading system.
Before these developments, buyers were at the mercy of local dealers for price and quality verification. However, now buyers can easily review diamond prices on three to four websites to determine a competitive price range. For example, a buyer can easily establish a competitive price for a 1 carat round diamond with G color and VSS clarity and an excellent cut with no fluorescence.
As far as grading is concerned, as long as a stone is graded or "certified" by GIA (the Gemological Institute of America), there is no reason to be concerned if the stone is actually what it should be because GIA is one of the most consistent grading labs in the world.
Diamond Prices Chart:
Petra Gems regularly analyzes the prices of diamonds and provides a comprehensive average estimation of diamond prices in our index. These prices fluctuate monthly, and as soon as significant fluctuation is observed, we update our index.
A host of factors affect diamond prices, including market demand and supply. The availability and supply of rough diamonds controlled by large diamond companies, like De Beers and Alrosa, are also primary factors.
We have discussed the necessary factors that diamond buyers should consider while buying GIA-certified diamonds. As a result of this article, it should be easier for shoppers to select a diamond with the right price and quality within a given budget range. Finally, buyers should prioritize diamonds certified or graded by well-known labs.