Best Places to Buy Diamonds Online
In a nutshell, the top four online options are (see below why)...
- JamesAllen.com, especially for GIA graded Diamonds. They have the best HD 360° high resolution technology. Moreover, they will match any price. If a $318 million dollar company is offering you a price match, you better take it for the sake of the added benefits that will come with it.
- Whiteflash, especially for precision cut high quality Hearts and Arrows diamonds. Whiteflash diamonds are better cut than what you would get at Tiffany.
- Blue Nile, especially for fine diamond jewelry. The company is an early pioneer of the online diamond trade and has virtually transformed the industry.
- Brian Gavin Diamonds, especially for AGS Ideal Cut Diamonds. Brain is one of the best diamond cutters in the world.
On the basis of over 10+ years of experience in the diamond and fine jewelry industry, we will share the most important insights about buying ethical diamonds and engagement rings online. This article covers the following topics:
- Best Places for Buying Diamonds and Engagement Rings Online
- How to Prioritize the 4Cs (Four Scenarios to Consider)
- How to Allocate Your Budget
- The Seven Most Important Factors that Affect the Price of a Diamond (it should be 7Cs, not 4Cs).
- Things to Consider While Shopping Locally
- Designers vs Custom Offerings
We have given considerable thought to this article and will share what we think is your best bet in the long-term. After selling countless diamonds and custom rings and working with every major brand, what we have learned is that it is often best to shop at a reputable jeweler for an engagement ring or loose diamond. Here is why:
- Many small vendors online might not honor their return policies because of their size, and even when they do, they might have cash flow issues to refund you in a timely manner;
- Long-term servicing on a jewelry is important, the stones might falloff the mounting, it might need resizing etc., we are not sure if small vendors are built for such a service over an extended period (they might not be around next year);
- If cheap is your priority, a jeweler has many tricks to get you that cheap price, go for a fair price and high quality. First, educate yourself about diamonds. If the price is too good to be true, you have every reason to be worried. Nowadays markups are online 10-20% maximum, so there isn't much room for heavy discounts.
- We can't emphasize the importance of long-term customer service and warranties. It is also important to have the option of a trade up policy. What if you want to upgrade to a larger stone in a year or two? would the vendor offer you a fair deal for your diamond for an upgrade?
- Many small sites or local stores will either offer you diamonds graded by unknown labs or with no certification at all. Always ask for GIA or AGS graded diamonds.
By taking all of the above factors into considerations:
Our top option for you would be James Allen. This company is the world's largest privately-owned company and is credited for bringing diamond prices significantly down over the last decade. They also has the best 3D technology to show you every angle of a diamond or engagement ring before you purchase it. On top of that, they offer a life-time warranty and a price match guarantee. What else would you wish for? Best price, Best Customer Service, and Top Quality. Click here to watch super HD diamond videos at James Allen.
Our Second option is Whiteflash, a leading retailer of precision cut hearts and arrows diamonds and designer engagement rings. The company’s A Cut Above® diamonds are truly remarkable and highly sought after by educated consumers. They also offer most designer brands of engagement rings at a fair price. If you go with Whiteflash, here is what you will get 1) a large inventory of in-house hearts and arrows diamonds graded by AGS; 2) authentic designer collections such as Tacori, Simon G, Verrgio, a Jaffe, Danhov etc.; and 3) life-time trade up benefits on all diamonds. They are rated as A+ by BBB ad are also the winner of the 2018 BBB Pinnacle Award. Click here to learn more about Whiteflash heart and arrows diamonds.
Our third option would be Blue Nile, the leader of the online diamond and fine jewelry industry by volume and scale. The company was a pioneer in bringing transparency to the diamond industry and in revitalizing the online fine jewelry trade in the late 1990s. When Petra Gems started selling diamonds online, we initially specialized pre-owned fine jewelry. After selling dozens of Blue Nile rings, we can assure you that we were always impressed with their quality and craftsmanship. They company has also updated their online platform and offers cutting-edge technology for making your diamond buying experience as pleasant as possible. Click here to review Blue Nile's quick diamond buying cheat sheet.
Our fourth option for you would be Brian Gavin Diamonds, especially if you are in the market for a high quality AGS Graded Diamond. Brian Gavin is well-know figure in the diamond industry and is a pioneer in the diamond cutting space. He is a 5th generation diamond cutter in his family and is credited for inventing the hearts and arrows cut. Click here to learn more about Brian Gavin's signature princess cut diamonds.
The owner of Petra Gems, Sharif, is happy to work with you directly to help you buy loose diamonds. We have been in this industry for over a decade and have seen it all. We have worked with every major company and know some of the biggest dealers in this space, including De Beers sightholders. Please follow this link if you decide to seek Sharif's advice.
Best Way to Buy Diamonds by Shape...
We will discuss the best way to prioritize the 4Cs in the subsequent section. However, in this section, we will cover what are some of the optimal ways to maximize on the cut of the diamond by shape.
Buying round cut: round cut diamonds are very popular as roughly over 75% all polished diamonds sold in the market are round. While buying round cut diamonds, pay attention to the quality of its cut. Ideally, you want a round brilliant cut diamond that has a table of 55-58% and a depth of 60-62.5%. The girdle should be thin to slightly thick (or in the 2.5-4%) range. The crown angle should be 34-35 and the pavilion depth should be 40-41. The cullet should be none.
Buying princess cut: princess cut diamonds are among the most popular fancy shape diamonds. Prior to buying a princess cut diamond, please determine if you want a square or an elongated princess cut diamond. For square, a length-to-width ratio (l/w) of 1-1.05 is great, and for rectangular, a ratio of 1.26-1.4 is great. In terms of cut quality, the table should be between 62-69%, depth should be 64-73%, crown height should be 9-16, no cullet is preferred, and very thin to slightly thick or thin to thick girdle is ideal.
Buying cval cut : oval cut diamonds are becoming one of the most popular diamond shapes. The shape will give you a big look for the carat weight. Moreover, it combines the brilliance of a round and marquise cut diamond. You can't go wrong with an oval cut diamond. If you are buying one, make sure it doesn't have a big bow-tie effect. A length-to-width ratio of 1.38-1.52 is perfect for an oval cut diamond. A depth of 57 to 62% is preferred and table of 53 to 60% is ideal.
Buying cushion cut: cushion cut diamonds are brilliant cut, and it was the de facto shape of the 20th century. While considering your options, determine if you want a square or elongated cushion cut diamond. A length-to-width ratio of 1-1.05 for square and 1.18-1.28 is perfect for a rectangular one. There are three types of cushion cuts; cushion brilliant, cushion modified, and cushion hybrid. The hybrid style is currently the most popular. A depth of 56-70% and a table of 57-68% is perfect.
Buying emerald cut: emerald cut diamonds are amongst the oldest diamond shapes and are known for their elegance. It is not a brilliant cut, but a step one. It has 58 open facets, and therefore it is a good idea to buy an emerald cut with a high clarity grade in order to avoid seeing inclusions with the naked eye in them. Aim for a length-to-width ratio of 1.38-1.5, a depth of 58-69% and table of 57-71%.
Buying radiant cut: radiant cut diamonds have 70 facets and are full of fire. These cut-cornered stones come in both square and rectangular shapes. For a square, go for a length-to-width ratio of 1-1.04 and for an elongated one, a ratio of 1.15-1.3 is perfect. In terms of cut, a depth of 57-69% and table of 56-68% is great for this shape.
Buying pear cut: pear brilliant cut diamonds are slowly gaining more market share. They are unique shapes and look especially fabulous in halo engagement rings, sounded by round diamonds. When buying this shape, consider a length-to-width ratio of 1.4-1.5, a table of 51-64%, and a depth of 55-68%.
Buying asscher cut: asscher cut diamonds are step cut and have open facets; therefore, it is imperative to buy an asscher cut diamond with a high clarity grade. They are square cut as opposed emerald cut diamonds. Aim for a depth of 60-66% and table of 59-67% in this shape. Also, make you sure you have an appreciation for open facets as these step cuts are very different from brilliant cut stones.
Buying marquise cut: marquise cut diamonds are brilliant cuts and were highly popular a couple of decades ago. They might make a comeback any day. As you consider this shape, buy a stone with length-to-width ratio of 1.75-2.0, a depth of 56-63%, and table of 52-64%.
Buying heart cut: Hear cut diamonds are brilliant cut stones loved and cherished by people looking for something unique. Make sure you buy a well cut stone in this shape, with a depth of 58-63% and table of 53-62% and avoid a length-to-with ratio greater than 1.05.
Prioritizing the 4Cs - What C to Prioritize....
Based on our experience, we divide shoppers into four categories in terms of how they prioritize the 4Cs. You can decide which one of these categories is best for you:
Category 1: The buyer is interested in the highest quality diamond possible within his/her budget. We call these stones investment grade because they are very rare and high quality. An example of this would be a 1 carat, D-E Color, FL, IF, VVS1 Clarity, Ideal/Excellent Cut, GIA/AGS Graded with no Fluorescence.
Category 2: The buyer wants to get a big stone, but don't want to overly compromise on the quality of the diamond either (most common category). This range is our favorite because these stones are high quality and also have high circulation which means dealers can easily resale them (they will have a good resale value). An Example of this would be a 1.5ct, G Color, VS1/VS2 Clarity diamond, graded by GIA or AGS, Excellent/Very Good Cut with excellent proportions and None to Faint Fluorescence.
Category 3: The buyer's priority is size and is willing to compromise to a degree on color and clarity to get the size with good fire and brilliance. In this case, he/she would go for let's say a 2 carat diamond that is SI1/SI2 Clarity (preferably eye clean), H-J Color, Ideal to Very Good Cut, GIA Graded with Faint to Very Strong Blue Fluorescence.
Category 4: This is the category where the buyer has basically decided that in order to get the largest possible diamond within her/his budget, they would heavily compromise on one C. In this case, we recommend that you compromise on the Color and prioritize Clarity and Cut so that you can still get a yellowish tainted stone that has excellent fire and scintillation. So it could be a 3 Carat diamond with M Color, VVS Clarity, and Medium to Strong Blue Fluorescence. Moreover, it could be even graded by IGI or HRD as these labs are more consistent in properly grading higher color grade stones.
Now that you have a brief sense of where you could possibly get the best design and deal on an engagement ring or other fine jewelry, how might you want to allocate your budget?
Our advice would be to allocate up to 15-20% of your budget to a semi mount or setting and the rest to purchase a gem quality wholesale diamond or other gemstone that is properly graded or “certified."
The setting is not going to be worth much if you ever needed to upgrade or sell your engagement ring, but if you get the diamond or other gemstone at the right price and if it is a high gem quality stone, you’ll be able to sell it for most of what you've paid for it whenever you decide to sell it.
Important Factors that Affect the Price of a Diamond...
As soon as you start your research, you will soon discover a lot of mix reviews and information about the 4Cs of a diamond. In this quick guide, below we will summarize what we think are the seven most critical factors that are critical in determining the value of a diamond.
– Diamond Carat Weight...
Diamond carat weight is relatively easily to understand, the larger the weight of the diamond, the more expensive it is. However, please note that if you are thinking that a .5ct diamond would be 50% the price of a 1 carat diamond (all other factors being equal) or 1ct. would be 50% of a 2ct. diamond, you are wrong. The larger a stone becomes, the rarer it becomes, and so the price multiplies by up to 10 folds depending on the stone. Usually the difference between a .5ct and 1ct. would be roughly 3 times ($1500 for .5ct and $4500-5000 a 1ct. of the some price).
Factor 2 – Diamond Cut…
Diamond cut is an extremely important factor as it determines the overall brilliance, fire and scintillation of a diamond. GIA has a cut grading system from Poor to Excellent and AGS has from Poor to Ideal for Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds. For other fancy shapes, AGS assigns a cut grade, but GIA doesn’t. However, there are ways to assess the cut in fancy cuts by paying attention to its polish, symmetry, depth and table and width to length ratios, among other, factors. Check out this quick guide for a princess cut diamond proportions for example.
Factor 3 – Diamond Color…
In white diamonds, GIA assigns a color grade in order to determine the presence of tint or yellow color in a diamond. The less the diamond exhibit color, the colorless or better the diamond is. Colorless range from D-F, Near Colorless Range from G-J followed by slightly tinted diamonds in the other color ranges.
Factor 4 – Diamond Clarity…
Diamond clarity is graded from a range of Flawless to Included 3 or I3. The higher the clarity, the less inclusions or imperfections a diamond has. Typically 1ct or under diamonds graded by GIA above SI2 would be eye clean, VS2 loupe clean or 2ct diamonds VS2 would be eye clean and VS1 loupe clean. Generally, a 1ct or under in the range of SI1 or above would have competitive price and for stone above 1.5 carat, it is recommended to go for a slightly higher clarity grade such as VS2.
Factor 5: Diamond Shape…
Diamond shape is critical and affects price significantly. Round cut diamonds are more expensive than other fancy cut diamonds. One of the main reasons for this is the amount of diamond that is lost while cutting a rough diamond into a say a round shape or princess or cushion cut stone. A round diamond would require a larger rough stone than would a cushion modified brilliant cut in which cutters save much of the rough stone hence the significant difference in price.
Factor 6 – Diamond Certification or Report…
There are several labs out there and it is important to know which one to trust and which to not. Appraisals are good for verification purposes, but are not reliable for grading a diamond. If you are not a diamond expert, never buy a diamond without a prefer grading report by an authoritative laboratory. GIA and AGS are well established labs in the US and HRD Labs are trusted in Europe.
Factor 7: Diamond Fluorescence…
Fluorescence in a diamond is not a widely known factor and is usually ignored. However, you shouldn’t’ ignore it. It is a critical price determent in a diamond. You can save up to 15% by buying a diamond with a slight fluorescence in it. Fluorescence range from None to Very Strong Blue. None’s are best, but faint to medium blue would also be in the safe range. Strong to Very Strong Blue might affect the appearance of a diamond in some cases and it is good to have a strong return policy if you are considering to buy a diamond with strong blue fluorescence online in case you end up not liking how it looks in person.
One thing that we have not yet understood is that a mounting that should cost $1500 are sold by some of the big designers for $5,000-$6,000 and yet their customers would pay for it.
They must get their precious metal, diamonds and other gemstones from moon…
A setting or semi mount should not cost $4000-8,000 no matter how great the design, but it seems to be their normal price ranges. Instead, try Whiteflash's designer collection they are as good as any other designer's mountings.…
Local Jewelry Stores…
It is a known fact now that local brick-and-mortar stores can’t even come close to the prices of online retailers for fine jewelry. However, it is understandable that shoppers might still opt for this option. If that is the choice you want to make, you might want to take your time to find a reputable privately owned local jeweler...
The big brand names in the malls have high prices and won’t even show you their top products unless you want to spend some serious money. Moreover, most of their diamonds are graded by labs that are known to have inconsistent grading systems. After you find a jeweler that you think you might able to work with, be sure to take your time and have a strong sense of online prices so that you know what you’re getting or can get.
Conclusion, educate yourself about each these factors and get a diamond that balances all factors proportionally based on your budget, and you will get a great deal.
As a role of thumb, try to answer the following questions prior to making a purchase:
- Is the diamond at least GIA or AGS graded?
- Does the diamond have the right proportions?
- Is it within a competitive price range - use these diamond prices as a reference.
- Does the diamond company offer a life-time warranty?
- Does the retailer offer free repairs and maintenance plans? Small diamonds fall off mountings all the time.
- Does the vendor offer a reliable diamond upgrade program in the future? Many couples would buy a small diamond initially and then would have the desire to upgrade it to a larger stone at some point in their married life.
- At a minimum, does the website accept returns within 30 days with a full refund.
- How convenient is their return policy (read reviews about their return process)?
- Are they are big/strong enough to honor all returns? Some vendors might not have the cash flow to refund your money in a timely manner.
- Do they offer any financing options, and if so, how competitive are their financing terms? Please note that just because they offer a financing plan doesn't mean you should take any level of interest. In fact, it might be a good idea to open a a new credit with a year of free APR.