The Best Place to Buy Diamonds & Engagement Rings 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 a 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 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 have 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! Please follow this link to shop at James Allen.
Our number two top pick 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.
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.
Our four 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.
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.
Prioritizing the 4Cs - What C to Compromise on....
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 (tip – compare what they offer you with James Allen's prices).
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.