How to Buy an Engagement Diamond In 10 Steps

How to Buy An Engagement Diamond in 10 Steps

  1. Do I have to/want to/need to get engaged/married?
  2. Do I have to/want to/need too get an engagement ring?
  3. Do I have to/want to/need to purchase a diamond engagement ring? Or perhaps a different precious stone (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald)? Or perhaps a synthetic diamond?
  4. What shape diamond do I prefer? Round? Cushion? Princess? Radiant? Emerald Cut? Marquise? Pear?
  5. How big of a diamond do I want to/have to/need to purchase?
  6. Do I need a certified diamond? If so, GIA? AGS? ForeverMark? EGl? IGI? Or some other certification?
  7. What color and clarity diamond should I buy? Or need to buy?
  8. What about Polish and Symmetry and Cut Grade and all this other stuff?
  9. How much money will this cost?

You are most probably like everyone else in the same situation.

You know you love this woman and want to make a commitment to spend your lives together. But like everyone else you are at the WTF moment!

You do some research. You do more research. And more.

The more you think you begin to know, you realize that you don’t know much. And then, when you think that you do, I promise you that you don’t.

Perhaps you have shopped the Internet.

There are many Internet sites. On just one such site, after determining you want to buy a 1.00 carat round diamond, your search results produce 10,515 round diamonds between 1.00 carat to 1.10 carats. The prices for these diamonds range from $28,037.00 down to $3,045.00.

The lowest quality – J/SI2 – is still a good quality compared to the I2 clarity that you saw at the mall!

You do some more research. And more.

You determine (perhaps rightly so) that you should buy a 1.00 carat round diamond that is GIA certified – “H” color, “VS” clarity.

Within your newly refined criteria, the same Internet seller lists nearly 500 1.00 carat round diamonds graded  “H/VS”.  The prices range from $8,895.00 down to $4,112.00. (At this point I must add that the typical Internet shopper, unlike me, sees the prices range from $4,112.00 up to $8,895.00 – but chooses only to remember the $4,112.00 price!)

It turns out that the same Internet seller has a 1.00 carat “H/VS2” diamond for $7,692.00 and a 1.00 carat “H/VS1” for $5,633.00. A better grade – a “VS1” compared to a “VS2” for 27% less!!

Isn’t a VS1 supposed to be more expensive than a VS2?  Perhaps it is the difference in make – or the cut?  But NO, both diamonds are Ideal cut!

You say “WTF? I am really confused!”

Why is one identically graded diamond with the same certification twice as expensive as another diamond of the same grades?

How is it possible that a diamond with a lower certification grade from the same laboratory can be more expensive than a higher or better graded diamond?  Conversely, the “better” diamond is “cheaper”!


Do you know what a crown angle is?
Do you know the difference that a 32% crown angle makes compared to 36.5%?
Do you understand the difference between 58% depth and 63.5% depth?
Do you know the difference in appearance between a 56% table and a 62% table?
Do you know the millimeter diameter of the diamond with a 58% depth may be considerably larger in size than a 62.5% depth – even though both are excellent cut grade?
Is the inclusion minor or major?
Are there multiple inclusions?
Are the inclusions black carbon or white? Pinpoints? Or Feathers? Or Crystals?
Are the inclusions in the Table? Or the Crown facets? Or the Star facets? Or visible only through the Pavilion facets?
Are the inclusions visible to the naked eyes or only under magnification?
Is that 10X or 20X magnification?
Is it back light magnification or top light magnification?
Is the diamond fluorescent? Strong, Very Strong, Medium, Faint or No fluorescence? Blue? Yellow? White?
Is fluorescence a good thing or is it bad? GIA studies say it is good. The Internet says it is bad.
How can a diamond have a cavity?
What is a natural?
Are there any color tinges? Gray? Brown? Green? Pink?
How is it that a SI grade inclusion can be nicer than a VS grade inclusion?
How is it that a SI clarity grade can be more expensive than a VS grade diamond of the same color?

There are perhaps a hundred of these elements that make up a diamond.

These are just a few of the things that determine the overall beauty and value and price of a diamond.

And then you ask yourself, “Am I sure she wants a Round diamond?

“Perhaps I should look at Pear Shapes or Ovals or Cushions or Emerald Cuts.”

And “Maybe I need a better color in a fancy shape because fancy shape diamonds show color differently than a round diamond?”.

And “Maybe I need a better clarity because a VS inclusion can be more easily seen in an Emerald Cut or some other shape than in a round diamond?”.

And then you get to a whole other element.  A Squarish Cushion Cut or a Rectangular Cushion Cut?  A Modified Cushion Brilliant or a Cushion Brilliant?

Or perhaps it is an Emerald Cut in which case you are asking, 1.40:1.00 ratio or 1.25:1.00 Ratio? Or perhaps 1.55:1.00?

By this time I hope that you realize that you can research all you want. The more you know the more you should understand that you really don’t know much.

Like you, I have played doctor for myself. You look up your symptoms on the Internet when you think maybe you are ill. I’ve been there and done that! I have also learned that after not healing for two or three weeks that I felt healthier in just one day after going to the doctor and getting a prescription.

The same is true with your local professional jeweler. Chances are that he or she has been at this a good bit longer than you have. Chances are that he understands that a diamond is about something special and something beautiful that cannot be accurately described and detailed on a gemological grading report.

He or she understands that a diamond is about something visual – something that must be seen with one’s eyes. It is not about a piece of paper.

When you are ready to admit that you really have no idea what this is all about, remember that if it was just about the lowest price, this would have been an easy mission – but it is about the diamond!

There are a multitude of reasons why two diamonds of seemingly the same grading characteristics are vastly different in price – sometimes by 50% to 100% even from the same seller.

I can assure you that the more expensive diamond is more expensive because it is a more beautiful diamond. Conversely, the lower priced diamond is likely to be less beautiful – even though the piece of paper says they are similar.

Put your trust in someone who has knowledge. Let this person be your guide.

Chances are that the jeweler will also be able to give you advice with regard to the next step. After all, a diamond is just the diamond!

What about the mounting?

Halo mounting? Traditional solitaire? Baguettes? Trillions? Trapezoids? Three-stone?
Platinum? White gold? Yellow Gold? 14K? 18K?

What about the ring sizing? The future safety checks? The future repairs?  The updated insurance valuation and appraisal?

I have made mistakes buying things online. I have fallen for the bad advertised deal. I have gone for the lowest price only to find out that I have been ripped-off with inferior substandard quality.

A diamond engagement ring should not be a mistake.


STEP 10.  Go to your local jewelry professional.  Ask for his or her advice.  And remember, he is not more expensive than the internet. Unlike the “Chat” person or the voice at the other end of the Internet who has no real “visual” knowledge of any of the diamonds you are referring to, the jeweler knows that a diamond must be seen and selected with your eyes and not a keypad.  He is just trying to provide you with a beautiful diamond – and that is something more than the lowest price.  


One thought on “How to Buy an Engagement Diamond In 10 Steps

  1. Arthur Indenbaum

    Neil, Very nicely done. Rarely dealing with public it was an ordeal to get the occasional private to understand many of these issues. Why is an SI1 sometimes better than a VS2? Different certs? The importance of % depth or diameter. The net can be helpful but the old expression ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’ or simply ‘caveat emptor’ are or should be major considerations. Trust, yea, that’s the ticket………


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