Buying diamonds can be a daunting task. There are so many different options and it’s hard to know what you’re getting for your money.
To make sure you’re getting the best value for your money, it’s important to know exactly what to look for in a diamond before you go shopping.
We’ve created this guide for you with all the information you need about how to buy your next diamond. From understanding what makes a good quality diamond, learning about the 4 Cs of Diamond Grading, getting tips on how to find a reputable jeweler, and more. We have everything you need right here in one place!
Table of Contents
The 4 Key Things to Look for in a Diamond
There are 4 major factors to consider when buying diamonds and they are branded the 4Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. They determine the value of the diamond and can be used to compare the prices between different jewelry stores.
A good way to decide the value of a diamond you’re looking at is by weighing it against these qualities using the 4 Cs.
The Carat Weight is the most commonly used method for determining a diamond’s value. The more carats, the larger and more valuable it will be. However, this is not always true because the other 3 Cs also can determine how much a diamond is worth.
Color (aka the diamond’s hue) is determined by how much yellow or brown a diamond has. The most desirable color in diamonds comes from ones that have no more than 25% of either color. This way, their ‘colorless’ white appearance will come through.
Clarity, which refers to the number of imperfections present in a diamond, has a major impact on its value. Flaws like inclusions and blemishes can decrease the price of a diamond depending on how large they are. The best diamonds will be those that have no flaws at all or ones that only have very minor imperfections.
Cut quality is determined by how well polished the facets are and how well the diamond reflects light. The more sparkly a diamond is, the better its cut will be and the higher its quality will be. It’s worth noting that even one small flaw will dramatically decrease a diamond’s value.
If you are looking at diamonds of equal color, cut and clarity, a diamond with more carat weight will be worth the most.
What to Look for when Buying a Diamond with My Recommendations
It’s easy to get lost in small details. Remember the best diamonds will have a high-quality cut and small amount of color and clarity flaws. If you can find those at a good price, it’s worth getting them.
Focus on the shape first and then move onto cut, color, and clarity, and carat weight when looking to buy diamonds.
What diamond shape would you like?
When it comes to diamond shape, there are four main shapes you should be familiar with: Round, Oval, Heart, and Princess.
Round diamonds (also known as round brilliant) have a symmetrical, circular shape. They are the most popular diamond because they will look good in almost any setting. A notable quality is that their reflection of light is usually more consistent than other diamonds, making it sparkle more than other shapes.
When looking for round diamonds make sure that you check to make sure the table is flat. Any bends will be visible from the top-down view.
Oval diamonds have a similar appearance and shape to round ones, however, they are longer and narrower. Having this shape gives them more versatility when it comes to setting styles. Oval diamonds tend to be rarer and more valuable.
If you are considering buying an oval diamond make sure to check if it is symmetrical. If not, its value will decrease.
Heart diamonds are similar to round diamonds but they have a pointed bottom part which makes them more desirable. This shape comes in both a regular heart and a square shape.
When looking for heart diamonds, make sure the pointed tips are symmetrical. Also, know that some people find them less attractive.
A princess cut diamond (or square) is quite different from the others in its shape. It has a rectangular top and bottom and a flat, square shape. Their brilliance and sparkle make them very popular.
Princess diamonds are the second most valuable after rounds of the same quality.
A few other noteworthy shapes of diamonds are the oval pear and round pear. They have the same characteristics as rounds but they have rounded edges instead of regular corners.
I recommend that you choose a diamond with a round cut because they are the most popular, timeless, and sparkle the most.
What Cuts to look for
The cut quality is a vital factor to consider when buying a diamond. Cuts are rated between Good, Very Good, and Excellent (or Ideal). A Good cut will be what you’d expect from a diamond, while an Excellent cut will be very clean and precise. The cut quality of a diamond can make the biggest difference between looking good or dull.
Anything below good is not worth your money. The cut gives it the sparkle, the glitter, and the fire that makes it look glamorous. Actually, this is the most important factor because it determines the visible traits of the stone.
I recommend choosing a diamond with an Excellent cut quality because it can really make the diamond shine.
Note that James Allen has a True Hearts cut that is higher quality cut than an Excellent cut. And Blue Nile also has a higher quality cut they call Astor Ideal.
What Color to look for
When looking at diamond colors, the hues and tones can range from colorless to yellow or brown. The higher the letter in the alphabet it has, the more colorless it will be and the higher quality and value it will have. The color of the diamond also dictates quality. It is graded by the letters D through Z.
Grade D is the most valuable. This shows that the diamond is colorless. As they go down the scale, the diamonds get more brown or yellow.
Diamonds with no hint of yellow are considered D-F color. These diamonds are the most sought after because they appear extremely white and will pick up any light that hits them. They are also more expensive. However, the color grades in this range are not far apart, so a D grade may look similar to F or G grade. You should not spend more money on a D grade when you can get an F which looks almost the same.
Diamonds with a hint of yellow (G-J) are considered Near Colorless, which means that although you can see some color in them, the colors don’t interfere with their overall appearance or sparkle. These diamonds are a great value.
Diamonds with more yellow in them (K-M) are considered Faint Yellow. These diamonds have some noticeable amount of color, but they still look like white diamonds and can be visually pleasing. They’re not as expensive as D-F’s, but not very cheap either.
Finally, diamonds with obvious brown tones (N-R) are considered Brown. These diamonds have very noticeable color and aren’t nearly as white as the others. They’re a cheap diamond, but I wouldn’t recommend getting one unless it’s a size that you can’t find in any other colors.
I recommend selecting a diamond with a letter of G, H, or I for the best value.
What Diamond Clarity to look for
Clarity refers to the number of tiny flaws and black or white specks in the diamond. Diamond clarity grades range from Flawless to Included. The best grade is the FL which means flawless. It is followed by IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2 AND I1.
Diamonds have flaws in them that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. However, these flaws do affect the diamond’s value and appearance in certain ways. The best way to know how a diamond will look is by understanding clarity grading.
The most popular level of diamond clarity is called Very Slightly Included VS1. These diamonds still appear white, but they may have some visible imperfections like tiny dots inside of them or under magnification. You can see them with the naked eye (also called eye clean). They’re not cheap, but their price is lower than other clarity grades because they can still be visually beautiful.
Lesser included VS2 diamonds also contain small inclusions which aren’t normally noticeable except upon close examination when looking through a loupe with 10x magnification. They’re still a great value at their price.
The least clarity grade is the SI3 diamond that contains large inclusions or many small ones. These diamonds have blemishes that are easy to see with the naked eye, so they don’t look very good and are cheap as well.
The clarity is not as important since you usually need a magnifying glass to see any flaws. It also does not influence the sparkle or the glitter. The clarity grade should not be a major factor though you can see a big price difference between the grades.
I recommend purchasing a diamond with a VS1-VS2 for best value because these grades of diamonds are beautifully eye-clean and great for engagement rings.
What Diamond Carat to look for
The basic rule with diamond weights is the higher the carat, the higher the price. Carat determines how big a diamond is in general. The price of the diamond greatly increases at each whole number.
Keep in mind that price doesn’t necessarily reflect quality because diamonds with lower carats can still be of high-quality (higher color, clarity, and cut values) and vice versa.
For example, a 1ct round diamond with an Excellent Cut will look bigger than a 1ct heart-shaped diamond with an Ideal cut because of their shapes.
Anything above a half-carat is large enough to make any physical difference between the two sizes noticeable without using magnification. The weight doesn’t matter so much for diamonds under .50ct because a huge jump in size isn’t noticeable except to those who are very close to it.
Carat Weight Tips
The bigger the carat weight, the higher in clarity you should buy because imperfections and inclusions will be more noticeable in larger diamonds.
The bigger the diamond shape, the smaller carat weight it can have. For example, a 1 carat oval cut diamond with an Ideal cut will appear to be bigger than a 1.50 carat round diamond with an Ideal cut. This is all because the shapes can be cut to appear bigger. The diamond shapes that look the biggest are the elongated ones like ovals, marquise, and hearts.
The average carat weight of a diamond is 1-1/2 carats. Most women will often want to go with something bigger like 2.5 or 3 carats in order to show how much they are cared about by their loved ones.
Since prices increase at every whole carat number, if you want to buy a 1 carat diamond, you can get a great deal if you buy a 0.90 carat diamond instead. They practically look identical in size and can cost about $1000 less! Want proof? Take a look at these 1 carat diamonds versus these 0.90 carat diamonds on jamesallen.com. You’re welcome for that! 🙂
I recommend looking at .80-1.5 carat diamond for an affordable diamond engagement ring.
If you can afford to go bigger, then investing in a quality diamond bigger than 2.5 carats will make an impressive difference. For those who can afford to spend over $5000 on a diamond, then 3ct+ diamonds for engagement rings are highly recommended.
The Two Extra C’s of diamonds
But wait, there are two more “Secret C’s”. They are Certification and Cost.
You want to make sure you’re getting the best quality for your money, but it’s hard to know what makes one diamond better than another.
The solution is to buy a diamond that is certified by a third-party gemologist like GIA (the Gemological Institute of America) or AGS. The report and its grade will give you the peace of mind that you are buying the right stone for your budget.
A diamond certification is a diamond’s grading report. The diamond grading report tells the characteristics, color, and clarity of a diamond. Diamond prices vary in price based on quality and certification. Since diamonds are unique, each diamond will have its own individual grading report.
Shop around for different opinions from various reputable jewelers to get the best deal on your perfect diamond. Make sure the certification documents are intact and that they state they are from an accredited laboratory.
A certificate will also help if you ever need to sell the stone in the future because buyers will be more confident about its value.
I recommend a GIA certificate or grading report. They are considered the best in the business, and by far, have a reputation worthy of trust. A GIA diamond may cost a little bit more, but it’s worth it.
Most people don’t realize that two diamonds of the same size and quality can have varying prices depending on who you buy them from. This is because large chains tend to add their own markup to the price.
A tiffany diamond with the same specs as a James Allen diamond will cost up to 10 times more. Walk-in jewelry stores and online shops will give you a fair market price for your diamond. Instead of buying at retail prices, purchase from wholesale jewelers to get the best bang for your buck. This doesn’t mean you should go shopping at a pawn shop though. Always look for a reputable jewelry store.
It’s not too hard to find a diamond of the same quality, with the same clarity and color. What can make a huge difference in price is where it is being sold from. A diamond that costs $5000 at one store might cost $4000 somewhere else, and still another $3000 somewhere else. Keep looking around for the best deal, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Diamond prices also vary based on when they were mined. Diamonds that were mined in the 1980s will have a much lower cost than diamonds that were mined a couple of years ago. Diamond prices are constantly changing in the market.
Some people find that timing is everything when it comes to buying a diamond. because the person who buys a stone at the right time will get a better deal than someone who buys the same stone at a different time.
The only way to make sure you’re making a wise investment and getting the most bang for your buck is to purchase from a reliable jeweler that will give you all the information about diamond quality, cost, and size upfront before you even start shopping around.
One place where I’ve found great deals on diamonds is James Allen.com. Their quality is amazing, and their prices are really reasonable. They also have a wide variety of different diamonds to choose from including blue diamonds!
My fiancé and I found my diamond engagement ring on JamesAllen.com. We got such a great deal because their prices were so much lower than what we had previously seen at other diamond sellers!
Related Questions about what to look for when Buying a Diamond
Here are some questions that people in the comments have been asking me.
What is the most important characteristic to look for when buying a diamond?
The most important characteristic to look for is the quality. What’s the difference between a good quality diamond and a bad one, you may ask. A lot, actually! Good quality diamonds will be more clear and have fewer imperfections in them. I can tell you that buying a diamond that’s of poor quality isn’t worth it because it won’t last as long and won’t have great resale value. You’ll just be wasting your money if you purchase a cheap diamond, trust me!
Which diamond clarity is best?
Good question! You should always go for the best clarity you can afford. When we talk about diamond clarity, it has to do with how many inclusions and blemishes there are on the diamond.
The fewer inclusions and blemishes, the higher the clarity will be. The majority of people think that a high-grade diamond means it’s flawless but that is not true. The clearest diamonds are those with grade VS2 or better because they have few to no blemishes or inclusions at all. These are usually more expensive though so you should really try to save up as much as possible before buying one!
What is the most important thing when buying a diamond?
I would say the most important thing is to buy from a reputable vendor. Secondly, in my opinion, there is no point in buying a diamond that is less than 2 carats and not accompanied by a certificate. Only purchase certified diamonds.
What is more important diamond size or quality?
If you have the budget for it, go for quality. I personally like diamonds that are really big and chunky. Especially if you’re looking for a diamond to propose with, I would suggest going with diamond quality.
In my opinion though, quality is better than size. Big diamonds are pretty but they can look bad if they are filled with visible inclusions or look too yellow, or just don’t sparkle very well.
What to consider when choosing diamonds?
This is the one question I get asked most often. You need to decide how much money you want to spend. Then you should think about the size of the diamond that you want. If it’s bigger, then it will cost more money but also look better on your finger if your hands are small. Next, think about how clear the diamond is. The clearer it is, the more expensive it will be.
So, what do you do if you don’t have a lot of money and want a really nice diamond? You need to find something in the middle; not too small or too big. The size should be proportional with your hands. A good rule of thumb is that it should fit on the first finger of your hand. If it’s too big, it will look like a drop of water on your hand. If it’s too small, then it will get lost on your hand and not be noticeable.
Is color or clarity more important in a diamond?
That’s a tough question, but I would say I personally like clear diamonds. I know that they can be more expensive, but as long as the clarity is good on your stone it should be fine. If you want, you could go for a diamond with some color and clarity. But if possible, I would choose a diamond that is clear.
The most important thing when buying a diamond is figuring out what do you want your spouse or partner to think when they are looking at it? Do you want them to say “Wow!” because of its color and size? Do you want them to say “Wow!” because of its clarity and brilliance? The answer to this question is really a personal one.
What is a good quality diamond?
It’s hard to know for sure if the diamond you are looking to buy is a good quality diamond or not. One thing to keep in mind is color. Diamonds with higher color grades are more likely to be of good quality. A G color or higher diamond is one of the best possible colors. You still need to take into consideration clarity, cut and carat weight to be sure that what you’re getting is a high-quality stone. The higher the values for each of those traits, the better the quality.
The final way you can determine if it’s a good quality diamond is by its certification. It is not uncommon for diamond sellers to try and pass off a lower quality stone as a higher one. That is why it’s important that you buy from someone who guarantees that their diamonds are certified. Not only will they be able to tell you the details of the certification, but they’ll also have all the paperwork in hand to prove it.
What should I look for in a diamond?
Well, I think it’s important to first consider the shape of the diamond. Different shapes have different qualities and can look good on different people.
Next, I would say that you need to consider the cut quality of the diamond. A well-cut diamond will affect how shiny it is and will also give an idea of how long it will last. Some cuts are better than others because poorly cut diamonds can chip at their points.
Finally, you want to consider the color of your diamond. If you want a really flashy diamond, then I would recommend a really light color like clear or white; if you want something more conservative, then I recommend darker colors like black or blue.
What to know before buying a diamond?
Consider buying a diamond online. I think that’s a great idea! You’re going to save so much time and also get exactly what you want.
You can adjust those filters on the site so you see only diamonds that fit your budget. You don’t have to browse through hundreds of diamond rings like you would in a jewelry store.
In fact, if I were buying a diamond for my wife, I’d get online and sort through their selection until I found the perfect diamond for her.
You don’t even need to know about the 4C’s or anything about diamond qualities, just adjust the filters as high as you can afford to go. It’s a great lazy man’s way to shop for a diamond.
As an extra added bonus… no salespeople hovering over me, trying to upsell me or guilt trip me on something I can’t afford.
What should I look for when buying a diamond ring?
I think that the first thing that you should look for when buying a diamond engagement ring is whether or not you’re getting good quality for your budget.
Second, I would recommend looking for a jeweler with a good reputation and return policy. If there’s anything wrong with your ring, you want them to stand behind their products so that they can help make sure everything is right again.
It’s also a good idea to look for reviews. Whether it’s on Yelp, Google, or one of the many other review sites available, you can get a lot of information about your potential jeweler just by reading what others have said about them.
Those are my recommendations for what to look for when buying a diamond engagement ring. No matter where you end up buying your engagement rings, always make sure to follow your gut and don’t be pressured into any sort of decision.
Which of the 4 C’s is most important diamond?
The answer is Cut, because, without a good cut, it doesn’t matter what clarity or color the diamond has. Diamonds with bad cuts often appear to be smaller than they are. This is because a diamond with a bad cut doesn’t reflect light as it should, even though the color and clarity may be great. Always choose a well cut diamond.
How can I buy a diamond online safely?
Nobody wants to get scammed and find out that the diamond they just bought isn’t real. Nothing is more devastating than realizing that you spent your money on a worthless rock.
When it comes to buying diamonds online, and all other precious gems for that matter, trust is a big part of the process.
If I were to buy a diamond online and the company doesn’t guarantee me some type of certificate or certification, then why should I trust them? What would they have in store for me if I were to ever need a refund?
When it comes to buying diamonds online, you want to make sure that the company you are purchasing from is trustworthy and specializes in selling diamonds. If they don’t have some type of certification then how do we know that they even tested and graded these diamonds?
I use and highly recommend both jamesallen.com and bluenile.com for diamond buying. The people behind these two sites have been in the game for a very long time and know what they’re doing. They have every cut diamonds and all of their diamonds have the specs listed right on their website. You don’t have to worry about buying from either company. They have amazing warrantee policies and return policies, and only sell certified diamonds.
Before we wrap up, here are some parting tips of wisdom to help you make the right decision when buying a diamond:
- Purchase from a reliable, well-known jeweler or retailer.
- Don’t fall for the rule of “bigger is better.” It may be more satisfying to buy a bigger diamond, but its resale value will be lower than that of a smaller one because there is less demand for it.
- Consider buying loose diamonds and having them set yourself—you can find beautiful settings much cheaper than what stores charge and you’ll know exactly what’s going into your ring.
- If you’re not sure about the quality of diamonds, bring along someone who knows about gemstones or jewelry as they can help you determine the diamond’s authenticity.
- Don’t make your final decision on the price of a diamond just because it’s cheaper than what others are selling it for. Always compare prices with other jewelers first as you may end up spending money you don’t really need to if you’re not careful when dealing with salesmen who want to earn more commissions.
- Don’t base your decision solely on price—take the quality of the diamond, its cut and shape into consideration as well.
- Take advantage of jewelry warranties to ensure that your investment lasts for many years to come.
If you have any more questions about buying a diamond, don’t hesitate to ask me! I’ll be glad to answer anything that I can.
Good luck with buying your diamond!