Beginner’s Guide to Buying Diamonds Online
For most of you, buying a diamond for an engagement ring will be the most money you will ever spend on a single purchase. If you’re about to have a panic take, take a deep breath. We are here to help you through the buying process. We won’t sugarcoat this, there is a lot to learn if you want to make an informed buying decision. So let’s get started on educating you with the info you need so to get the best possible diamond for your budget.
There are aspects you need to keep in mind when you looking to buy a diamond:
- The 4 C’s,
- Market pricing
- Price inclusion
With a little research into these four areas, we guarantee that you’ll have enough knowledge to spot a good deal and that no one will take advantage you.
The 4 C’s
By now, you’ve probaly heard or read about the 4cs of a diamond – Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat. Let’s take a look each one of them and how their roles in the final pricing of a diamond. Read till the end to find out the additional letter that can affect the price of a 1-carat diamond by 30%.
The Color of a diamond is extremely important; this is what determines the final cast of the diamond and whether it looks yellow or white. We’re going to assume that you are shopping for a white diamond and not a fancy colored diamond. So, our D-Z scale is an important one to get to know.
All other C’s equal, color alone can more than double the price of a diamond from D to J in color. A 1-carat, VS2, Ideal cut, D color diamond was $8859, while a J color with all other categories equal was $3849. We know that D is the highest color possible, and a J color diamond is acceptable if the cut is so magnificent that it turns the yellow into a rush of brilliance we can’t deny.
This range incorporates just two classifications of diamonds: colorless from D-F and near colorless from G-J. The largest price variations will be within the colorless range, and become slightly less drastic as you move down the scale.
This is the C least known to the public; yet it is so important to the diamond industry. Several companies and even a grading laboratory have been founded on the evaluation and appreciation of a diamonds cut.
The cut of a diamond is the way that the facets are proportioned and whether they reflect light symmetrically from the top of the diamond. In fact, when we researched this article, we found that the price variation between a good cut and an ideal cut can more than double the price of a 1-carat diamond with all other C’s equal.
A scale represents the presence or absence of inclusions within a diamond from Flawless to I-3 and 9 other classifications between. Many diamond companies won’t even sell the 3 lowest clarities; so let’s look at the price difference from Flawless to SI-2.
All other C’s equal from SI-2, the price is as much as 4x higher for a Flawless diamond! From just over $4000 for an SI2 to more than $16000 for a Flawless diamond, the pricing left us speechless and wondering if it was worth it. To most people, these diamonds would look the same to the naked eye; even though there are 6 clarities between them.
You won’t believe how big Taylor’s diamond is! Now what man doesn’t want to be like Taylor’s fiancé? The bigger, the better, right?
You guessed it, the bigger the diamond, the more expensive. Diamonds are priced based on their weight with per-carat-pricing being the standard way to price diamonds within 1/10 of a carat of each other. These ranges usually stop just before a round number and increase in price thereafter. For example, there is a huge difference in the pricing between a .99ct. diamond and a 1-carat diamond.
One further fact, a .50ct. diamond is not half the price of a 1-carat diamond. The pricing scales are not constant; they fluctuate, so make sure to be aware of your carat range in terms of pricing. The price of a 1-carat compared to a .50ct. can be around 4x as much. We investigated and found a .50ct., VS2, D, Ideal cut to be around $1400 while the 1-carat of equal quality was around $6700.
The S is another large modifier of pricing that we must mention to give you a full overview. S stands for shape. The shape of a diamond can also be a huge price modifier depending on the popularity of shapes and how much had to be cut away from the rough diamond to cut the diamond into a certain shape.
We researched 7 shapes with D color, VS2 clarity, 1-carat, Very Good cut, GIA certified, and none-faint fluorescence. Each diamond was the least expensive listed on BlueNile and the prices ranged from $4336-$5717. There was a 32% increase from the least expensive princess cut diamond to the most expensive shape round. See the table below for the price variation:
The market price of diamonds is based on a per-carat-price (which you just read a little about). These ranges are set up considering 3 of the 4 C’s: color, clarity, and carat. So there will be an overall price given for the diamonds within a certain size range based on their color and clarity.
The industries deviation from these set prices will depend on other features of the diamond such as cut, certification, or to a lesser extent, fluorescence. The range given is the general range that pricing will stay within and the rest is adjusting the price for the smaller features.
The entire diamond industry used to operate off of a pricing list called Rapaport. Yet, today the diamond industry is being influenced by international trends and politics, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to follow just one list. Many other lists and publications are estimating pricing accurately as well.
The certification of a diamond can be the difference of thousands of dollars. Some gemological laboratories are well respected and trustworthy while others aren’t.
GIA was the gemological laboratory that founded the 4 C’s of diamonds and the process on how to grade them. Known as the industry standard, a GIA certificate will always be highly regarded and accepted worldwide. For this reason, GIA graded diamonds are the easiest to sell and demand the highest overall price.
A very close second is AGS. AGS has a reputation for being honest in their grading and offering the best and most innovative cut grading technology. A perfectly cut diamond is known as a triple-zero by AGS and this will demand a higher overall price.
Other grading labs like HRD, Gemex, or even Stuller do a good job and offer honest grading; yet they are not universally regarded at the level of GIA or AGS. These labs usually charge a smaller fee for grading and will do the same job, but their reputation is not as weighty.
Finally, EGL, the European Gemological Laboratory, gained a more fitting name within the diamond industry: Easy Grading Lab. Their reports are known to be more generous and will give grades that differ greatly from more reputable labs. Jewelers used to use these reports to get a higher price out of end consumers showing them that the EGL certified diamond had the best price.
Take a look at the two diamonds with all C’s equal and GIA versus EGL certifications. The price of the GIA diamond is 50% more than the EGL diamond.
End of certification story? GIA or AGS are the best of the best and you can rest assured that you purchased exactly what is listed on the certification. The diamonds might cost a little more, but it’s well worth the added cost. Think of the certification on your diamond as your insurance policy, if you have an emergency and have to end up selling the diamond, it will be faster and easier with GIA or AGS.
When considering pricing, keep in mind who is selling you the diamond and whether they are promising services other than just the diamond. Will they help you find a setting? Will they be honest with you about the diamonds you’re considering? Will they be there down the road if you want to trade the diamond in towards a larger stone?
A great way to approach diamond buying is to think of your purchase like considering a job. What’s the base salary? What are the benefits? Do they match my 401K contributions?
Just like an engagement, the gift of the diamond is a promise for the future. The purchase of the diamond is just the first step. Make sure that the seller will be able to sell you a ring with the diamond, or that they’ll have a dependable jeweler to set the diamond in the ring.
Your ring will need an appraisal so that you can insure it as well. A company with gemologists or experienced jewelers should provide you with all the necessary information that you’ll need in the long run.
Seasonality could be a factor in what’s included as well. Some of these extras may be included with a lower cost during holiday promotions or the slower months such as March or August when people aren’t buying as much jewelry. Make sure to check, sometimes, you won’t get the extras if you don’t ask for them.
The four aspects listed above will help you to determine which diamond is right for you.
Just keep in mind that each of the 4 C’s is equally important to pricing, there is no lesser C. Don’t doubt the power of the cut on the price or overall appearance of a diamond.
Market pricing should be watched closely. Don’t forget to pay attention to the factors other than color, clarity, and carat that determine pricing. Cut and certification can have a huge impact on overall pricing.
Certification from GIA and AGS are the best and you should do your best to look for these when buying a diamond. Other grading labs are fine, but do your research into these labs if you are seriously considering a diamond graded by one of them.
Price inclusion is huge and should be looked at like the benefits package added on to your salary. If the diamond price is higher with one seller, it might be because they offer more bells and whistles.
Follow these guidelines to research and you will get the most for your money. Remember to make the most of this record-breaking purchase; we in the diamond industry are here because it’s fun to admire diamonds each day, enjoy your visit!