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Optimal C's


TheOne
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Hi experts, so I am looking to propose to my long-time girlfriend. She has a big twinkle and needs a big diamond.

Problem is, I have a small bankroll.

The diamond will be set in a platinum solitaire setting, and I want her to have a big round diamond. How do I go about choosing among the C's to get the biggest diamond, without sacrificing too much on quality as far as the eye can see?  I don't need perfection under a microscope, I just want the diamond to look big and sparkly and pretty to a normal person.  

I don't need D color, but I don't want a yellow dud.

I don't need flawless clarity, but I don't want a scratched up piece of junk.

Any thoughts or ideas on how to pursue my quest?

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H color - white enough for the eye especially when not accompanied by whiter side stones

VS2 - SI2 clarity - clean enough but needs some checking on eye cleanliness. Fairly simple stuff. 

Excellent cut  - so that your diamond has decent diameter according to it's weight. 

Reputed laboratory that has graded the diamond (GIA or AGS [most relevant in America]) so that you know what you're doing. 

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In addition to Furqan's wise advice, a couple of suggestions/questions:

1. Focus on cut. I instead of H and SI2 instead of SI1 (if chosen carefully and with good advice) won't make the stone look smaller or less sparkly. A really excellent cut will make it look larger, whiter and even cleaner (because the sparkle will make seeing inclusions more difficult)

2. Be realistic - which brings up the question: how big is the twinkle, and how small is the bankroll? If you are looking for a 3 carat stone with a $3,000 budget, a lot of compromises will have to be made... (and also, "large" is relative: in a lot of places, a 1 carat is considered quite large, and a 2 carat is almost gaudy; in other locales, a 2 carat is the bare minimum to be considered a "diamond")

3. Consider options other than a diamond. From coloured gems to diamond simulants.

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As you know, ring budgets can go from a few hundred dollars to millions.  The issues tend to change based on where you want to be on that continuum.  Not D but not yellow dud goes E to abut L.  That’s more than half of the scale.  For some it goes all the way to Z.  Not flawless but not scratched up junk goes from VVS1 to I1 or even I2.  For all practical purposes, that’s the ENTIRE scale.   

 

Put bluntly, you haven’t narrowed it down a bit.  The guys above gave the standard advice for diamond shoppers.  SI1+/- 1 grade, H +/- a grade.  Xxx firm.  Set your budget, lock in those specs and then shop for what you can find.  That’s the safest path but it’s not the only path.  It may or may not be the best for you. A lot of people with I-1’s are very happy.  vg-vg-vg shows some lovely stones that can be comparative bargains if you're paying attention.  Strong blue fluorescence is very unpopular right now, which drives down prices for those who are willing to look beyond the lab report. 

 

Bear in mind that you’re buying a ring, not just a diamond.  The most bling for your buck happens with all of those side stones, especially if the budget is really tight.  On the other hand, some brides (and grooms) focus almost exclusively on the center stone and count that other stuff as cheating.  More money spent on a fancy mounting means less money on the center stone.  The difference here is in her, not in the diamonds, but it’s important to understand as part of the shopping process.

 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Thanks for the advice, this is all so very tremendously helpful! 

Following your guidelines, I've narrowed to SI1-SI2 and definitely H color since that's the first letter in her twinkly beautiful name, haha!

Since I'm going for the simple solitaire, I think I'm going to buy online. I've been looking at a few stones from James Allen, Blue Nile, and Enchanted Diamonds. The last dealer has good pricing and a nice selection of stones but I've never heard of them before, are they reputable? Should I be considering other dealers?

Lastly, a question about prongs. Do those 4 little bitty prongs really hold the diamond in place? I'm petrified about it popping out. My amazing bride-to-be is super athletic and active. Are there other options that are more secure?

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ED are a fine dealer. The site itself is relatively new, but the people behind it are very reputable (even though I'd take their "cut score" with a pinch of salt, you can bet the goods and policies are described honestly and the advice you'd get excellent)

As to considering other dealers, bear in mind that many of the diamonds marketed on the internet are available through multiple retailers, so at some point you will start seeing the same stones appearing... and it gets down to the quality of the advice, information and specific terms on offer, rather than the quality or variety of the goods themselves. This said, if what you are looking for is a really fine cut, then most of those are owned (if not directly cut) by a smaller set of dealers, and I would suggest you consider (in no particular order) Brian Gavin, Whiteflash, High Perfomance Diamonds (or other "Crafted by Infinity" dealers) and Good Old Gold. As well as ourselves (Diamond by Lauren) and other regulars on the forum here (Diamond Ideals, Excel Diamonds, Swanstar (Furqan, who replied above) etc.). Give a few people a call, and see who you get on best on a personal level; that's important too!

Prongs: 4 prongs is perfectly secure, but a 6 prongs setting allows any one prong to fail and the diamond to be still safely retained. A bezel or rub-over settings are safer still, since there is a complete ring of metal surrounding the diamond. However, the key to security is more in the design and execution of the metalwork and setting than in the number of prongs.

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4 prongs settings have heavier prongs, which makes them harder to bend. 

I count it as purely a matter of taste.  FWIW, the insurance companies will assume the risk for pretty reasonable prices if you’re inclined to worry about it and they charge exactly the same premiums either way.  It’s not that they’re dumb, they just don’t see it as a risk factor.

ED is comparatively new in the Internet diamond business but they're a large company that's been around for a good long time.  You've heard of Blue Nile because they've been around for decades and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising.  There's something to be said for that, and they're a fine company too, but I'm not sure it's fair to hold it against Enchanted.  They have lots of happy customers and I have yet to see a serious complaint.  Check them out on the various review sites like yelp, ripoffreport, and google+.  

Edited by denverappraiser
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