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Best stone within the given criteria, help!


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Hi All,

May I please ask for some advice in terms of diamond selection for an engagement ring, please?

I would like to find a best option for the purpose and within the given criteria and constraints, but after reviewing dozens of articles, guides, and videos I am still (or even more) confused what would fit best for me.

Generally, I value the Cs in the following order looking for best mixture / balance between them to get the desired result

1. Clarity

2. Cut

3. Color

4. Carat

Shape: Round
Budget for a stone: 1800 USD with +/- 10% tolerance

Ring setting: Yellow Gold, classic, solitaire with four prongs preferably



After the clarity (it should be eye-clean so I thought to go with either SI1 or VS2) I value the cut a lot and want to be sure it will provide best possible visuals and light returns. I would like to avoid it to be “yellow noticeable”, however, I assume that going with yellow ring setting can give some more room here for lower grades (not sure to what letter, however, but focusing on GIA or AGS certified still considering the small size and great cut). Following that, I think the carat will be the result of the above, but hopefully still can be somewhere between 0,6crt – 0,7crt.  

I have already had a few chats with vendors’ consultants but it was not very useful. They usually advise on a base criteria only and definitely not with some experts’ recommendation or how to best balance the parameters to get a good bargain – so I am not even to even list them and continue looking for my own.


(I think I am also fine to exclude the ring setting from the diamond search to not narrow the options / vendors due to their rings’ selection)

I am based in EU, however still OK for some overseas vendors if that would be recommended

Following, I would be very grateful for any options / proposals / suggestions here that would help me to nail down the proper stone finally (the more it is to be the x-mas gift = ))

Thank you in advance!


Edited by Wxr4
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It's not all that hard but try not to leap to the end. 

A lot of what you are asking are matters of taste and there’s no good way to tell you how to land on what you and she like. For example, the best sellers online are VS2/G-H.  The best sellers in stores are I-1, I-J.  Why? Money. People see stones in person, notice that J is a ton cheaper than G and want to put their money in size.  FWIW, I did that. The opposite happens online. I-1 is seen as a terrible risk and even SI2 is counted as pushing the limit. Personally, I wear a 0.91/VVS2/K/Ideal with strong blue fluro.  That's a hugely unpopular combination on the forums and I landed there because of price, pure and simple. 

Go to the ‘diamond finder’ at the top of the page and play with it a bit. I’m inclined to rank size, cut, color, clarity, but you may be different. Most people are. There is no correct answer. This is a fantastically useful tool for setting your own parameters and seeing how they affect the price. It’s free and anonymous. 

If you haven't been shopping IN PERSON and can at all arrange it, do it. You can't look at pictures online and see the differences between an SI2 and a VS2 or an I and a K.  Leave your credit card at home if you want but you simply must get into a store. Most jewelers don't bite. 

When you finally get down to looking at particular dealers and specific stones, you'll notice that a lot of them will give you 'free' setting and sizing work if you buy both the mounting and the diamond from them.  It's not the biggest issue but since we're talking about 10% of your budget, it's worth considering in the formula and, if you're considering shopping online and overseas, don't forget the taxes.  They're a considerable bite.


Edited by denverappraiser
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@Wxr4 Neil has provided excellent advice which I could repeat word by word, but it wouldn't be very interesting. So I'll ask a question instead: when you say you wanted 

7 hours ago, Wxr4 said:

some advice in terms of diamond selection

what did you have in mind? A conversation about what is important and why? A "how to" guide on diamond shopping? Specific advice on vendors/types? Suggestions on individual stones to consider? All or none of the above? In other words, what is the source of confusion and how can we help?

Your post indicates that you have done a fair amount of research, but equally that there may be some misconceptions on "what it's really like", and the one bit of advice from Neil which I will repeat is to go out and look at stones; photos and videos are inadequate substitutes especially for a first-time shopper dealing with unknown vendors.

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Hi and thank you for the feedback.

It is challenging for me to arrange on-site visit due to some personal reasons, however I have already made some shop / retailers appointments, but the quick presentation of the available diamonds supported by certification (or its lack) did not give me a confidence to select the one or another

It is not for me but for my lady who hopefully will stay with it in the next several dozen years - looking at it daily, reviewing, discovering better, discussing, comparing etc. so I would like to make an informed and facts-based decision instead of following my subjective impression based on the quick review made in certain circumstances and environment. I am not experienced enough to assume I can take a good decision by seeing and comparing few stones or vendors and I do not want to leave the decision to be impacted or triggered by the random seller equally interested in making a profit.

What I was able to learn is that each diamond is different, and there are multiple factors which impact its final performance and presentation. Following, I do feel more comfortable to use the commonly agree criteria and knowledge to nail down this proper stone having the access to numbers of them from multiple on-line resellers, described with certain parameters, supported with ideal scope / ASET images and by experts’ opinions / suggestions – all that in my opinion will assure better effectiveness and fairness than my personal on-site choice.

I would be more than happy if you would agree to help me – certain stones would be more than welcome and appreciated. The retailers differ and most of them use multiple vendors so that may be tricky but I was considering 77Diamonds especially (as they apply 19% VAT) or BlueNile as EU based, but perhaps some oversees are also worth to check (I like WF but its prices are a little bit higher).

My budget is 1800 USD W/O tax and the ring setting.

Thank you very much.

Edited by Wxr4
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1 hour ago, Wxr4 said:

the quick presentation of the available diamonds supported by certification (or its lack) did not give me a confidence to select the one or another

Fair enough. I would set aside the issue of lab - in the sense that you are buying a stone, not a piece of paper. The report is relevant to make sure that you are comparing like-for-like, and that you are paying a fair price, but a lab report is not usually providing you with enough information to make a decision. However, I would argue that this deposes against the vendor, not any of the stones. Did you ask people explicitly to help you understand the visual differences between various colours, cut and clarity grades? If you did, and they didn't help, then glean what you can from the presentation, but mark that particular vendor as "unhelpful" and move on to the next one; you can't see too many stones at this stage!

1 hour ago, Wxr4 said:

I would like to make an informed and facts-based decision instead of following my subjective impression

Well, the problem is that at the end of the day the subjective impressions are the most important thing. I mean that if you don't know what a J stone looks like and you buy an F because you think "J is going to look yellow", you may well be surprised seeing that a well cut J can actually look very white, especially when seen in isolation. Buying an F buys you insurance in that respect, but it may be insurance that you don't need to buy.

1 hour ago, Wxr4 said:

I do feel more comfortable to use the commonly agree criteria

I think the point we are trying to make (certainly the point I am trying to make) is that there aren't any all-encompassing, commonly agreed criteria for what to prefer. There is a fair amount of agreement on what to call the various colours and clarities (or at least there is as long as you stick to a good lab: GIA, AGS, HRD, and some IGI among the big names), but that's as far as it goes. Cut - even in rounds - has a lot of variation, and while I have never seen a GIA or AGS "excellent" (or AGS "ideal") look bad, they can and do look very different from each other; which one to prefer between a 53 table and a 61 table, a 33 crown angle or a 36 crown angle and a 40.6 or a 41.0 pavilion - just to stick to stuff that at least you will find on the report - is a personal, subjective call.

1 hour ago, Wxr4 said:

ideal scope / ASET images

Those can be useful, but don't expect many vendors to provide them... (and to be honest, I find a comparative, well-shot video in different lighting conditions to be significantly more useful than a reflector image, unless pattern symmetry is one of your main asks!)

1 hour ago, Wxr4 said:

I would be more than happy if you would agree to help me

That's what we are here for - but I don't think you'll find too many people willing to go out and suggest individual stones: those of us that retail will not because we are not allowed to by the forum rules (and good rules they are too) and/or we don't particularly want to push stones that our competition is selling. Those of us (e.g. Neil) that can help you assess stones independently will only do so if you hire them to do it - not least because it wouldn't be fair/professional to recommend one or another diamond without seeing the stone in detail or to endorse one particular vendor vs. another. I think many forum regulars would be more than happy to give you their opinion of a few candidate stones, but even that is going to be limited by the amount of information available and our understanding of what you (your lady) would prefer...

2 hours ago, Wxr4 said:

they apply 19% VAT

Bear in mind that you will pay VAT at the applicable rate no matter where you buy from (unless you import the stone illegally without paying duty and VAT; possible but illegal and risky); the important thing is that you don't compare prices without VAT or duty (0% on loose stones, 2.5% on mounted stones for jewellery coming into the EU) to prices including those taxes and think you are getting a bargain...

2 hours ago, Wxr4 said:

its prices are a little bit higher

Yes. But then again their service is a little bit better... and some stones you can get only from them. However if you move to "cut specialists", I would strongly recommend that you consider more sellers than WF, and extend your search to at least a few others. There are plenty of people that can provide top-quality diamonds, but none will do so at a price of an "average" diamond.

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^^^ What he said.

Although I am a fan of shopping local when circumstances allow it, my reason for suggesting you look at stones in person is to calibrate your eyes, not so much to choose a particular stone. People generally have no idea what the difference is between a VVS1 and an SI1. Rather than learn, they just compromise at VS1. There's nothing particularly wrong with that but it's not really pinching your budget and that seems to be exactly what you're trying to do here. Does an E look different than a J? Yes, on a white piece of paper, under controlled lighting and with a trained observer. Is that difference important to YOU? Maybe, maybe not. Mounted, dirty, moving, and under unknown and variable lighting, even an expert can't tell. It affects the price by a factor of 2.  Given the limited budget, and everyone has a limited budget by the way so this isn't a criticism, it's necessary to decide if this is where you want to spend your money or if you would you prefer to go somewhere else, like a bigger size or a snazzier mounting. There's no right answer here and there's no way for you to reasonably make this choice until you've actually seen some real diamonds in person. 

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