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Siyah

Help needed with choosing a diamond

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Hello there,

First of all: happy to see a forum like this to get questions answered by experts! I was really getting desperate when I saw the many choices.

1) Next to that, I have to say that I was in Antwerp today to check out diamonds myself. I noticed interesting things. A diamond 0.8 cut that had a price tag of 4.460 Euro was "suddenly" 1600 Euros and "only for you, my friend". This was the moment where bells began to ring. Because, even though he said that the diamond was GIA certified, I found that too good to be true. 

My first question: can they scam with those certificates? So, I guess I should not believe them directly, even though there is a certificate from GIA or IGI they can show?

2) As I had the feeling I was getting scammed in Antwerp (not only in that particular store, but I had that idea for 80% of the stores) and the fact that I can't find a genuine guide that lists the best diamond stores there, I want to give internet a try...

The problem; I don't know if I should trust the internet! So, I saw some deals on Blue Nile and James Allen which got my attention.

My other questions:

  • Can I trust James Allen and Blue Nile? Are they reliable and trustworthy? Do you really get the diamond you choose online?
  • If the answer is yes, would it be a smart move to only buy the diamond itself and buy the setting in Antwerp? Reason I am asking that, is because the setting on these sites were quite expensive.

An example of what I liked:
https://www.bluenile.com/nl/build-your-own-ring/diamond-details/LD10879994?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&action=newTab

0.61- Carat Round Diamond, SI2, E....

Price: 1338 Euro.

What do you guys think? Is it reasonable? Is it a fair price or should I look further?
 
Another option: 
0.70, e color, S12..
1341 Euro.
 
This one is from James Allen:
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.70-carat-e-color-si2-clarity-good-cut-sku-6299255

I don't get why the difference is just 3 Euros while the color and cut are the same.... but the carat is much bigger!
 
Can you help me, please?
Edited by Siyah

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36 minutes ago, Siyah said:

can they scam with those certificates? So, I guess I should not believe them directly, even though there is a certificate from GIA or IGI they can show?

Scam as a fake report - probably not, but the key question is whether the report matches the stone. The most common scams here are to pass off a report "by a GIA Graduate" as if it were a GIA report or to insist that this "TLA Lab" report really is the same as a GIA report.

The second question has nothing to do with the report and everything to do with the dealer... Speaking as a (sometimes) consumer, there are dealers whose word I will trust even without a third party report, and others where a report is not enough and I'll want my own chosen expert to look at what I'm buying.

43 minutes ago, Siyah said:

Can I trust James Allen and Blue Nile? Are they reliable and trustworthy? Do you really get the diamond you choose online?

By and large yes. Definitely yes to the last question (even if occasionally errors may happen - trust but verify - I have never known either firm to deliberately send the wrong stone, and if a mistake happened it was always put right without a fuss).

47 minutes ago, Siyah said:

If the answer is yes, would it be a smart move to only buy the diamond itself and buy the setting in Antwerp? Reason I am asking that, is because the setting on these sites were quite expensive.

It may or may not be a smart move; there is less duty (in fact, no duty) payable on imports into the EU of loose stones vs. mounted stones and of course prices are what they are - but see my next comment below. However, getting the setting and the stone from one seller is a good way of avoiding any issues with responsibility for anything that doesn't work properly - from a misaligned prong to a broken stone.

I am surprised about your comment re: prices of settings. My experience has generally been that European metalwork is more expensive for a variety of reasons. Are you sure that you are comparing like-for-like? A signed setting by (say) Verragio or Danhov is not the same thing as "the same design by the jeweller on the corner"; also, a lot of apparently similar designs may vary significantly in quality of execution, and that generally comes at a price.

55 minutes ago, Siyah said:

What do you guys think? Is it reasonable? Is it a fair price or should I look further?

Both BN and JA are generally "reasonable but not the cheapest" with regards to prices. However, a couple of things give me pause: 1) the "Good" cut grade. This is not good at all, and you can do significantly better - especially if you lower your colour grade to something like G/H (which will have no visible tint, especially in a well cut stone in that size). 2) The bunches of black crystals in the middle of the table; while judging these things from a photo or video is not a particularly reliable way of determining eye cleanness, I am pretty ready to bet that this stone is NOT eye clean. Does it matter? Not to everybody, but most people do care.

1 hour ago, Siyah said:
I don't get why the difference is just 3 Euros while the color and cut are the same.... but the carat is much bigger!

A number of possible reasons - not mutually exclusive:

1. No VAT in the JA price, while the BN price includes VAT (bear in mind that BN is operating from its Irish subsidiary, and is thus obliged to follow EU rules regarding showing prices including all taxes; JA as far as I know does not have a EU base).

2. IGI is less strict than GIA on colour and on clarity. If this stone were called I1 from GIA... its price might be even lower.

3. A lot of the variability in price in SI2 clarity stones is due to the visibility of inclusions. There seems to be more visible black schmutz (technical term) in the 0.70.

4. Much the same applies to "Good" cuts. Even within the general undesirability of a "Good" cut grade, there are different degrees of cut quality, and the 0.70 reads worse than the 0.61 in some important respects (65.4% depth; PA over 42).

Final comment - not related to a specific question, but I hope useful: there is a pretty good listing engine on this site. There's over half a million stones listed on it; it's free to use, it's anonymous and it doesn't commit you to using the vendors (which BTW include JA and BN), but it does give you a pretty good idea of what is a fair price for an "internet-sourced" stone. https://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds

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On 12/29/2018 at 2:17 AM, davidelevi said:

Scam as a fake report - probably not, but the key question is whether the report matches the stone. The most common scams here are to pass off a report "by a GIA Graduate" as if it were a GIA report or to insist that this "TLA Lab" report really is the same as a GIA report.

The second question has nothing to do with the report and everything to do with the dealer... Speaking as a (sometimes) consumer, there are dealers whose word I will trust even without a third party report, and others where a report is not enough and I'll want my own chosen expert to look at what I'm buying.

By and large yes. Definitely yes to the last question (even if occasionally errors may happen - trust but verify - I have never known either firm to deliberately send the wrong stone, and if a mistake happened it was always put right without a fuss).

It may or may not be a smart move; there is less duty (in fact, no duty) payable on imports into the EU of loose stones vs. mounted stones and of course prices are what they are - but see my next comment below. However, getting the setting and the stone from one seller is a good way of avoiding any issues with responsibility for anything that doesn't work properly - from a misaligned prong to a broken stone.

I am surprised about your comment re: prices of settings. My experience has generally been that European metalwork is more expensive for a variety of reasons. Are you sure that you are comparing like-for-like? A signed setting by (say) Verragio or Danhov is not the same thing as "the same design by the jeweller on the corner"; also, a lot of apparently similar designs may vary significantly in quality of execution, and that generally comes at a price.

Both BN and JA are generally "reasonable but not the cheapest" with regards to prices. However, a couple of things give me pause: 1) the "Good" cut grade. This is not good at all, and you can do significantly better - especially if you lower your colour grade to something like G/H (which will have no visible tint, especially in a well cut stone in that size). 2) The bunches of black crystals in the middle of the table; while judging these things from a photo or video is not a particularly reliable way of determining eye cleanness, I am pretty ready to bet that this stone is NOT eye clean. Does it matter? Not to everybody, but most people do care.

A number of possible reasons - not mutually exclusive:

1. No VAT in the JA price, while the BN price includes VAT (bear in mind that BN is operating from its Irish subsidiary, and is thus obliged to follow EU rules regarding showing prices including all taxes; JA as far as I know does not have a EU base).

2. IGI is less strict than GIA on colour and on clarity. If this stone were called I1 from GIA... its price might be even lower.

3. A lot of the variability in price in SI2 clarity stones is due to the visibility of inclusions. There seems to be more visible black schmutz (technical term) in the 0.70.

4. Much the same applies to "Good" cuts. Even within the general undesirability of a "Good" cut grade, there are different degrees of cut quality, and the 0.70 reads worse than the 0.61 in some important respects (65.4% depth; PA over 42).

Final comment - not related to a specific question, but I hope useful: there is a pretty good listing engine on this site. There's over half a million stones listed on it; it's free to use, it's anonymous and it doesn't commit you to using the vendors (which BTW include JA and BN), but it does give you a pretty good idea of what is a fair price for an "internet-sourced" stone. https://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds

Thank you a bunch for your extensive message! Just a couple of questions:

- When you say depth & PA, what do you mean? What should I look for?

- Regarding cuts; what should I look for? "Ideal"?

- When you say "there seems to be more visible black schmutz", you don't mean it's visible for the naked eye, right?

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"Depth" is the ratio between the depth of the diamond and its diameter. The higher it is, the smaller the diamond will look for the same weight; however, if a diamond is too shallow it will look like a piece of glass. Look for something between 59 and 62%

PA is the pavilion angle - i.e. the angle that a plane parallel to the table forms with the pavilion main facets. It's the single most important parameter in a round diamond's cut. Look for something between 40.4° and 41.2 °(but try to stay in the middle of that!).

Cut grade: aim for GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal or Excellent. Other labs don't have very good cut grading systems (in my opinion - though if you see an HRD "H&A" it's usually very nicely cut), but GIA offers a free cut grade estimator here: https://www.gia.edu/facetwar

5 hours ago, Siyah said:

- When you say "there seems to be more visible black schmutz", you don't mean it's visible for the naked eye, right?

Erm, no, I do mean visible to the naked eye, unfortunately. Quick and inaccurate test: take a look at the video at 2-3x (the video's resolution is not adequate to go to 1x) and see how noticeable the black specks are...

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32 minutes ago, davidelevi said:

"Depth" is the ratio between the depth of the diamond and its diameter. The higher it is, the smaller the diamond will look for the same weight; however, if a diamond is too shallow it will look like a piece of glass. Look for something between 59 and 62%

PA is the pavilion angle - i.e. the angle that a plane parallel to the table forms with the pavilion main facets. It's the single most important parameter in a round diamond's cut. Look for something between 40.4° and 41.2 °(but try to stay in the middle of that!).

Cut grade: aim for GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal or Excellent. Other labs don't have very good cut grading systems (in my opinion - though if you see an HRD "H&A" it's usually very nicely cut), but GIA offers a free cut grade estimator here: https://www.gia.edu/facetwar

Erm, no, I do mean visible to the naked eye, unfortunately. Quick and inaccurate test: take a look at the video at 2-3x (the video's resolution is not adequate to go to 1x) and see how noticeable the black specks are...

Thank you. Absolutely amazing service. Thanks again!

Now I have learned that I should go for an excellent cut. Does it really "sparkle" better than e.g. a "Good" cut? Is it really recognizable regarding the difference?

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You are very welcome.

22 minutes ago, Siyah said:

excellent cut. Does it really "sparkle" better than e.g. a "Good" cut? Is it really recognizable regarding the difference?

In my opinion yes. Take a look at this GIA article on how they developed their cut grading system: https://diamondcut.gia.edu/pdf/cut_fall2004.pdf

Also, take a look at various videos on vendors's sites, though "good" cut stones are rare (this at least tells you where the market is: "Good" stones, which are supposedly the middle grade in a 5-grade scale are 5%, while VG and EX are 90%+ and almost equally divided...). Good Old Gold's "education" section has a number of very good comparative videos (or at least it had them a few years ago; they have reorganised and cleaned up the site, mostly for the better, but I don't know if everything is still there).


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davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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11 minutes ago, davidelevi said:

You are very welcome.

In my opinion yes. Take a look at this GIA article on how they developed their cut grading system: https://diamondcut.gia.edu/pdf/cut_fall2004.pdf

Also, take a look at various videos on vendors's sites, though "good" cut stones are rare (this at least tells you where the market is: "Good" stones, which are supposedly the middle grade in a 5-grade scale are 5%, while VG and EX are 90%+ and almost equally divided...). Good Old Gold's "education" section has a number of very good comparative videos (or at least it had them a few years ago; they have reorganised and cleaned up the site, mostly for the better, but I don't know if everything is still there).

So, you mean that excellent cuts are less rare than good cuts? 

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1 minute ago, Siyah said:

So, you mean that excellent cuts are less rare than good cuts?

Well, yes and no. Bear in mind that a grading report is not free - although it's not a huge cost (say $50-75 for a stone of the size you are looking at), it can still be a substantial proportion of the stone's price.

This means that low value diamonds tend not to get graded through a lab, and many of them are not cut that well (cutting a stone well costs more money than cutting it poorly, and diamonds and other gems are sold by weight, which is maximised by cutting in ways that don't work well for aesthetics).

Also, if I (diamond cutter, wholesaler or retailer) know that a stone is not cut that well, I will tend to market it with a report that doesn't necessarily show the cut "imperfection", either because the lab is more lenient in its cut grading system or because it offers different grading systems (some of which are not worth the paper they are printed on) or possibly an option to have no cut grade reported.

So the end result is that stones marketed with GIA (or AGS) reports tend to be better cut than "average". For example, on the Diamond Finder there are about 500,000 GIA graded diamonds; of these, 242,000 are Excellent, 70,000 are Very Good, 21,000 are Good and less than 2,000 are Fair or Poor. Another 120,000 have no reported grade - this happens because of three main reasons:

1. It's a VG cut grade, but the vendor is still trying to get a premium (and sometimes VG can look better than EX for some people, but we are getting technical).

2. It's a poor (in general - meaning "Good" or below) cut grade, and the vendor is trying to get people to look at the stone anyway.

3. It's a technical problem with the data uploaded to the database.

In practice, I would say that #3 is dominant - EX or VG count for about 90% of the stones I see retailed.

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2 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Well, yes and no. Bear in mind that a grading report is not free - although it's not a huge cost (say $50-75 for a stone of the size you are looking at), it can still be a substantial proportion of the stone's price.

This means that low value diamonds tend not to get graded through a lab, and many of them are not cut that well (cutting a stone well costs more money than cutting it poorly, and diamonds and other gems are sold by weight, which is maximised by cutting in ways that don't work well for aesthetics).

Also, if I (diamond cutter, wholesaler or retailer) know that a stone is not cut that well, I will tend to market it with a report that doesn't necessarily show the cut "imperfection", either because the lab is more lenient in its cut grading system or because it offers different grading systems (some of which are not worth the paper they are printed on) or possibly an option to have no cut grade reported.

So the end result is that stones marketed with GIA (or AGS) reports tend to be better cut than "average". For example, on the Diamond Finder there are about 500,000 GIA graded diamonds; of these, 242,000 are Excellent, 70,000 are Very Good, 21,000 are Good and less than 2,000 are Fair or Poor. Another 120,000 have no reported grade - this happens because of three main reasons:

1. It's a VG cut grade, but the vendor is still trying to get a premium (and sometimes VG can look better than EX for some people, but we are getting technical).

2. It's a poor (in general - meaning "Good" or below) cut grade, and the vendor is trying to get people to look at the stone anyway.

3. It's a technical problem with the data uploaded to the database.

In practice, I would say that #3 is dominant - EX or VG count for about 90% of the stones I see retailed.

You are amazing. Thank you very much for making this clear!

Additional question: is an excellent cut (GIA graded) diamond that I would buy from Blue Nile, a good choice you think?

Can I trust their diamonds being really excellent if GIA says so?

 

Edited by Siyah

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Sorry for the delay... I'm answering in between other things.

1 hour ago, Siyah said:

Can I trust their diamonds being really excellent if GIA says so?

You can trust GIA for grading a diamond consistently. I have never seen a GIA "Excellent" cut look bad because of the cut. This doesn't mean they can't look bad because of other reasons (e.g. clarity), nor that they will all look the same.

1 hour ago, Siyah said:

is an excellent cut (GIA graded) diamond that I would buy from Blue Nile, a good choice you think?

It's a good start, but 1) as I said above, not all will look the same, even if they are eye-clean: GIA excellent covers a huge range of looks, and 2) there are other factors influencing looks.

Feel free to ask the forum their opinions on a few diamonds that you feel may be suitable (please don't give us lists of 10), or tell me what your priorities and constraints are, and I'll recommend two or three from the database here.

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1 hour ago, davidelevi said:

Sorry for the delay... I'm answering in between other things.

You can trust GIA for grading a diamond consistently. I have never seen a GIA "Excellent" cut look bad because of the cut. This doesn't mean they can't look bad because of other reasons (e.g. clarity), nor that they will all look the same.

It's a good start, but 1) as I said above, not all will look the same, even if they are eye-clean: GIA excellent covers a huge range of looks, and 2) there are other factors influencing looks.

Feel free to ask the forum their opinions on a few diamonds that you feel may be suitable (please don't give us lists of 10), or tell me what your priorities and constraints are, and I'll recommend two or three from the database here.

Thank you, Davidelevi...

So, I want one that actually sparkles and is eye-clean. This also mean it should be an excellent cut for me (e.g. right angles on pavilion, table...) White, but it does not need to be D. It should be within my budget (1600 Euros) and preferably above 0.6ct.

Could you recommend a couple of them?

Edited by Siyah

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At €1,600 for the stone, including VAT (assuming at 20%, but it could be a few % more or less), it is a tall order to stay above 0.60.

Here's one that looks decent; it's the only one for which I could find some evidence that it's actually (likely to be) eye-clean. 

https://www.b2cjewels.com/dd/12119310/Round-Diamond-H-Color-SI1-Clarity

and here's another one that looks decent on paper and is likely to be eye clean but there is no photo (however the grading inclusion - twinning wisp - is usually quite benign)

https://www.b2cjewels.com/dd/12166791/round-diamond-G-color-SI1-Clarity?sku=12166791&utm_source=diamondreview.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=diamondreview.com

Edited by davidelevi
Grammar
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8 hours ago, davidelevi said:

At €1,600 for the stone, including VAT (assuming at 20%, but it could be a few % more or less), it is a tall order to stay above 0.60.

Here's one that looks decent; it's the only one for which I could find some evidence that it's actually (likely to be) eye-clean. 

https://www.b2cjewels.com/dd/12119310/Round-Diamond-H-Color-SI1-Clarity

and here's another one that looks decent on paper and is likely to be eye clean but there is no photo (however the grading inclusion - twinning wisp - is usually quite benign)

https://www.b2cjewels.com/dd/12166791/round-diamond-G-color-SI1-Clarity?sku=12166791&utm_source=diamondreview.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=diamondreview.com

Thanks, Davidelevi. Maybe I had to say that I live in Europe and then Blue Nile would be my only option. Would Blue Nile be a good choice?

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Why would Blue Nile be your only option? Pretty much any dealer will send stones, and dealing with import charges is straightforward (the courier will deal with the formalities, and you pay them).

Blue Nile is a perfectly good choice however their prices are usually a little bit higher than B2C, which makes finding stuff that fits all your criteria even harder (as few as they are, it's challenging!). The reason why I didn't list stones by them is that none suitable were advertised on the database here. When I got a "hit" on B2C I looked at that dealer's whole inventory.

Please note: I represent another dealer (Diamonds by Lauren) on this forum, so I have no particular reason to favour one over another of B2C or Blue Nile (or James Allen for this matter).

Here's what seems like a good stone on BN:

https://www.bluenile.com/uk/diamond-details/LD10450979?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&action=newTab

unfortunately not much else...

Edited by davidelevi

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4 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Why would Blue Nile be your only option? Pretty much any dealer will send stones, and dealing with import charges is straightforward (the courier will deal with the formalities, and you pay them).

Blue Nile is a perfectly good choice however their prices are usually a little bit higher than B2C, which makes finding stuff that fits all your criteria even harder (as few as they are, it's challenging!). The reason why I didn't list stones by them is that none suitable were advertised on the database here. When I got a "hit" on B2C I looked at that dealer's whole inventory.

Please note: I represent another dealer (Diamonds by Lauren) on this forum, so I have no particular reason to favour one over another of B2C or Blue Nile (or James Allen for this matter).

Here's what seems like a good stone on BN:

https://www.bluenile.com/uk/diamond-details/LD10450979?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&action=newTab

unfortunately not much else...

Thanks, Davidelevi.

What do you guys think of these?
 
 
or
 
 
 
 
 

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On 12/31/2018 at 7:31 PM, davidelevi said:

I stand behind my recommendation against the above. Some are likely not to be eye-clean, some are over your budget and some are not as well cut.

@davidelevi, what do you think of these?
 

https://www.bluenile.com/nl/diamond-details/LD10033813?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&action=newTab

and

https://www.bluenile.com/nl/build-your-own-ring/diamond-details/LD11584975?refTab=DIAMONDS&track=viewDiamondDetails&action=newTab&catalogView=true

If you had to choose, would you choose them? And if so, which one would you pick (and why)?

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Happy New Year! (... and a gentle reminder)

On 12/30/2018 at 7:58 PM, davidelevi said:

Feel free to ask the forum their opinions on a few diamonds that you feel may be suitable (please don't give us lists of 10)

The two you selected have been sold or are on hold, so you may have to restart search (unless you are the one holding them). Both are as well cut as you can find without going to specialist retailers; the 0.57 is perhaps a smidgen more symmetrical but I would pick the 0.60:

1. It's a little bit larger (visibly so, but just - if you have them next to each other)
2. It seems eye clean - whereas the 0.57 definitely is clean (but you pay for the privilege - way more than you need)
3. It's €100 less, and just within your budget
4. The cut differences seem to be very minor

There is a little bit of a risk that with an SI2 the video is lying (and the grade-setting crystal is after all easily visible to the naked eye), but you do have 30 days to return. I'd take a chance on this one

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7 minutes ago, davidelevi said:

Happy New Year! (... and a gentle reminder)

The two you selected have been sold or are on hold, so you may have to restart search (unless you are the one holding them). Both are as well cut as you can find without going to specialist retailers; the 0.57 is perhaps a smidgen more symmetrical but I would pick the 0.60:

1. It's a little bit larger (visibly so, but just - if you have them next to each other)
2. It seems eye clean - whereas the 0.57 definitely is clean (but you pay for the privilege - way more than you need)
3. It's €100 less, and just within your budget
4. The cut differences seem to be very minor

There is a little bit of a risk that with an SI2 the video is lying (and the grade-setting crystal is after all easily visible to the naked eye), but you do have 30 days to return. I'd take a chance on this one

Happy new year, Davidelevi!

So, you are saying I need to take the risk and go for the SI2? How much of a difference will it be regarding the size of the stone? The only reason I will go for the 0.6ct instead of the 0.57 would be the size; nothing else.

Is it worth risking it for 100 Euros less?

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Tough to say. 0.1 mm is usually visible in direct comparison, but not memorable (meaning: if you see the two stones separately you won't be able to tell which is larger). The other factor that is kind of nibbling at my mind is the fluorescence on the 0.57. It won't make a difference to looks; it may make the stone more difficult to resell, should you ever come to that (however it does go for a discount to start with).

Either one will be fine; I'd go with the 0.60, but if you went with the 0.57 I wouldn't feel offended (or if you went with the 0.60 G/SI1). 😉

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48 minutes ago, davidelevi said:

Tough to say. 0.1 mm is usually visible in direct comparison, but not memorable (meaning: if you see the two stones separately you won't be able to tell which is larger). The other factor that is kind of nibbling at my mind is the fluorescence on the 0.57. It won't make a difference to looks; it may make the stone more difficult to resell, should you ever come to that (however it does go for a discount to start with).

Either one will be fine; I'd go with the 0.60, but if you went with the 0.57 I wouldn't feel offended (or if you went with the 0.60 G/SI1). 😉

Thanks, Davidelevi! I will see and let you know.

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