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Looking for advice choosing my first diamond


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Hello! I’m 32 years old and live in the northeastern part of the US. With COVID-19 shutting down jewelers, I’ve been looking to purchase a diamond online. I’ve done tons of research and have narrowed my search down to the following diamonds that are ideal by both AGS and GIA parameters. My question is: which of the following is the best bang for my buck? My girlfriend is into designer things (quality over quantity) so I think that would translate to having a more brilliant, sparkling, dazzling diamond than having a large one:

Here is what I’ve narrowed down to (I’m leaning towards #2 from James Allen or #1 from Yadav)

James Allen:
1. 1.51 F VS1 Round brilliant: $12680 (https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.51-carat-f-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-7771315)

2. 1.3 F VVS2 Round Brilliant: $10510 (https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.30-carat-f-color-vvs2-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-7914987)

3. 1.5 D VS1 Round Brilliant: $12330 (https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.50-carat-d-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-8736989) Note - this has medium fluorescence 

1. 1.4 D VVS2 Round Brilliant: $12770 (https://www.yadavjewelry.com/diamond/round-diamond-1.4-carat-d-vvs2-yd8845723)

2. 1.08 E FL Round Brilliant: $9612 (https://www.yadavjewelry.com/diamond/round-diamond-1.08-carat-e-fl-yd8925777)

Thanks for all your help guys! Wish me luck!

Edited by Pariketamine
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The biggest bang for the buck depends a lot on what bucks your buck... you've got quite a diverse list of candidates, in diamond terms, and your priorities (beyond "cut vs. size" - but to what extent?) may well be different from mine.

D vs. E vs. F colour will all look identical once set. Same goes for VS1 vs. FL (and everything in between) - therefore in my book there is no reason to prefer a D/FL to an identically cut F/VS1 on the basis of looks; people will also make decisions on the symbolic value of (technically incorrect) attributes such as "Flawless" or "Colourless". Wrong? No; just different strokes for different folks.

So, based on my understanding of your priorities, let's start from the easy ones:

1.08 E/FL - out. It's nicely cut, but the FL clarity grade means that to keep it that way it has to be kept wrapped up in a safe, not on an engagement ring. It is also by far the smallest one of the lot - half a mm is very easily visible - and the cut while good is far from perfect. Link you provided is broken, so here it is in case anyone else wants to comment https://www.yadavjewelry.com/diamond/round-diamond-1.08-carat-e-fl-yd8925777

1.30 F/VVS2 - out. Unless budget is a problem, but it doesn't seem to be - or is it? It also seems to be slightly worse cut (for my taste) than the others; it goes nearly all black and nearly all white at once in the video, rather than having nicely distributed contrast. Unfortunately, JA has adopted the very annoying habit of no longer linking or listing the lab report number (or many of the vital statistics of the diamond), and they don't provide reflector images by default, so there isn't much certain to say on cut here.

1.40 D/VVS2 - out, probably... assuming the 1.50 D/VS1 and/or the 1.51 F/VS1 are as well cut (see note on JA's bad habits above...), they will be visibly larger, not visibly more included and cost slightly less. I'm also not a fan of the thicker girdle; it adds to weight (and price), but nothing else. Same issue as the 1.08 with the link: https://www.yadavjewelry.com/diamond/round-diamond-1.4-carat-d-vvs2-yd8845723

This leaves the two 1.50 ct gorillas... which seem to be much of a muchness. Perhaps the 1.51 is a smidgen more symmetrically cut, but without an ASET it's difficulty to say. Some people (not me) are dead set against fluorescence in higher colour stones, which would be another reason to plump for the 1.51. I would not choose any of the JA diamonds until they release copies of the reports and preferably reflector images for them... JA used to do the latter (and withholding the former is pure idiocy), but their service level seems to have gone down the drain lately, so I don't know if they still do.

ALL this said, if your (her) hot button is cut, why not consider a truly premium cut diamond, which none of these seems to be?

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Wow, davidelevi. Thank you so much for the information. I really feel like I’m out of my element with this stuff. I did some more research and increased my budget to $15,000. Now here’s my thought process: I’ll be putting the diamond as a solitaire on a rose gold setting. Given this information, should I shell out money for DEF diamonds? What color grade could I go down to without a perceivable difference (I know Harry Winston does only DEF whereas Tiffany does D-I)? In terms of clarity, I was initially set on VVS2-FL since I haven’t been able to get into a store to see the actual rocks, but almost everyone I’ve talked to said I could go down to VS1 without a perceivable difference. So now I’m back to square one—I think I’m going to start looking for the largest rock with a premium cut and VS1. I’m not sure what color grade I could go down to? I’m the type of person who overthinks things...

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You are most welcome.

On clarity - frankly, the vast majority of 1.50 ct SI1 are perfectly fine. VVS is overkill, and IF/FL is for diamonds that are not meant to be worn on a hand 24/7. If you are concerned about not being able to see the diamonds prior to purchase, pick a dealer that can and will help by owning or at least inspecting the diamonds personally... rather than someone who acts simply as a broker but never sees the diamonds in person.

On colour, the matter is a little more complicated, partly because colour sensitivity varies significantly across individuals, and partly because personal preferences vary even more. Personally - repeat personally - I'd rather have a superbly cut H or I (or even J) than an indifferently cut D-F. Especially when set as a solitaire in non-white metal: there is nothing other than the metal to compare the stone's colour to (rose gold is way more tinted than a J-colour diamond), and a lot more light is reflected by the diamond than by the metal, so a well cut diamond observed from the top will look much whiter than when graded against a white surface observed through the side...

There was a poster on this forum that was surprised by how white an I and J colour that he was looking at appeared; I've tried looking for the thread, but I cannot find it, sorry. Just pointing you at this to say that I'm not making it up 😉

3 hours ago, Pariketamine said:

should I shell out money for DEF diamonds?

To answer the question simply and directly, no I would not. I love colourless, but the "bang for the buck" is much bigger in other areas. My personal algorithm for selection would be something like: make sure it's eye clean, but lowest possible clarity (I'm very happy with some I1!). Best possible cut. Then pick the largest available size for the budget.

In all of this, the dealer is (or should be) your ally and adviser, not the guy who says "tell me which one you want and I'll tell you the price". Then, once you have a diamond or 2 that really fit the bill, the negotiating claws can come out on both sides...

Edited by davidelevi
added last para
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Dear davidelevi,

Thank you so much for the continued help with this process. I think I’m starting to understand it a bit more! Now I’m filtering my search to include down to I or J, with any eye-clean clarity. How do I filter for superb cuts? I’ve been looking at Brian Gavin and Whiteflash, but I’m curious to know whether there are other sellers that will guarantee a superb cut. Do I have to interpret the ASET? I looked at a few of the James Allen Hearts and Arrows as well as Blue Nile Astor Ideal but I felt like they still weren’t perfect cuts. This process is quite overwhelming and I think I’ve spent a whole week from morning to night researching this stuff...

Thanks again,


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15 hours ago, Pariketamine said:

How do I filter for superb cuts?

In general, either by seeing the diamond or having a lot of information about it and the training/experience to interpret it (sorry, I don't mean to be snarky). Or take the shortcut and go to the people who specialise in them. I would add a couple of other people to your list:

* Good Old Gold
* Crafted by Infinity (they are a manufacturer/cutter; High Performance Diamonds is one retailer that I know sells them)

We can procure them too...

The "premium mass retailing" like JA or BN do not quite get there.

15 hours ago, Pariketamine said:

Do I have to interpret the ASET?

It depends; those mentioned above and in your post will cut round diamonds to such a stringent consistency that you can pretty much point-and-shoot even though they have good ASET images. Many ASET images are taken incorrectly or at the very least inconsistently (and some times are so on purpose!). At the same time, I think it helps to understand what an ASET image represents and whether one "technically well taken" ASET image really is a sign of a visual difference vs. another - however in general this requires a fair amount of experience in seeing diamonds and their ASET images...

Edited by davidelevi
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Wow davidelevi! Thanks for taking the time and answering so many of my questions. I think I will go with the shortcut route and buy my diamond from one of those sellers listed. I will search those sites today and update you with what I find. If you think you could procure something similar, please let me know. 

I’m glad I came to this forum and posted before I pulled the trigger on a diamond that may not have had the most ideal cut

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Here is a list of rocks I liked in my price range:

HPD: 1.58 I VS1 ($12,957) link


GOG:    1.34 F VS1 ($14,339) link

1.71 I VS2 ($11,850) link


BG:       1.443 H VS1 ($13,640) link

1.68 I VS1 ($13,790) link (Preorder)

1.37 I VS1 ($9,205) link (Preorder)


WF:      1.90 I VS2 ($15,725) link

            1.708 I VS2 ($14,573) link

            1.437 F VS2 ($14,565) link

            1.53 G VS2 ($11,975) link

            1.368 I VVS2 ($9,596) link

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OK, so... strictly personal opinions follow. YMMV. 

1. Commenting on pre-order stones is pointless; you either trust the vendor and buy blind or you don't. That rules out three of the 11.

Why? I would totally trust both Paul Slegers (Crafted by Infinity) and Brian Gavin to produce fantastically cut diamonds, but for example you have discarded this one https://www.hpdiamonds.com/en-us/diamonddetail/HPD10717 and I think I know why: there is a black crystal right under the table. It will be totally invisible to the naked eye, but you are worried about it. If you are not, and this was just oversight, I think it's a very strong contender. However, independent of whether you go for the 1.62 or not, the point is that you cannot know about these things without seeing more details than are available on "pre-order" stones.

2. You are all over the place... focus on one thing at a time. If you have decided that size is more important, don't bother with stones below say 7.25 mm diameter (arbitrary number, but I needed one! Make your own up if you don't like mine). Which rules out another 3: 1.34 from GOG, and 1.368 and 1.437 from WF.

3. Even though these are very good dealers and "cut specialists", they too have stratified their offerings (except for HPD). The 1.71 from GOG, and the 1.90 and 1.53 from WF are from their "second best cut" lines. Which makes the "point and shoot" part a bit less point and shoot. For example, the 1.90 and 1.53 seem to have very minor (but clearly present) asymmetries, while the 1.71 is much closer to the ones from JA and Yadav we were discussing above, so it's out: it's dominated by others unless price is coming back as a limiting factor.

That leaves 4 in the race, plus one that I will add (the 1.61). I haven't trawled through e.g. the BG inventory, but I'm sure I'd find others in there too.

The first round survivors:

1.90 I/VS2 (WF) - by far the largest of the lot, with minor cut inaccuracies. 

1.708 I/VS2 (WF) - in my opinion it's dominated by the 1.90: it's smaller, not much cheaper and you'd never see the cut differences without a reflector (which most people don't carry around, and you can't use properly once the stone is set anyway)

1.53 G/VS2 (WF) - if colour is a worry, then it's a better trade-off between colour and size than the other "high colour" ones, in my view. Also cheap in this company (at nearly $12k!)

1.443 H/VS1 (BGD) - dream cut, but far smaller than the rest. Expensive, considering it's below 1.50 ct

1.62 H/VS1 (HPD) - a pesky dark crystal under the table may be your concern. It's not visible, except to the mind's eye. Another great cut.

This leaves my 3 finalists:

1.90 if size is your trigger point

1.62 for the cut; whether it's "mind clean" only you can determine

1.53 if you want to save some money and are a bit worried about colour (from F to I there is a difference!). Cut is really very good, but not up to par with the very very best, and it's obviously the smallest here

As I said, YMMV - I very much hesitated between the 1.708 and the 1.621, but ultimately I think if you want "the perfect cut" the 1.621 is better.

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Chanced upon this thread with tons of information!
Currently using this downtime to start looking for my Anniversary ring.

Brian Gavin, JA, White flash are my choices for now.
But i'm quite confused with true hearts of JA, Black by Brian Gavin and A Cut Above by WF. These are their top range of diamonds but I can't seem to understand what's the distinctive differences of these stones.

Is it safer to go with a particular vendor? Appreciate if you can share some tips too!

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4 hours ago, genq said:

I can't seem to understand what's the distinctive differences of these stones.

They are cut better (more precisely) than other lines that those vendors carry - this means a "guaranteed" good balance between brightness, sparkliness, fire and a highly symmetrical contrast pattern. However, I would not say they are equivalent with each other, since both WF and BGD's standards are much more stringent than JA's (partly as a consequence of the business model: JA is a broker, while WF and especially BGD cut their top line stones themselves).

The "Black" line is supposed to be even better than the "baseline" BG Signature (which is fundamentally the same as the ACA standard - Brian founded Whiteflash), with increased brightness around the edge of the crown. Determining whether that is visible in "normal life" would require enough observations of Black vs. Signature stones, and I haven't had the opportunity to do it; I trust Brian's word that it is measurably true in some standardised conditions (e.g. with a reflector).

4 hours ago, genq said:

Is it safer to go with a particular vendor?

All three are very good vendors. JA is significantly larger and more "corporate", and it offers lower service levels (in my opinion) against slightly lower prices. Both WF and BGD will cut stones to more exacting and consistent standards and will be more flexible in dealing with your requirements.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is important if you are not an expert specialized in diamonds, and most of us are not really knowledgeable when it comes to buying a piece of jewellery with diamonds. I found an interesting article on how to buy your “first diamond”. Key things to consider include understanding the 4C’s of diamonds (you can find an explanation on this link), researching about the brand and its ethics, and setting a budget. Here’s the link to the article which goes into much more detail and that I found super helpful.


Edited by martina
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