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I am in the process of shopping for an engagement ring. I am definitely getting a bit overwhelmed by all of the different sites about diamonds and all the sales pitches. After finding this website, I am hoping I can see the lightbulb turn on for me.

This afternoon I stopped by a jewelry store to see if I could note the difference between a F and an H color grade (I could against a white piece of paper). While there I started discussing my goals and challenges with the saleslady.


After talking with my girlfriends best friend, I learned that I NEEDED to buy at least a 1ct diamond. So much for my thought of getting a really high quality .75 to .85 diamond. Anyway, when I began looking at different websites I realized I was going to have to increase my budget to make this happen (good thing for credit cards).


When in the store talking with the saleslady, she mentioned that my best bet to get what I wanted would be to drop the clarity and keep a good cut and F or G color. She suggested either a VS2 or SI1 clarity. Does that make sense to get a higher color grade and drop down in clarity or should I try and find a balance between the two (say a VS1 and a G or H color)?


After all of my reading, I have come to the conclusion (incorrectly or not) that the most important aspect I am looking for is the cut. So during my searches I have generally kept the "ideal" cut as a must. Is that wise or would I get a good value and still a very shiney/firey diamond out of the next level down?


Of the sites I have gone to, it seems that UnionDiamond allows for the highest selection and lowest prices (in the searches that I performed, they beat BlueNile in almost every search). Is that commonly true or were my searches just randomly coming out for UnionDiamond?


My current thoughts are to get the best price and best diamond possible, then run that information back to a local dealer and see if they can meet or beat it. Is that a likely scenario?


Finally, are large chain jewelers better to go to for their selection and or discounts or are small jewelers better to go to where they may be able to take more time for you and find better deals (i.e. which place is likely to get me a better deal)?


Thanks for all of your help and advice. I am very happy to have found this website. Now if I could just win the Powerball, this decision making wouldnt be quite so difficult.

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Oops, sorry. Little more to the above novel. I am currently looking at a budget of about $6,500. for the diamond. In all of your expert experiences, what sort of quality diamond over a carat can I expect to see for that? Color, Cut, Clarity, Girdle, Symettry, Polish? Oh, and how important are symettry and polish? Should I require those to be very good or above or are those things I can let slide a little?


Again, thanks for your time and advice.

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That’s all pretty good advice. 1ct plus round brilliant for $6500 is plenty to get a very lovely stone. I-SI1 is statistically the most popular combination in the US, for whatever that’s worth. Personally, I would drop your specs even a bit farther and don’t go so far into debt. Starting out your marriage with an unnecessary debt is almost always a bad idea. You can probably find H-SI1-GIA/AGS-Ideal for about $5500 from the aggressive dealers. Drop to I-SI2-GIA/AGS-Ideal and you’ll save another $1000 or more. If you get into the SI2’s, make sure you have the opportunity to look at the stone. Some are a lot better than others and they are a harder to shop for (which is part of why they’re cheaper).


Finding an online advertisement and then using it to beat up the local jewelers works fairly well but they usually won’t go all the way to matching the price and it’s a little difficult to really compare the cutting between offerings of several different dealers if they are distributed about the country. Expect some shipping costs and appraisal fees associated with looking at more than one stone. Some folks can get it the first time and some will need to look at several stones before they find the one that's right for them. If and how much of a premium you want to pay to get it from a local dealer depends on your shopping style and what you consider important. For some people there’s a lot more to this than just the center diamond while others are just trying to buy a commodity and get on with it. Choose your dealer carefully, whether they are online or on the street and you can save yourself both money and grief. Start with their ‘terms and conditions’ and their refund policies. The ‘education’ areas can also be a good clue. The best dealers give extensive information. If you’ve got friends who have shopped there, ask them how their experience was. In general, the small-medium retailers can do better than the big chains.


Which online dealer ranks the best in the various search engines will depend on who chooses to advertise where. These databases are not free to the dealers and they don’t all choose to be listed in the same places. Some advertise a lot more than others and you will see their material more often. Both of the ones you’ve listed are fine companies and both are big advertisers. You’ll find that several of the guru’s here aren’t advertisers in the database and most of the advertisers make no contribution at all beyond their advertising dollars. Everyone has a link at the bottom of their posts and I encourage you to check out the ones that are contributing. They’re willing to work to earn your business, which is a very good sign. Best of luck in your search. Keep us posted.


Neil Beaty


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My current thoughts are to get the best price and best diamond possible, then run that information back to a local dealer and see if they can meet or beat it. Is that a likely scenario?


This is an effective tactic, but I wouldn't expect them to "meet or beat it" because the local jewelers will have higher overheads than the online jewelers. Also, the local jeweler may not have access to that particular diamond, which means you'd be comparing apples to oranges anyway.


What this does show to the local jeweler is that you're an informed buyer. Bringing in printouts of this and other sites shows that as well. When you demonstrate knowledge upfront, any jeweler will think twice about showing you anything but their best.

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