Jump to content

Comparing diamonds


Recommended Posts

I'm not limiting myself to these just yet, but I am heavily debating the local jeweler vs. online jeweler thing right now.


I have a few diamonds from one of my local jeweler options right now, and they are slightly more expensive than online stores, but have the added security of warranties, etc.


I should mention that these are all lab reported by EGL, and I am familiar with GIA and the fact that GIA is slightly more conservative on the whole. I took all of this information from the lab reports at the store. All of the diamonds are round. Price includes ring and setting.


So here they are:


Diamond A - 5.19x5.16x3.42

.58 carat, SI2

color - G

Depth - 66%

Table - 56%

Crown - 16.4

Pavillion - 44

Girdle - Slightly thick to thick

Polish and symmetry - good

FL - none




Diamond B - 5.41x5.39x3.2

.58 carat, SI2

color - E

Depth - 59.3%

Table - 61%

Crown - 13

Pavillion - 42

Girdle - Medium to Slightly thick

Polish and Symmetry - Very Good

FL - none


also $1799


My limited research and understanding tells me that this diamond is a much better deal than A, but feedback is appreciated. And then there is:



Diamond C - 5.46x5.40x3.35

.61 carat, SI2

color - G

Depth - 61.7%

Table - 57%

Crown - 13.3

Pavillion - 43.5

Girdle - Medium to Slightly thick

Polish & Symmetry - Good

FL - none





Finally, is it acceptable or expected to ask for a lower price from a B&M jeweler? I've read that it's sort of like buying a car and that you can always haggle. I'm obviously very inexperienced in this field!



I've already found lots on this website and forum helpful and appreciate in advance any help that anyone can offer me here. I will be going to other jewelers, too, so I'm sure my search is not done yet with these three!


Thanks again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've really seen how much more of a diamond I can get with Blue Nile or McGivern online -- probably .10 of a carat or more bigger for the same price (not to mention other important ratings).


Something I really don't like about local stores -- they just have 5 categories and every category has its own price. No matter how diamonds vary, if they are in that particular category because of the range of their ratings, they are exactly the same price. So no matter what, I know that unless the diamond I get is rated tops in every particular way in the particular category, I should be able to get a better diamond for the same price. Gah!


My biggest worry now is warranty/insurance and the ability to have the ring cleaned/serviced locally. Is that what you mean when you say that price is not always the prime cosideration? For instance, how much will it be to service/clean/fix a ring locally with a jeweler from whom I did NOT buy the ring? As long as it's not crazy, I'm really thinking of going online for my purchase. I've seen that in my price range, insurance won't be much (does $30 a year for a $2500 ring sound right?), so that's not a big concern.



Thank you for your resonse and help :blink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I'm not sure how far along you are in educating yourself about diamonds, but I have been in a similar situation recently (trying to catch up and learn about diamonds quickly), so I thought I'd share what I've learned. Please forgive me if you already know some of these things.


I've really seen how much more of a diamond I can get with Blue Nile or McGivern online -- probably .10 of a carat or more bigger for the same price (not to mention other important ratings).


It's easy to look at a certificate of an online diamond and see carat, color, and clarity, and have a basic idea of what you're dealing with.


however, cut (which translates to light performance, brilliance, fire) is much harder to really understand just by looking at the lab certificates. Cut is often said to be the most important of the 4 C's, and after a recent comparison shopping trip to a local mall (I just wanted to see what different stones looked like), I absolutely believe it.


The thing you might be missing about the diamonds you're seeing online for .7 carat around $1500-$2000, is that the cut may not be that great and provide poor or mediocre light performance, regardless of what the diamond certificate says about polish etc. Just by looking at the certificate, you don't really know. So be aware of that.


Do some more comparison shopping, perhaps even go into the fancy local jeweller and ask to see his best cut diamonds, just so you can see what cut can do with light. perhaps ask to compare them to some cheaper diamonds. keep in mind some jeweler's best cut diamonds are still very mediocre (I'm thinking of my experience with a few mall chain stores, the diamonds were bigger for my money but kind of junky, a bit dull). i've also noticed that some higher end stores only carry well cut diamonds, so doing a comparison can be hard. but the difference of light performance should be pretty obvious to the eye.


After I saw a Hearts of Fire (it's a high quality cut brand of diamond) at a local jeweller (for $3000 for a 0.5ct :blink:), I started checking out what are called "hearts and arrows" diamonds. It's a type of round cut, many of which are sold as premium cut diamonds with the idea that they are cut with a very high criteria designed for symmetry and brilliance. A few popular brands of these diamonds that are available online are superbcert, "a cut above" also known as ACA (whiteflash.com), and goodoldgold.com, to name a few. I'm sure there are others.


One tool that is used to view a diamond's capacity to return light well is the idealscope. Many internet vendors provide idealscope images to aid you in the evaluation of a stone. Might want to search on that and understand what information an idealscope picture can tell you. There is a pretty good video tutorial on whiteflash's website (http://www.whiteflash.com/diamond-education/diamond_knowledgebase.aspx) on cut evaluation and the idealscope.


Here's another link you may find interesting for evalutating cut numbers: Like any diamond calculator, i'm sure there are caveats here, however, it may make you more wary of a diamond you might be considering that has strange proportions. I punched in a couple of the diamonds you posted above, some seemed better than others. Of course, if you were comparing them together in person, you should listen to what your eyes tell you.


for the premium hearts and arrows cuts online, you're probably looking at $1,400 to $2,500 for a 0.5-0.58 ct., depending on color, clarity, how close to absolute perfection the cut is, and where you find it. these diamonds obviously carry a premium, but it may be worth it. it may help to at least know there is an attempt being made by the retailer to separate the winners from the dogs for you.


that all being said, you don't neccessarily have to go that route with cut. it's up to you. there are other ways a round diamond can be cut other than hearts and arrows.


there are also diamonds out there that have obviously imperfect symmetry, but look brilliant nonetheless (so I hear). that can be a hit and miss. idealscope pictures seem to be a good tool to see how much light is leaking from a diamond and what the cut symmetry is like.


lastly, if you are considering buying online, you should know the difference between drop shipped diamonds and retailers who have the product in-house.


just trying to suggest a few research directions and additional things you may want to consider. I have no affiliations with the companies mentioned, i'm a newbie diamond guy trying to help another newbie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Buy the diamond, not the price.


"numbers" on a grading report are not predictive of visual beauty. Keep in mind that she is going to wear the diamond, not the GIA, AGS, etc. report on her finger.


On-line vendors access the same "virtual diamond" (VD) databases as the B&M jewelers.


The key differences between on-line vendors is this:


1. The majority of on-line diamond website vendors do not know diamonds,


2. The diamond is directly drop-shipped to you from the manufacturer. The website you're dealing takes your money but never sees the diamond. If the diamond has problems, you are on your own. Who are you going to ask for help? The website vendor who has never seen the diamond?


Treat your diamond buying in the same way you would when buying a Home or Car.

Work with a vendor that either has the diamond in-house, or if this diamond is on a Virtual List, can call the manufacturer to have the diamond shipped in and then do a complete examination for you that will include photo's, cut quality analysis, and measurements of light performance.


Get as much information as possible before you put your money down. Knowledge is the power to make an informed decision.


Good Luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would definitely check out Barry's selection in well cut rounds.


Great points about drop shippers not understanding what they are selling.

Of course the fact the drop ship sellers don't even see the diamond must make for some interesting sales conversations.

Buyer: "How does the diamond look"

Drop ship seller: "Based on the numbers it is likely very attractive"


slostik- the term "light performance" is abused all the time.

What difference does it make what a laser beam shot into a diamond does?

A Fancy Vivid Yellow returns only a fraction of the light a D does ...is it less attractive?


An Emerald cut performs like junk on these machines. So what?

Same goes for how a round diamond performs.

We've seen far too any awesome looking diamonds that score poorly on machines based on "Light performance"

All due respect to all the machines like an ideal-scope- some of which Barry utilizes- neither he nor I need a machine to tell us if a diamond is well cut.

No matter how many idealscopebrilliancescopesarinheartsandarrowsveiwer results are offered to me, I'm not putting my money down without a visual inspection.



As far as "Cut Advisers" that you plug numbers into: Waste of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

slostik- the term "light performance" is abused all the time.

What difference does it make what a laser beam shot into a diamond does?

A Fancy Vivid Yellow returns only a fraction of the light a D does ...is it less attractive?


Thank you for your post, David. I didn't intend the term 'light performance' in the way you're suggesting. I was really speaking to something qualified by the eye, and simply noting that this is something not communicated by a certificate alone. That's all. This is obvious to you, a diamond vendor, but not neccessarily obvious to a fresh consumer (me). I made no mention of brilliancescopes or laser beams etc.


With regards to idealscope, I was simply saying that it may provide additional information about brilliant rounds. I wasn't suggesting he use it alone to buy a diamond. And even if it was as frivilous of an instrument as you seem to be suggesting, it really demonstrated to me, a newbie consumer, how very different individual diamonds are, which in itself is a valuable lesson in my education. Again, something obvious to a diamond vendor, something not so obvious to a fresh consumer. But if you object to my statement that an idealscope may be "used to view a diamond's capacity to return light well", then it's surely noted. I'm simply regurgitating information from websites and vendor postings that seemed to be in agreement, and that I thought were reputable. Obviously there is some disagreement in the profession about this.


All due respect to all the machines like an ideal-scope- some of which Barry utilizes- neither he nor I need a machine to tell us if a diamond is well cut.

Sure, but you're the vendor holding all the rocks. I'm the consumer trying to pick candidates for inspection off an internet list filled with options. And I absolutely don't mean that as a jab. It's a real issue for the consumer. How does one choose candidates for visual inspection if an idealscope image is worthless, the dimension info is a waste of time, and the diamond certificate means little? I can't have a dealer send 50 diamonds to my house for me to comb over. i need to use something to narrow the field down of brilliant rounds. i welcome any input or suggestions you might have on that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Great responses from everyone. Thank you everyone for your input.


It's been a tough task trying to educate myself in this field. I've seen a all of the local jewelers' offerings. Unfortunately I don't have many to look at since I'm from a small area. And those jewelers don't have a large selection, either. I did see some Hearts of (on?) Fire diamonds at one particular jeweler. This was the jeweler that I felt most comfortable with -- in fact the only one with which I felt comfortable with.


I am pretty sure that I am willing to sacrifice a little by moving down to the second category from HoF because it doesn't sacrifice a lot of overall beauty (if any to my eye) and I can get a larger diamond.


I just hate their diamonds are categorized in just 5 ranges and in their 2nd best category, for instance, it's only guaranteed to be "at least an SI2." That means a diamond COULD be better than that (and better in other categories) with the same price if the ratings all fall within that range. But, since they only have on hand what they have on hand, I'm not getting that better diamond for what would have been the same price. Also, in the category in which I'm looking, prices go from $1799 to $2299 based on carat categories 5/8 to 3/4. But I could be getting the lower end as far as carat size that is "3/4" (say .69) which really isn't much bigger than a "5/8" (say .65). Is it acceptable/expected that I would ask for a better price from a local store? Do most stores with small inventories have other diamonds that they could order for me that would have better ratings ?


Also -- good advice as far as the online dealers goes. Does anyone have much experience with McGivern's? (overnightdiamonds.com)


They are technically not online, as you have to call to place an order, and they have a B&M store from which you're actually ordering. They are just a wholesaler (correct term?) and will compare diamonds for you to make personal recommendations. I helped my father buy a diamond from there before and they were quite helpful. Again, though, I'm not super-experienced in this field. They do have a BBB endorsement for what that's worth, and you also can speak directly with the owner (Mike McGivern) when calling in and placing an order. I understand if it's not really something that is discussed on these forums (comparing stores, recommending stores, etc.).


I've gone back and forth on the local vs. online purchase options and I'm back in the middle again.


Thank you again slotstick, diamondsbylauren, and barry. Your help is appreciated! I'll be trying to figure this out somewhat soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can you tell us more about your dealers ‘categories’? The ‘good-better-best’ approach is kind of an unusual way to be selling diamonds because most customers are interested in being more specific about which areas they are willing to pay extra for and which areas they aren’t. I've never heard of a store that uses the approach you describe because not everyone has the same idea of what is ‘best’. For example, there’s plenty of people who would go for a knockout cutting job on a SI-1 J over a similar sized commercial cut VVS-2 E even if they were the same price. Others wouldn't even consider a J color. In practice, the E is likely to be considerably more expensive, even with a premium for the cutting on the J, so which is better? The whiter one - the brighter one - the cheaper one - the bigger one - something else entirely? It depends on what you are looking for.


I’m highly suspicious that these 5 'categories' are not being presented for your best interest .


Neil Beaty


Professional Appraisals in Denver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David, my friend and colleague;


No offense taken. Your straightforward approach is welcome and refreshing.


I understand and respect your position on these techno-gizmos and agree with you that there is no substitute for actually seeing and visually comparing diamonds. That is really the best way to make a purchase decision.


The question is, however, what method(s) can an Internet vendor use to "visually" connect with Internet consumers on the other end of the screen?


IMO; photo's, light performance analyzed by Brilliancescope, Cut analysis via Sarin or Megascope reports provide valuable information above and beyond the lab grading report. We believe this is important and necessary information and provide this on our website.


Of course, there are diamonds such as Fancy colors and fancy shapes such as Oval, Marquise, Pear, Heart that because of their irregular architecture and myriad ways for the cutter to bring out beauty do not always lend themselves to accurate or meaningful interpretation by these machines. For such diamonds human expertise/diamond experience of the vendor, such as is provided by you to your clients is a must.


This is why we agree that Virtual Diamond (VD) databases and drop-shipping leaves much to be desired. A product, diamond, that is visual and whose beauty can not be predicted solely off "numbers" on the grading report, requires the human element and expertise of the Diamond Vendor so that the purchasing power of the consumer is maximized.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I'm glad that I'm not the only one who doesn't like this approach. I know just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to diamonds, but I've taken the time to learn a lot more than I did. While shopping at the store, I feel like I'm not getting to use all of that knowledge because of their limited selection and categorization.


Here are the vague characteristics quoted directly from the website of the 5 categories at the store (leaving out the pointless advertising words) :


Hearts on Fire Diamond: The ideal ideal-cut diamond, the world's most perfectly cut diamond


Eternal Light Diamond: Clarity VS (minimum), Color G-H (min), Perfectly cut - certified ideal cut,


Pollack Diamond (name of the store owner): Each diamond independently certified for color, cut, clarity, and carat. Maximum light performance for brilliance and sparkle.


Premium Quality Diamond: Color I-J (min), Clarity SI (min)


Value Diamond: Nothing really specified



No matter what the specific ratings in a particular C category is, if a diamond in the Eternal Light range is, say, 5/8ths of a carat, it is listed as $1799. One might be an F, one might be an H, with all other ratings identical, still the same price.


I understand the worry of buying online, but with such a limited selection locally, I really am considering it strongly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I presume each stone is priced individually so you can really pretty much ignore those categories. If they end up not having what you want, that’s their problem. The key is to decide what you like and, consequently, what you are willing to pay for. The big missing ‘C’ is cut and you need to decide how it fits into your plan. HoF is a pretty nice brand and they charge a handsome premium for their cutting. ‘The world’s most perfectly cut diamond’ is an annoying bit of puffery but they usually are pretty good. Do you like them? Don’t let the price bug you, just look at the rock. Ask to see an HoF and compare it with a similarly size/color of Pollack diamond (the one that claims ‘maximum light performance’). Can you see the difference? Do you like it? If you can do it, look at the stones in several different lights. Most stores have rather bright lights over the showcases and other areas of the store that are much more diffused, like out in the middle of the floor. Ask the salesperson to show them to you in a couple of different places. If it’s the kind of store where it’s appropriate, you might even what to go with them out into the parking lot for a view in direct sunlight but obviously some stores can’t reasonably arrange this.


Diamond shopping is a frustrating exercise in compromise for almost everyone. Most people start out wanting something like a super-ideal cut, 2ct. D-IF because she’s worth it and then they get a nasty reality check when they see the price. This is where the compromise begins. What they really want is the ‘best’ diamond to fit within a particular budget. Spend more on cutting, size or whatever and it must come out of something else. That’s why it’s important to learn what elements you value more than others. SOMETHING has got to give.


My wife wears a commercial cut 1.12 H-SI2. I bought it as a ‘certified’ premium cut G-SI2 from a 2nd tier lab and I got a pretty good deal on it. Today that would cost about $4200 online from one of those Virtual Dealers that Barry is picking on (with good reason by the way). At the time, size was pretty important to me and I was under a tight budget. Jewelers don’t make nearly as much money as people think but it’s kind of an embarrassment if your wife doesn’t have a decent sized rock when you're in the business. We’re perfectly happy with it but, if I were to do it over again, I wouldn’t take the same approach. I would aim for a super premium type cut on a correctly graded J-SI2. If I could, I would probably move up to SI1 because what I have does have an eye visible inclusion under close inspection, especially when it’s dirty and she gets self conscious about it when people ask to see her ring. Mind you, no one ever sees it because they don’t know what to look for, but she knows, and that’s enough.


This would put me looking for something like super-ideal cut, 1.00 J-SI1. That’s a pretty tough order and it would almost certainly cost more than my budget even if I could find it. This means either I would need to drop the size, raise the budget or compromise again. This is where it get’s hard. Back to SI2. That’ll help but I’m still going to be over budget. Dare I go to K? Possibly, but in practice I’m now describing a completely impossible stone. If it doesn't exist, who cares what it theoretically costs? I-1 (or SI-3 as EGL calls it)? Ick. I already count SI-2 as a compromise and that’s definitely stepping off the cliff for me. That leaves as the choice to drop under a carat or raise the budget. It’s a tough call, but I would probably bump the budget. At least another $1500 would be required to get what I want and we’re still talking about a pretty difficult stone to find. That's quite a bit and if I decided couldn’t swing that, dropping to the 0.80-0.90ct range would probably do the trick. I could stay with the budget, and I might even be able to get the c&c back up towards that G/H-SI1 range, which is where I really wanted to be before I started all this compromising anyway.


You’re criteria are going to be different from mine, but that’s an example of the logic stream that ends up where you want to be. That's why it helps to understand the tradeoffs. It helps a lot to work with a dealer who thinks the way you do and can guide you through this process. We aren't all looking for the same things after all.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great input, thank you.


I've decided that while I want a size in the .6 carat range, the most important thing to me is the sparkle, not the size. That means that I really should go for a very well-cut diamond, if I understand your input correctly. I wish I could go larger, but I have a certain budget that unfortunately I cannot change. :(


I've found a diamond on BlueNile, GIA reported, that is a .65, Very Good cut, F color, SI1, no culet, no fluorescence, very good symmetry, excellent polish, with a depth and table % in a very good range. With the ring, it's $1919. Compare that to the prices offered on the lesser diamonds above and you can probably understand my dilemma.




Also, I should have put my concern about my local store more concisely -- no, each stone is not individually priced. If it's a 5/8ths carat in the Pollack category, it's $1799. Of course a 5/8ths carat could be within a certain range, too, and most are on the lower end I'm sure. Exactly 5/8ths is .625, yet a .58 still qualifies as 5/8ths. Other ratings could vary amongst stones as the Pollack requirements allow too, but the price is the same.


I'm wondering if I could explain my minimum requirements to the jeweler -- if I could get within $100 of the price of the BlueNile that I desribed above (before tax) I'd definitely go local. They also offer lifetime cleaning, repair, etc. for free, so there is that security that they can offer that online jewelers obviously cannot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The category thing would probably be enough to make me walk away. You are surely right that those ranges mean stones that are at or near the minimum specs. Depending on who did the grading, they might even be below. That’s fine if those are the specs you’re looking for but otherwise, look elsewhere. Buying from the right jeweler definitely adds value. I’m a big fan of going local when you can arrange it but this rule applies when you compare the internet dealers with each other as well. They aren’t all the same. Personally I think ithe difference is worth a fair amount more than $100 but this depends on what you consider to be important. Matching BN pricing isn’t out of the question but it’s difficult for most jewelry stores but the most important step it get what you want. The right price on the wrong diamond doesn’t do you a bit of good.


The GIA cut grade of ‘very good’ has some terrific stones in it but it also contains some that I count as pretty marginal. Stick with GIA-excellent or AGS-Ideal or be prepared to work a little bit at sorting out the wheat from the chaff.


By the way, I edited my last post quite a bit. It seemed better than trying to divide that whole story into two separate posts.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...