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Help In Diamond Choice


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Hi Guys,


Having spent the last 3 hours trolling engagement rings, I made the mistake of going to bluenile and playing around with their build your own which has now just confused me even more.


So thought I'd come here for some advice. My budget is about  £1500 ($2300).


I'm torn between purchasing a D color, VVS1 with an ideal cut - smaller diamond, or going for something like an F color, VS1 very good cut but maybe being able to budget for a slightly bigger diamond  I don't want to get a very small diamond if it wouldn't be noticeable to the naked eye anyway.


Looking at other retailers websites I've noticed that a lot selling ready made engagement rings, don't mention things like color / clarity / cut. (I appreciate If I hadn't found a build your own website I'd be none the wiser :rolleyes: )


I've only heard her mention she liked the princess cut. But as I'm planning on it being a surprise as much as I could be doing with her input, I don't want it! lol  If I even hint on what she likes, I think she would guess as it's about time I took the plunge. :D


If someone could help me out on how noticeable differences actually are I'd appreciate it. Is there even much noticeable difference between 0.3 and 0.5 carat? lol





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Hi Gazman,

The oldest trick in the book is to jack up a price so that you can give an apparent discount or have a once-in-a-lifeitme sale.  Don't let that sway you.  Look at the prices on the Diamond Finder on this site and you will know what the stone you ultimately choose should cost you.  The following applies to correctly graded stones with either GIA or AGS grading reports.  As has been discussed on this forum umpteen times, EGL, IGI and other labs have much looser grading standards.   "D" is at the very top of the colorless range and obviously something to strive for if absolute perfection is your goal.  The reality is that most of us cannot distinguish between a D, E, F and even sometimes a well cut G color once the stone is set in a ring and away from the sterile setting of the grading table.  So my first suggestion to you would be to consider a slightly lower color than D.  You will not see any yellow in the stone until you get to I or J, although some people might be able to see color in an H.  In terms of clarity, especially in a smaller stone, you can count on anything SI1 and better being clean to the naked eye.  In larger stones (1 carat and up) I think some SI1 stones can be eye visible, but as you are currently looking at stones in the 1/2 carat range, I think SI1 is perfectly eye clean.  Given this you could purchase a stone in the 0.5 or 0.6ct size for the same money and this would look substantially larger than a 0.3 carat stone.

here is a search for stones in the F/G color range, VS2  with GIA grading reports in the $2000 range: http://www.diamondreview.com/diamonds/?sortOrder=carat&sortDesc=0&fShape=Prin&fCaratLo=0.41&fCaratHi=0.81&fColorLo=F&fColorHi=G&fClarityLo=VS2&fClarityHi=VS2&fCutLo=&fCutHi=poor&fDepthLo=50.0&fDepthHi=80.0&fTableLo=40.0&fTableHi=80.0&fSymLo=&fSymHi=poor&fPolLo=&fPolHi=poor&fCulLo=&fCulHi=vlarge&fFlrLo=&fFlrHi=vstrong&fPriceLo=1414&fPriceHi=2088&fLabGIA=1

I hope this helps.

Edited by GeorgeDI
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Some points that George has not covered in his reply, but that I think are worth bearing in mind:


1. Budget: presumably the number you mentioned includes UK VAT at 20%, and possibly a ring. The simplest decent quality 14k gold solitaire setting is going to be $200 (+ VAT etc. call it £200). Some vendors will charge shipping; on larger purchases it's a drop in the ocean, but on £2000, £100 shipping (pretty normal price) is a large % and may make a difference.


2. Cut quality: It is important (it's what makes a diamond sparkle and shine), yet the vast majority of princess cut diamonds are not graded for cut quality; certainly none with a GIA report are. This means that pretty much any cut "grade" you see attributed to a princess cut is provided by the dealer. It doesn't necessarily make it worthless, but ask probing questions to understand what the "grade" means, and how they attribute it; switch on the BS-o-meter.


3. Vendor: given that there are hundreds if not thousand of stones that fit the bill, finding a vendor that can help you sort the wheat from the chaff is more important than ever. Particularly if cut is important to you, make sure that the vendor can supply more information on the stone than is available on the (GIA) lab report. This ranges from a pair of honest and expert eyes on the stones before proposing them to you, to photos and video (especially if you choose a remote vendor), to reflector images and 3D scans.


4. Size: a 0.50 ct will look larger than a 0.30 ct, but not double. I have taken data for 50 princess cuts* in each size, squared them off and taken the average. The 0.30s averaged 3.8 mm side, the 0,50s 4.4. Visually, this is what it means (assuming you can get the jpg to scale at 100% on your screen; in any case, the relative sizes are correct):




* 0.30-0.35 and 0.50-0.55 G/VS1 none or faint fluorescence GIA/AGS; 50 most expensive stones in either group listed on the Diamond Finder - which presumably means those that vendors consider to be best cut.

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Thanks for the replies guys. You've been very helpful. And thanks for the heads up on Princess shape cut quality. It took me a minute to understand why I couldn't find any princess cuts on Diamond Finder with a cut type choose in the filter.


Would this be a good choice? Again I realize I still need to probe the cut but just to get an idea if there would be anything noticeable with something like this.


If I am purchasing online - What sort of information do I want regarding the cut? I think they could tell me anything and i'd be none the wiser anyway.


Diamond Details

Price -             $1400
Shape -           Princess
Weight -           0.52ct
Grading Lab - GIA
Cut Score -      96.9
Cut Quality--
Clarity -           VS2
Color -             D
Fluorescence -None
Polish  -           Excellent
Symmetry -      Very Good
Size -                4.55 x 4.52 x 3.16 mm
Ratio -              1.00664
Depth -             69.9%
Pavilion Depth--
Table -             73.0%
Girdle -             Medium to Slightly Thick
Crown Height--
Crown Angle--
Pavilion Angle--
Shipping Time   2-3 business days
Edited by gazman
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"Noticeable"? No, but that's because we (including you) have virtually zero information. I - repeat I, me, myself - do not like princess cuts with large tables (say >70%), and this one is such. Enchanted Diamonds seem to do - given they gave the stone a 96.9% score. Ask them what it means and what information they used to derive it; as I said above, switch on your BS-o-meter and ask for evidence (or at least for corroboration from trusted sources) before you accept someone's word. That includes mine, BTW.


As to "what information to ask for", I think there are three parts to the story. What I describe below is the complete story, and unless you really want to become an expert at diamonds you are unlikely to want to go through the whole lot, but you can probably understand the logic behind it, and we are here to help you when there are gaps in your knowledge or understanding.


1. Understand what you are looking at: what is it that makes a diamond attractive? This GIA paper, although originally written about round diamonds, gives a pretty good description of the factors that make diamonds optically interesting objects: http://diamondcut.gia.edu/pdf/cut_fall2004.pdf


You also need to understand what types of analytical tools exist and how to use them (at least in theory). Search for ASET, IdealScope, DiamondXRay and read as much as you can over them. These are small, cheap, portable tools which however can provide quite a bit of information about how a stone is cut; other analytical methodologies involving the use of complex equipment can also be useful - but a. the number of vendors that can and will use them is limited (the equipment is expensive), and b. quite a few of them rely on proprietary and undisclosed "assessment" algorithms that limit their value, since it's not clear what is being measured.


You will likely find some contrasting opinions - including on this forum - about the usefulness of all these techniques and how to interpret results; this is part of the reason why you need step 2.


2. Calibrate your understanding by going out and seeing diamonds. You are not buying - so leave the credit cards at home - you are training. Look for the factors described in the paper in different diamonds, and correlate the appearance of the stones you see to their proportions: do stones with larger tables appear brighter, all else being (roughly) equal? Where can you see the difference? Is there anything else happening when you have a larger table (i.e. a smaller crown)? How does the amount of refracted light ("fire"; rainbow flashes) vary? Do you like one more than the other? Where does the trade off (because there is one) work out best for you?


You need to apply the same type of analytical thinking to the various tools and methods of analysis: what does (say) an ASET image with a lot of blue in it mean for the looks of the diamond? What about no blue? Do you like the "real" diamonds in either case? Which one you like better? What about some blue, but not a lot? What about it being symmetrically or asymmetrically distributed?


Incidentally, the same type of training applies to colour and clarity. You have a rather precise guide to those (especially colour) in a lab report, but without a reference anchored in reality, D, H or W-X mean very little unless you can identify those letters with a real impression of colour and how visible actual inclusions are. D/VS2 (q.v. above) is a fine set of grades, but if you cannot see the difference to H/I1, then why pay for it?


As well as seeing real diamonds, there are a number of websites with high quality video and photo material - this is in my opinion not a replacement for "fieldwork" with real stones, but a. it's useful to augment it and b. if you do end up buying remotely, correlating what you can (cannot) see on a screen with what you can (cannot) see in reality is a useful thing to do, and it helps you not just in assessing what you see but in asking questions about what you would like to see.


Good places to start from for your online exploration: Good Old Gold; Diamonds by Lauren, James Allen, Enchanted Diamonds all have a lot of photographic documentation, in different styles and using different techniques to demonstrate differences between stones. GOG is the most "technically" minded site; DBL has - in my biased opinion - the best images and the broadest variety of stones; JA and ED have the broadest assortment, particularly for colourless diamonds, and their videos/photos are relatively standardised, enabling easier comparisons at least within each site.


3. Once you know what you are seeing and looking for, you can start asking vendors for what information you find most useful to make up your mind. Asking for (say) ASET images without understanding how they correlate with real-life appearance of diamonds is - in my mind - not very productive, and may in fact add to the confusion. Once again, we are here to help.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Any VVS inclusions are by definition very difficult for a trained observer to find under 10x magnification, so no concerns whatsoever other than the effect of VVS on price - which is very easy to find without magnification by any untrained customer.


Cut: see above. One single photo in unknown lighting conditions tells you very little.

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