I would like to commend you for an excellent article you posted online. I am looking for a diamond ring for my Mrs to celebrate our 10th year anniversary but the prices here (in Singapore) are ridiculous.
A pair of 1 TCW earring from XXXXXXXXXX (local store) costs about 15k. As I was pouring through all the online forums, I was already pretty set on BlueNile until I chanced upon your article.
On a separate note, I also came across the software called the Holloway Cut Advisor. It tells us that a diamond’s score should be HCA < 2 and is another factor to consider when buying diamonds online.
Therefore, GIA should include the following information (& this is where I began to lose BN)
Crown Angle: not included (must request)
Pavilion Angle: not included (must request)
Culet: not given as % but as Medium
Well, wish me luck on my journey. Thanks to you, I have 2 other online diamond places to look at. :)
Thanks for your kind words.
You mentioned you are considering a pair of 1 TCW earrings and this got me worried. I hope you understand that total carat weight means the sum of individual smaller diamonds which make up that piece of jewelry. It could be two 0.50 carat diamonds or four 0.25 carat diamonds that make up the earring. Note that the cost of all the smaller diamonds does NOT equal to a 1 carat stone would cost you. They are always much cheaper than a single 1 carat diamond.
HCA advisor is a rejection tool and not a selection tool. If you are buying diamonds online, make sure you view other necessary data like the idealscope/aset. Also, GIA does provide the crown and pavilion angles for round diamonds in their certification report. My guess is that you viewed the diamond listing on the vendor’s page and sometimes, the vendor doesn’t post this information on their site for convenience.
To get you started, follow the step by step guides here.
If you need more help or advice, feel free to ask me any questions.
I have narrowed down my choices to 2 diamonds within my budget:
( The above diamonds had been sold and are no longer listed on JamesAllen.com )
Can you please advise me between the 2? I’m going for a VS1 hoping that inclusions are not visible without 20x magnification & get away with a G as near colorless as possible. Can you advise me on how to pick between these 2 diamonds?
If you think there are some faults that I overlooked, please share them with me. I would really appreciate a fresh perspective.
PS: These JA guys liked every diamond I pick! Ha, go figure…
Thank you! :)
I think you made some good choices here. VS1 is definitely eye clean even if you can see inclusions under the loupe. I tried looking at JA’s inventory with lower clarity grades to see if you missed any other nice diamonds within your budget but couldn’t find a better stone than what you had picked.
So, I would say: Definitely this stone
This has a nicer patterning and will look better than the other stone in terms of optics.
For the other diamond jamesallen.com/diamonds/G-VS1-Excellent-Cut-Round-Diamond-1499633.asp, it has slightly higher crown angles at 36.0. Typically, ideal ranges for crown angles should be about 34.0 – 35.0. A 1 degree angle is a lot in the world of diamonds. In layman’s terms, this would very likely give the diamond a lumpy, top-heavy appearance, and disrupt the balance of fire and brilliance.
Hope this helps,
Thank you for your advice. I have also narrowed down to the same choice, but I went with my gut, (I wasn’t aware of the crown angles playing a role in a diamond’s beauty). Something new I learned today!
There is one other stone I’m looking at, but something about it is bothering me, can you guess?
This diamond is having slight light leakage at the 6-7 o’clock area. That’s not to say this diamond is a train wreck. I would say the majority of diamonds are cut at a level worse than this.
The G colored diamond is still the better choice.
Ya, my sentiments exactly. So all I have to do now is to wait for the Idealscope image for my choice & then it’s the final mile. : )
The only thing other thing about JA is their setting, they are quite passé & my wife only wants the solitaire. So, there’s not much room to play with.
Yep. Just shoot me an email if you have further queries.
I was doing a search for someone else and came across this diamond up for your budget range. I might have missed it earlier.
You might want to consider it after you view the Idealscope for the G colored diamond.
It has a lower clarity grade but still eye-clean nonetheless. Overall, the size is slightly smaller and slightly more expensive. However, it does have a great looking Idealscope image and a nice uniform hearts patterning.
Thanks for the link. I’m still not entirely sure on what to look for in an Idealscope & H&A images…
Look for severe light leakage under the table facet (middle of the stone)
H&A refers to the optical symmetry a round diamond displays. Note that even if a diamond has nice H&A, it doesn’t necessary mean the diamond will display excellent brightness and brilliance. Of course, you will be paying a premium for these diamonds because they are cut very precisely (uses up more rough stone) to achieve this effect.
Check the arrows consistency as well as the hearts patterning consistency.
You can use this as a benchmark to compare other H&A patternings. In the case of this diamond, it has both (great optical symmetry and light performance).
To show you the other end of the spectrum as an example, check out this link: jamesallen.com/diamonds/D-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1475244.asp
This diamond has nice hearts and arrows patterning. However, it is slightly leaky from the Idealscope image. Like I mentioned above, H&A doesn’t necessary equate to better brilliance. In this case, the diamond was cut very precisely to achieve the H&A effect but the proportions it was cut to might not be ideal for light performance.
For another example, click this link: jamesallen.com/diamonds/E-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1483376.asp
The hearts shown are not even in size. Some are slightly smaller and there are also tears in the clefts. Don’t get me wrong, this diamond will still sparkle like crazy. What I am saying here is that if I were nitpicky and paying a premium for optical symmetry, I want the best H&A that I can get.
It really boils down to your personal preference at the end of the day.
Hope this helps,
After thinking hard, I have re-looked my budget; a 1.50 ct diamond in Singapore costs about SGD 35k – so, I’m looking at something between $US9-11k.
This is my new strategy, get a XXX and stick with a round brilliant cut. I would look for a I-J color diamond with SI1 – VS1 clarity. To make my buying decision, I would rely on IS images and the 20X virtual loupe to check the inclusions for eye-cleanliness.
What are your thoughts?
Yep. Local dealers in Singapore are selling diamonds at way overpriced costs.
A Hearts on Fire diamond can cost about 3 times that of James Allen’s Hearts and Arrows. That’s insane considering you can get a similar one at way lower prices online. Other jewelry stores carrying their own in-house brands price their diamonds at 2-3 times over what online stores offer. When I actually view the “branded” diamonds with my idealscope and aset scope in the stores, it seems like the quality control of their diamonds isn’t that good too.
Before I make my comments on your choices, can you tell me your requirements for your diamond? Do you want to max out brilliance? Max out carat weight? What kind of color are you looking at visually? Must it face up white etc?
With regards to clarity, are you ok if the diamond is eye clean even though it is a SI2? I know some people can’t live with a certain amount of inclusions in the diamond even though they can’t see it physically with their eye. For them, it needs to be mind-clean as well.
With these details, I can better answer your queries.
Yes. I am looking to MAX-OUT the brilliance, sparkle, fire, spread etc..
1. Cut,Polish,Symmetry: EX,EX,EX
2. 1.5> HCA <2.0
3. Table: 53% – 61%
4. Depth: 59.2% – 62.9%
5. Crown: 33 – 35.5 deg
6. Pavilion: 40 – 41 deg
I would like it to look to look like a typical 1.5 ct sizing which is around 7.3+ mm.
But something needs to give right? I think clarity is a factor in which I am willing to cut some slack on. As long as it’s eye-clean, I am OK. I know there are some corner inclusions that are considered “prong-able” which would not be visible after being set – I’m still undecided on that.
As for color, if I want it to look totally white, then I have to stick with D – F right? I don’t think I have the budget for stones within the colorless range.
Having said that, I hope to get one that is within the “near colorless range”.
What are your thoughts on getting stronger fluorescence on I & J colored diamonds to make them look whiter?
Where did you get your Idealscope? I should get one too.
Yep to be totally icy white, you need to stay at D-F. That’s for a very sensitive eye and for people who intentionally look out for color when the diamond is mounted on a ring. In my opinion, the average cut-off point where people start to notice very slight yellow tinges is at H color. Many other friends and people whom I had helped purchased diamonds had feedback that they can’t tell the differences.
Most people only start to notice a small difference when a D colored diamond is compared beside an I colored one faced up. You can do this yourself. Simply walk into some local jewelry stores and get them to show you their best cut diamonds with different colors. With that, you can see the differences yourself. Of course, poorly cut diamonds will NOT hide color and are not a fair comparison.
Angles or HCA score wise, you don’t have to be too caught up with them. Even if they deviate slightly, it might still be OK. The Idealscope image is more important.
What are your thoughts on getting stronger fluorescence on with I & J color to make them look whiter?
It’s a good idea as long as you get the in house gemologist to review the diamond for haziness. Medium – strong blue is fine. Personally I love diamonds with fluorescence when they glow blue.
I don’t think you need an idealscope since you can request them from James Allen. Unless you have a huge interest in diamonds or intend to buy lots of diamonds from local stores, you don’t really need the tool. I got mine at around USD $200 for the entire bundle at ideal-scope.com. Individually, I believe it sells for about $60 -$70 (not inclusive of shipping).
Went to watch BATMAN at IMAX Lido, wasn’t too bad actually.
After the movie, we walked across to a nearby shopping mall to check out how a 1.5 ct I or J looks up-close. I was shown a really nice looking 1.54ct H VS2 together with the IS, H&A patterning and ASET (I still need to read up on how a good ASET should look like) images.
The guy knows what’s he is talking about…but the 25k premium is another thing altogether. Then, he tried to upsell their in-house Super Ideal series, which are modified rounds with 91 facets.
I have my reservations about these In-house Super Ideals, True Hearts, Signature Blue etc…I’m only sticking to the GIA / AGS grading.
The 91 facets cut is a branded cut. I believe what the jeweler is referring to is called the Solasfera diamond and they are generally cut to very ideal light performances. Undoubtedly, branded diamonds will be more expensive. Choosing the type of diamonds to buy ultimately boils down to your own personal preferences. There are people who are willing to pay a slightly higher premium to get that different look in their diamonds.
For fanciful names, I had written some articles that cover them. You might be interested to read the following article.
Great timing, the IS images just came in early this morning.
I would appreciate your feedback.
Subtle variations in the idealscope data
Wow… that’s a very tough call. Were these diamonds the same ones that you showed me in your links in earlier correspondences?
Anyways, I don’t think that to an untrained eye, these diamonds would look significantly different. But if I were to make a call based just on idealscope images alone, the 3rd stone should be the one I would pick.
When it comes to similar looking IS images, you should consider what the in-house gemologist had said since he would be the one making the physical examination under different light conditions and can advice you on the stone’s eye cleanliness. (pick the best out of these candies)
If all these diamonds are priced around the same, go for the one that has biggest carat with the best color.
In my excitement, I forgot to tell you that the diamonds have changed, but the IS images are for final few stones that I had shortlisted. I’m curious to know why you’d choose the 3rd one, it appears more leaky than that other 2.
I looked at the images before reading the e-mail & I chose 2nd one, not by science, but just the way it looked. The gemologist chose the same, citing “having best light performance, featuring excellent fire, brilliance, and scintillation as well as superior polish”
But it’s not the biggest carat, that would have been the 1st stone, but its on the higher side of my budget.
When I viewed these 3 is, I have no information or details on the diamonds. So, the call was just based on idealscope alone. For 3rd, it appears that the diamond has tighter cut proportions and symmetry. Because the arrows patterning is more even. But I need to emphasize the point that best optical symmetry does not equate to best brilliance. Like I said earlier, it’s a tough call. These are all great looking stones in their own rights.
The 2nd stone has more dark spots (or patches of black). That helps a lot in scintillation. The pattern of brilliance would be slightly different from the 3rd diamond (longer lower girdle facets). The 3rd stone will give slightly broader flashes of light but less in quantity. The 2nd should give slightly smaller flashes of light but has more in quantity. Note: This difference is very subtle or you can just say I am trying to split hairs now. : )
Based on my past experiences, the kind of idealscope images for the 2nd stone usually mean that the diamond has more spread (due to shallower depth probably around 58s%-60% and/or lower crown angles). Bigger spread means the diamond has a slightly bigger physical dimension for its carat weight. I think you can test this out yourself. Go look for other diamonds cut to same exact carat weight and similar cut. You can compare the physical mm dimensions.
Anyway, spread is a good thing as long as brilliance is not affected.
If all things being equal, go for the one with largest carat weight (biggest physical dimension)! This is really what women care about most. In your case, the gemologist has indicated that 2nd stone is brightest, I am guessing that it should have more spread. Higher spread + good optics? I think you’ve got a winner here.
Could you post the links to the stones so that I could see the color grades as well as certification for the diamonds?
You are absolutely right! It was my mistake for not updating you on the changes I made & can’t expect you to give an informed decision considering the lack of information ;)
Anyway here is the info you asked for.
It’s a JA, Item #: 1500377
Sorry for the delay…too caught up in the excitement!. Tell me again what you think :)
Ok. Everything looks in order. No surprises there from the GIA certificate. It’s going to be a nice diamond.
Anyways, I just checked the diamond on JA as well. It’s no longer available. I hope you are the guy who made the purchase and not someone else.
Yes, it’s me! They told me they will ship out on the 10th, how long does it usually take to reach SG & clear customs?
Couple of days more for the Goods Service Tax (GST) as well?
Anyhow, thanks again Paul for your sharing your journey. I have learnt alot from it. Once the ring comes in I will send you an picture, although I doubt my iphone can do it any justice!
Probably about 4-5 working days.
Customs is cleared automatically. Fedex will pay the Goods Service Tax on your behalf to expedite delivery in Singapore. 2-3 weeks after you receive your ring, Fedex will send you an invoice to bill you the GST they paid for you earlier.
Do let me know what you think when you see the diamond ring. Yes. A picture would be very nice.
The ring was shipped over the weekend & should be delivered by Friday.
Can you share the appraisal process? How much is the fee & what I questions I should be asking? I should not be sharing the GIA report right?
I am assuming that what you are concerned about getting your ring authenticated for the 4C’s. For an appraisal for insurance purposes, I believe James Allen would have provided you with the necessary documentation when you receive the ring.
Bring your GIA/AGS cert along. Let the appraiser do his job on grading your diamond (they will write down their findings on a piece of paper very similar to what you see on a typical grading report) before you show them your cert and compare the results against your diamond grading report (results for mounted rings might have slight discrepancies).
And yes, you can see him/her work on your diamond in sight. If you are really busy, you can leave your ring with them and pick it back up after they are done. They won’t try to swap out your diamond.
The kind of questions that you might want to ask during the appraisal would be: Is the diamond set properly? Does the diamond match the official grading report so that you know you are getting the correct stone? If there are slight discrepancies in his/her grading against your GIA cert, ask the appraiser why.
There are many reasons for this especially on mounted diamonds; for example, the inclusions could be hidden under a prong when set and the appraiser might not be able to locate them. You might want to ask the appraiser about his opinion on the cut of your stone. How does it fare with other diamonds he had seen? What do you think the value of the diamond is?
These will set your mind at ease.
Amongst the 3 that I had used before, I would recommend NGI as they are cheapest.
You should call in to verify the cost of appraisal and make an appointment because they can get really busy. I believe they charge by carat weight of your diamond. For carat weights of 1 – 1.5 I think the charge is $40 SGD without a written report. If you need a written certification from the lab, the cost is doubled. You really don’t need it. The GIA/AGS report is what really matters.
Let me know how things go.
James Allen’s package is a cool black and flattering design
1.52 carat round diamond
A great nice hand shot
Getting a close face up view of the sparkly diamond