Ever since Beyond4Cs.com was launched, I always receive questions related to diamond prices from readers who are worried about getting ripped off. Whether you are buying or selling a diamond, I’m pretty sure your budget is a huge consideration factor that drives your decision making.
And if you are like most people, you probably want the best value out of your money and avoid overpaying for an engagement ring purchase. Well today I’m going show you exactly how to perform price research in a few easy steps. This will ensure you are paying the correct price for any diamond purchase you intend to make.
You ready? Let’s do this…
Before I delve deeper into the pricing mechanisms and variables, here’s an important concept you need to understand first. The cost of a diamond is calculated on a “price per carat” basis and utilizes the following formula:
Cost = Carat Weight x Diamond Price Per Carat
As an example, let’s assume that the price per carat for a 0.50 round brilliant diamond is $4,200. The calculated cost for the stone would be $2,100 (0.50 x $4,200). If the diamond price per carat for a 0.74 carat round brilliant cut is $7,100, the corresponding diamond cost would be $5,325.00 (0.74 x $7,100).
For most people, the theoretical concept behind calculating the cost of a diamond is just a simple math exercise.
I know you are probably thinking: “How do I get hold of reliable price per carat figures?”. Well, the most widely used price sheets in the industry originate from Rapaport and IDEX. In the past, these information were exclusively available only to members of the trade but that has since changed. Today, there’s an option to purchase the current price list (weekly) at a one-off cost of $50.00 if you want to.
A typical price sheet which indicates diamond prices per carat (in hundreds USD).
Now, you might assume that downloading the price list is all you need to do and you can easily calculate a diamond’s price from the data. However, things aren’t that straightforward in the real world.
From a consumer’s point of view, the values listed in the Rapaport report are totally useless because it represents the average of HIGH CASH asking prices when diamonds are traded. Depending on its unique characteristics, a diamond can be sold at significantly lower or higher prices indicated by its corresponding Rap value.
Unknown to many unsuspecting consumers, the Rap report does not take into account how well-cut the diamond is, the grading lab certifying the diamond, payment terms, grading accuracy, fluorescence and a ton of other factors which all result in price adjustments from the Rap value.
That’s why you need to tread carefully…
If you had been shopping at your local jewelry stores, you would probably come across dealers who showed you a printed copy of the Rapaport report as part of their sales presentations. Basically, these dealers are using the price sheet as a misleading sales tool to “prove” that they are giving you an “awesome deal“.
They will say stuff like: “Look… This is the insider’s industry pricing benchmark that I’m revealing to you now. You are actually paying for 15% below the wholesale diamond prices…” or even “I’m going to take a slight loss and give you a 20% discount below Rap pricing if you buy the diamond today…”
Again, I want to emphasize that the Rapaport report reflects the HIGH cash value of diamonds and this is a major pitfall for consumers who blindly believe what the jewelers say. If you intend to use the Rapaport report as a standalone tool to gauge prices or are foolish enough to make a purchase without knowing full details, you are asking to be ripped off.
My advice is: STAY AWAY from the Rapaport report unless you are extremely familiar with the premiums and discounts that are used to calculate a diamond’s market value.
First of all, it is easier and more accurate to perform price comparisons by using online diamond retail listings. I personally recommend using websites like Blue Nile, James Allen and White Flash to help you establish a “base cost” for similar diamonds of certain specifications.
By inputting various parameters into the James Allen diamond selection tool, you can instantly get a rough idea of loose diamond prices. In the image above, the following variables were used: 1 carat, round cut, F color, VS2 clarity, no fluorescence, excellent polish and excellent symmetry.
Imagine if you were quoted a price of $13,200 for a similar loose diamond graded by GIA, you can easily see how much premiums you are paying. On the other hand, if someone offers you a loose diamond with identical specifications at a price of $7,000, you better put on your skepticism cap and find out why the price is so low.
Secondly, you need to ensure you are making “apples to apples” comparisons. When making comparisons, you need to eliminate as many differentiators as possible. i.e. In order to make fair comparisons, the 4Cs (cut, carat, clarity and color) of diamonds you select should all have identical qualities.
To further illustrate the point, a diamond graded as H color VS1 by EGL is NOT the same as a diamond graded by GIA as a H color VS1. Likewise, a diamond with carat weight of 1.09 shouldn’t be considered to be the same as a diamond with a weight of 1.10 carats.
Once you have a common denominator to benchmark prices with, you will now have a good starting point to help you gauge whether deals are fair or not. And this is where things start to get a little tricky…
Remember that I told you things aren’t straightforward when it comes to establishing diamond prices in real life? On paper, diamonds can look similar based on numbers and information found in a grading report. Yet, they can vary wildly in actual retail prices.
Check out the following table of 1 carat diamond prices for three identical round brilliant cuts. For your convenience, you can view detailed information for each of the listings here: Diamond#1, Diamond#2 and Diamond#3.
Notice how one diamond is about 20% more expensive than the other 2 options? If you blindly follow the values found in the Rap report, all 3 diamonds should theoretically be priced the same but they aren’t. Why? The reasons become clearer once you start looking at details…
The more expensive diamond is eye-clean while the 2 cheaper options aren’t. Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many times, factors that cause price adjustments aren’t obvious and don’t show up on grading reports. That’s why I’m going to reveal these factors in the next section below…
1) Is there a presence of fluorescence? In general, blue fluorescence lowers the value of colorless (D-F) diamonds. In near-colorless (G-J) diamonds, medium to strong blue fluorescence can actually add a slight premium to the stones. Other colors of fluorescence like yellow or green will cause the diamond to trade at a discounted price. Likewise, if the fluorescence effect causes the diamond to take up a milky appearance, the diamond’s overall value takes a hit too.
2) What are the polish and symmetry grades? Obviously, a diamond with “excellent” ratings would cost more than a similar diamond with “very good” ratings.
3) How precise was the diamond cut? I’m not talking about the Symmetry rating found in the grading report. Instead, I’m referring to the diamond’s optical symmetry (hearts and arrows patterning) which is a level higher than the typical Symmetry grading performed by GIA/AGS.
Both diamonds have AGS 000 ratings but exhibit various levels of optical precision.
A hearts and arrows diamond (commonly called a superideal) requires an extreme cut precision for each individual facet and their relative alignments to each other. To achieve this, it involves higher labor costs for skilled polishers and more weight loss from the rough during manufacturing. Logically, these diamonds sell at a slightly higher premium.
4) Is the diamond eye-clean? If inclusions are visible to the naked eye, it is going to affect its marketability and ultimately, its price.
5) What is the nature of the diamond’s inclusions? Do the clouds cause haziness in the diamond? Are the feather inclusions surface reaching? Do inclusions like cavities or indented naturals pose a significant risk to durability? Are the inclusions colored or translucent? The list of examples can go on for pages but I think you get the idea…
6) Does the diamond has a culet? Even though stones with culets are a thing of the past, you may occasionally come across modern day diamonds with culets.
7) What’s the girdle thickness of the diamond? The girdle has a direct impact on a diamond’s spread and durability. If it is too thick, the weight of the stone gets trapped in the side profile and the diamond faces up smaller. If the girdle is too thin, it makes the diamond susceptible to chipping.
8) What’s the color tint/hue of the diamond? GIA will only indicate the diamond’s tint in their reports at color grades lower than K. Although the tint isn’t listed for higher colored diamonds, the stone’s value can be significantly affected. For example, in G colored diamonds, brownish and greyish hues are less desirable than yellowish tints. You can find more details about this phenomenon here.
9) Are the grading reports from reliable labs like GIA/AGS or unreliable labs like EGL/IGI? Grading labs are not made equal and you shouldn’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
1) What are the kind of policies or warranties the jeweler offers? Do they offer buy-back or trade up policies? Do they offer free repairs, ring resizing or jewelry warranties? These value-added services cost businesses time and money and are usually factored into the markup of the goods sold.
For example, White Flash offers a lifetime upgrade policy where you have the choice of upgrading your diamond as long as it costs $1 more. This is unheard of in the industry as other businesses require you to double your spending. Interestingly, they also offer the most competitive prices you can find anywhere for high performance diamonds despite offering some of the best policies in the industry.
2) Where are you based at? Different countries/states will have different laws and sales taxes applicable for consumer goods. For example, prices of diamonds are generally higher in the UK than US due to VAT. When you calculate prices, make sure you factor in any duty fees and taxes that are payable.
3) What are the kind of markups the jeweler charges? Prices can vary wildly depending on where you purchase them. In general, you can expect to pay 2 times more for a similar diamond at big brand stores like Tiffany and Co. or Cartier.
For local jewelers and chain stores, I tend to see premiums ranging from 10% – 100% above Internet prices. Basically, the additional premiums you are paying for are due to additional overheads like rental, salary, inventory and marketing costs. As a guideline, if a retail store lists their diamonds at more than 10-15% of a similar stone you can find online, you know are paying an excessive premium to buy from that jeweler.
For people who are looking for a magical mathematical formula to calculate prices, I’m sorry to tell you it doesn’t exist. The truth is, diamond pricing is a very complex subject which involves many variables.
As a consumer, the easiest way to size up a deal is to compare online diamond prices against numbers that were quoted to you. Don’t drink the Rapaport price sheet kool-aid that vendors throw at you because it is done for a self serving purpose which usually benefits the vendor. Instead, you can instantly look up prices on the Internet and verify if the sales person is legit or full of BS.
The next time you notice that a deal is too good to be true, look through the list of factors above carefully. I can assure you that one or more of the above scenarios will be applicable. Remember, when it comes to buying diamonds, great deals don’t exist but fair ones do.
It’s in the news! De Beers has recently lowered rough diamond prices in order to better control the flow of supply into the bad economy. I’m doing research on a paper and would love to know where I can find historical diamond prices or charts. Would you be able to offer any help on this issue?
You can purchase the historical price charts at Rapaport: http://www.diamonds.net/Prices/. If it helps, they also have a handy diamond value calculator and categorize the information by months and years; i.e. 2014, 2015, 2016 etc…
The oldest date that you can go back to is 1978.
Since the early 1900s DeBeers had been hoarding diamonds in order to hyperinflate the price of the worthless gem, whilst simultaneously, with the help of NW Ayer creating a marketed association between marriage and diamonds, hellping to further inflate the value of a diamond. Diamonds are worth no more than what you can SELL thm for at the local pawn shop. If everyone stopped buying them, they’d actually return to their fair market value, which is a mere $8.23 – 21.00 for a 10 carat I.F round. It is only greed, perception, and total ignorance that has kept diamonds from becoming a child’s play thing. Russia has stockpiled trillions of carats of diamonds, playing the waiting game until current prices rise again.
Yep. The demand for diamonds are the result of clever marketing. However, pricewise, I don’t think a 10 carat IF diamond would be worth $8-20 even if there’s no hype for them. The value is quite understated.
Hello Paul – great information from your website, I’ve learned so much and feel much more comfortable about using an online vendor for a loose stone now! I am looking at two stones based on the ideal cut proportions for ovals from a chart by David Atlas. I want to know if you see any surface reaching feathers or crystals in these two stones, and whether they would be ‘eye clean’ and if any of the inclusions hurt the durability of the stones. Its great seeing blown up images, but then that makes it difficult to think about what it looks like in real life not blown up. Thank you!
https://beyond4cs.com/go/ja/ => SKU: 597455
The first stone (SKU:597455) is an extremely poor selection of a diamond. The bowtie is too strong and ugly. Dump this stone.
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/1.53-carat-i-color-si1-clarity-sku-896099 is a well cut oval and one that I would recommend.
I am having such a hard time deciding, I like this website because they have a risk free look and ship the loose diamond (or set) to a local store.
Can you give me any advice on why or why not purchase one of these diamonds?
You don’t get concrete information from the generic stock images found in the product listing page. That’s enough reason alone to look elsewhere.
Can you talk more about and specifically where i can shop for a type iia diamond? I really want to try to find a type iia for myself. Or course, I am not talking about the unattainable Koh-i-noor, or the 33 carat E Taylor diamond. But there gotta be some remainder from the same rough that produces the honker piece. If the absence of nitrogen is not correlated to clarity and color. Why is it nearly impossible to find a 1 to 2 ct E/F VS clarity, type iia at a much affordable price per carat?
It’s not that hard. Do a search for D internally flawless diamonds or go the synthetic route. There’s plenty to go around.
Dear Paul, my name is tina. I’m looking for a pear shape diamond 0.80ct, h color. I went to robbin brother o search for engagement ring to have some idea for my upgrade. My budget is 3-4k. They introduce me pear shape, h color, si1, ideal cut, polish very good. Halo setting. Total for $4890 with tax. After a long negotiate it came down to 3400, pay by cash, no warranty on the diamond. They said it cost 790$ for the warranty of the diamond. I found the same ring at jamesallen for 3100 with gia paper. So which one should i get. I have attached the link into this comment. Please give me some advice. Thanks a lot for your help
It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?
Do you want to overpay for a diamond that isn’t graded by a reliable lab at a brick and mortar establishment or getting better value with online with a GIA certificate?
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/pear-shaped/0.80-carat-h-color-si1-clarity-sku-1092285 is a pretty well cut diamond for light performance.
Hi Paul, wondering if you could help in giving me a rough estimate of what you think this stone is worth. I just don’t know about it having a strong fluorescence the price being to high.
Really appreciate your feedback
You can get an estimate of prices by following the instructions above. Really, you don’t require any fancy diamond value calculators to estimate a diamond’s value or to spend money engaging an appraiser.
I have purchased quite a number of diamonds over the years, and I found an odd little website (diamondprices.net) that has helped me figure out a rough estimate of what I would be looking just about any diamond. I emailed them several years ago, and they took a while to respond, but eventually got back to me with great information.
Honesty, they have been more useful to me, as a consumer than just checking the diamond price per carat on what I can get on some other website. I think they are somehow pretty well connected in the diamond industry or something.
Hope this helps someone!
I’m so glad I found your site. Wow, how are you so knowledgeable about diamonds and yet look so youthful in your photo?
Thanks for sharing your expertise with the rest of us.
$ to burn, so much to learn
Thanks for the compliments. I look young but am actually in my mid thirties. : )
Hello Paul, thank you for making and maintaining this site.
It’s my first time buying a stone. Which one would you prefer below? Are they good for rose gold setting?
Cutwise, both diamonds are on par and are the cream of the crop. In terms of value, I would recommend this diamond: https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3707343.htm
I personally prefer lower colors for rose gold engagement rings. Also, this may help: https://beyond4cs.com/jewelry-guide/rose-gold-engagement-rings/
Hello Paul my name is Thomas I am looking to buy a diamond ring with the specs being (h-i, 12, 0.95 ct) with gia card ..it’s a princess cut in good/good cond ..what do u think I should pay for something like this.. can you estimate the diamond ring’s value for me? t.i.a
I’m not sure what you mean by Good/Good condition. You should be able to do your own research and assess how much the ring is worth brand new after reading this article.
In my last comment, you recommended me this stone:
What’s your opinion about synthetic diamonds, especially this line of products?
If you were me, would you consider switching to a much clearer, larger (1ct), brighter moissanite?
I sincerely thank you for all the knowledge and suggestions.
It is completely understandable for you to reply me thru email if you are not comfortable to discuss this kind of topic in public.
I think you are completely mistaken about synthetic diamonds. Moissanite is a simulant; it isn’t diamond and have completely different characteristics. https://beyond4cs.com/faq/how-to-spot-a-fake-diamond/identify-a-moissanite/
Stick with the White Flash diamond.
I have a question about rappaport/idex and what retailers buy for. Consider the following:
1. local independent jeweler (owns 1 store)
2. chain jeweler (think kay jewelers)
Do the wholesalers give them different rates? Are the different discounts dependent on how much you sell? I am looking for specific examples. I would think companies that do tons of diamond business probably get 5-10% cheaper than anyone else, or am I wrong? Do they all get about the same price?
This is a followup of my comment before. I looked on bluenile usa website and it has 140,000+ diamonds listed. A different site I am trying to purchase 2nd hand from has an inventory of 3600+ diamonds. I’m assuming these sellers get different discounts from the wholesaler, right? I wonder how much what they are paying to the wholesaler differs.
It depends on the deals and contracts that the different companies have with the wholesalers. In general, the bigger companies who move inventory faster have better leverage to negotiate prices but the differences aren’t that big because the margins in the diamond retail industry are pretty small.
Would James Allen, and similar online retailers have comparable prices to what you would find from a diamond wholesaler? I am staring a jewelry business and a wholesaler I spoke with quoted me very similar prices to what James Allen charges. As a new jeweler what resources would you recommend for purchasing small quantities of stones?
Wholesalers DON’T exist to the consumer. https://beyond4cs.com/engagement-ring/beware-of-cheap-diamond-deals/
White Flash has great diamonds, prices and customer service. I was skeptical at first because their website and name is kind of cheesy but their service and products are top notch. There setting selection isn’t the greatest but adequate.
Thanks for the informative post. It has made me more comfortable with purchasing a diamond online however I still feel that I’m having trouble identifying how bad of a bow tie effect a diamond has and whether it is eye clean.
I’ve narrowed down my search to a few diamonds. What do you think between these diamonds:
All 4 diamonds you picked are eyeclean and don’t have significant bow ties.
I’ve just found your site and been reading quite a bit. I am beginning the process of finding a diamond and setting for my wife for our 25th anniversary. One preliminary question: What is the significance of a Canadian Diamond (if any)? I will be following up with other questions soon.
You can read more about Canadian diamonds here: https://beyond4cs.com/canadian-diamonds/
Hey Paul, great article. Thank you! I appreciate the clear cut advice. (No pun intended.)
Such a useful page -thank you for all of your feedback with URLs! in looking through all the comments/responses wanted to get your thoughts on the below..
Goal: largest stone (doesnt have to be weight, looking for the girth/spread on top of the ring) for budget
Setting: simple solitaire
If size is your priority, this is the best diamond from your shortlisted options: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/cushion-cut/1.08-carat-j-color-vs1-clarity-sku-2472679
It’s eyeclean and well cut for an elongated cushion cut diamond.
Paul is Harlin diamonds in the Atlanta apparel mart a wholesaler ? A business license is required to get into the mart. I know you said there is no such thing. I’m trying to confirm that. Also if I bought on line from James Allen or similar how can I look at the stone ?
If the business sells to walk-in customers one item at a time, that’s the very definition of a retailer. Wholesalers sell in bulk and directly to other businesses. That should answer your question which category they belong in and whether they are using the promise of “wholesale prices” as a marketing gimmick.
When you buy online at places like James Allen, you get to SEE the diamond upclose in neutral lighting on their website. It’s simple and easy. If you want to get better quality for your engagement ring, online is where you need to head to.
Who would you say has the best selection of yellow diamonds? I have a budget of $3,000 – $4,000 (diamond alone) and want to get the best bang for my buck (round or cushion diamond). Will diamonds appreciate in future value?
This vendor: https://beyond4cs.com/go/leibish/. I recently bought my wife an anniversary ring from them and blogged about it here: https://beyond4cs.com/fancy-colored/cushion-cut-fancy-intense-yellow-diamond-engagement-ring/
You helped me back in September select a diamond for my son to propose to his girl. I wanted to thank you for your help. I finally got to see the ring and it is beautiful. It’s almost blinding. My son purchased the ring from Blue Nile and they couldn’t have been nicer. Thank you again for your help. It was very much appreciated.
Thanks for your posts, yes the carat size is most definitely a personal preference. Now, when you say a flawless is not reconignzed by the naked eye, when would you step to the next clarity and go for a VVS2 vs VVS1
Step up a colour (E) and down to VS1
For 0.5carat, signature ideal cut, 61%depth
excellent symmetry, none fluorescence…
E colour , VS1 : apx $2.7k
F colour , VVS2 :+$200
F colour , VVS1 :+$200
Is this another personal preference?
Here’s my take. I would either buy IF/FL diamonds for symbolic reasons or prefer to go down all the way to VS2/VS1 clarity. There’s no point going for VVS diamonds because you don’t get the symbolic representation NOR do you get value for money. It is best for you to get in touch with me via email. Buying a diamond constitutes a lot more than just looking at color and clarity. You are missing out the main point; and that’s CUT quality.
I’m thinking to purchase this diamond ring from jared. 5K
Report came from GSI. 1.27cts, near colorless I, Clarity I1, excellent cut and very good polish and symmetry.
Do you know the real price of this if say I will sell it to you? How much would you buy it then? Just thinking if this is a good deal or a ridiculous deal for me to walk out. Hope to hear from you. You can email me too. Thanks
Well, I don’t buy garbage quality diamond jewelry. The GSI certification is lax and you can be sure that the diamond is going to be way worse than an I/I1 if GIA graded the stone. Even in the most ideal case that we are talking about a top notch quality diamond that has a reliable grading report. You don’t expect a jeweler to pick the stone up for more than 50% of what you paid in retail prices.
I was looking at this astor diamond in blue nile. The Gemex report looks good and it is well cut. But when I searched it the rarecarat. It said it might be a poor deal, cause it is too expensive ($7669).
Should I avoid this diamond? Could you please take a look at it? Thank you!
Well, let me tell you for that the rarecarat website is useless for the purpose of finding a well cut diamond. Rarecarat.com is just an aggregator who compiles lists of inventories from different vendors. There is no value add and only serves to confuse more than help a discerning consumer. I think you should know that after reading this article.
I reviewed the diamond here: https://beyond4cs.com/go/bn-LD09632203/
The Blue Nile diamond above is well cut but if you are looking at top of the line diamonds with the best sparkle, this would be a diamond I would recommend instead: