Did you know that the vast majority of high-quality diamonds are sold loose and not already set in a ring? Yes, you’ve heard that right. That’s because buying a loose diamond gives you complete control and more choices for you to select the exact shape, specifications, size & cost compared to a pre-set diamond ring.
Now, I know lots of people get nervous and think that it is a hassle to buy a loose diamond. That’s because they don’t know what to look out for or how to pick one correctly.
But, it really isn’t that hard. The worst thing to do is to blindly rely on a jeweler’s recommendation or a seller with a vested interest to make the decision for you.
In this article, I’m going to reveal the insider tips for buying a loose diamond and show you how you can save thousands of dollars by shopping smart! Let’s jump right in!
Here is a list of topics we will be covering:
A loose diamond is a diamond that is available for sale and ready to be mounted into a piece of jewelry like an engagement ring or a pendant. Some people also buy and hold loose diamonds as a form of investment.
Before you go shopping for a loose diamond, the first thing you want to do is to set a budget that you are willing to spend. Having a budget in mind will help you narrow down your choices and prevent you from overspending unnecessarily.
Most people have a “standard” budget of 2-3 months’ salary and this arbitrary rule is a result of a marketing campaign spearheaded by De Beers to boost diamond sales.
In my opinion, you should spend whatever amount you are comfortable with and never feel obligated to spend above your means – especially if it will land you in debt. Whether it is a $1,000 or $10,000 budget, you should make this decision based on your personal situation instead of being influenced by someone else.
So, what do you look out for when buying a loose diamond? Whether you intend to buy a diamond as an investment or for an engagement ring, you need to have a basic knowledge of how diamonds are graded and assessed for their quality.
In order to do so, I encourage you to read up on the four main characteristics of the 4Cs: “color“, “carat“, “cut“, and “clarity” in the corresponding sections of Beyond4cs.com. Once you understand how each of these characteristics affects the appearance and value of an unmounted diamond, you will be able to make better shopping decisions.
The benefits of doing your due diligence and research are two-fold. Instead of listening to erroneous sales pitches in local stores, you would have a better understanding of what you are buying and even save money in the process.
For example, instead of buying a D VVS1 loose diamond, you could save more than 20% of the costs by buying a G VS2 diamond that is eyeclean as both diamonds will actually look identical to each other in the face up view.
A GIA report accurately represents the quality of the loose diamond being sold.
The importance of a reliable grading report cannot be overstated when you are buying a loose diamond. This is because the certificate provides an accurate assessment of the diamond’s quality and serves to protect your interests as a consumer.
GIA and AGS are the gold standards when it comes to reliable and consistent grading standards. Even as a trained professional grader myself, I would only buy a GIA or AGS certified diamond and that should speak volumes why you should NEVER buy a diamond without a proper grading report.
Here’s something you need to be careful about.
Many unethical jewelers in the industry sell uncertified or diamonds with dubious grading reports on the false promise of cheaper prices. But if the diamond isn’t graded by GIA or AGS, the jeweler could call it anything or make outlandish misrepresentations of the diamond’s quality.
A reliable grading report from GIA or AGS resolves issues like these and removes the jeweler’s opinion from the equation to keep them honest. This is because a reliable report gives a true, independent evaluation of the diamond you are buying.
Contrary to what some people may think, physical jewelry retailers and mall jewelers are some of the worst places to buy a loose diamond. In fact, the best place to buy loose diamonds is to go online.
That’s because buying loose diamonds online would give you access to thousands of diamonds for you to cherry-pick from. Online diamonds can also be 30% to 60% less expensive than buying from a brick and mortar store.
More importantly, the best online vendors have transparent business practices and provide a streamlined shopping experience to help you understand what you are buying.
You don’t have to deal with pushy salespeople and would be in an environment that enables you to make calm, rational decisions. To top this off, you get risk-free sales policies like 30 day money back guarantees and generous upgrade plans too.
In short, buying online means you won’t have to compromise on the exact diamond you want and will be able to find the best diamond for any given budget.
If you want to save yourself time and the effort of vetting a vendor, work with the list of online diamond vendors below. These are highly reputable jewelers who have been in business for more than a decade and have worked with hundreds of thousands of customers.
In order to make it to our list, we had hand-picked them based on their service standards as well as competitive pricing. In fact, I had personally purchased multiple loose diamonds and engagement rings from them over the years.
A recent engagement ring that I had purchased from James Allen.
James Allen is one of my favorite retailers for buying loose diamonds and they stand out for their fantastic shopping experience and customer service.
By offering HD videos for all their listings, you are able to see and scrutinize diamond details up close.
This is all done via superb user-interface which makes browsing and selecting a diamond really easy. At the time of writing, James Allen has more than 200,000 loose diamonds in their inventory and these are all priced competitively because of the low overheads they have.
When it comes to sales policies, James Allen is top notch and they offer a no-questions asked 30 day money back guarantee. On top of that, they even offer free return shipping (for US customers) which is a sign of how confident they are when standing behind their products.
A designer Vatche diamond ring I bought from White Flash.
White Flash is a reputable online vendor who has a physical showroom in Texas, Houston. They hold the largest selection of super ideal cut diamonds in the world which includes their widely acclaimed A Cut Above diamonds.
One of the key features which make White Flash a great place to buy a loose diamond is their transparent business practices and exceptional customer service. In each of their listings, they provide a magnified video, idealscope, ASET, hearts and arrows images and also an assessment of the diamond’s eyecleanliness.
This allows you to see exactly what you are getting and gives you the ability to perform your own analysis easily. On top of that, they also provide additional data like a Sarine report and comparison videos on request.
White Flash has a 30 day money back guarantee and a 1 year buy back program so that you shop completely risk-free. They also have one of the most generous upgrade policies in the industry which only requires you to spend an additional dollar (instead of twice the amount) if you want to trade in your diamond.
Brian Gavin is a 5th generation diamond cutter and a pioneer of super ideal cut hearts and arrows diamonds. Their carefully crafted signature diamonds displays some of the most beautiful sparkle and cut precision in the world.
In fact, the cut quality of their diamonds represents the top 0.01% of the world’s polished diamond inventory and yet, they are priced affordably. Interestingly, Brian Gavin offers several unique collections of loose diamonds that are targeted at various niche segments of the market.
For the cut connoisseur, their signature Black diamonds are some of the rarest and finest cut diamonds that are engineered for sparkle and brilliance. They also offer ideal cut diamonds in various shapes such as princess, cushion and emerald cuts.
One of my favorite collections is the Brian Gavin Blue which features ideal cut diamonds with medium to very strong fluorescence. The cool effect displayed by fluorescence helps diamonds look whiter and also significantly lowers the price points of the diamonds.
The listings at Brian Gavin Diamonds typically come with a 360 degree magnified video and tangible data like idealscope, ASET and H&A scope images for you to easily analyze their diamonds.
Brian Gavin has a 15 day money back guarantee and a lifetime upgrade policy. If you want to upgrade your diamond in the future, you can always trade-in your diamond for a larger sized or better spec diamond.
Thank you for your insightful guide to help me find my perfect diamond.
I must admit I am more of a brick and mortar person and much prefer to touch and try on anything I buy, especially big items.
Having read up on your loose diamond guide I went along to 2 jewellers to put them to the test. First store I went to got very defensive when I asked him about the grading. He said people like me who research online does not necessary understand what they are looking for and that it took him 6 years to get his credentials etc. therefore he’s the expert. He let me in on an ‘inside’ knowledge that in 50 years time flawed stones with inclusions eg. SI’s will be more sought after and rare so therefore not to be too bothered about the clarity etc. plus any stones that do not meet their company criteria will not be sold in their store. After an hour I left the store feeling guilty of asking such questions.
The 2nd store was more accommodating and relaxed despite me asking similar questions. In the end, they were willing to help me find a triple excellent stone and below are the GIA numbers he’s emailed me to check before I go try them on, please could you give me your expert opinion on them:
You need to read every single word here: https://beyond4cs.com/buying-diamonds-blind/
What’s wrong with asking questions? If your jeweler cannot answer them or feel offended, you better be reconsidering who you are doing business with.
Yeah, talking about the 6 years, I got my credentials in less than 1 year. Does that make me smarter than he is? I should be since I was able to do it in less time (sarcastic tone!). I’ve seen a lot jewelers who claim to have 20 years of experience and yet, know nothing much beyond basic diamond knowledge.
From the sound of things, it sounds like you are in for a rip off with in house graded diamonds: https://beyond4cs.com/grading/difference-between-gia-ags-egl-igi/
Now, for each of the diamonds above, they are all absolutely terrible choices in terms of cut quality. You better run.
Thanks for your help, Paul. I am shopping for an engagement ring for my girlfriend of more than ten years. She is more than a little excited to get this process going! She figured out she wants an oval shaped diamond. I think it’s easier to limit the search to loose diamonds first, as this alone is an overwhelming process. I am looking to spend up to ~$9000 for the stone, but ideally it would be less. I am looking for something around or over 2 carats. The color isn’t too important as she wants yellow gold. I had my choices narrowed down to two or three about a month ago, and when I was going to email you for help within a couple of days they were no longer on the websites. That was a waste of a lot of research time. It was pretty frustrating, especially because there do not seem to be as good of options right now.
The cut of fancy diamonds is really what is throwing me off. Some websites have a range of table% being excellent at ~54%-58% and an excellent depth being between ~62%-66%, while others may be similar but several percentages off. Do you have an excellent, or “ideal” range? Because of your articles, I have limited my search to only diamonds with actual pictures, but of course, these vary wildly in quality. Also, some websites list diamonds as “good” cut when these diamonds are within the “excellent” parameters and look better than others that may be listed as “excellent” or “ideal” cut which may have more of a bowtie effect, at least to me.
The numbers and proportions are just a guideline as I clearly stated in the write up. What matters most is to have images/videos that can depict the performance of the diamond. These are 2 loose oval diamonds I would recommend:
Both stones are eyeclean and have good performance. The first stone is the much better buy as it offers great value for money.
Even though diamonds are often associated with enhancing the wearer’s beauty and accentuating social statuses, they aren’t only bought for the sake of wearing them. I’ve read that diamonds have one of the most stable prices and can be considered a better investment than other types of jewelry or real estate.
If you do not intend to wear them and you only treat them as an alternative to cash, what do you think about buying loose diamonds as a viable idea over buying a mounted diamond? Any guidance would be appreciated.
Well, it depends on what you define as being investment grade. For the purpose of investing, buying a loose diamond is better than buying a mounted diamond. But what you need to be aware of is that buying for investment purposes would require a different thought process compared to buying one for consumer needs.
For example, small diamonds (< 2 carat) are really bad investment choices as they don't increase in value as much as the larger diamonds do overtime. And FYI, when I say investment grade, I am referring to diamonds that cost in the millions of dollars and like those that are astronomically large sizes above 10 carats.
Is buying loose diamonds online safe and how do I trust the vendor that I paid for what was stated in the listing? p.s. thanks for providing this guide for buying loose diamonds.
We all share a natural skepticism when we have to exchange money for goods virtually. In the case of jewelry, this skepticism becomes rather intense since we are speaking of transactions worth thousands of dollars.
Let me put the undue worries to rest and offer an analogy to explain this. I’m sure you won’t walk into any roadside stalls to make a diamond purchase. Likewise, you shouldn’t make any purchase online haphazardly because it is basic common sense.
Checking for the usual ratings on BBB, policies, secure servers (https) or reading other consumer reviews are good steps to take when selecting a reliable vendor.
The key to choosing a reliable vendor is one that is fully transparent and you can see this in all the best diamond stores I personally bought from and recommend. Of course, the guide and tips I mentioned above about buying properly graded diamonds by GIA and AGS are important as well.
For many people, buying a loose diamond is a huge monetary investment and a good jeweler can make or break the purchase. I honestly don’t think you can find good deals or loose diamonds for sale at cheap prices without compromising quality. I know you had probably heard this for the millionth time about the need to be smart when working out a deal. Here’s what I would also recommend doing:
• Ask them what kind of jewelry they specialize in – whether it’s loose diamond, gemstones, metal rings, etc.
• How long has the jeweler been in the business, particularly in the diamond selling business? You will want to think twice before buying from someone who has been in business for just 3 months.
• Also ask them whether they offer a written money back guarantee and what the specific terms are. Typically, most companies have a minimum of 10 days inspection period (better companies offer longer periods like 30-60 days) so that you can have sufficient time to look at the diamond in person. This money back guarantee period also gives you the time to have the diamond evaluated by an independent gemologist of your choice should you need a professional’s opinion.
• Advertisements that market loose diamonds for sale are rarely to be of high quality. In the jewelry industry, paying more doesn’t necessarily guarantee better quality. However, you can be assured of garbage quality when buying jewelry with prices that are too good to be true.
When buying from a physical store, the general guidelines for purchasing online are also applicable when it comes to buying in a brick and mortar store. Here are some additional pointers that would help you out.
• Inquire whether the jeweler has a microscope and ask if you can view the stone under magnification tools. Rather than using a loupe, a binocular microscope is easier to use and less straining on your eyes.
• Check whether the store has an in-house certified gemologist that can readily address your concerns.
• Can they prove the color grading that is stated in a report?
• Does the store offer other lighting environments aside from the usual blinding display lights for you to view their jewelry?
• Finally, shop around and visit at least 3 stores. Pick the one that best answers all these questions and make sure you compare prices between different vendors. Chances are, when you know what the different vendors are offering on the table, you will be in a better position to make any negotiations.