viewing heart cut diamonds in a display box

Searching for well-cut heart shaped diamonds is no easy task!

With a keen eye for details, I actually noticed that a diamond would sometimes be concurrently listed on a few different websites. Why does this happens and who actually owns the diamond?

It turns out this is actually a common practice in the industry. The majority of online vendors do not carry a “real” physical inventory and sell based on a virtual listing.

You can think of it this way; a diamond cutter had just polished a brand new stone and wants to sell it. To do this efficiently, the cutter enters the diamond details into a virtual listing database and this information is accessible by a network of vendors. Since different vendors have access to the same database, it is possible to see the same diamond being listed on different websites.

The reasoning behind this practice is that owning a huge inventory of diamonds is very costly and will tie up a lot of capital. Imagine a business that holds 1,000 diamonds (each costing $10,000) in their inventory?

The total monetary value of the inventory equates to $10,000,000! And the truth is, not many businesses can afford to maintain such a huge inventory because it is impractical and uneconomical.

What Happens After You Place an Order to Buy a Diamond?

choosing a diamond process

When an order is placed by a customer, the vendor will then process the order by liaising with their supplier for the delivery. As a result of market competitiveness, overheads and business philosophy, different vendors can place different mark-ups on the same stone.

For example, a 0.82 carat diamond with D color could be retailing at for $4,400. The same exact diamond could be retailing at for $4,050. I usually see a price variance that can range from $100 – $800. My take on this is to choose a vendor that you are comfortable with since the level of service differs from one vendor to another.

Based on my experience, James Allen tend to offer competitive pricing as compared to other online vendors. On top of that, they offer value added services like gemological analysis, optical performance evaluation and magnified videos for free.

Another factor that may determine which vendor you ultimately want to work with lies in the setting of the diamond. For example, if you intend to set the loose diamond into a ring, I recommend you get the setting performed by the same vendor you buy the diamond from. This will help you avoid potential problems with insurance, shipping hassle and additional workmanship costs.

Having a Planned List of Criteria Would Help You Narrow Down Choices

When I first started to search for my proposal ring online, my criteria were thought out and prioritized in the following manner. This has helped tremendously in narrowing choices from hundreds of possible choices to a manageable quantity of 3-4 diamonds.

Feel free to use this template as a guideline to help organize your thoughts and stay focused.


1) My Budget! ( Helps filter out diamonds that are out of my budget. )
2) Cut ( Should be close to ideal table/depth values as a guideline. )
3) Carat Weight ( Analyze physical dimensions of the stone. )
4) Color ( Range from D – G )
5) Polish/Symmetry ( Very Good/Excellent )
6) Length to Width Ratio ( 0.9 – 1.0 )
7) Girdle ( Thin – Thick )
8) Clarity ( VS2 – VVS1 )

The criteria would be modified if I am choosing other diamond shapes.


Why Did I Place My Priorities In Such An Order?

pink roses and chocolates

In my opinion, Cut and Carat Weight are two of the most important factors. I don’t think you would disagree that a diamond should be brilliant and full of life. It is also a well-known fact that most women would prefer larger looking diamonds. If budget permits, going for a bigger stone without sacrificing cut is usually a good idea.

Next, the color was decided based on my girlfriend’s personal preference. As long as it faces up white, a color grade from D to G didn’t matter.

The polish and symmetry ratings would give you an idea about the diamond’s finishing. I recommend sticking to Very Good or Excellent ratings for fancy shaped diamonds. For round diamonds, I would only recommend Excellent ratings for both symmetry and polish.

The length to width ratio can be extracted from a GIA report and be plugged into a calculator for calculation. Personally, I like chubbier looking diamonds and decided to look for one within the range of 0.9-1.0. Again, this is a subjective choice based on personal preferences.

For fancy shaped diamonds, the girdle thickness shouldn’t be too thin as it makes the diamond vulnerable to chipping. On the contrary, if it is too thick, it takes up excessive weight in the diamond’s body and results in a smaller looking diamond. The Goldilocks zone for girdle thickness should lie somewhere between thin – thick.

Why Clarity is the Least Important of the 4Cs in My Opinion

Finally, you might be wondering why clarity is the least important point when I list my priorities. My logic is that as long as the diamond is eye-clean, it didn’t really matter if the clarity was a VS2 or a VVS1. The reason why I prioritize my clarity range to be above a VS2 grade is to ensure an eye-clean diamond.

For fancy cut diamonds like heart shapes, there will be a smaller range of available diamonds and this was my reason for extending my searches to include the VVS range even though a VVS clarity grade would be an overkill.

Don’t get me wrong here; there is nothing wrong with purchasing stones with SI2 or SI1 clarity ratings. What I want to emphasize here is that you need to view the diamond (preferably with a high magnification photo or video) so you know where the imperfections lie and whether the flaws are acceptable to you.

For more information, follow this link for an extensive article I had written on this topic. Vendors like James Allen enable you to do this easily with their 360-degree video listings where you can scrutinize diamond details easily.

looking at diamond videos to inspect diamond clarity

Selecting a diamond is made easy with tangible data. Click here to view the diamond listing above.

With the specifications in hand, it’s a numbers game thereafter. I went to several sites and plugged in the variables to perform my search. Now, with so many online vendors to choose from, picking out the best jeweler to work with wasn’t that straightforward.

Read on to find out what happened next and how I decided on which vendor to use…

Related Articles

Share This Page on Social Media!


  1. Tammy-
    April 28, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I found the same diamond on 2 different websites, Union Diamond and Ritani. Same gia reports, different pictures (one was a still pic and one was a 360) both had “real” pictures of the diamond and I could see the inclusions were in the exact same places. Question is, one was $9200 and the other was $5100. That’s a lot of difference! What might be up with that??

    I was also told that most SI1 diamonds are eyeclean and they are better priced. Are there any specific types of inclusions I should look out for in an SI1 diamond if I am shopping only with the info from a GIA report? Thanks

  2. Paul Gian-
    April 29, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Different vendors apply different markups just as you would expect to pay significantly more for Tiffany or Cartier. That said, I am actually surprised that there’s such a massive difference between these 2 vendors.

    I don’t recommend that you buy diamonds with clarity lower than SI1 blindly. Without knowing the details/locations of the inclusions, you might get a shock when you receive the package. To avoid this, use sites like James Allen that allow you to inspect diamonds with high magnification videos.

  3. Ian-
    June 7, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you for the very informative web site, I am certainly learning a lot. I am currently looking to purchase an engagement ring with a round diamond about 1.25 to 1.5 carat.

    I have noticed that you have given great reliability to the quality of the Whiteflash “cut above” and the Brian Gavin ” Signature” or “Black” diamonds.

    Would you say that the time taken to evaluate those high quality diamonds would be less? Could I just look at the images and make an order? Or will it be the same long evaluation of a diamond from James Allen or another company without a brand name with specific cut standards?

    Thank you,


  4. Paul Gian-
    June 8, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    The time “taken to evaluate” is not the concern. The problem here is there are only a few vendors in the world that specialize in truly well cut diamonds. You don’t get this type of superior cut quality at Tiffany, local stores or even many other online vendors.

    White Flash and James Allen make scrutiny easy because of tangible data easily available. That is made easier also in part because of the cut quality. You don’t see people taking effort to publish additional data on a sub-par diamond for obvious reasons. Why would they do it to educate consumers and reveal flaws to make their products look bad?

    The less you know, the easier it is for them to sell sub par diamonds to consumers.

    The images/videos are there to show you exactly what you are buying. That’s more tangible data than any local store or even the branded stores would give you. And yes, I personally bought many rings just based on these data because I know how they look like and translate to sparkle in person.

    Here are a few of the rings that I had purchased:

    Good vendors don’t mind giving consumers all the tangible data to let them make an educated decision. That’s the fundamental similarity among people who do sell well cut diamonds or have consumer interests in mind.

    These articles should be worth your time to read as well:

  5. Ian-
    July 1, 2019 at 3:43 am

    Hello Again Paul,

    Thank you for your response. It reassures me that the direction that I am going, with White flash and Brian Gavin, is a good one; With the high quality cut standards that they have it seems easier to find a quality diamond. I will continue to move forward and hopefully find a nice diamond.

    I have certainly learned a lot from reading your articles, Thanks.

    To get the full experience, I visited some stores and had experiences as you have described, poor diamonds and lack of selection , at least from my novice view. Also, the sales tactics are very uncomfortable. Even stores that “don’t pay commission” to their associates have an uncomfortable way of hooking you in. They kept reminding me that they didn’t make any commission, strange?

    I’ve found a few diamonds on Brian Gavin that I have liked, but they sell fairly quickly. I also like some of the settings on Brian Gavin. Is it worth just waiting around for a diamond? or does it take a while? As I said before, I’m more interested in buying a diamond with a brand, like Brian Gavin Black or Whiteflash ACA, only because I don’t have the time to investigate a lot of the nicer diamonds on James Allen. I do love the James Allen web site, unfortunately you need to request to see the extra images. I realize I will pay a premium with BGB and ACA, but at least I feel I will be getting more “guaranteed” quality with less hassle? Am I correct in my thinking?

    I was leaning toward a 1.5 carat, but as I have looked at diamonds its not that big of a difference from 1.25 to 1.5, and my lady doesn’t really care too much, as long as it SPARKLES!

    I am on a budget of course, but if I am going to spend a lot of money, I’d rather spend that money on “quality”.

    Here are a few that I like, it seems the 1.247 on Brian Gavin is very nice, but I would like your opinion?

    Thank you again,


  6. Paul Gian-
    July 2, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Even if stores don’t pay commissions, they still have figures to meet and the amount of sales they drive ultimately goes into their bonus at the end of the year.

    For round diamonds, JA , WF and BGD are all good vendors to look at.

    BGD is slightly more expensive than the other 2 because of brand premiums. The differences are not significant in my opinion. Ultimately, what should drive your purchase should be the choice of setting as well. Let that determine whom to work with.

    From White Flash, this is the better buy:

    From BGD, these 2 are the better buys:

    This is solely based on practicality and getting better value for money. Cutwise, they are all on par and will face up white.

    And I did a search for you as well just to let you see what’s possible. This diamond is very well cut as well and is EYECLEAN.

    Compared to the 3 above, the JA diamond offers the best value for money. It’s large size, eyeclean and faces up white.

    Either way, all 4 diamonds above are winners in their own rights and you can’t go wrong with any.

    Go for the one that you prefer or let the choice of setting decide on the vendor to work with.

Leave A Comment