viewing heart cut diamonds in a display box

The Quest For Heart Cuts

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.

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 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 be 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.

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 between VS2-VVS1 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 reiterate 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.

Thereafter, it’s a numbers game. 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…

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  1. Avatar
    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?? Thanks

  2. Avatar
    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.

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