laying out the advantages and disadvantages

Here’s the deal and my thought process of shopping for a diamond online. By paying with Paypal, you could still raise a dispute for the transaction if anything should go seriously wrong. (View scenario #4 on the previous page).

Likewise, using a credit card can also allow you to raise a charge back dispute should there be a need for it. For people who need this additional security blanket, these are all viable options to pursue.

All in all, if I didn’t like the ring or if the diamond did not measure up to the GIA report after an appraisal, all I would stand to lose is about $135 ($100 in return shipping + $35 in appraisal fees) and some wasted efforts. However, I would have learned an important lesson in the process.

On the other hand, if the ring measures up, I would have saved myself at least 50% of the cost for a similar purchase at a local store. To illustrate an example with some numbers, a 1 carat heart shaped diamond engagement ring that is sold in a local store for $10,000 would only cost $5,000 online.


When faced with a limited budget, you can get more bang for your buck by going online. More importantly, there’s a huge range of choices for heart shaped diamonds for you to choose from. Of course, this wide selection also applies to other diamond shapes and you are no longer limited by the inventory a local store has.

For context, James Allen is an online vendor that has more than 200,000 GIA/AGS certified diamond of all shapes and sizes for you to choose from. This is in stark contrast to the few measly options you get in a jewelry store.

All in all, the risks of buying an engagement ring online are almost the same as (if not, even lower than) buying a ring in a traditional brick and mortar store. I personally find that it is safer to shop online as you will avoid making impulsive decisions. More importantly, you would also have the ability to analyze diamond specifications in far greater detail.

snapshot video

Online vendors like offers you the ability to interact with diamonds in far greater details than you would in a physical store. Check them out for yourself…

On top of having access to a larger selection of stones, the money back guarantee is a huge plus for international shoppers as such policies are almost non-existent outside the Western market.

Next up, I will show you insights on how the online retailers work and why you might see the same diamond being listed in the inventory of different vendors.

Related Articles

Share This Page on Social Media!


  1. Thomas R Battista-
    July 1, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for creating

    My name is Tom and I recently corresponded with another diamond advisor website. I received a reply that is confusing in that the advisor said concerning emerald cuts…

    “We filter for stones with depth up to 75%. In our experience, these cuts return light with the most brilliance.”(“talking about emeralds”).
    Another very important characteristics is black windowing effect. You need to make sure that there’s none or only a little.”

    Looking at your chart of Ideal Emerald Cut Diamond Proportions Table an excellent depth is 60 – 65%. Could it be that maybe she mistyped?

    My wife is 62 we have been married 41 yrs…has told me she has a preference for an emerald cut ring with a side stone on each side on a plain platinum or white gold band.

    I have been looking at JA and BN websites for an emerald cut diamond between 2CT and 2.5CT or thereabouts. Even with the HD magnification I only can tell if there is an obvious flaw or spec but beyond that I am not experienced to know how to interpret the moving HD photos for flash and brilliance in the steps. I am not sure if the black in a step is brilliance or not…

    I have read most if not all of your tutorials. Looking for your advise on how to proceed.

    Thank you, Tom

  2. Paul Gian-
    July 2, 2017 at 4:59 am

    There’s no mistake with the numbers I published. 75% is way too steep and someone who tells you that 75% is fine has no clue about cut quality. I can tell you that such a deep stone not only affects light performance but SEVERELY affects face up size. The diamond will look VERY small for its carat size.

    Anyway, numbers are just a guideline. You need tangible data like ASET images and videos to select emerald cuts. The numbers are not hard and fast rules.

    Let me know the direct url links of the stones you are looking at. If you rather save time and let me pick out some for you, let me know your specifications and a Realistic budget you have.

  3. Suk Hwang-
    July 6, 2018 at 12:43 pm


    Hope all is well. To start, I would like to thank you for your website. It is the most comprehensive, educational, and most importantly, impartial website on diamonds I have come across.

    I am an avid reader, and I read your entire website before I met my current fiancé. As our relationship progressed, I was ready to make a move; armed with the knowledge you bestowed upon me, I was confident that I would do some thorough diligence and know what to look for before making my purchase of ~$40k. I asked her for clues on the type of diamond that she wanted, and she stubbornly said “it HAS to be a Harry Winston diamond”. Sigh*

    I tried regurgitating the million advices you provided, but she would not budge. At which point, I was coerced into buying the largest HW ring I could afford with my $40k budget. I really wanted to inspect the diamond in-store (look for the hearts and arrows, light leakage, etc) but the diamond was located in Chicago, and shipping + resizing would take a few weeks, so I had to buy it blind since my proposal date was already scheduled to be in Paris. All my time researching about diamonds had been in vain.

    Fast forward, my fiancé absolutely loved the ring, but I still have my doubts on the quality of the cut, which as mentioned in your website, it goes beyond the triple-excellent description in the GIA pamphlet. On this note, I was wondering if you had any advice / contact of somebody in NYC who can provide a second opinion on the ring I purchased?

    Again, thank you very much for your willingness to help the helpless consumers such as myself.

    I am attaching the GIA report below for reference.

    Looking forward to your response

  4. Paul Gian-
    July 8, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    The crown angles are a tad high and that’s what I would expect from Harry Winston. Decently cut but unlikely to be great. The big brands like HW, Tiffany and Cartier all charge exorbitant prices but don’t deliver the best of the best cut diamonds.

    I think it would be best for you to skip the appraisal or a reevaluation because it is likely to lead nowhere unless you are planning on returning it. If she loves the ring, my advice is to keep it as-is.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone I would recommend for appraising the ring in NYC. Try the directory or this: One reader went there before. I haven’t personally tested them so I can’t make recommendations.

  5. Miguel-
    January 13, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I’m shopping for an engagement ring and came across the diamond below on James Allen. While the diamond cut and appearance look good, I worry that the IGI certificate specs might not be reliable and are driving the lower price. Would love to get your thoughts.

    For context, I’m looking for a round ~2.4-2.5 carat I+ VS2+ ideal/excellent diamond. Ideally staying within a ~30k budget including the setting.

    – Miguel

  6. Paul Gian-
    January 15, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Hi Miguel, is a well cut diamond. In this regard, I have to give you some kudos. However, the higher crown angle is something I would rather not like to see.

    The problem with IGI is that the ratings are “discounted”. Is it really an I, J or K( my suspicion is on the latter). Is it really a VVS2? I doubt so. I would say it is more towards a VS1 given the somewhat obvious inclusion I see across 2-4 o’clock of the diamond. A GIA or AGS VVS2 will not show such an inclusion.

    And that’s the problem. I don’t know what this diamond is. How do I evaluate pricing?

    I did a search for you and would recommend this diamond:

    Cutwise, it’s better than the stone you shortlisted. And to me, cut is king as it directly affects appearance.


  7. Mike La Marca-
    June 21, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Paul – first I just want to say what a tremendously informative, well-written resource you’ve provided. I’ve been looking at diamonds for an engagement ring for a couple months now (it’s become a bit of an addicting process) and I can’t even describe how much your site has helped me. Any question I had, or any issue I wanted to look into further, I could find right on your site. Thanks so much for everything you’ve done.

    After researching this extensively, I think I’m leaning toward buying a lab-made diamond. I’m leaning toward this decision for multiple reasons, including the ecological/humanitarian benefits as well as the better “bang for your buck.” I also read your helpful article about the fact that mined diamonds are not actually a good investment and that this shouldn’t be a factor in deciding not only whether to buy a diamond but also between a lab-made and a mined diamond. With the technological developments that have occurred, I honestly think it’s a great option. Just let me know if you think I’m missing something or disagree.

    Otherwise, I’m looking at two round diamonds. The stats are as follows:

    (1) 1.84 ct; F color; VS2 clarity; Triple Excellent; Total Depth 61.4; Table Size 58%; Crown Height 35; Pavilion Depth 40.9; No fluorescence; HCA Score 2.1; IGI #: LG314898745

    (2) 1.91 ct; G color; SI1 clarity; Excellent except for Polish, which is Very Good; Total Depth 61.5; Table Size 57.5; Crown Height 35.5; Pavilion Depth 40.8; No fluorescence; HCA Score 2.7; IGI # LG310871687.

    What do you think? Do either or both of these look OK? Is there a superior option?

    Alternatively I received a quote for $12,400 for a natural 1.84 ct, I, SI2, with a 2.0 HCA, and Medium Blue fluorescence (GIA : 6193074544) – buy again, this is so much more expensive for a comparable diamond.

    If you have time to weigh in with a quick word I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks so much again for all the helpful information you’ve provided.

  8. Paul Gian-
    June 22, 2019 at 4:45 am

    First of all, without seeing tangible data, it is extremely hard for me to give any constructive comments. Read these articles:

    For lab grown diamonds, Brilliant Earth and James Allen will be better places to shop at as they have a larger selection to cherry pick from and they are able to provide videos/images for some of their diamonds.

Leave A Comment