The process of buying fancy shaped diamonds isn’t straightforward and can easily overwhelm a first timer. This is because fancies are very difficult to define by parameters and there are a variety of other factors that come into play when determining a diamond’s beauty.
As you might have read from the compiled tables of recommended proportions for the various shapes, such tables are only useful as a “first screen” and the criteria listed are not cast in stone. In fact, the best way of choosing a fancy cut diamond is to see and review the stone for it’s appearance and brilliance.
Obviously, the local brick and mortar store has some advantages in this aspect as you can check out their inventory in person. Do note this is based on the assumption that your local jewelers carry these fancy shapes in stock and you know what to look out for.
The fact is, the majority of fancy cut diamonds are poorly cut and the chances of finding a well cut diamond in a store are very slim. To make matters worse, the special lighting employed by jewelry stores are designed to make even the poorest cut diamonds sparkle. This is the main reason why some diamonds seem to lose their sparkle and look totally different once they are out of the store.
With that said, don’t get your hopes too high. Even if your local jeweler does carry inventory of a certain fancy shape you are interested in buying, they usually hold a very limited stock with few choices (and probably badly cut ones) for you to choose from. The truth is, the odds of finding a well-cut diamond are stacked against the general shopper who has limited experience and knowledge. To make rational decisions, you’ll require additional data and tools to help you determine the light performance and optics.
Besides having lower prices, one of the main advantages of going online is the huge selection of diamonds that can be made available to you at the click of a few mouse buttons. Instead of the usual 3 or 4 options you can get at your local store for a particular shape of diamond, online vendors can easily allow access to more than 100s of stones for you to pick from.
And that’s what I am going to show you here: To pick the cream of the crop and buy the most beautiful diamond your budget allows.
I am sure most of you probably know or at least, heard of a couple of big companies in the Internet diamond business. For example, retailers like BlueNile might ring a bell to you. However, they also happen to be one of the worst places online to shop for diamonds.
In essence, most online retailers only list an inventory of stones and expect you to make a selection based solely on the information extracted from grading reports. In such a scenario, it is almost impossible to make sound decisions because the information presented is inadequate.
Let me illustrate this with an example. Imagine you are shopping for a cushion cut diamond and you happen to be browsing through BlueNile’s website for available inventory. On a diamond’s product listing page, you are only given information based on a GIA lab report.
On paper, everything might appear OK and the stone seems to be a decent choice. Now, if you were to make the purchase for the stone thinking that you made a great buy, imagine how you would feel if you opened up the parcel and saw this?
Would you still feel the excitement of receiving your brand new diamond after seeing this?
Purchasing a diamond blindly based on a grading report is a bad idea. Sadly, that’s how the majority of diamond shoppers actually buy their engagement rings online. It perplexes me how people can spend thousands of hard earned dollars without evening “seeing” the diamond. Not very smart at all.
Here’s why… Every diamond is uniquely different and no 2 diamonds are alike even if they share the same exact specifications on a grading report. When it comes to fancy cuts, subtle differences in clarity and cut can make or break a deal.
This is where James Allen stands out as an online retailer who is different from the rest. They feature magnified photographs and videos of every single stone in their inventory. The awesome video capturing technology enables you to inspect their diamonds in far greater details than you ever would at any other jeweler. With this feature itself, they have made it so much easier for you to navigate their inventory, select and shortlist possible candidates for purchase.
Photographs and videos are only the first step in a selection process. Here’s where things get even better. When it comes to cherry picking the most brilliant and best performing stone, we need to go beyond photographs or videos. One such tool that will offer you an objective analysis of how well cut a particular stone is the Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool (ASET) where you get to see how the diamond handles light.
How do you decide which is the best amongst them in terms of optics?
Based on magnified pictures above, it is very difficult to tell which diamond will look the most brilliant to the eyes. An ASET image will help reveal and evaluate performance.
Black field ASET images & White field ASET images
In an ASET image, we want to see lots of reds that indicate light return. Green is OK and blue adds contrast to the outlook. What we don’t want to see is whites or blacks (indicates light leakage). From the example above, the first stone is obviously lacking in terms of brilliance as there is a significant amount of light leakage at the 4 sides of the diamond.
Between the other 2, my preference goes to the 2nd stone as we see the reds reaching to the edge of the stone. This edge to edge brightness will make the stone look larger than it is. Also, based on the ASET image, you can also infer the contrast, patterning and scintillation of the diamond.
Pretty obvious that the top most princess cut has the best light performance
In the above example, the 2nd stone is the clear loser and doesn’t perform.
Did you know that most other retailers don’t even provide basic photographs of their inventory, let alone being able to provide you with ASET data for critical evaluation. For these reasons, I recommend you to work with James Allen when it comes to fancy cuts.
Besides having high resolution videos of every single diamond in their inventory, James Allen also has the proper equipment to capture ASET images. More importantly, they are offering this service to consumers for free. Try doing that with any other vendor and you’ll get charged hundreds of dollars for shipping fees just to get a diamond evaluated.
While other vendors simply download a virtual list of diamonds from their suppliers, James Allen actually work with vendors near the premises of their New York office.
Due to the close proximity in which they can get diamonds called in, they have physically access to the diamonds they list. Since no shipping fee is involved, consumers get to enjoy these features for free.
In my opinion, this is a very big plus point as you don’t buy sight unseen and there is no cost on your end just to review the diamond. Their business model puts customer experiences as their top priority. This guarantees you a safe, reliable shopping experience.
1) Use search tool to filter diamonds based on your budget / 4Cs.
2) Inspect diamond for eye-cleanliness and shape with the videos.
3) Narrow down your choices to 3 diamonds.
4) Contact support & request a physical review for your selections.
5) Request ASET photographs to determine optical performance.
6) Review the in-house gemologist’s report and choose the best!
* You’ll get to see your diamond under magnification with videos.
* No other jeweler will review 3 stones for you at NO charges.
* Huge range and variety of inventory available for different shapes.
* Hassle-free shopping with a reliable vendor. (30 days returns)
For new and inexperienced diamond shoppers, I know this might be a handful of information to digest. But if you think about it, this is really the best method to go about shopping for a great looking stone. For a purchase that would cost thousands of dollars, I am sure you want it to be the best possible investment that is based on tangible information.
Take a deep breath and take your time to review and understand the entire process again if need be.
If you encounter any problems or want to save yourself the hassle of picking out your own stones, drop me an email with your budget and other relevant details. I will be glad to help you shortlist some diamonds.
Lastly, feel free to approach me with any other questions you might have. I love to hear from readers and I usually respond to queries within 24 hours.