How And Where to Buy Fancy Cut Diamonds?

variety of diamond shapes

Choosing a Fancy Cut is Tricky…

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.

So, What’s the Answer to This Problem? By Going Online…

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.

The Problem of “Buying Blind” When It Comes to Online Diamonds

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.

gia report for cushion cut diamond

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?

obvious inclusions by buying blind

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.

Why We Recommend James Allen Instead?

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.

inspecting diamonds with high resolution videos

Wait, Images/Videos Aren’t Enough. You Need More Information!

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.

Here Are Some Examples to Show You Why ASET Images is Crucial

comparison of 3 cushion diamonds

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.

aset images and comparison for cushion cut diamonds

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.

Examples of ASET Images For Other Fancy Shapes

comparison of princess cut aset images

Pretty obvious that the top most princess cut has the best light performance

Another Example Using Heart Shaped Diamonds

gemologist review of heart shaped diamonds

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.


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.

Here’s A Summary On Shopping for a Fancy Shaped Diamond:


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!


Why James Allen And Not Anywhere Else?


* 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.

When you are ready to shop, I highly recommend that you start your search at James Allen. Once you experience their video technology for yourself, you’ll see why they are like no other vendors and why they have tons of raving customers about their service.

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.

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  1. vincent a savoca-
    August 12, 2013 at 5:19 am

    I am glad I’ve done my homework some what. In looking at a princess cut diamond for my girlfriend’s center stone, I have decided too buy the diamond and then pick a setting too her liking. Your information has made me think about buying online at Ebay.

    Even though the seller has a 100% feedback rating since 2007, I am unsure if he can give me the ASET proof. As you have stated, what good is a bigger diamond if the light goes through it, or out to the side of the gem? I am going to look at loose stones at James Allen. After going through 2 marriages in my past, I never really did my diamond research. I hope the third one is a charm and I want her wearing the best.

  2. Paul Gian-
    August 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Congrats and all the best for your upcoming marriage. Feel free to get in contact with me privately if you need further advice on your purchase.

  3. N A KHAN-
    December 1, 2015 at 11:45 am


    I went through your website and wanted to buy diamonds from you, please let me know the fairest prices of VVS1 3 CARATS IN J SHADE and VSI- 1 CARAT IN H SHADE.

    Warmest Regards


  4. Paul Gian-
    December 6, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I don’t sell diamonds. That’s how I keep my advice impartial. You can do your own comparisons of pricing using the information here:

  5. Paul Hankey-
    January 27, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Your website is awesome! I have learned more from you than any other educational site. What about negotiating price with vendors?
    They must expect someone to offer less than asking price? What is reasonable without insulting them?
    Thanks again, I congratulate you on your desire to master this industry and truthfully communicate it to the consumer

  6. Paul Gian-
    January 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Research your own prices here:

    And use it as a leverage. Don’t worry about “insulting” the jeweler. If they can’t compete on prices, you can always walk away and find another.

  7. Kara-
    April 11, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    I’m doing my research now and found your site. Looking for a 1.5-2 carat pear. I’m finding the best information on diamonds and deals on enchanted diamond. 20x video, ASET images, GIA reports, online chat, 30 day returns. Have you heard of this site? If so what is your opinion. Diamond pro did a pretty good review of them. Seemingly better prices and better looking diamonds than James Allen. Does James Allen give a kickback to you? Just trying to get a clear idea of all info I am getting. Thank you.

  8. Paul Gian-
    April 12, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Both companies are reliable. Enchanted Diamonds has a smaller inventory of fancy shaped pears with video listings.

  9. Roberto-
    June 12, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Hello Paul , you offer any kind of paid advices? Like help me to find the right diamond and I pay to you.

  10. Paul Gian-
    June 13, 2016 at 2:19 am

    I don’t charge visitors a fee for asking questions or helping them pick a diamond. Feel free to email me in private with what you are looking for and I’ll try my best to address questions you have.

  11. bach-
    June 21, 2016 at 8:00 am

    hi Paul,

    I need your advise on selecting the most sparkling and fire between these two diamonds

    G 2.4 carats vvs1 depth 62 and table 58 with triple Xs and medium fluorescence

    E 2.3 carats IF depth 62.5 and table 57 triple Xs and strong flu

    please be advise which will provide better firing or do you have any recommendation of a similar diamond

    thank you

  12. Paul Gian-
    June 21, 2016 at 2:11 pm
  13. Gary-
    August 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Hi Paul, for the ideal cut oval diamond, most other websites recommend depth % around 57 to 61, while you recommend 62-67%. why?

  14. Paul Gian-
    August 16, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Have you even read the content on properly and fully understood it?

    Re-read again and you should have your answers.

  15. Lewis-
    September 20, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Unfortunately, you should consider updating your blanket recommendation of James Allen. It seems they are holding a lot of their diamonds in India and cannot get ASET images of these diamonds. Only one out of four diamonds I asked about was in the New York office and available for ASET imaging.

  16. Paul Gian-
    September 22, 2016 at 4:28 am

    Sorry about that. James Allen has been expanding their operations and had built up a larger inventory of diamonds from international suppliers. As things are at the moment, there is no quick fix but with experience, you can actually determine light performance from the videos alone without the need for an ASET. If you need help, just drop me a message in private and I’ll help you out.

  17. MonCloudie-
    October 17, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you so much for all the educations! Otherwise, my boyfriend and I would never be able to pick a decent stone. We are thinking to purchase a 2 carat princess cut ring. I have a few options, and would love to pick up your brains. Thanks!!

  18. Andreas H-
    January 11, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Hello Paul,

    I am looking for an oval diamond an have found this;

    Is there anything you could tell me based on this info? would you reckon its a good buy? Have understood that ovals are particularly difficult to buy unseen/online.

    Thanks in advance for any input you may have!

  19. Paul Gian-
    January 13, 2017 at 3:03 am

    Andreas, you found a well cut oval and the stone is eyeclean. Well done!

  20. Amy-
    February 1, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I’m trying to find a cushion cut that has a larger spread to give the illusion of being bigger than it is! I found this on Blue Nile and am wondering if it’s any good? Any advice would be very much appreciated! Thank you!

  21. Paul Gian-
    February 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    It’s a well cut cushion. Great find!

  22. Amy-
    February 2, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Thank you for your help!

  23. Alexander-
    March 22, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Hello Paul i have a question
    i just purchased a cushion cut diamond. Could you please look at this link and tell me is it a good choice ?

    My only concern is the fluorescence faint or i need to look with NONe fluorescence

  24. Paul Gian-
    March 27, 2017 at 9:52 am

    The fluorescence is not an issue I would be concerned with. Faint ratings will not change affect the appearance of the diamond in any manner. No worries there.

  25. Mike-
    April 25, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Since buying fancy shapes online is the recommended approach, do you have any recommendations or best practices when it comes to getting the diamond bought online set at a local jewelry store? I suppose my main concern is how to make sure the diamond doesn’t get switched out or anything while the ring is being made (heard stories, or at least suspicions), but I imagine there may be more issues or concerns I haven’t heard or thought of either.

    Also, when looking at these images for diamonds online (e.g. at James Allen) I’m able to see a lot of marks on and in the diamond–marks I’m assuming I wouldn’t be able to see while looking at it normally? If so, how can I tell by looking at these pictures online that it will be eye clean? I read the section regarding this but didn’t follow how you made the conclusion that it was eye clean, except for the really obvious ones haha.

    Finally, I noticed in the comment above that you mentioned you can get an idea of light performance based on the video alone. Could you explain that as well?

    Thanks, and I appreciate all the help!

  26. Paul Gian-
    April 25, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Mike, here are answers to your different questions…

    1) Read: and


    3) Based on experience. Once you view enough diamonds in real life and correlating them to the video (plus idealscope/ASET), you will be able to do this as well.

  27. Mike-
    April 26, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Thanks Paul!

  28. Maurice-
    May 19, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Have been reading everything you have posted, I feel like I’m better qualified then any sales person I’ve been speaking with “thanks to you”.

    Found these diamonds on Enchanted Diamonds:
    STOCK # E184-524785054 // liked this one the most but they don’t have ASET for it. I’ll have to purchase it first (it’s in Chicago)
    STOCK # E183-428683263 //
    STOCK # E200-42Z414137 //
    STOCK # E201-3062Z8453 //
    My wife really like the Emerald cut, but I think the round is prettier.
    Anyway the first one in the list don’t have a ASET and the person I spoke with at ED said I should wait for a better cut diamond, can’t see why he would say that.
    Thanks in advance

  29. Paul Gian-
    May 20, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Maurice, the emerald cut diamond is pretty well cut:

    As for the choice of shape, it would be wise for you to follow your wife’s preference.

  30. Nate-
    May 24, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Thank you so much for all of this information to help me make a better buying decision! I was told by my local jeweler, a certified GIA gemologist since 1976, not to trust any diamonds that come from Blue Nile or anything that you can’t look at personally. He said that he often rejects these “internet stones” that come in with the GIA reports which he claims are sometimes 1-3 levels off of what he would grade the same diamond. This makes me nervous about buying online and trusting the GIA report. Could this be true, or is this simply a sales technique to sway me from purchasing online? I think I have a decent grasp on the 4 C’s / ASET / Idealscope components to finding the perfect diamond thanks to your post! Is there anything else I should consider purchasing a princess cut? Thanks for your help!!

  31. Paul Gian-
    May 24, 2017 at 9:19 am

    That’s a joke! If this “certified” GIA gemologist claims so, he or she is an idiot and out to rip you off. First of all, GIA certifies no one. Secondly, use your brain and think. Is a GIA report for a diamond SOLD by him different from a GIA report from an online vendor? It isn’t. Just do your research and you’ll know who is BSing you and who isn’t.

  32. Tracey Hopkis-
    March 21, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I have been looking for a 7 carat Radiant or Cushion VS2 F color eternity ring. Who would be your preferred seller?

  33. Paul Gian-
    March 21, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    This url will address your questions:

  34. Courtney-
    May 3, 2018 at 6:50 am


    I’m looking for a pear shaped diamond however I’m not sure what ratio to go with. Research online has indicated length to width ratio of 1.45-1.78 to be best although your recommendation is less than this. I don’t want the diamond to look to chubby or to skinny. Wondering what your thoughts are.

    Thank you.

  35. Paul Gian-
    May 3, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Length to width ratios are really up to personal preferences. Now, I would say that 1.75 for pear shape would make it completely lose its shape appeal. I generally recommend 1.33 – 1.40 if you want a nice outline for the stone.

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