Buying a diamond isn’t necessarily “cheap” no matter how you define it.Diamonds are expensive, whether you’re spending $1000 or $10,000. They are a precious gemstone, and the supply is tightly controlled. However, their beauty and longevity remain unquestioned by millions, and in our opinion diamonds are fabulous and we love them. So, when you’re looking to score a huge, high quality diamond “on the cheap” it may not always be the exact bargain deal you imagine. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Please also bear in mind that the definition of huge varies from person to person, with large differences between those with/without y chromosomes, and those on opposite side of the age of 35. However, getting the biggest and best diamond you can afford shouldn’t be a budget-buster. And with these tips, it won’t be.
Certificate: The 5th C. We’re starting out with this because it’s the great equalizer. A diamond certificate guarantees that you’re getting what you’re paying for. However it likely will raise the price of the diamond. Though this factor probably has the lowest impact on price, making it an excellent peace of mind. If you know diamonds very well (i.e. you’ve spent time in the business or you’ve bought several) then you probably know everything we’re about to say, and you can probably tell when jeweler is fluffing up a K color and calling it an H. However if you’re new to the diamond buying game, stick with certified stones. This rule applies doubly if you’re buying an engagement ring online.
Carat Weight: This is where the huge part comes in. You want a big diamond, right? Well the diamond industry pricing wizards know that. And thus, they set the diamond prices to jump exponentially at the carat and half carat marks. So a 2 carat diamond won’t be twice the price of a 1 carat stone, even if they are identical in color, clarity, cut and certified by the same lab. The best way to save here is to purchase a stone a few tenths of a carat away from your desired weight. So if you’re shopping for a 3 carat diamond, open your search up to everything between 2.80 – 2.99 carats to maximize your budget. If you find a 2.80 carat diamond with good “spread” it means it looks bigger than it weighs. So you’re paying thousands less for a stone that looks exactly like a much more expensive 3 carat.
Clarity: Your wiggle room with clarity depends entirely on the shape of the diamond you want. Ok, also the skill of the jeweler setting it. But let’s back up. If you want an emerald cut, or any other step cut (like Asscher), you need a better clarity grade than a brilliant cut. The brilliant cuts (round, pear, heart, radiant, oval, marquise, princess, cushion) have more facets, and so they hide their flaws better. An SI2 (Slightly Included 2) grade on a round brilliant diamond might be hardly noticeable, especially if the inclusions can be hidden by the ring’s setting. Whereas an SI2 emerald cut may look cloudy, dirty, or generally less appealing. For a step cut, aim for a VS (Very Slightly Included) clarity grade, and for brilliant cuts you should be in good shape with an SI grade, to get the most bang for your buck.
Color: Color probably gives you the most flexibility. Color grade distinctions are incredibly difficult to perceive by the untrained eye, even in the right environment.A diamond in natural light, surrounded by the environmental colors (clothing, paint colors, greenery outside) is going to look white until you get very high into the diamond color scale. So while D is the best, colorless diamond grade, a J color diamond is still going to look white (unless, of course it’s placed next to the D color.) However, just like carat weight, color grades jump exponentially at certain points. Diamonds in the colorless range (D-F) command a premium. Diamonds that are near colorless (G-J) are the perfect mix of value and beauty. For an even better deal you can go up to the faint color category (K-M) and still have a beautiful stone with very very faint undertones. It would appear more “warm” than actually colored.
Cut: We forbid you to skimp here. Cut makes a diamond beautiful or flat. It gives a diamond its fire, its life. You cannot cut corners here, or your hard work to get the best deal using the factors above is wasted. What’s the point of a big diamond with beautiful color and great clarity if it looks dull and glasslike because of subpar proportions? So here, friend, splurge for the best diamond cut you can afford with the other factors in place.