Once you decide you are going to propose with a diamond engagement ring, navigating your way through purchasing a loose diamond can be very overwhelming. Where do you start? What color and clarity do you want? What is your budget? And what the heck do all these clarity characteristics mean? Do you want a diamond with or without fluorescence? Should you buy a GIA or an EGL certified diamond? Honestly, there are so many questions and I bet it seems like an overwhelming process at first. However, there is help out there! There is an endless amount of diamond education online (some good, some bad) that can be a helpful way to get you started. Today I want to touch on a few main factors you should consider when starting your loose diamond search. As a GIA gemologist and with over 13 years experience in the jewelry industry, I feel I have almost mastered the search for a loose diamond. To me, the most important factors in a diamond are cut grade, certification, color and clarity as well as creating a balance between all of these factors and your budget.
I know you may still be thinking, “Where do I begin?” Here is where you I think you should begin!
Diamond Cut Grade
Diamond cut grade is arguably the most important factor in a loose diamond. The better the cut grade, the more brilliance, sparkle and fire the diamond will have. A diamond cut to poor proportions will create light leakage and the diamond will appear sleepy (dull with minimal brilliance) and will lack the sparkle you are most likely seeking. It’s tempting to buy a diamond with poor proportions such as a depth that’s too shallow as it will measure larger than other diamonds of the same carat weight. I am all for finding a diamond that gives you the most spread, but you have to remember to not sacrifice the cut grade in order to do so.
The two main grading laboratories we offer for our loose diamond search are GIA and EGL. In my personal opinion, GIA diamonds are typically graded the strictest. When buying EGL diamonds, you have to go down 1-3 color grades and 1-2 clarity grades to know what it would be in terms of GIA standards. For example, a D color VS2 EGL diamond may grade as F or G color, SI1 clarity GIA. However, sometimes EGL certified diamonds can give you a little more bang for your buck. You just have to know what you’re looking for and know that with an EGL diamond, you cannot expect GIA standards. Again, this is my personal opinion as a gemologist and what I see when GIA and EGL diamonds come across my desk. When conducting your loose diamond search, be sure to check both GIA and EGL diamonds and compare and contrast their qualities. It is important to evaluate all options.
Color and Clarity
We offer loose diamonds from D-J color and IF (internally flawless) to SI2 clarity. The combinations are endless and you may wonder where to start. I would say that the majority of diamonds we sell are F-I color (GIA standards) and VS-SI clarity. To me, this is a good jumping off point. In these ranges, the color and clarity are well balanced. To me, it doesn’t make sense to go super high clarity (VVS) and then I or J in color. As a gemologist, I would recommend coming down in the clarity (VS or possibly SI1) and going higher in color (G-H). Of course, there is a diamond for every customer, but I think starting with a balance between color and clarity is the best place to begin your search.
Budget is usually the driving factor in any diamond search. Budget will certainly dictate carat weight and diamond quality. However, no matter the budget, there is a diamond out there for you! Seek the advice of a professional who can help you get the best diamond for your budget. I pride myself on helping customers maximize their budget by selecting the best diamond for their budget. It is critical to create a balance between budget and quality. This will ensure you get the best diamond for your buck!
If you need assistance with your loose diamond search, please feel free to contact us. We have three GIA gemologists on staff eager to provide diamond education and to help you with your loose diamond purchase.
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