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  • Writer's pictureValerieBound

Buying a diamond online? Be smart.

Whenever I tell people I’m a gemologist, they always ask me about their wedding rings. And since most wedding rings have diamonds, I end up talking to people about diamonds quite a bit. Mainly, people want to make sure they got a “good deal” on their diamond. I interpret that to mean they didn’t overpay or spend a bunch of money, only to end up with a cubic zirconia.

Buying a diamond online

Now, if you’ve been around the blog, you’ll know I’m an avid online shopper and I firmly believe you can and should buy jewelry online. More and more people do it all the time. But people get skittish when they’re dropping some serious dollars, and so a lot of people ask me about buying diamonds online. For a purchase that can easily cost thousands of dollars, should you buy your diamond online? And unequivocally, the answer is YES!

However, I will also say this: if you’re someone who’s simply not comfortable shopping online, don’t. Don’t begin your foray into online shopping with a super expensive product. But if you’ve bought plenty of other things online and you’re comfortable, diamonds are truly no different.

Let me tell you why.

<img class=" wp-image-6539 lazyload" src="" alt="online diamond substitute" width="500" height="375" srcset=" 1280w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 510w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /> Think this is a diamond? It’s not. It’s moissanite, a common diamond simulant, or substitute.

Online diamonds all look the same

I suppose this isn’t a technically true statement. But for the average American couple shopping for an engagement ring, I doubt they’d be able to pick out “their” diamond once it’s outside the ring setting. Diamonds are gorgeous, but they’re best when they’re cut in a way to show off their superior sparkle. And so most diamonds are cut the same way. It’s called a round brilliant cut. And I am just one of millions of American women who have one.

<img class=" wp-image-6533 lazyload" src="" alt="round brilliant diamond bought online" width="501" height="368" srcset=" 550w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 501px) 100vw, 501px" /> An example of the round brilliant cut in a simple setting

They’re very pretty and very sparkly! It’s because they are cut with mathematical precision to enhance their brilliance. Because the brilliance of diamonds is their best quality.

But line up 10 round brilliant diamonds, of roughly the same carat size, and you’ll see they’re almost indistinguishable from one another. And so yes, they look the same, but there’s nothing wrong with that. My point is that it’s better for YOU, the online purchaser. When you have a product with just slight variations, it’s easier to shop for it.

<img class=" wp-image-6562 lazyload" src="" alt="Round brilliant diamonds in different settings" width="501" height="501" srcset=" 800w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 501px) 100vw, 501px" /> Examples of different settings using round brilliant diamonds

Comparison shop for diamonds online

This, to me, comparison shopping is what makes being an online shopper so fantastic! You can go to 10 different stores and compare products and price points in a hour or so. It’s hard to beat that kind of convenience. No running around town. No pushy salespeople. And no one asking you about your “budget.” You can look around and do your own research, without any judgement, from the comfort of your own home.

<img class=" wp-image-6544 lazyload" src="" alt="online diamond comparison" width="756" height="410" srcset=" 1600w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 756px) 100vw, 756px" /> Look how easy Blue Nile makes it to comparison shop!

For example, if you’re shopping online for diamonds at Blue Nile, it’s incredibly easy.  You can see from the picture above how they compare similar diamonds. They are all round brilliant cuts, between .70 and .90 carats. The color and clarity vary, but not significantly. The price difference is about $900 between the five different diamonds. But it’s abundantly clear where your dollars go. The most expensive diamond in this group is the one with the highest carat weight. Because that’s really what you pay for. Bigger diamonds are more expensive. Always.

The 4 C’s help you online

The great thing about shopping and buying diamonds online is the 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity, and carat). If you’ve researched buying diamonds at all, you know about the 4 C’s. And I do too! They’re burned into my brain from hours and hours of lectures! The best thing about the system is that it allows YOU, the online consumer, to make an apples to apples comparison with diamonds.

<img class=" wp-image-6554 lazyload" src="" alt="diamond halo ring" width="500" height="500" srcset=" 1080w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /> A beautiful round brilliant diamond in a rose gold setting from Brilliant Earth

Grading online diamonds

All diamonds must be graded. This includes online diamonds. Your diamond MUST be graded by a reputable, accredited gemological laboratory. These are:

  1. My alma mater – The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

  2. In my biased opinion, they’re the best. And they’re the ones who came up with the 4 C’s.

  3. EGL (European Gemological Laboratory)

  4. Diamond High Council (HRD, which is an abbreviation of the Dutch “Hoge Raad voor Diamant”)

  5. International Gemological Institute (IGI)

Gemologists quibble about which lab is superior. But the important thing for YOU is that your diamond was graded by a lab. NEVER, ever buy a diamond that hasn’t been graded. You will get ripped off.

These lab grades are sometimes referred to as “certs.”  Online retailers should let you view the certification. Here’s an example cert for a diamond from Blue Nile.

<img class=" wp-image-6558 lazyload" src="" alt="Online diamonds should come with a laboratory certification" width="600" height="370" srcset=" 1340w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w, 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" /> An example of a laboratory certification for an online diamond from Blue Nile

Top 3 tips for buying your diamond online

Like I said earlier, do not be afraid to buy your diamond online. Just be smart about it.

  1. Make sure you purchase from a reputable seller. This could be someone on ebay or a national company. Just do your homework. Ask around, read reviews. And know what their return and refund policies are.

  2. Make sure your diamond has been graded by a gemological laboratory.

  3. Use the 4 C’s to comparison shop, but know that carat weight is the one that makes the most difference in terms of dollars you pay.

I hope this is helpful for you. Happy online diamond shopping!


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