Practical, real world differences in diamond quality?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by puma1552, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. puma1552 macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Looking at ye old engagement rings. I've read all there is to read on the four Cs from good online places like, etc., so I know about what to look for etc.

    But, like any other thing, you quickly find yourself obsessing over diamond specs and comparing numerous diamonds that in all reality are probably more or less the damn same at the end of the day.

    While I'd love to get an ideal cut, D color, F/IF clarity diamond, it really pushes the price envelope for the setting I am sold on.

    Truthfully, I'd love to get a .35-.40 diamond, as it's actually affordable to get a perfect diamond with the 4C characteristics above but also with no culet and no fluorescence, excellent polish and excellent symmetry.

    However unfortunately, the setting I really think is perfect for her can only be set with 0.5 ct. or larger diamonds. As some of you know who've diamond shopped, the price jump is more than double to get a perfect diamond in .5 ct.; even going to E/F color and VVS2 clarity still brings in a premium when it's a half carat (cut is the most important, I will not budge from an ideal cut no matter what).

    But unfortunately the setting demands a half a carat minimum.

    So my question is, how much REAL WORLD difference is there between a perfect diamond and something running in the F/G color range and VVS2/VS1 clarity (again ideal cut)? This assumes other things, like culet, fluorescence, symmetry and polish are all held constant--really just talking about the 4C differences here.

    I mean is there going to be jack ***** of a real, practical, visual difference between a G/VS1 diamond and a D/IF diamond to the naked eye?

    Or let me spin it this way:

    Would you:

    A) Buy the setting that isn't as nice, with a better diamond even if it's smaller


    B) Buy the better setting, and get a lower quality diamond that's a little larger?

    FTR, all other things equal, B would still be $400-600 more expensive than A because the setting in B is more expensive.

    I've always been a fan of having something that may be smaller/whatever but absolute top quality than bigger/whatever at the price of quality...but I'm torn here, because the setting makes a big difference and is the most visual thing, and I really really like the setting that goes with the bigger ring (and so will she). So this time, I'm thinking maybe it's better to look at the whole package, a big diamond of pretty good quality in an awesome setting vs a smaller diamond of perfect quality in a so-so setting. But I'm not really sure at what color/clarity cutoffs a diamond becomes truly considered kind of crappy. I realize the differences in each, but just not sure where the imaginary line between "nice diamond" and "decent diamond" lies.

  2. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    For me I would go with a white diamond.
    As for me like VS because all that matters to me is not being able to see any problems unless it is under magnification. It is a lot cheaper and it is not like anyone on the street could ever tell or anyone looking at the stone with out magnification could see any problems.
  3. SlovakApple macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2010
    In the heart of Europe
    I think you should compare the price difference to the quality difference in real life settings. Paying more for quality which you can see only under laboratory conditions may not be optimal. My 2 cents to this topic. Decide yourself after all.
  4. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    And therein lies the crux--at what point in terms of color/clarity does it transition from just differences under a microscope in a lab to real world?

    FTR I found a diamond that is ideal cut, D color, and VS1 clarity in 0.5 carat with excellent polish/symmetry, no fluorescence, etc. for a decent price. I'm wondering if this isn't the best way to go--top cut, pure white, but balancing between clarity and price since VS1 AFAIK is still magnification-grade defects or very nearly magnification-grade defects...the VS1 knocks the price down about $300-$400 from a nearly identical VVS2 diamond so maybe I found the balance, especially since they say clarity matters the least?

    Being a man really blows sometimes.:eek:
  5. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    Does your wife-to-be carry around a microscope at all times to check the cut and clarity of diamonds she happens to come across? :D

    I'm guessing not... try to not sweat the details unless you happen to be Prince William Lord Duke Arrington the XXVII of the Hampfordshire Province in Lower East Dunworth (or if she happens to be Princess Annabelle of the Hampfordshire Province in Lower East Dunworth). Hehe... I know, I went through what you went through and believe me... they're not looking for the Perfect Diamond. The fact that it's you giving it is what makes it the perfect diamond. Good luck. :)
  6. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    Get a 1 CT, SI1 or SI2, G or close and she’ll be happy. You don’t need any VS and having no color is just not worth it.

    Oh, and size does matter. Try to get as close to a 1 that you can.
  7. Rapmastac1 macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2006
    In the Depths of the SLC!
    I wouldn't waste your money on a diamond. Most people will notice the setting before noticing the quality of the diamond. The money you save by not buying a diamond is money you can use to get a nicer setting.

    FYI, this isn't a spam site, it explains why diamonds suck and why the alternative is better. I know when I come to this point, I'll be getting one of these instead and use the money I saved on a more memorable vacation. The only thing that lasts longer than diamonds are experiences.
  8. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    What would she like?

    Is she a 'diamonds are a girl's best friend' type, or would she prefer the money be spent elsewhere?

    I don't disagree, but if you end up with a significant other that really wants a diamond, trust me - you'll be getting her a diamond. ;)
  9. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    Get a good quality CZ. You have a better than 50% chance of the marriage not lasting anyway. ;)
  10. duncanapple macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2008
    Coming from someone who extensively researched online and in stores about 2 years ago now...

    No doubt quality is important - ie dont buy what is basically a lump of coal just because its big.

    However with each C there is both a point of diminishing return, where as each step up costs exponentially more, and there is also a point where the naked eye can no longer tell the difference. That is the point I stop worrying about b/c after you purchase the ring, no one else will ever use magnification on it again, including your bride to be (unless she is a gold digger :) which we will assume she isn't!)

    Just my opinion, but;
    - I would set a clarity floor of VS2 (to me you can't see any inclusions with the naked eye at that point).
    - I would get an "ideal" cut (highest cut quality) or whatever the next step down is called. It seemed like this verbiage differed a little bit from jeweler to jeweler, but the "sparkle" makes or breaks the ring. Also pay attention to table depth here
    - I would stay in the colorless range (D,E,F) or maybe the first step into the near colorless range (G). I could always tell the diamonds that were a tad more yellow. YMMV on that.
    - Once you set the floor on those above three, set a budget and then max out the carat size. Sure I do really believe you can get too big, but most normal peoples budgets max out before that happens :)

    Finally some advice on where to buy. I went the online route. I used I didn't buy into the whole buy local and "you get free cleanings if you buy it from here" or "we will replace the diamond free if it falls out." I didn't for a couple reasons. Number one, I saved thousands online and got a much better diamond and an almost infinite selection. Two, in order to cover theft, I took out a separate homeowners policy for the ring anyway (and would have even if I bought local). There is no deductible and they too will replace the diamond if it were to fall out, in addition to the theft coverage I need anyway.

    Good luck! Regardless just remember to not get in over your head. The girl and engagement itself are far more important. At the end of the day its literally a polished pebble from the ground and its NOT worth starting your married life together in debt to get it. Not that you would but you see a lot of people (some of my friends included) getting loans to buy this stuff or financing it. Not worth it IMHO.
  11. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    I agree with most of what's there. Diamonds (and gold) are not a good investment. And two months take home pay? That's EIGHT house payments!!!!

    That said, my wife's diamond is small, but in a classy setting that really shows it off. Couldn't tell you the ratings on the stone...I never asked. She loves it, not because of how much it cost or the size of the stone, but because it came from me.

    And because I didn't over spend on the ring, I was able to take advantage of a good deal to get a set of diamond ear rings and set them back for our first anniversary! And paid for all of it with cash...
  12. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Have you looked at laboratory diamonds? The gem grade ones are usually VS or better and are usually 1/3 the price of natural diamonds.
  13. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Thanks for the tips so far. She definitely is a simple/classy girl, so I'm going with a really nice solitaire setting--I'm gonna get the better one. She's Japanese so simplicity and elegance are kind of part of her culture to begin with already, hence the solitaire.

    She would be happy with anything I think in any size, but I think I can swing that .5 ct. ideal/D/VS1 diamond, or something close to it. I think I will stick with ideal cut, D-F color, and VS1+ clarity. I'll be buying from I won't buy any moissanite/fake diamonds.

    Other tips welcome.
  14. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    After thinking for a couple days, I'm definitely going with the one I listed above. Total ring cost comes in at $2770 which isn't too bad, but I can also get $90 off with a coupon code so $2680, and no sales tax. Pretty good deal IMO. Will have almost all the money when I get paid next, so I'll probably order it in a month and then I'll have it in time for Christmas.

    Here's the setting I've decided on (in platinum):
  15. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Someone bought my diamond last week, boooo.

    I got another one picked out though, but now im paranoid someones gonna snatch this one up too
  16. wvuwhat macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2007
    I'd go with option B. That setting looks fabulous, this coming from a straight guy.

    I think too much thought goes into buying a ring. You know her best and in the back of your head, you know what'd she'd like. Diamonds are a fickle beast, you know she'd never know the difference between a pristine diamond and are weighing the options, because *you* will know that you got a cheaper quality diamond. In the end...she'll be happy with whatever you go with.

    I went through this whole buying thing 2 years ago, luckily for me I found out before I bought it that she wasn't the "one."
  17. P-Worm macrumors 68020


    Jul 16, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I actually just went through the engagement thing. I bought a 2 ct. Moissanite ring for $830 and it turned out absolutely gorgeous. Yes, she decided on a moissanite stone before I bought it, so I didn't try to pull a fast one on her. But she couldn't be happier with the results.

  18. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    youre a lucky man!

    actually mine would too, shed be happy with an onion ring

    but i have a taste for the best so it would look bad if i only have a taste for the best for myself lol, this gives me leeway to buy top end stuff for myself later lol
  19. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    I don't get what the big deal is with diamonds, particularly solitaires. I think with solitaires that single stone is making a statement and anything less than a carat is sort of a non-statement. :eek: This sounds terribly prissy (and I'm really not) but that is precisely why I don't [personally] like solitaires. They either need to be big enough to carry off or don't bother. (IMO) They're overpriced and often come from dodgy sources as it is.

    I also don't fully understand why so many people go for the traditional surprise proposal with ring in hand. Personally I am SO glad my husband proposed and we went ring shopping together. We were able to talk about it rationally before so I knew what price range we were in and I got exactly what I wanted because of it. As I posted in the above paragraph, I am a bit fussy about what I want but I probably wouldn't have had the heart to say that I didn't like what he picked out so I am endlessly relieved that he let me choose. (FWIW, this is what I picked and the only ring I wear. Platinum and I forget what the diamond colour and clarity is. Somewhere in the upper middle area between amazing and not)

    Anyway, just a thought to give merit to the idea of asking and picking the ring together.
  20. jimN macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2005
    Have been engaged twice. First time out I proposed with the ring but made a conservative choice with the design - tiffanys, platinum, solitaire etc.

    This time round I went to a jeweller that I liked, he made up a very simple ring that I proposed with and she now wears on the other hand and then we went back together to choose a ring. It was an enjoyable experience and I was a little surprised that she kept asking to see smaller diamonds, not larger. Ultimately the setting was very important to her as she's a practical person and didn't want a diamond sticking out miles from her hand so we now have a "unique" ring (it was made for us and designed from our descriptions of other rings but I'm sure you could find similar out there) that entirely meets her specifications. We were able to set a budget and the jeweller worked within that with the carat of diamond we wanted (he'd shown us similar sized diamonds mounted on a plain band with blu-tac) to provide good quality stones on the metal we could afford (which turned out to be platinum). We've 3 diamonds and I believe they're VSI and f/g, to be honest, now it's on her finger and I know she loves it, I'm not fussed. At the end of the day it's not about the ring it's about what it means.

    Forget all that salary crap too. Only spend what you can afford. You'll never live in the ring nor drive it to the shops!!
  21. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Interesting perspective, thanks.

    IMO it makes the most sense to put a smaller diamond in a solitaire setting, as it has nothing to be compared to; surely it would look worse to put a smaller diamond next to a bunch of smaller diamonds lined in the setting?

    I looked for about 3 minutes at the settings with other stones in them, and then I quickly found myself wondering why these settings (regardless of from who) were really little/no more than a platinum solitaire setting, and then I realized it's because all those little diamonds are pretty low quality (at least of what I've seen), and like H/I/J color. I dunno.

    A one carat is way to big for her little size 4.75 ring finger and her little hands, I don't think she'd want something that big...nor could I afford it--for an ideal/D/VS1, the *cheapest* diamond they have is over $11k. Even if I go down to an ideal/G/VS2 (I won't budge from an ideal cut, it's the most important of the 4 Cs), the *cheapest* one is $6400. Just way, way too expensive for me, because the setting is another $900 and then I am out $100 for shipping to Japan, and that would be something like $500+ in duty, so it very, very quickly approaches $8k just to have what's effectively 1-1.2mm more in diameter (since of course the physical size change isn't linear with carat weight).

    So I basically could spend about $3200-$3300 all inclusive (which is pushing the envelope but the max doable) to have an ideal/D/VS1 @ .5 carat, or close to $8k for an ideal/G/VS2 @ 1 carat...the former definitely sounds better to me.

    I was reading that the average engagement ring Stateside is around 1 carat and I just thought to myself "holy crap." lol. To me the $3k zone seems like a pretty good target to get something really nice without going overboard. I can basically get everything I/she would want at that price.

    I do appreciate the input though.:)
  22. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    I think clarity is slightly more important than the colour so if you have to make a choice between having one of those better, take the clarity because it affects how it sparkles. To be honest, I don't think you would be able to spot the difference between a D, E and F with the naked eye. F is still quite colourless.
  23. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Actually, it's the other way around--clarity is the least important; cut is the most important, as that's the quality that determines how much the diamond sparkles, because it needs to have ideal geometry to reflect the maximum amount of light; they always say don't compromise on cut. Color is the next important, though you are right, most people will never be able to tell D from G. The least important is clarity though because anything VS2 or better will be eye clean to the naked eye and require magnification to see the impurities. What you CAN do is get a yellowish diamond that shows strong fluorescence, as the blue and yellow can cancel each other out, making the diamond appear whiter.

    The jewelers say it's a common misconception by the public to place a high emphasis on clarity, but it in fact has the most negligible effect on the light performance of the diamond because in all but the worst grades, the impurities are microscopic. They say if you sacrifice anywhere, make it clarity, and then color--but never sacrifice cut if possible. Carat weight of course just falls in wherever your budget ends when you determine the other 3 Cs minimums. Of course that said you can go over to James Allen's site and search for the lowest clarity grades and look at the photos to have some major LOLs @ how horrible some of those look to the naked eye, lol.

    I feel like I could go work in Israel now that I've done all this research the past two months, sadly I even know what the ideal angles etc are for the pavilion and crown, etc...let's just say I'm glad the research is behind me, ugh
  24. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England

    Hmm, okay, I can certainly believe that. I suppose I am part of the misconception then. I do agree cut is most important. I didn't think to address that point because you seemed to be aware of that already. However, being as I have seen a diamond with poor clarity, which may have also had a poor cut, I would rather have something with more colour than less clarity. (if you get what I mean.) I just didn't want you thinking that the only decent diamond was a D colour because they're not so easy to come by and you really can't easily tell the difference between them and a few letters down.

    Anyway, best of luck with all this. :)
  25. jimN macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2005
    Given neither of you are gemologists (can't believe that's a real word), i would suggest on agreeing that the most important C is the one you feel it is. As I've said before an engagement ring isn't about it being a diamond ring it's about the sentiment that goes along with it.

    All of the 4 Cs are important, cut will determine sparkly-ness to an extent as certain cuts have more facets to them but a dull diamond won't catch the light the same way.

    A big diamond can look vulgar and I certainly wouldn't want my other half wandering around looking like a tasteless WAG.

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