Diamond Buying Guide: How to Buy a Diamond Online

Use our diamond buying guide as a resource to learn the ins and outs of how to buy a diamond online. Now that you’ve decided the one you’re with is the one you want to be with for the rest of your life (and hey, congratulations, by the way), it’s only opened the door to a hundred other decisions. But finding the right ring for your fiance-to-be can be a fun and straight-forward process, as long as you:

  1. Learn how diamonds are rated and priced.
  2. Find a trustworthy seller, like BlueNile or James Allen and shop around.

Education is the key to buying confidently

Below are two separate diamonds, one is $5,000, the other $1,000. Can you which one’s which?

Can you tell the $1,000 diamond from the $5,000 diamond? Can you tell the $1,000 diamond from the $5,000 diamond?

You might have guessed that the diamond on the right is our more expensive stone, and you’re right! But do you know why?

While the words “online” or “internet” may still carry a stigma when it comes to dating or the purchase of high-priced collectibles, cars, and jewelry, buying the same products in brick-and-mortar stores isn’t in itself a guarantee against scams. There are just as many ways for consumers to be ripped off when it comes to buying diamonds in person as there are online.

The best thing to do to guard against scamming is get as much of two things as you can before shopping: education and information. Knowledge is, in fact, power when it comes to diamond buying.

The Four C’s

Our diamond buying guide starts with the four basic C’s: Cut, color, clarity and carat.

While they are subjective in terms of their order of importance, many experts stress cut first. Cut is a measure of the diamond’s polish, proportion and symmetry. The better the cut, the larger and more brilliant the diamond looks.

Here are two diamonds with different cuts. One with a “Good” cut (left) and one with a “True Hearts” cut (right). Notice how the diamond on the right reflects the light more brilliantly.

Diamond, Good CutTrue Hearts Cut Diamond

James Allen has a terrific interactive tool that lets you thoroughly inspect each type of diamond. Take a look and see for yourself the different a diamond’s cut can make.

Carat is probably the next most important factor as it’s a measure of its weight, and therefore the most direct determinant of its value. This is the least subjective and most definitive measure, and also the hardest to screw around with, but that doesn’t keep some sellers from trying.

While diamonds can come in just about every color of the rainbow, it’s primarily the ranges of white that most buyers and collector are concerned with. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rates white diamond’s body color in from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow).

Clarity simply means how many — or how few — blemishes or flaws there are in the diamond. Again, the GIA employs a ratings system ranging from perfect or flawless to “imperfect 3.” The fewer flaws, the greater the value.

Avoiding unimportant factors used in diamond marketing

Now that you know the basics of how to buy a diamond, it’s time for the real education to begin. There are a bunch of bogus terms people in the business of selling diamonds use to confuse and/or trick you into paying more. Familiarize yourself with these terms (like “blue-white diamonds, fracture filling, and chemical color coatings.”)

Also know specific and telling terms like “carat total weight, exact weight (rather than rounded off), and laser drilling.” Refer to our diamond buying guide for definitions and to learn about which terms you should care about and which should raise a red flag.

And lastly, many of the terms often associated with disreputable used-car dealers also apply to unethical diamond sellers. Terms and words like “bait-and-switch”, the old switcheroo, inflated list prices, 50-percent and going-out-of-business sales also bear as much of a hard and in-depth look with a cynical eye as they do on the car lot. Use your common sense and make sure you find a reputable dealer—whether online or off—that comes recommended (and preferably without a used-car-guy-moustache).

It may sound like a lot, but just like in almost any other high-ticket item shopping, the more informed the buyer, the better the result. Like we said, Diamond Buying School has your back, so check out our many valuable helps and hints throughout the site!

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Shop for diamonds or design your own ring now. Shop confidently with James Allen or Blue Nile, our recommended jewelers.