How to pick the best diamond on a $5000 budget

In this article I am going to show you how to choose the nicest possible diamond on a budget of $5000.

We’ll use DiamondWave for this example. DiamondWave own every single diamond they present on their website, so you are guaranteed you will actually get the diamond you choose. The majority of the diamonds they have are round brilliant, which are the most sought after type of diamonds for engagement rings. Their diamonds are all high quality, so there’s hardly any chance you can go wrong, so this is a good place to start for a first time buyer.

As we have set a budget of $5000 for this exercise ,  we’ll be using part of it for the loose diamond, and part of it for the ring setting.

The $5000 will have to cover:

1. The metal band

2. The gem (or gems)

If I first choose the metal for the ring then I’ll know how much I can budget for the diamond and any extra gems.

What’s best? Gold, Platinum, or Palladium?

I recommend  going with palladium.

Palladium offers all the benefits of the king of metals, platinum, but without the hefty price tag. As it is considerably easier on the wallet (comparable in price to 14K gold)  it leaves more for us to budget on the diamond. Very pure gold (24K to 18K) is generally not used in diamond jewelry. Pure gold is quite soft. Gold has to be mixed with other metals to make it durable enough to carry diamonds. And many people prefer the white look of platinum for diamond rings. There is also a type of metal that is marketed as “White gold”. This is yellow gold that has been dipped in rhodium to make its surface white. It’s like gold plating in reverse which is not the most sensible of options.

All that to say, palladium is a good choice. It’s a choice you won’t regret as it is an excellent metal for holding diamonds securely in place, and it is hypo-allergenic so anyone with sensitive skin won’t get a rash from it. Some people are allergic to some yellow gold alloys.

Read more about choosing metals at DiamondWave.

choosing a diamond ring setting
I’ll choose a solitaire ring setting. This displays the diamond nicely.

In this example I will be choosing a ring which is not the very cheapest, so I know it’s got some substance: A nice durable palladium ring. As you can see DiamondWave’s prices are also good in the ring department.

choose the ring size
Here I choose the ring size and whether there will be 4 prongs or 6 prongs to hold the diamond in place. I choose 4 prongs  since this is the right amount for holding the type of diamond I will be choosing whether Round Brilliant, Princess, Emerald Cut, or Asscher.


I then click Add This Setting To Ring. I am then presented with the Diamond Search page.

Searching for a Princess cut diamond.


I have $4,450 budgeted for the diamond after setting $550 aside for the setting.

I then slide the sliders to narrow my search according to my preferences. The most important one is Cut. I won’t even consider anything that has a cut less than Excellent. Diamond grading certificates only give a cut grade for round brilliant diamonds.  DiamondWave has confirmed that all their diamonds are a very good grade, or better. This makes searching for a good diamond at DiamondWave easy, since fancy cuts (like Princess, Asscher, Oval, and such) do not get their cut grade mentioned on the GIA certificate.

In order for the search parameters to show which Princess (or other fancy cut) diamonds are available I have to expand the parameters a little to include Very Good Cut.

Since DiamondWave have a 45 day return policy, there is plenty of time to inspect the merchandise and get a different stone if needed. But sticking to higher quality ones will minimize any chance of that happening.

Choosing the preferences for a princess cut diamond
Cut grade is very important. But color should not be neglected. Princess diamonds should be “I” color or lighter. If you can’t look at the diamond it’s a much safer bet to choose one with a clarity rating of VVS2 or higher.

The first two on this list make excellent candidates for an engagement ring. The first one is 4.8 mm across, and the second one 5.1mm across. I looked at their grading reports to get this information.

If you decide you want more choice you can always look at the round diamonds.

As DiamondWave have many more round brilliant diamonds in stock I performed a slightly different search. I decided to narrow it down by adjusting the carat weight slider; as well as the polish and symmetry sliders.

choosing preferences for a round brilliant diamond
Symmetry is quite important, so I’ve slid the slider way up to show only Excellent Symmetry. In order to show only sized that would look good in an engagement ring I have slid the Carat Weight to 0.65.

The search with the options you see in the image above gave me the choice of 11 round diamonds. There were also the two princess cut diamonds from the previous search to consider. All of them fall within the budget I set at the beginning of this exercise, and any one of those will be beautiful.

If you look at the prices displayed, you will see that all of them fall within the allocated amount, and if desired the largest one can be selected which is a 0.77 carat diamond, I color, for $3,604. Alternately the diamond with the highest color grade can be selected: 0.74 carat, G color, for $4,226. The size of the two will be indistinguishable. Even though the color difference will only be slight, G color diamonds are real nice, and might be the one you find more alluring.

Another nice thing about dealing with DiamondWave is that you can call them up and ask them to have a look at the diamond you are interested in. They’ll be able to give you a first hand account of what it looks like, which can be extremely helpful. I highly recommend this.

Start your own search now:

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