Question: Where can I find the nicest diamond engagement ring for $10,000?

In this article:

How to set parameters at JamesAllen to guarantee your finding a beautiful diamond.

But first: what not to do.

It is easy to assume that spending $10,000 would mean that you’re guaranteed to get the best diamond at the more than ideal engagement ring size of 1+ ct.

This is not necessarily so. If you focus only on size you could neglect other very important attributes which actually make the diamond look good.

For example here is a 1.56 Carat K-VS2 Very Good Cut Round Diamond.

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.56-carat-k-color-vs2-clarity-very-good-cut-sku-579691

It fits the budget, and has been given a “very good” cut grade by GIA.

There are, however a number of problems with this stone.

Let’s take a close look at why it’s not a good deal.

First of all it is a shallow cut.

diagram profile of diamond
Any round cut diamond with a depth less than 61% is generally going to be a shallow cut diamond. Its face up appearance will be dull. Light leaks out the sides and bottom rather than being reflected back to the eye. Click to view larger size.

 

With a depth of 59.40% this diamond is simply not going to return light through the table as would be the case with an diamond that has a depth ratio of 61%. It may seem like nothing, but light travels in very specific and predictable ways. A small variation in angle and everything goes awry. Most excellent or ideal cut diamonds have a depth of between 61% and 62%. You won’t want to get anything that varies too far from these depth percentages. This applies only to round cut diamonds or oval cut diamonds.

The table of this diamond is also fairly small, sitting at 55.2%. To get a decent of light return you really want something with a table that is around 57%,  58% or at the most 59%.

Here is what the diamond in question looks like when viewed face up. It looks extremely dark as very little light is being returned through the table and crown.

Also this diamond’s color is K, so it’s getting a bit on the pale yellowish side. Any round brilliant diamond whose color is past J will have noticeable color with very few exceptions. Occasionally you’ll find a super ideal cut diamond that sparkles so brightly that the K color is masked by its sheer brilliance. But this is extremely rare and usually people opt for G or H if they want to make sure that no color is noticeable.

It is also possible to set the diamond in a yellow gold ring if the diamond color is J or K or even more. The idea is that the optical illusion of the yellowish color of the gold doesn’t make the yellow of the diamond quite as noticeable. This has only limited results.

A colorless diamond will always be a better choice whether set in a yellow gold ring or in a platinum or palladium setting.

The setting’s color influences how the eye perceives the color by providing some contrast.

k color diamond's color is obvious.
The diamond is far from colorless once seen from a different angle. Click for enlargement.

All that to say that the diamond in question https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.56-carat-k-color-vs2-clarity-very-good-cut-sku-579691

would not be my first choice. Yes it’s a decent size, but the drawbacks are far too many to make up for them.

Finding the Nicest Diamond

It’s probably not a bad idea for me to start out by defining what I mean by “nicest.”

“Nicest” will mean different things to different people. I am going to go through the steps to get what I consider to be the nicest round brilliant diamond engagement ring for ten thousand dollars (US$10,000). I find that most diamond experts recommend similar options to the ones I will delineate below.

Round cut diamonds look best when they have less color and no visible inclusions. But they must be cut to excellent proportions or they will look dull as in the above example.

So you may think that if this stone costs so much that you don’t stand a chance of finding a real good looking stone. But if you tweak a few of the search parameters you can still find a fantastic stone.

The $10,000 Diamond Ring

Here we go.

Let’s narrow down the search to find you the best stone leaving a decent amount for the setting.

The setting

With a budget of $10,000 total for both the diamond and the setting you will have plenty of diamonds and settings to choose from. Most importantly you’ll be guaranteed to find a diamond over one carat, even if it’s not quite the 1.5 carats we had in the above example. And you will still have enough to cover a platinum ring with sidestones as well.

Here is a fine choice: https://www.jamesallen.com/engagement-rings/settings-with-sidestones/platinum-graduated-pave-swirl-engagement-ring-17871p.html

$1500 setting for $10000 engagement ring.
Platinum Graduated Pave Swirl setting for engagement ring. Budget: $10,000 total.

Platinum is the king of metals when it comes to diamond rings. It is stronger than gold so there’s less chance of any stones falling out.

In regards to the size of the diamond, the advantages of getting a diamond over one carat is that the diamond certificate (grading report) is more detailed. The grading report which GIA issues will include a diagram detailing exactly where any inclusions are found in the diamond.

Ok, so here’s how to go about finding the best and most beautiful diamond with this budget of $10,000.

The ring setting which I have chosen for this example is priced today at $1,480*, leaving over $8500 for the diamond itself.

*Precious metals prices change frequently.

Settings are chosen according to personal tastes, so I won’t go into too much more detail on the setting.

The Diamond

What Parameters To Use

(Pssst: You can skip my instructions and have all these parameters entered in for you!

Click here to automatically enter in all these parameters at Jamesallen.com )

Here are the parameters I recommend to use when searching for round cut diamonds in order to get the most brilliance and largest size at the best value:

  • Shape: round
  • Color: I – H
  • Clarity: SI1 – VVS1
  • Cut: TrueHearts
  • Carat: 1.15 -1.xx
  • Price: xxx-$8500
  • Polish: Excellent
  • Symmetry: Excellent
  • Lab: ALL
  • Depth: 60.8%-62.8% (or leave unchecked)
  • Table: 56% – 60.1%
  • Fluorescence: none

For this example we will choose Round. We do this because then we will be shown diamonds which have a cut grade mentioned on the grading report. This makes it possible to just select the Ideal cut option without having to worry about having to enter in the depth and table percentage values.

James Allen offer their own estimation of cut grade and categorize their fancy shapes such as Princess, Emerald, Square, Heart, Marquise, Pear, Oval, and Cushion according to what they deem to be Ideal, Very Good, and Good. GIA, the grading lab, does not offer this information for fancy cuts therefore cut grade won’t be mentioned on the GIA grading reports for fancy cut diamonds.

In the past GIA or AGS were the only labs I recommended. IGI is now producing far more consistent grading reports and therefore you’ll be fine getting a diamond with a grading report from any one of those laboratories.

Here is a sample search.

Conducting the search while only including TrueHearts is my first choice, as it eliminates a huge number of underperforming diamonds that might have some good proportions but still have something about them which is not quite right.

You’ll find that tweaking the settings like as per the afore mentioned criteria makes it so much easier to find the better stones.

Click here to automatically enter in all these parameters at Jamesallen.com

Click to enter in these search parameters at JamesAllen.com
Click to enter in these search parameters at JamesAllen.com

This search turned up a couple of very nice stones for me and I know it will for you too.

25% off your setting with a TrueHearts purchase.
You actually save on the setting with your TrueHearts purchase. Click here to search for TrueHearts diamonds at jamesallen.com

Why TrueHeartsTM

The cut of a diamond not only refers to the diamond’s shape, it also refers to how effectively the diamond returns light back to the viewer’s eye. A well-cut diamond will appear very brilliant and fiery, while a poorly cut diamond can appear dark and lifeless as shown in the first example above. While the example used a K stone, you can see that its dullness is due to the poor cut regardless of its color or clarity.

But an interesting thing happens when you get a well cut diamond: Not only do well-cut diamonds appear more brilliant than their poorly cut counterparts they also tend to appear larger than other diamonds of the same carat weight. When compared to deeply cut diamonds this is not just an optical illusion. An ideal cut diamond has both increased brilliance and increased diameter relative to more deeply-cut diamonds. Make sense? Less of the diamond’s weight is hidden in its pavilion.

Ideal cut diamonds

An Ideal Cut Diamond is a round, brilliant, or princess cut diamond that is cut to ideal proportions and angles, and has excellent polish and symmetry ratings. An Ideal Cut Diamond is perfectly proportioned to refract light, producing that fire and brilliance up through to the table and crown. James Allen offers a nice selection of Ideal Cut Diamonds known as True HeartsTM

Hearts and Arrows True HeartsTM

Seen from above, a Hearts and Arrows diamond shows an arrow pattern. When displayed on its pavilion side, the diamond presents the eye with 8 hearts with tiny ‘v’ shapes. Genuine Hearts and Arrows have these patterns visible at a single glance, indicating that the diamond has perfect optical symmetry.

The Hearts and Arrows collection are the perfect symbol of true love – that’s why they named them TrueHeartsTM. Every diamond from the TrueHeartsTM collection is a lasting masterpiece, a  diamond that has been carefully crafted to get as close to perfection as possible.

Hearts and Arrows diamonds are sold under many names – Hearts on Fire and Leo Diamonds are two popular examples. James Allen takes pride in presenting some of the finest Hearts and Arrows diamonds money can buy – every single TrueHeartsTM diamond they sell is cut and polished at 100X magnification. Furthermore, the exclusive Diamond Display TechnologyTM lets you see any True HeartsTM diamond magnified in 360° so you can see exactly what you are getting.

Understanding Brilliance, Dispersion & Scintillation

A well-cut diamonds exhibit three different properties: brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. As light strikes a diamond’s surface, it will either reflect off the table of a polished stone or enter the diamond. The light that is reflected off the diamond is known as the diamond’s brilliance. As light travels through a stone, some of the light rays are separated into flashes of color. This is known as dispersion. The result of dispersion—the separation of white light into its spectral colors— is known as fire. Scintillation is flashes of color that are viewable as an observer moves a diamond back and forth.

25% off your setting with a TrueHearts purchase.
You actually save on the setting with your TrueHearts purchase. Click here to search for TrueHearts diamonds at jamesallen.com

Where Can I Find The Best Half Carat Diamond I Can Buy?

This morning I discovered this fantastic little beauty.

It’s just within the range of sizes I recommend for an engagement ring, but it will have a lot of sparkle and life.

50 point (half carat) H-VS1 Excellent Cut Round Diamond

 

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.50-carat-h-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-174040

Carat weight: 0.50

Certificate is from GIA

Color: H

Shape: Round

Clarity: VS1

Cut: Excellent

Depth %: 61.40

Girdle:Medium-Slightly Thick

Table %: 58.00

Culet: None

Polish:Excellent

Crown ?: 34.50

Symmetry:Excellent

Crown %: 14.50

Fluorescence: None

Pavilion ?: 40.80

L/W/D (mm): 5.12*5.10*3.14

Pavilion %: 43.00

 

According to Rapaport, the global authority on diamond prices, the majority of diamonds bought within the United States range between 0.50 carat to 0.99 carat, H+, SI goods. So this diamond would be just within that range, though better clarity.

Most Beautiful Cushion Cut Diamond (1 carat)

Cushion cut diamonds are the diamond of choice for many savvy diamond buyers.

English: Nearly octahedral diamond crystal in ...

Due to the form of a diamond, cutting the diamond into a round shape results in some loss of mass. There are plenty of advantages to buying a round diamond, such as being able to buy a diamond that is of a lower color grade without noticing the difference. However not everyone wants to go for a lower color grade.

If you want a higher color grade then princess (which is essentially the square cut), asscher (also called emerald cut), or cushion cut would present a very attractive option. Less diamond has to be chipped away to make these shapes as they are much closer to the original shape of the diamond when it is initially mined. The image seen here is what a natural diamond looks like when unearthed. The most frequent process applied is to cut this rough diamond into two. Any final shape that is somewhat square will save more of the diamond from getting cut away. ‘This can often result in a lower cost per carat. The round brilliant shape has the best light performance, but there are a few diamond cutters who manage to make the other shapes also perform extremely well.

Cushion cut diamonds may be sought by people who think that the corners of the princess diamond may be vulnerable to chipping. It is only a very small risk, but some people want to play it safe and therefore choose a cushion cut diamond, or an emerald cut diamond. If you want an emerald/asscher diamond I wrote an article on what to look for in those types of cuts here.

Click image to be taken directly to this diamond at Brian Gavin Diamonds website
Click image to be taken directly to this cushion cut diamond at Brian Gavin Diamonds website

The Catch of The day is this very fine Cushion cut diamond which you can see performs beautifully.

This cushion cut diamond has been cut by Brian Gavin, one of the world’s finest diamond cutters, and one that never ceases to impress me due to his attention to detail.

The listing includes an ASET image which is even better than a mere photograph as it shows you not only the diamond’s symmetry, but its light performance.

 

Type Brian Gavin Select
Product ID: 104061059003
Shape: Cushion
Report: AGS
Carat: 1.041
Color: G
Clarity: VS1
Measurements: 6.06 x 0.00 x 4.07
Lab Cut Grade:
Light Performance:
Polish: Excellent
Symmetry: Excellent

 

Table %: 58.6
Depth %: 67.4
Crown %: 15.7
Crown Angle: 36.9
Star %:
Pav Angle: 42.1
Pavillion %: 47.9
Lower Girdle %:
Culet: Pointed
Fluorescence: Negligible
Girdle Min-Max %:
Girdle: Thin To Slightly Thick Faceted

 

 

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Princess Cut Diamond: A Real Treasure! 1.057 carat F VS1 Brian Gavin Signature

Princess cut diamonds have been growing in popularity and I can see a few reasons why.

I have just been holding two 1 carat diamonds and examining them side by side. One is a round brilliant cut and the other is a princess cut. Even though they are both 1 carat, I find that the princess cut diamond just looks a little bigger. I was discussing this with another jeweler and she was saying that it was because of the particular setting, but I wasn’t entirely in agreement with her on this. The settings were both prong settings and not that different from each other. I suppose this can be debated forever since I was only talking about the appearance of which one “looked” bigger.

The reason I think princess cut diamonds are getting so popular is related to their price per carat, their nice name, and their sparkle.

They do really sparkle.

Princess cut diamonds have more facets than round brilliants. The standard round brilliant cut has 58 facets and the princess cut has 76 facets. What do more facets mean? Well, more facets mean that when it’s in the light, the light gets divided up more ways and as a result you’ll have more fire and brilliance. With a greater amount of reflectors you get a greater number of points from which light bounces, refracts, and disperses. The end result is that the princess diamond really does seem to be made out of a magical substance, stardust, and pure light beams.

Today I have found a magnificent princess cut diamond for you that is going to knock your socks off!

This is it:

http://www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/1.057-f-vs1-princess-diamond-ags-104047876017

 

princess cut diamond 1.057 carat F color VS1 clarity

And not only do we get an image of the actual diamond, we also get an AGS Laboratories report: http://www.agslab.com/pdf_sync_reports/104047876017-PLDQR.PDF

Having an AGS lab report is a huge bonus because this means we have a Computer Generated Light Performance Map, only available on AGS Lab’s grading reports. If you don’t know how to read those, well, the simplest rule of thumb is this: the more brightness on the Computer Generated Light Performance Map the better, along with a distinct area, but not overwhelming, area of contrast.

Princess Cut Diamond with actual photo
This listing has the actual photo of the diamond. Not a stock photo. Examine it up close with the online magnifier.

This diamond gets my No Regrets Stamp of Approval.

No Regrets stamp of approval for this princess diamond

 

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2.01 Carat Diamond For Better Than Wholesale Price

Today I bring your attention to an absolutely fantastic diamond at Diamonds-USA.

I was very pleased to see that Diamonds-USA is including more and more photos of their diamonds on their website.

This is very considerate, but also a smart move as we know that shoppers love to get a look at the diamond on offer and not just make do with a generic photo of a similar diamond.

It’s not the same if we are buying a telephone or a camera. A stock image of an item we are buying in that case is fine because those items are all the same and all have the same specifications.

Diamonds are unique. Every single diamond is unique. This is a wonderful and special quality that make diamonds so wondrous. This does make it difficult for the sellers because it takes extra effort to list every single diamond.

Some online jewelers don’t bother listing each diamond’s individual characteristics, but lump diamonds into broader categories.

Diamonds-USA have taken the extra effort to give detailed descriptions for each diamond on offer and they even give us the link to the diamond’s certificate, which is an official report issued by a gemological laboratory giving a scientific description of the dimaond’s properties. This is why Diamonds-USA have made it on our list of the top 10 diamond websites. Add to that the fact that they have high quality diamonds which are below wholesale prices.

I hate to say it, but I do think their website needs a makeover. But that’s just because the design is looking a little dated. It functions perfectly well and provides clear information.

This particular diamond we consider our Catch Of The Day is an absolutely incredible 2.01 carats! Anyone in the diamond business can tell you that a 2 carat diamond can get to be about $70,000.

This one is priced at $13,869, which I deem to be a fantastic deal.

This one is not only an Ideal Cut, which I always recommend, but the color grading it has received from EGL (the lab which has issued the report) is F. This means it is very very beautiful. This is only two slight shades away from the completely colorless D! Diamonds are generally considered colorless if they receive a D, E, F, G, H, or I color grade. Even J can sometimes look colorless if it is a round cut, since round cuts disperse light so well.

This diamond is listed as an Emerald Diamond. This means that it is cut in a shape which has been named the Emerald Cut. It is not an emerald gem.

Emerald cut diamonds look clearest if they are at least an I color. This diamond is really going to sparkle.

The grading report also tells us that there are no issues with fluorescence.

The grading report shows that there are some very small visible crystals (called inclusions) which can be seen in the photograph, though this photograph is an enlargement of the diamond. The diamond’s actual length is 8.5mm. So if you zoom out of this webpage until the diamond is 8.5mm on your screen you’ll see the actual size and that will confirm that the tiny inclusion is actually only about a 10th or smaller than the size seen on the screen (depends on the size of the screen).

This diamond gets my No Regrets Stamp of approval.

 

2.01 carats, Emerald Diamond, with Ideal Cut, F Color, VS1 Clarity, and certified by EGL
Click  image to go directly to this diamond

stamp of approval

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Where Can We Find A Nice One Carat Diamond Under US$5000?

This year may be one of the last years we see such good prices on one carat diamonds. The competition is fierce and online retailers are doing all they can to get our attention. They know it’s just one click and you’re gone, so they have to really deliver the goods.

On the other hand we aren’t just going to go any buy from anyone that says they are the best if they actually provide inferior product. This is why I’ve established this site to shortlist 10 diamond vendor sites which have established good reputations. A quiet achiever is Diamonds-USA. Having been online since 1997 they certainly know what an online shopper wants: variety and good prices.

My 18 year old son was listing some stuff on eBay for the first time and was concerned with his stuff not selling. I told him: “The only thing that matters is price. If you are just $1 cheaper it could make the difference between a sale and no sale. Unless you can show them that you offer something extraordinary. If you are priced beyond people’s expectations then you have to demonstrate exactly why this is.”

And this is what I keep in mind when looking for diamond bargains. The relationship between Price and Service. So this brings me to today’s Catch of The Day.

Diamonds-USA have high quality diamonds, and a wide variety of ring designs to choose from. They are knowledgeable, which is extremely important. It may seem like something you’d expect everyone to be if they are in the diam ond business. But every company has to empoy people and they have to determine how to train their staff and they have to make sure their staff is up to the job. Diamonds-USA staff are definitely experts.

They are not a broker, they are a real jeweler. They have a workshop where the diamonds are set into the rings.

Why is this an advantage?

Primarily because it will be faster to deal with them in case there is a need to resize the ring.

So, on to our Catch Of The Day.

We have a fantastic 1.06 carat diamond here

Looking over the EGL certificate (grading report) it is definitely a B-E-A-Utiful stone!

It’s got all high marks in Cut, Clarity, and Color*!

 

1.06 carats, Round Diamond, with Ideal Cut, G Color, VS1 Clarity, and certified by EGL

gift box which this rings comes in.

Diamonds-USA include a nice leather jewelry box, and you can receive the diamond BEFORE you pay! They give you 10 days in which to inspect the diamond without you paying for it. And only after that 10 days have elapsed will they charge your card. They may not offer as long a return period, but they do have this very attractive offer of paying after you receive the goods.

We have to give this diamond our No Regrets Stamp of Approval as we can’t find any fault with it. Still can’t figure out why it isn’t more expensive. I guess whoever’s first will get a bargain!

stamp of approval

 

 

 

 

 

 

*EGL diamonds are graded on a different scale to GIA diamonds. You can only compare EGL diamonds to other EGL diamonds in regard to color, not to other GIA graded diamonds. The two labs use a different set of parameters to grade the color.

Could It Get Any Better? Here’ s A Magnificent Engagement Ring Diamond!

Today’s find is for those who want something that is really going to sparkle in an engagement ring.

For this we have to remember that the cut grade is a very important factor.

Also the closer to “D” the better. With “J” being about the limit where it’s just starting to look ever so slightly yellow or beige.

We found an H diamond which really stood out. The main thing was the perfection of the cut.

The cut grade on a GIA report will be either:

Excellent
Very Good
Good
Fair
Poor

On a report issued by AGS Labs it will be:

Ideal
Excellent
Very Good
Good
Fair
Poor

Using the GIA Cut grade estimating tool we can compare a stone which has an AGS Labs report.

Today’s Catch of The Day was a diamond I selected because it is an outstandingly perfect cut. It comes with an AGS Labs report which describes the cut grade as Ideal.

Screen Shot of This Ideal Cut Diamond's Proportions
Proportions of today’s featured diamond

To see if this would also be graded as Excellent by GIA I looked up GIA’s online grading tool. The GIA terms and conditions do not allow me to place a screen shot of the GIA Cut Grade Estimating Tool nor of the results I got but you can see their tool here and try it for yourself: http://www.gia.edu/diamondcut/charts/57_table.html

Entering in all of the proportions as reported on the AGS Labs Grading report shows me that it is indeed an incredibly perfect stone and would undoubtedly be given the highest cut grade of Excellent by GIA. Why is this important? Well, GIA spent 15 years studying how a diamond’s brilliance is perceived. Yes, perceived. Because in the end the most important thing is how it looks. Over 70,000 observations were made on more than 2,300 diamonds using observers from all sectors of the jewelry industry. This included diamond cutters, dealers, retailers, as well as potential customers. GIA researchers knew that diamonds can be cut in such a way so that their weight would end up as being over one carat, yet it could include compromises which make the light reflect down rather than at the beholder’s eye. This would obviously not serve the customer well.
GIA researchers determined that if a diamond didn’t look brilliant, the customer would be getting an inferior product. This is why the GIA cut grading system is something which is a good idea to pay attention to. It is about how nice the diamond looks.

This doesn’t mean that reports from other labs can’t do the same job. AGS Labs actually has a very ingenious way of describing information about the stone’s brilliance: An AGS Labs Computer Generated Light Performance Map.

0.91 Carat H-VS1 Ideal Cut Round Diamond

There are a couple things which I am very excited about in regards to this stone in particular. Stones under 1 carat have a significantly lower price per unit of weight than stones over one carat. However this benefit is counter balanced by having a Grading Report is less detailed. GIA does not issue a Grading Report for stones under 1 ct, but rather a simpler report called a Diamond Dossier. This simplified document does not include a diagram of where the inclusions are on the diamond.  Usually this compromise is accepted since the price difference can be anywhere from $1800 to $3000.

However, and here’s the good part, this stone has an AGS Labs report which has got all the information needed, and more. It has a diagram plotting the (very small) inclusion. But what I particularly like is that AGS Labs reports now have a bonus section too: The AGS Labs Computer Generated Light Performance Map. That’s the red, green and blue disk on the report. I know that it probably looks like what you’d see when looking through a kaleidoscope, but let me tell you that this diamond has got the goods! It certainly does.

Now, about the size. This one measures 6.15 mm across. The size difference between this 0.91 ct diamond and a 1 ct diamond which is also cut to Ideal standard is 0.35mm. Yes, one third of a millimeter. I am pretty sure no one can tell the difference. Even someone who has been handling diamonds for years! It really is virtually impossible to tell the difference. So why does everyone want a 1 ct diamond? It’s just a nice round number. Obviously plenty of people think it’s absolutely worth it to spend an extra $2000 for one third of a millimeter on a diamond. But once you know these little tips and tricks it might seem more worth it to get one just below 1 ct.

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/H-VS1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1489164.asp

Shape:  Round
Carat weight:  0.91
Cut:  Ideal
Color:  H
Clarity:  VS1
Certificate:  AGS
 Price: $6090
Depth:  62.4%
Table:  56.5%
Polish:  Ideal
Symmetry:  Ideal
Girdle:  Thin to slightly thick
Culet:  Pointed
Fluorescence:  Negligible
Measurements:  6.15*6.19*3.85
Crown Angle: 35.4
Crown %:
Pavilion Angle: 40.7
Pavilion %: