A Caveat About Buying Diamonds Online
There’s nothing like seeing a diamond in person to appreciate its splendor, and no better way to make sure what you see is what you get. For this and other reasons, some experts advise against buying a diamond online. Nevertheless, for those who want a pressure-and-hassle-free experience, online shopping may be the way to go.
For the Savvy Shopper: Rare Carat
Looking for a large center stone? Care about getting a good stone first and design second? Rare Carat, a price comparison database, is the site for you. It doesn’t sell diamonds. Instead, it shows diamonds currently sold by stores such as Zoara, Four Mine, Taylor & Hart, and Blue Nile.
Consumers start by entering their 4 Cs and budget requirements. Then, Rare Carat churns out all the results that match those specifications. Each result includes the retailer, the diamond’s color, cut, clarity, and carat grades, fluorescence, certification, and, most importantly, the price.
To make things easy, Rare Carat tells you whether each diamond listed is a good deal or not. Scrolling through the results, consumers can click on diamonds that interest them and go directly to each diamond retailer’s site. The site itself will most likely offer detailed pictures of each stone and ring setting designs, as well as information on warranties or return policies. If consumers are still unsure about what they want, Rare Carat has a gemologist available to answer questions about the characteristics of each stone.
The drawbacks to Rare Carat? Rare Carat’s search-by-ring-setting options are very limited. Also, it only compares prices for colorless or white diamonds.
If you’re a decisive, no-frills shopper looking for a traditional three-stone or a clean and classic solitaire, Rare Carat is definitely the site for you.
For the Perfectionist: Brian Gavin
A fifth-generation family company, Brian Gavin offers loose diamonds as well as finished jewelry. The owners are diamond cutters, so they really know their diamonds. Brian Gavin and his father honed the original “Hearts and Arrows” design into the sophisticated style popular now. Brian Gavin diamonds have exceedingly high cut standards, especially when it comes to symmetry.
All Brian Gavin diamonds score a “0,” the best grade possible, according to American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) standards for light performance. (The AGSL is a very prestigious lab). These diamonds are said to sparkle under all light conditions.
Brian Gavin recently introduced a new “Black by Brian Gavin” collection, which includes only diamonds D-G in color and IF to VS2 in clarity. They’re cut even more impeccably than typical Brian Gavin diamonds, using methods developed in conjunction with the AGSL. According to Brian Gavin, even the most ideal cut round brilliant diamonds harbor low-intensity light zones that underperform compared to other areas of the stone. The “Black by Brian Gavin” cutting method eliminates these zones by causing light to reflect off almost the entire pavilion. All diamonds within this collection feature “Hearts and Arrows” and come with an exclusive AGSL grading report.
If you want the dazzle and don’t mind the price tag, Brian Gavin is the brand for you.
For the Visual Learner: James Allen
For those searching for bargains online, James Allen’s 360° diamond viewing technology provides the next best experience to seeing a diamond in person. Actually, it may be better than seeing a diamond in person, since the display magnifies the diamond up to 20X. Viewers can toggle from 1X to 20X magnification to view a diamond’s inclusions while the stone rotates 360°, even at a tilted angle.
If you haven’t experienced this viewing technology, it’s bound to impress. You’ll get a real sense of the diamond’s dispersion or “fire” and scintillation as the stone flashes in slow motion. James Allen’s email subscribers also have access to “Super Zoom,” a new function that magnifies the diamond to 40X. Thus, viewers can see everything, from the tiny inscription on the stone’s girdle to low-relief inclusions like twinning wisps.
You would think that the expense of this 360° technology would limit the number of diamonds James Allen offers. However, James Allen has a massive inventory, ranging from affordable to high-value diamonds. It also sets itself apart by offering 360° views of colored diamonds and other gemstones, although none of extreme value. On top of all this, James Allen is known for its streamlined shopping experience and speedy service.
If you like examining your purchases very carefully before buying, James Allen will fit your style.
For the Conscientious Shopper: Whiteflash
Probably the jewelry store with the most business accreditations, Whiteflash has received the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) “Winner of Distinction Award” for ten years straight. In 2015, it also received the “Pinnacle Award,” the BBB’s highest honor. It was the first jeweler to receive ISO 9000 certification, which ensures businesses meet strict management quality standards. Whiteflash is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative formed by CEOs to address poverty and support fair labor practices.
In the gem world, Whiteflash belongs to the American Gem Society, an organization dedicated to consumer education and protection. Whiteflash also sources diamonds ethically in accordance with the Kimberly Process. It supports Jewelers for Children, an organization that raises money for children by partnering with charities. Whiteflash also donates to charities related to environmental protection.
If all this isn’t impressive enough, Whiteflash’s 30-day return policy, 1-year service plan guarantee, lifetime trade-up benefit, and customer loyalty program will surely amaze. When you buy diamonds from most retailers, the stones lose about half their value as soon as you take them out of the store. In contrast, Whiteflash guarantees their customers complete store credit for any in-house item that they want to trade in, with no time limitations.
Is there a catch? When it comes to diamond quality, no. Whiteflash is recognized for its “A CUT ABOVE ® Super Ideal” diamonds, offering the largest selection of ideal cut diamonds. It’s also an authorized distributor for jewelry by designer brands such as Verragio, Simon G., Ritani, Vatche, and Benchmark. Furthermore, Whiteflash utilizes GIA-trained gem consultants.
Nervous about taking the plunge and buying diamonds online? You can rest easy when shopping at Whiteflash.
For the Procrastinator: Blue Nile
Do have just a few precious days until that birthday, anniversary, or proposal? Before you rush into a store and buy the first ring you see, consider Blue Nile. It offers perhaps the fastest service of any online retailer. From ordering to receiving a diamond ring can take as few as five business days. With rings set with “Astor by Blue Nile” diamonds — Blue Nile’s version of ideal-cut, maximum sparkle diamonds — customers can receive their rings in as few as two business days! Blue Nile lists diamonds that belong to their manufacturer. So, when a customer places an order, their manufacturer sends both the diamond and the setting straight to the jeweler, who sets the ring and then sends it straight to the consumer.
The first diamond site to stock a massive inventory for customers to choose from, Blue Nile currently has up to 200,000 diamonds in stock at any given time. Like James Allen, it offers a 360° view of each of its diamonds. However, the visuals aren’t as strong as James Allen’s. This makes it hard to see inclusions, even in an SI2 diamond. Nonetheless, each Blue Nile diamond comes with a GIA grading report, and all Astor diamonds receive “Very High” grades in brilliance, fire, and sparkle from the GemEx lab. The Blue Nile website itself provides information galore on its diamond education page.
Overall, Blue Nile offers very competitive prices. It has won the Bizrate.com “Circle of Excellence Platinum Award,” voted best in online customer service by actual consumers.
So, what are you still waiting for?
For the Fashion-Forward: Brilliant Earth
Do you prioritize the overall look of the ring over the individual diamond? Brilliant Earth is the store for the fashion conscious. It offers a delightful feature that allows you to gauge diamond size against a model’s hand. You can even adjust the skin color from light to dark when you place the diamond next to a model’s finger. These functions take a lot of the guesswork out of choosing a diamond size and flattering ring metal color. Unfortunately, the sample diamond doesn’t represent the stone’s actual color, so customers can’t see how different diamond color grades pair with different skin or metal colors.
Of all the online stores, Brilliant Earth stocks the prettiest, trendiest ring settings. These include half-halos, ballerina halos, claw prongs, and vintage motifs. Many of the settings also come in popular rose gold. Like some of its competitors, Brilliant Earth offers 360° diamond viewing technology. However, it takes this technology one step further by offering 360° views of each ring setting as well. The resolution of its 360° view is quite high (much higher than Blue Nile’s but not as high as James Allen’s). Those interested in shopping around can also play with colored gem engagement ring settings or look at elegant eternity and wedding bands. All of these jewelries are modeled on models’ hands.
With its crisp layout and fashionable designs, Brilliant Earth will attract younger and stylish consumers.
For the Shopper Who Wants Expert Guidance: CustomMade
For those who want to go that extra mile, CustomMade is the go-to diamond website. You can have a bespoke experience and create one-of-a-kind jewelry for the price of a generic piece at a retail store.
CustomMade walks the customer through the process of creating jewelry, covering everything from inspiration and sketching potential designs to 3D rendering and careful construction. CustomMade personnel can also help customers pick out a stone. They’ll offer advice on aesthetics, pricing trade-offs, value, and ethical concerns. After all, you have many factors to consider when choosing a diamond.
Of course, the highlight of the custom experience is designing a piece that has personal meaning. Engraving or special filigree, vintage designs, unique metals, incorporating family gems — the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating jewelry with CustomMade. While most jewelry is mass produced in factories, each CustomMade piece is handcrafted in the United States.
Each CustomMade jewelry piece is a labor of love. Customers can feel proud of having been involved in the creative process from start to finish.