Engagement Rings

The Plunge’s Guide To Buying Diamonds Online

Photo by Yuri Bodrikhin

So, you’ve decided to pop the question. You’re ready to say goodbye to the dating game, and lock down your significant other, but to do so properly, you’ll need the necessary hardware. But instead of swinging into your local jeweler and browsing through a limited crop of options, join the rest of us in the 21st century and consider buying the all-important diamond online. It’s a monumental purchase, and often a costly one, so don’t overlook the fact that you’re selecting the one piece of jewelry your partner has to wear for the rest of their life. Simply said, you’ll want to get this one right, so we’ve assembled this step-by-step guide on just how to buy diamonds online.

Know The Specifics

There’s no way to tackle the ring buying process in a way that isn’t completely overwhelming, but first start by setting some parameters on your search, beginning with a strict budget. The age-old formula is to devote two months of your yearly salary to the purchase, today that’s largely gone out the window as an antiquated way to measure your love with cash. Instead, pick a number you and your bank account are comfortable with, and run with it. Purchasing a diamond that costs less than two months of your salary doesn’t mean you love the person any less.

Go from zero to hero in five minutes: At James Allen or Blue Nile, you can adjust price ranges and other characteristics to see how many carats your budget buys. Their search tool is great. Their highly competitive pricing is too.

Once that’s set, consider the 4 C’s – color, cut, clarity and carat weight. While these may just seem like aesthetic preferences – and to a certain degree, they are – they also affect the cost of the diamond. In this case, we recommend consulting Blue Nile’s digital Diamond Education center, where the correlation between cost and these 4 C’s is explained clearly.  We also have written before about different diamond buying hacks to help you save money, such as stick to a price, and making some design concessions if you have to.  “You can save a lot of money by going just under the carat size you want,” jewelry & fine timepieces expert Reyne Hirsch told us. “For example, if you want a 2 carat diamond, you can save a lot of money by buying something 1.90 carats. You won’t notice the difference but your wallet sure will.”

Once these 4 C’s are set in stone (ha!), explore setting styles and metals that you think fit your partner best, and don’t be afraid to do a straw poll with their friends to get an outsiders opinion.

Let Loose

If you’re feeling particularly bold and creative, you may want to consider creating an entirely custom ring for your sweetheart. This starts with buying loose diamonds online. It’s a growing business that allows you to create a truly unique piece that no one else will have, but a note of caution, you should be prepared to do the extra legwork. Once the stone arrives, you’ll want to find a trusted jeweler to collaborate with on your desired metals and setting. Depending on your specifications, this could lead to a lower cost, but money aside, what’s cooler than your bride wearing a ring custom built for her by you?

Get Certified                             

Whether you’ve decided to buy a ready-made ring or you’ve found the best place to buy loose diamonds online, make sure you have the paperwork to back it up with diamond certification. What is diamond certification, you ask?

All legitimate diamonds over 1 carat, loose or in a setting, come along with gemologist certification. Preferably, this should come from the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA for short. It’s an organization you’ll see mentioned frequently in your search. In addition to the certificate, consult the experts at an online retailer like Blue Nile, which can be a welcome sounding board to compare the nuances of your purchase. And don’t forget to take advantage of the 360-degree viewing options which Blue Nile and other sites offer.

The Fine Print

Like any online purchase, use your common sense. Before entering your credit card information, examine the company’s return policy and sizing adjustments. While we’re sure the proposal will go off without a hitch, make sure you have a safety net that doesn’t leave you stuck with a pricey diamond. It should also go without saying that just like a car, vacation, or any other hefty purchase, you should consult user reviews from other folks like you. Their raves or rants could ultimately become your deciding factor.

Ship Carefully

In the home stretch, be sure to choose wisely when it comes to selecting exactly how your diamond will be arriving at your doorstep. While it may be standard operating procedure for most sellers to require a signature to confirm the package’s receipt, go one step further and ask the carrier to hold the package at a branch location where it can be kept behind lock and key. The last thing you want is your hard-earned purchasing sitting vulnerably at your door while you’re at work. If this leaves too much to chance, or if the stone you’ve chosen is particularly large or unique, you might even consider traveling to the retailer to pick it up in-person.

What To Watch For

Bottom line: You get more sparkle for less dough at James Allen, Blue Nile, and Whiteflash.

Buying diamonds online can come with its pitfalls, but uncertified diamond shopping online should be a non-starter. Simply said, if the diamond doesn’t come with the proper paperwork, move on to another seller.

In addition, jewelry & fine timepieces expert Reyne Hirsch tells us to run through this simple three-item checklist of red flags on each website:

  1. Stores that do not offer a money back guarantee if you find the diamond arrives not as reported on the website.
  2. Stores that use stock photos, and do not represent the exact diamond you will be buying
  3. Stores that operate on eBay, where many dealers are located overseas and cannot offer certification
  4. New online stores. Here today, gone with your money tomorrow.
Bottom Line

Finding the perfect diamond with which to propose should be easy: there are so many options on the internet. But be sure to educate yourself: navigating those options takes a lot of know-how. 

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