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​What to Ask Before Buying a Loose Diamond

By Stephanie Dore

There are lots of reasons someone might want to buy a loose diamond — that is, a cut and polished diamond sold loose, not mounted in a setting. Perhaps you’re sure about the diamond but not sure on the style of ring or jewelry you want to set it in. Or maybe you’ve got a great local jeweler but they don’t have a great diamond selection. Or maybe you just like shiny rocks! Any way you slice it, it’s a question that comes up a lot in our business. Here’s what to consider before you start dropping dollars on loose diamonds, darling.

pear and asscher yellow gold toi et moi on hand
Some design styles are unique and specific to certain jewelers. If you fall in love with a design from someone, make sure they will work with loose diamonds before purchasing your own!

Will Your Jeweler Set a Loose Diamond?

There are countless websites out there today, including our own, where anyone can hop online, get some basic diamond education, and  then search for and purchase their dream diamond. But most folks aren’t looking to just have a loose diamond laying around. They typically want it set in a piece of jewelry, say, an engagement ring. Now, if you’ve got a jeweler in mind for the setting you’d like to purchase, but the diamond you’re in love with is coming from another source, you’ll need to do a bit of due diligence.

First off, make sure that your jeweler is comfortable and willing to set a stone purchased elsewhere, as this is less common than you might think. If they are, they’ll likely want to verify the specs of the diamond and its certification first. We would suggest working with them prior to actually purchasing a loose diamond, to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Loose Diamond and Setting Separately

Why would jewelers not want to set a diamond purchased elsewhere? Well, let’s just say it makes things unnecessarily complicated for the jeweler. And definitely for you. First of all, there’s the cost factor. Your jeweler may charge additional fees for setting a diamond they didn’t sell you. And there will definitely be additional insurance and shipping costs to you.

And then there’s the risk. When a jeweler is selling you the diamond AND the setting, they should be verifying the diamond’s quality and examining it carefully prior to finalizing the purchase and definitely before setting it. This way, they are assuming all the costs and risk before it ever gets to you. If you purchase a diamond elsewhere and somewhere, somehow between then and you receiving the ring, that diamond is damaged or lost, then who incurs that risk? Most jewelers will not take on that level of risk, especially for potentially quite expensive stones that are one-of-a-kind. And it’s for your own benefit. No one wants to see you lose the diamond of your dreams or have to eat that cost if something goes awry.

And yes, things can go awry. Even the best, most experienced jewelers and craftspeople have chipped a diamond or two in their day. Remember, diamonds are hard, but not unbreakable. And sometimes they can have unsuspecting clarity characteristics that weaken the stone. It’s not a fun thing to deal with for anyone. But if the jeweler has control over the entire process, there’s much less risk involved.

marquise with pears three stone in yellow gold
While it may seem like a better deal to buy a diamond and setting separately at times, you may ending up paying more with fees and liability charges when all is said and done!
Surprise proposal? Opt for a placeholder ring for the proposal, and then design the forever ring together!

What if You Want to Let Your Partner Design Their Own Ring?

While traditionally the ring is chosen and purchased by one partner and presented to the other during a proposal, today there are so many other ways of getting a ring on someone’s finger. And we often get the question of whether you can propose with just a loose diamond and design the ring later. And yes, you can do anything you want, darling. But we’d suggest otherwise.


Again, purchasing a loose diamond puts the onus on you to insure it, and having it loose puts it that much more at risk for loss or damage. Instead, we suggest purchasing a placeholder ring in a less expensive material to fill in for the proposal. We offer placeholder rings for $150. They’re sterling silver, plated with 18K gold or rhodium and set with cubic zirconia (CZ). Post-proposal, you can trade in your placeholder ring for credit towards a purchase of $4,000 or more. Only styles in our collection are available as placeholders and they are pre-set with a standard size CZ stone between one and two carats.

What to Look for in A Loose Diamond

All things considered, if you’re purchasing a loose diamond that you plan to have set later down the road, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Firstly, certification. Always make sure that your diamond comes with a grading certificate from a reputable lab like GIA. Ideally, look for diamonds with laser inscriptions of their certificate number on the girdle, as this will make it easier for you and any jeweler to identify your diamond, and ensure that your diamond isn’t subject to any switching behind the scenes. 

You should also keep clarity in mind and not just a higher clarity but certain types of clarity characteristics (inclusions). This is what jewelers will often look at to determine if they are comfortable setting your diamond. Any indentations, especially feathers, chips, naturals, and crystals that are at or near the surface of the diamond. And specifically at the girdle edge. A feather that reaches the girdle edge is going to pose a greater risk during the setting process than a feather that is completely within the stone. Unless you’re a gemologist, this can be an intimidating thing to evaluate, so going with higher clarity grades will make this easier.

If you are purchasing a loose diamond online, make sure that the retailer has a good return policy and videos of the stone!
Frank darling north south half bezel lab grown diamond engagement ring in platinum
You can’t go wrong with a well-cut emerald!

What if You Can’t Find A Setting You Like?

Sometimes folks just find the diamond of their dreams in one place and the setting of their dreams somewhere else. But this is often an easier challenge to solve than you might think. Many jewelers today, including us, can work with you to source diamonds well beyond what you might see online. If you’re looking for something specific, ping our Diamond Concierge and we can help you find natural or lab grown diamonds (or nearly any other gemstone!) to suit your style.

And if you don’t see a setting you love on our site, not to worry. In fact, most of the rings that we sell are completely custom! That might mean a special detail, a combo of a couple different rings, or something totally one-of-a-kind. Our expert design team can help you fulfill all your engagement ring and custom jewelry desires, no problem. Try our design quiz, where we’ll walk you through a few simple questions to zero in on your style and you’ll even get a free sketch! Or reach out to our super sweet team of designers at hello@frankdarling.com to start customizing a totally unique engagement or wedding ring. No commission, no pressure, all fun. 

Ready to Shop?

Check out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book an appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. 

Not finding what you’re looking for? We love hunting down the perfect diamond for your dream ring. Email us with what you’re looking for (and a bit about your budget) at hello@frankdarling.com. We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.