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How to buy a diamond like an insider.

By Lead Gemologist Erica Hirsch, GIA GG

In the market for a little sparkle? Looking to buy a diamond? Let’s be Frank. Everyone wants great value without sacrificing quality. It is possible to have both, with a little learning, and some patience. Here we’ll show you how.

First, we’ll tackle how to layout your search. Next, we’ll break down questions you should ask yourself before you say “I do” to that diamond.

Chances are you already know your 4 C’s. Did you know the “s” is for shape? Whether you’re looking at a round brilliant or a fancy cut, the shape a stone was cut into is one of the biggest factors that determines how well it performs, and how much it costs.

A diagram of brilliant vs step cut diamonds.

Shape: Savings of 30%

Choose a shape that appeals to you but be open to alternatives if you want to buy a diamond with the best value.

Is your target a 2-carat round? A 1.25-carat oval shape appears similar in size and costs significantly less.

A size comparison of a 1.25 carat oval diamond to a 2 carat round brilliant.
Left: Oval 1.25 carats 8.5 x6.1 Right: Round 2.0 carats, 8.2 x8.3

Don’t buy a diamond without evaluating your options. Other surprising alternatives can be found if one knows where to look. Grading Laboratories like the GIA are responsible for grading diamonds’ shapes. But, occasionally, we may disagree with their grading. They’re only human, and some diamonds are right on the line between two shapes. A portly oval may look like a cushion. If it is an emerald you want, don’t forget to look at Asscher, too.

Diagram depicting Frank Darling's diamond clarity chart

Clarity: Savings of 10-20%

Start out searching in the VS range.

Learn your inclusions, based on how they affect the appearance and integrity of your diamond. You can quickly eliminate stones with certain inclusions. Look for inclusions located in areas other than the table, but not reaching the girdle. Avoid dark crystal, they can make your diamond appear gray and block light. Stay away from inclusions found in multiples or extremely close proximity to each other.

It is entirely possible to find a stunning stone in the SI clarity range. It may even outshine one of a VS clarity. This can save cost and get you a stunner. 

Diamond depicting diamond cut for round diamonds.

Cut: Savings of 10-15%

Begin with a grade of Very Good or better.

The cut of the stone will determine whether your sparkle will leave you dazzled or deflated. There are great deals in the Good grade. Emerald and Asscher shapes may not perform the way they’re meant to if the cut is less than Very Good. But, there are those few that will. If you want help finding one, let our gemologist assist you.

Weight hidden in the girdle and/or bottom of the stone is money wasted. A one-carat diamond can appear as small as .90 carats or as large as 1.05 carats. Which would you prefer? Pay close attention to girdle proportions. Always reject those with the words very and extremely in the girdle description. A very thin girdle can chip. Take extra caution with sharp tips. Your pear-shaped diamond can turn into an oval in an instant.

Frank Darling diamond color grade chart

Color: Savings of 10-20%.

If you are flexible and want a white “looking” diamond, hover in the H-I range.

Thinking “I’ll upgrade later”? Well, guess what… “life happens” and suddenly a master bath renovation seems like a better idea. Plus, it’s very likely to form an emotional attachment to that original stone. Do you feel like you can create an optical illusion with smaller stones around your diamond? Don’t kid yourself. Those smaller diamonds are intended to compliment. It might be a good idea to forgo diamonds in the setting and redirect that money to the main attraction. Stacking all sorts of bands with an engagement ring is a great look and makes future gift giving easy.

Any shape other than round will show color differently. With these shapes, an F-G range will give a white appearance. Use fluorescence to your advantage, it can help neutralize yellow tones. Yellow gold, yes yellow also can counteract warmer tones.


Select a weight and be flexible. 

It’s a lot to keep in mind, we know. When you’re ready to a buy a diamond, we’re here to help. We do the digging for you — it’s our humble contribution to your special story — and it’s our pleasure to lend a hand. No pressure, though. Diamonds have enough of that.

Ready to get stated? See that window in the bottom right? Send us a note and while you’re waiting, check the Harper No. 3, our best-selling Oval Halo. The Harper No. 6, a classic Round Halo, and Parker No. 2, a very glamorous Asscher Halo and decide for yourself if they trick the eye into perceiving a larger center stone.