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How to Buy a Diamond on A Budget (Four Insider Tips!)

Ready to buy a diamond? We’ll show you how. Get four tips on how to buy a diamond on a budget, and get great value without sacrificing quality.

When it comes time to shop for a diamond, let’s be Frank. Everyone wants a lot of sparkle without sacrificing their entire salary. Well, we’re here to tell you: You can have both! 

All it takes is a little faith and some very good friends —it doesn’t hurt if those friends happen to be diamond industry know-it-alls, does it? Before you say “I do” to a diamond that’s just okay, learn how to buy a diamond like an insider. We’ll show you how.

You’ll Never Regret an Education

Chances are you already know your 4 C’s. But, did you know the “s” is for shape? Ok, we made that up. But it’s just as important to finding your new best friend. In fact, the shape of a diamond is one of the biggest factors in determining not only how sparkly it is but how big of a dent it will leave in your wallet.

No.1 Shape

Savings of 30%

Tip: 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. Other surprising alternatives can be found if one knows where to look. Want a square but princesses make you cringe? Try an Asscher or cushion, which both offer similar length-to-width ratios but typically run much more cost-effective when all other factors are the same. And if it’s an emerald you want, don’t forget to consider an Asscher. Or vice versa, for that matter!

Ovals have some of the best value of any diamond shape due to how flat they are

No. 2 Clarity

Savings of 10-20%

Tip: Start your search in the VS range.

First of all, let’s just throw flawless out the window. While it sounds nice for Beyoncé, it’s just not realistic for the rest of us. VS grade diamonds, however, are smack dab in the middle of the clarity spectrum, which means you’re not overpaying for things you can’t see, or risking eye-visible inclusions by going too low. 

Second tip? 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 crystals, as they can make your diamond appear gray and block light. And 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. 

VVS1 Cushion Cut Diamond
SI1 Cushion Cut Diamond
Can you see the inclusions?
Diagram depicting Frank Darling's diamond clarity chart

No. 3 Cut

Savings of 10-15%

Tip: Begin with a grade of Very Good or better.

When it comes down to brass tacks, the cut grade of a diamond determines whether its sparkle will leave you dazzled or deflated. While you can definitely find great deals in the Good grade, some diamonds, like emerald and Asscher shapes just won’t shine the way they’re meant to if the cut is less than Very Good. 

Another thing to watch out for is carat weight hidden in the girdle or pavilion of the stone. It’s diamond you can’t see, and therefore money down the drain. 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 and reject those with the words “very” and “extremely” in the girdle description. A very thin girdle can chip. A very thick one means hidden weight. 

This Asscher has an excellent cut. Note how the corner facets are even, the windmill kisses in the middle.
This Asscher has a poor cut and looks dull.
Two Asscher diamonds, both one carat, but one is much larger

No. 4 Color

Savings of 10-20%

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

For extra credit, set lower color grades in yellow or rose gold (the metal color will reflect through the stone anyway). 

Truly colorless diamonds are extremely rare, and have the price tags to prove it. So if you’re looking at a round brilliant cut diamond, stop cringing and go straight for something in the H-I range for a beauty that won’t look any worse for it. Just keep in mind that different diamond shapes show color differently. Rounds hide it well, while cushions show it off. So for fancies, up it to F-G for a whiter appearance. And Use fluorescence to your advantage, as it can help neutralize yellow tones.  

F color Asscher Diamond

I color Asscher Diamond
Frank Darling diamond color grade chart

Carat: The savings is up to you!

Shop shy. 

Is bigger really better? Well, not when you’re on a budget. Unsurprisingly, carat weight is going to be the biggest differentiator driving price. After all, it’s literally the size of your diamond. But remember up top when we talked about cut being more important to the overall appearance of your diamond? That’s right—cut grade (a more brilliant diamond) can actually make your diamond appear bigger!

But our number one tip? Shop shy. See, prices jump significantly right at the whole-carat marks (1 ct, 2 ct, etc.). So be flexible. Shop just shy of a carat, say .95, and you’ll get one that appears the same size to your eye but saves you mucho bucks. Just stick with a higher cut grade (and you can check the overall diameter for a secondary clue), and you’ll be golden.

This Will Be on the Test

Kidding. The only test is you actually finding a diamond you really, really love.

When you’re ready, 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 a virtual or offline appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. 

Not finding what you’re looking for? Email us with what you’re looking for at We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.