5 Diamond Buying Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

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Shopping for a diamond engagement ring can be very stressful.

With all the stores and information out there, where do you start? Who can you trust to tell you the truth? No one likes to waste money or time.

Not doing the proper research can lead to some costly mistakes. And that could lead to a rocky start of your new lives together.

Here is a quick no-nonsense guide to the 5 biggest mistakes diamond shoppers make. Even if you don't read anything else, avoiding these mistakes will help you save at least 20-40% on a diamond.

Mistake #1: Getting Stuck on Carat Goals

How much is 0.05 carats worth to you?
How much is 0.05 carats worth to you?

Like a lot of diamond shoppers, you probably have a carat goal in mind. For most people, this is usually 1 carat.

It sounds really good for bragging rights to hit that full 1-carat mark. And guess what? Jewelers know that, and that is why 1-carat diamonds have a huge price jump.

A 0.9-carat diamond can be 20% cheaper than a 1-carat diamond - simply because it's not a nice pleasing whole number.

But here's the real kicker: Visually, there is no size difference between a 0.9-carat and 1-carat diamond.

A 1-carat round diamond is 6.4-6.5 mm in diameter. A 0.9-carat round diamond is 6.2-6.3 mm in diameter. This is literally just a difference of 0.2 mm - the thickness of a piece of paper. So don't spend the money on something you can't even see.

We urge you to check it out for yourself. You will be blown away by the price difference.

Search 0.9 carat diamonds Search 1 carat diamonds

Btw, this is true at every half- and full-carat mark (like 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, etc.). The trick is to always buy just under these magic numbers.

Mistake #2: The Diamond Can't Have Flaws

Can you see the flaws?
Can you see the flaws?

Clarity is probably the most misunderstood factor. It refers to flaws in a diamond, which tends to freak people out.

A lot of people assume that you need a diamond high in clarity for it to look good. After all, no one likes hearing that their diamond has flaws.

But clarity grades are assigned based on flaws seen at under 10x magnification. In real life, no one is going to be examining your diamond under the microscope. People can't see small imperfections with the naked eye.

So you don't need a flawless diamond. You only need a diamond with flaws that you can't see. It will have no visible difference.

We recommend VS2 or SI1 clarity as the sweet spot. Even though these diamonds are lower on the clarity scale, their flaws usually can't be seen with the naked eye. You can save a significant amount.

See VS2 diamond prices See SI1 diamond prices

Mistake #3: Colorless Diamonds = More Sparkly

Perception vs Reality
Perception vs Reality

A common misconception is that colorless diamonds sparkle more because they're whiter. So people will spend more for a higher color grade.

The truth is that most diamonds naturally have a slight yellow tint. True colorless diamonds are very rare, so they are a lot more expensive.

But just like with clarity, most people cannot tell a difference between colorless and near-colorless. Especially since she probably won't be comparing her diamond against others. So there's no need to spend more money on a feature that you can't see.

We recommend H color as best value because the diamond still looks white, but it's a lot cheaper than colorless stones. You can see the price difference here:

See H diamond prices See colorless diamond prices

And as for sparkle, the color has nothing to do with it. Cut is the factor that affects how much a diamond reflects light. A well-cut diamond can be so sparkly that it masks color and hides flaws. So, never compromise on this and look for Excellent cut diamonds.

Mistake #4: Only Shopping at Chain Stores

Which are you actually paying for?
Which are you actually paying for?

Quick, name 3 engagement ring stores off the top of your head.

Did Kay, Zales, Robbins Brothers, or Tiffany pop up?

These big brand jewelers are popular and many people start their diamond search at one of these stores (or similar). They are convenient and reputable.

But make sure to look into other options as well. Big stores like these have massive overhead, so their prices are more expensive. Sales associates at these stores can be very helpful, but their motivation is to sell inventory and earn commissions.

If you're really looking to maximize budget, consider buying your engagement ring online. You can stretch your buying power because online retailers are around 40% cheaper than brick-and-mortar jewelers.

At minimum, at least visit an online store to see how much diamonds actually cost. Then you'll have a better idea when you walk into a store and won't be taken for a fool.

See diamond prices at Blue Nile See diamond prices at James Allen

Mistake #5: All Certifications Are the Same

Who certified your stone?
Who certified your stone?

Diamond certification is so important that it's often called "the 5th C." Never buy an uncertified diamond.

A proper certification is how you know that your diamond is the quality that the jeweler says. If you paid for a G, VVS1 diamond, then you should see a grading report showing you that's what you got.

BUT - not all certifications are the same. There are a number of labs around the world that certify diamonds (GIA, AGS, IGI, EGL, just to name a few). Unfortunately, not all labs have the same standards.

We only recommend getting diamonds certified by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society). These are the two leading labs with the highest grading standards.

Other labs tend to inflate their color and clarity grading by one or even two grades. They could grade a diamond as G, VVS1 to make it seem like better quality and price it higher… when in reality it's not that high.

Diamonds graded by GIA and AGS are slightly more expensive, because it costs more to get certified by those labs. But don't compromise on this. This is the only way you know you're getting the quality advertised.

See GIA certified diamonds

Bonus: Getting Too Caught Up on the Surprise

Sure, it's really romantic to get down on one knee and surprise her with a beautiful ring.

We have a slightly more practical view though. An engagement ring is a special gift that she will wear for the rest of her life. Shouldn't she get something she truly loves?

Most women already know the kind of ring they want. If she really wants a vintage emerald cut ring, but you give her a modern round ring, it could be disappointing (no matter how gorgeous it is).

Another reason to discuss the ring together - to come up with reasonable budget.

In a CreditDonkey survey, 36% of women think an engagement ring should cost less than $1,000. 3 in 5 women don't expect a ring over $3,000. And only about 19% of people think the ring should cost over $5,000.

And yet, the national average spent on an engagement ring is $7,750 - way over what people actually think it should cost.

Have an honest open discussion about expectations and budgets. You may be surprised at her thoughts. And plus, you can always still plan a fairytale surprise proposal.

Don't Overpay for Diamonds. Compare Prices

Anna G is a content manager at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at anna@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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