More savvy diamond ring buyers are realizing that you don’t need to break the bank to get a beautiful diamond ring. The idea that you need to spend at least two months’ salary is nothing more than a marketing ploy made by De Beers in the 80s. The truth is that it is absolutely possible to spend less on a beautiful diamond ring. You just have to understand how diamond valuation works and know what you want beforehand.
If you’re looking to cut costs, you may want to consider buying diamonds online. No, this is not some sketchy black market. Online retailers offer a great alternative to the highly marked up prices of physical retailers.
That’s because online retailers buy directly from wholesalers or diamond manufacturers, helping them offer a much wider selection at much lower costs. Plus, online shops allow you to be more methodical in adjusting certain quality factors, like color or cut, and seeing how they impact the overall cost.
One of my favorites is the online diamond giant, Blue Nile.
Who is Blue Nile?
If you’ve ever looked up online diamond ring shops, Blue Nile was probably the first result. Blue Nile is the biggest online jewelry retailer. Specializing in diamond rings, they have an inventory of over 180,000 loose diamonds to choose from.
Why Blue Nile is cheaper
As a leader in the online diamond business, Blue Nile has developed relationships with some of the largest diamond wholesalers over the years. This means more competitive prices, and a much larger selection of diamonds, thanks to certain exclusivity agreements.
Why I like Blue Nile for buying diamonds online
What’s great about Blue Nile is that they give you the option to build your own ring from scratch online. Filter by the qualifications like color, shape, carat, clarity, delivery date, price, and quality of cut and browse through their diamond selection. You can be as picky as you want in filtering what diamonds make it to your list, down to the fluorescence level.
Blue Nile have a zero-tolerance policy toward conflict diamonds. Blue Nile specifically purchases diamonds from the largest and most respected suppliers who adhere to the Kimberley Process: a certification program that insures that their approved companies are abiding by their human rights standards.
Lots of options
Blue Nile has a massive inventory of over 180,000 loose diamonds. This means you’re bound to find something that meets your exact quality and price qualifications.
With thousands of stones to choose from, you can find a range of options to fit your budget. Their customization feature allows you to adjust different factors to get the exact budget-friendly stone you want. Plus, Blue Nile even offers price matching for diamonds of comparable quality.
Blue Nile offers a wealth of educational resources to help even the diamond novices understand what they’re buying and how to choose the right diamond.
If you haven’t been saving up, paying over time may be your best option. Blue Nile offers a credit card with a few options to choose from:
- 0% interest if you pay back within six, 12 or 18 months
- Equal payments and 9.99% APR if you pay back within the given time frame
- No special terms, just a 25-day grace period if you pay your balance each month
Thanks to the massive inventory, it’s not hard to find a great quality diamond. Every diamond sold by Blue Nile has been tested and certified by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGSL (American Gem Society Laboratories) and even comes with a grading report.
Online shopping experience
Despite the thousands of diamond options, they make the user experience really simple. They’re also transparent with the pricing and what is included in your order. If you’re confused at any point, you can talk to their live customer service staff, who have a ton of knowledge and can help offer some guidance. Blue Nile tries to alleviate the risk of online shopping with free 30-day returns and free shipping.
Blue Nile also has retail shops around North America. You get the best of both worlds: a large inventory to pick from with cheaper prices, and that in-person experience. Their staff are trained to ensure their customers understand what they’re purchasing.
Who should buy from Blue Nile?
Blue Nile is perfect for the shopper who has a general idea of what they’re looking for, and wants to browse through a number of options.
If you’ve done your research and understand the how the grading scales work for factors like clarity or brilliance, then Blue Nile is a great resource for you.
Who shouldn’t buy from Blue Nile?
If you prefer the experience of feeling and seeing the stone in person, then Blue Nile may not be for you. If you aren’t quite sure what you want, and are looking for guidance from a diamond expert, you may feel more comfortable making your purchase in person.
Understanding the basics of diamond rings
Let’s start with the 4 C’s: Cut, color, clarity, and carat. Each of these categories has a sliding scale that will heavily influence a diamond’s quality and price. Strategically adjusting each of these categories to find the right balance can potentially save you hundreds of dollars:
Most professionals know that the cut is the most important factor, because it determines the diamond’s beauty, durability and sparkle. A thicker, well-cut stone will better reflect the light traveling through it, creating a more vibrant sparkle. A stone that is cut poorly will not sparkle as vibrantly and is more likely to break.
Diamond experts will recommend trying not to compromise on cut. A higher cut rating can really impact the diamond’s quality and brilliance, so much so that it can actually offset compromises in other areas.
Diamonds do contain some color. Typically, the whiter the stone, the higher its valuation. If this is not as important to you, it could be an area to compromise.
If your stone has a colored tint to it, setting it in yellow gold will help offset the color. In general, you can make the diamond appear whiter by setting the stone in a white gold or platinum.
Clarity refers to the number of imperfections the stone has.
The truth is that many of these tiny imperfections are microscopic and completely undetectable by the human eye. You could definitely opt for a slightly lower clarity diamond without affecting the way it looks at all. In fact, anything with a SI2 grade or higher will not have any visible imperfections.
This refers to the weight and shape of the stone.
Each carat has 100 points. For each additional carat, you will see a massive price jump. To save money, round down a little so you don’t actually reach that 100-point mark. For example, if you want a 2-carat diamond, opt for 1.95-carats instead. No one will notice the difference once it’s set, but you’ll save a ton.
Save money by choosing the right style
Everyone has different style preferences, but a thoughtful approach could save you money as well. The round diamond is the most popular because it creates the greatest shine, but if the size of the diamond is more important to you then you may want to consider a different shape. Here are some other options:
Oval, pear-shaped, or marquise
These shapes still have that rounded look, but actually look much larger than the standard rounded shape. A great option if size is important.
Several small stones
A single 1-carat diamond will cost significantly more than a few smaller diamonds that weigh a total of one-carat. Several small stones instead of one large diamond can give you that beautiful, elegant design you want while potentially saving you hundreds of dollars.
A halo setting has small diamonds centered around one larger stone. This design is a great way to make your diamond appear larger than it is.
Elegant shapes like emerald, princess, cushion and heart are generally less expensive than that rounded cut, but often appear larger.
Buying ethically-made jewelry
Despite the growing awareness of the human rights abuses plaguing the diamond mining business, 24% of the world’s diamonds are still mined unethically, according to the World Diamond Council. However, thanks to the growing demand for conflict-free diamonds, many jewelers are making sure their ethics policy is transparent.
Start by making sure your diamond is certified by the Kimberley Process. Ask your jeweler and see if he has any
Whether you buy from an online store or a brick and mortar, just make sure you understand what you’re buying. This is an exciting time that shouldn’t be overshadowed by a potentially unsavory experience. Blue Nile is a great online option for anyone looking to buy a fair-priced engagement or wedding ring.