We know that the higher the quality of a diamond, the more expensive it is. But how can you find the stones that are the best value for money? Let’s see how you can find the best value for the most common diamond cuts available on the market.
Diamonds are evaluated on their four most important characteristics: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
The good news is that you don’t need to buy the best-graded diamond on all these attributes in order to have a stone that looks just as clean and colorless as the diamonds of the highest quality.
The Best Value for Money: Round-Cut Diamonds
The round brilliant is the most popular diamond cut, and for good reason: its strong brilliance and sparkle make diamond imperfections such as yellowish hues and natural flaws less visible to the naked eye.
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a good-value round diamond (all grades are according to the GIA grading scales):
For round-cut diamonds, a color in the H-I-J grading range provides the best value.
Color grades in the D-E-F range are technically better and are perfectly colorless, but the difference is hardly noticeable to the naked eye.
That’s why the additional money you would spend on a perfect color would have a marginal effect on how good your diamond looks.
In general, don’t go lower than J color if the diamond is going to be set in a white setting (e.g., one made of platinum or white gold); otherwise, the color in the stone will become too noticeable.
For yellow gold settings, you can buy a stone in the K-L-M range – the diamond will have a visible yellowish tint, but it won’t be noticeable, as the color of the gold will make the white in the stone stand out.
When it comes to choosing clarity, you will get the best value by picking a stone graded VS2 or SI1.
Higher-clarity diamonds are cleaner, but this is visible under magnification. To the naked eye, a VS2 diamond, for example, looks as clean as one of a higher clarity grade.
You can also buy a diamond graded SI2 that looks clean to the unaided eye.
Some of the stones in this clarity grade might have visible inclusions, but they are unlikely to be very noticeable. If you sort through enough SI2-clarity diamonds, you will most likely find some stones that look pretty good for their price.
The cut grade of a diamond is related to its brilliance. Better-cut stones have more sparkle, and that’s why cut is a characteristic that is worth paying for, even if it is the highest grade.
However, if you’ve decided that cut is also something you’d rather save money on, don’t buy diamonds whose cut is graded lower than Good. Fair and Poor cuts lack good brilliance and look much less bright.
The higher the carat of a diamond, the more expensive it is, so if you want to save money, you should opt for smaller stones.
However, if you have decided on a certain carat value, you should know that you might be able to get a stone that looks roughly the same size but is cheaper.
So, how do you get the best value on carat?
In general, the standard carat weights, such as 0.25 ct, 0.50 ct, 0.75 ct, 1.00 ct, and so on, are in most demand.
Values just under these weights – e.g., 0.20 ct, 0.40 ct, 0.70 ct, 0.90 ct, etc. – are cheaper not only because they are lighter, but also because they are not as sought after.
And the best part is that they don’t look noticeably smaller than the standard carats.
The Best Value for Money: Other Diamond Cuts
The principles of indentifying round-cut diamonds that are good value are generally the same for other cuts.
Some adjustments are needed, though, in the areas of color and clarity, as these cuts don’t have as much brilliance as the round cut, and imperfections in them tend to be more visible.
Color: Stay within the H-I range. A color grade higher than H won’t result in a significant improvement visible with the naked eye.
Don’t go lower than I color, though, as the princess cut shows more color than the round brilliant. For yellow gold settings, you can go as low as J or K color.
Clarity: For princess cuts, VS2 or SI1 clarity grades provide the best value.
Emerald and Asscher Cut
Color: Don’t go lower than H color, which provides the best appearance for money. The emerald cut and the Asscher cut don’t have as much brilliance as the round cut or the princess cut, and their yellow tints are more visible.
For yellow gold settings, you can pick J color; K color can also look good in this metal.
Clarity: Because of the lower brilliance of the emerald and Asscher cuts, inclusions in them are more noticeable, so don’t go lower than VS2 clarity.
Radiant and Cushion Cut
Color: For radiant and cushion cuts, H color will give you the best value, and going lower is not recommended for platinum or white gold settings.
For yellow gold, I or J color provides the best value.
Clarity: SI1 and SI2 clarity are the cheapest grades you can get and still have a diamond that is clean to the naked eye.
Pear Cut, Marquise Cut, and Oval Cut
Color: These cuts also tend to show more color than the round cut and the princess cut, so it is recommended that you don’t go lower than H color.
For yellow gold settings, you can go as low as I or J color.
Clarity: Buying SI1 or SI2 clarity will result in the best value for money for pear-cut, marquise-cut, and oval-cut diamonds.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).