How to Buy a Diamond and use a Diamond Search made simple by Sean Dunn


Shopping for diamonds online can be a daunting task. What I tried to do with this post is explain the process in layman’s terms once you reach the “search for diamond” section on a jewelers website.

First thing you’ll usually see in a diamond search is an area where you can pick the “diamond shape”.

My Suggestion: For those of you who want to live “happily ever after”, pick the one SHE likes..not the one YOU like.

Hint: Happy wife= Happy life!

The second thing you’ll usually see is “price range”. In a retail store you might feel awkward discussing your budget with a sales associate, but on the web it’s completely private, you’re at home, its O.K. if you don’t have a million dollars to spend.

My Suggestion: Select a comfortable price range and don’t mess with exact carat weight, color and clarity until you’ve had a chance to see what you can get for your money. Once you see the results of the query, hopefully the site will allow you to click on the carat weight title on top of the results field. This will sort the list largest to smallest. This shows you the largest diamond you can get for your money and if you click it again it should sort the opposite way so you should see the highest quality diamond you can get for your money.

Hint: Just because she’s got a small hand doesn’t mean she wants a small diamond!

After you do your initial shape and price searches, and you understand what you can get for you money, find the educational section on the jewelers website to learn about the diamond grading system invented by GIA called the four C’S. You’ll need to educate yourself about the 4C’s to help you narrow down the results from all the diamonds shown to the one that’ll make her heart sing. If you don’t want to go hunting around other websites for these slightly boring educational pages I’ve summarized it in “plain speak” below. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful!

The Four C’s and beyond in “Layman”s Terms

Ok, so you’ve learned the first part about searching for diamonds and you know what shape and carat weight you can buy for your money. Now it’s time to learn the meaning of the rest of the clarity, color and cut grades shown on most diamond search results pages.

(Remember please don’t hesitate to call us or use our “Live Chat” to ask questions about how to buy a diamond on That’s what our Graduate Gemologists are here for).

The Four C’s (This is what determines the price of a diamond)

Carat: is not size its weight. A diamond can weigh 1 carat and be two different sizes. If you want to know the size of a particular diamond, look at the actual millimeter measurements. (We’ll get to what are good or bad measurements in a bit).

Color: D is the best color you can get. It’s pure white. The colors start at D and go to Z alphabetically. To sum it up, if you want a colorless diamond from all angles look at D, E, or F. If you want a diamond that looks very white from top and pretty darn white from the sides against a white background consider G,H, or I. If you think that she’d rather have a larger diamond consider the possibilities of a J or a K which can still face up (look) beautifully. They will have a little color when you look at them from the sides against a white background.

Clarity: This is the point where we tell most people in our store and on our website to pay for what you see. You see size, color and sparkle. Clarity unless it is really, really bad won’t affect any of the above. Most people choose VS1 to SI2 ranges in our store. Good SI2’s do not have imperfections visible to the naked eye (unless it’s maybe an emerald cut). Should you decide on an SI2, confirm with the seller whether the imperfection is eye visible or not before you buy!

Clarity made simple:

IF-VVS2 – Is that a speck of dust or is that the imperfection under the microscope? (The Jeweler thinking out loud).

VS1-VS2 “ The jeweler will show you where the imperfection is so you can see it under the microscope.

SI1-SI2 – Looks clean to the naked eye. You’ll find the inclusions by yourself using the microscope.

Cut is very, very important. It determines how much the diamond will sparkle and greatly affects its cost. This can get very, very complicated but here is a link to suggested ranges and don’t hesitate to use our live chat or call our Graduate Gemologist if you have questions.

Laboratory This field is actually critical when shopping for a diamond. The lab report independently verifies the grade of the diamond and you’re not just taking the jewelers word for it. We default to GIA and AGS labs because we consider them to be the industry standard. They are very strict and consistent when it comes to their grading. When shopping price on a diamond it’s a must to make sure you are comparing GIA to GIA or AGS to AGS. You don’t want to be comparing Joe’s Gem lab to a GIA report.

HINT: Joe just might be your jeweler’s cousin.

So now that you have a handle on the basics you can begin your quest to find just the right diamond! Congrats in advance.


Sean Dunn
Graduate Gemologist

P.S.For even more information please be sure to visit the sites below and take the tutorial’s from two of the most respected labs in our industry and also feel free to chat with us any time.

GIA’s Four C’s Tutorial, AGS Four C’s, Live Gemologist (click on Chat Live link on left side of page)

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