shape
carat
color
clarity

Selecting an oval diamond for engagement ring

quantum

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
3
I am currently trying to select an oval diamond for an engagement ring. I have been reading these forums and the guides (wonderful resource, thank you). It seems that there is an art to picking an oval diamond that involves inspecting photos.

As I am completely new to this and would be very very grateful for any advice or options you can find. I have listed my preferences below, but am open to changing these.

budget: prefer to spend $20-30k, maximum would be $40k
carat weight: 2-3.5 ct
color - G or better
clarity - VS2 or better
cut - I think this is what I want to maximize, but I am having difficulty assessing this - on James Allen it looks like you can't filter by cut

I am not interested in maximizing specifications beyond the point that they no longer impact how the diamond looks and performs to the naked eye.

I am not sure about LW ratio, but here is an example of some I like the look of: [1], [2], [3]. Whereas the ratio [here] is too low for me.

I don't mind if the diamond is mined or lab grown and the setting will probably be a plain thin yellow gold band. I am hoping to place an order by the end of next week.

Here are some I have found:

https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD07776415

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/2.01-carat-d-color-if-clarity-sku-2339821

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/2.26-carat-d-color-vs2-clarity-sku-3242258

Thank you!
 

drk14

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,061
If you haven't seen it already, here's my mini-tutorial for evaluating ovals online:

Here's my take. In elongated shapes (oval, pear, marquise), the reflections off the facets and virtual facets (which is a reflection of part of a facet in one or more other facets) come in two flavors: on the one hand, broad/chunky/crisp reflections that arise from larger virtual facets and have not bounced around much within the diamond, and on the other hand, crushed ice type reflections that arise from very small virtual facets and have bounced around many times within the stone before the light reaches your eye. The latter type ("crushed ice") can be attractive (featuring a large number tiny twinkles, sometimes called "pinfire" reflection) or unattractive (which we call "mush"). Some people prefer one flavor of reflection over the other, but on PS, most posters steer shoppers towards the broad/chunk/crisp facet style. In part, this is because it is almost impossible to distinguish between "pinfire" crushed ice and "mushy" crushed ice using the tools we have available online (photos, video, ASET, etc.).

Most ovals have chunky facets in the belly region (the minor axis of the ellipse), and some degree of crushed ice to either side of the belly. The juxtaposition of the two light reflection styles can be jarring, and in any case, PS mostly prefers broader facets for reasons explained above. Therefore, I try to find ovals that have as much chunky/crisp light return as possible from the areas outside the belly, making sure that these broader virtual facets are evenly distributed across the face of the diamond. The key to this is to observe the diamond in motion, as it's being tilted a small amount (say +/- 30deg) around the face-up position. Look for virtual facets that turn on and off -- i.e., alternately reflect dark and light as the stone is tilted. Pay attention to how quickly the transition from dark to light (and vice versa) is, and/or how quickly the on-off flashing is repeated. Crisp or high-frequency transitions are desirable, especially if the virtual facet in question is reasonably large. When you've identified all such areas (having crisply flashing virtual facets that aren't tiny), then consider whether these "active" areas are evenly distributed. Commonly, this type of light return is found only in the belly region, but if you look through a large number of candidate stones, you can find those that have broad/chunky flashes distributed more evenly. These are the ones I look for.

You haven't specified whether you have any specific preference for the broad/chunky type of faceting or the pinfire/crushed ice type of faceting. Since you do seem to have a preference for more elongated ovals, you are more likely to find crushed ice type cuts. The thing is, especially in larger diamonds (like the 2-3.5ct range you are looking for), the pinfire style of reflection can be very attractive. The catch is that it is impossible to identify well-performing pinfire/crushed ice diamonds using tools available to online shoppers. You have to shop for this type of diamond in person, or entrust the selection to someone who can see the diamonds in person.

Thus, you may consider asking Good Old Gold to source some ovals according to your specs, and have them assessed by Jonathan. If you do go this route, I recommend telling them your max budget is $30k, as they have a history of proposing diamonds that are a bit above budget.

On the other hand, if you have your mind set on chunky facets, PSers can try to help. Of those that you posted, the 2.23ct and 2.26ct have good scintillation in the belly region, and a little bit of life at the tips, whereas the 2.01ct is dead at the tips and has chaotic faceting in the belly.
 

quantum

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
3
Hi drk14 and Lookinagain, thank you so much for taking the time to pick some out - those two are on my short list now.

drk14, the information on the faceting is very useful. I think I need to do some more research to see if I prefer broad/chunky vs pinfire/crushed ice. I have looked up Good Old Gold and watched some very interesting videos comparing ovals. I will get in touch with them to see what options they have – although I am guessing this will be more expensive (although quality assured).

Some extra questions... why is the pinfire/crushed ice style cut more attractive on larger oval diamonds (as compared with smaller diamonds)? Are chunky facets generally preferred by most people (not just when online shopping)?

Thanks again.
 

tyty333

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
25,838
I can only speak for those that have purchased ovals through Pricescope that most people prefer chunky. The bigger, broader facets give you bigger
flashes that can be seen across the room...plus fire. The crushed ice type ovals give you smaller pin flashes that can be seen up close (but more of
them) which is the trade off. Most Pricescopers like to see fire (colored light).

For chunky ovals you want well defined, crisp facets that stretch out towards the pointed end as the stone turns. The area circled in yellow should
come into focus as nice, well-defined facets.
oval facets.PNG
Here is a stone that I like
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/2.71-carat-f-color-vs2-clarity-sku-3165622

Lower in your budget...probably not as big as you want
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/2.10-carat-g-color-vs1-clarity-sku-2570951

Ok, not for you but I just wanted to point out this very cute antique-ish oval. Big open culet...
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/oval-cut/2.03-carat-e-color-vs2-clarity-sku-324328

The BlueNile stone you picked may be nice...wish the facets were a little crisper as it turns.
The first JA stone you picked is a crushed iced stone. Hard to pick from on-line videos. If you like this you may need to order it and see it for yourself.
Return if its not what you are looking for (its not my flavor but might be yours).
Not really liking the second JA stone you picked. The facets that head out to the pointed ends do not crisp up as the stone turns. I think you can find
better.
 

drk14

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,061

I like this one, but the 2.71ct-F is afflicted by what I call "ear muffs" ... a static obstruction (like a bow tie effect) that appears at the tips of the oval instead of in the belly region.

The 2.19ct-G is not bad, but I don't like how far you have to tilt it before you get any significant scintillation from the tips.
 

msop04

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
10,050
I like this one, but the 2.71ct-F is afflicted by what I call "ear muffs" ... a static obstruction (like a bow tie effect) that appears at the tips of the oval instead of in the belly region.

The 2.19ct-G is not bad, but I don't like how far you have to tilt it before you get any significant scintillation from the tips.

Oops... I meant for the 2.71
I agree... I see a lot of mush and dead in between the ends and the immediate the belly area on this one.
 

tyty333

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
25,838
Oops... I meant for the 2.71
I agree... I see a lot of mush and dead in between the ends and the immediate the belly area on this one.

I disagree...the facets on the 2.71 come into focus very nicely on this stone as the stone turns.

It does have "ear muff" but I guess this doesnt bother me. I would rather have ear muffs than mush.

Edit...OP...I also like the 3.01 that msop has found. You get to say that its a 3 carat even though
its not that much larger than some of the 2 carat ones...it does have nice faceting also.
 
Last edited:

drk14

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,061
I was bored and waded through the F+ VS1+ 2ct+ Pol=Ex ovals within <$40k budget at BN.

This is my favorite among the BN ovals that meet the above search criteria (hold down Ctrl key when clicking BlueNile links):

https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD04765794 (2.02ct-D-VVS2, L/W 1.29)

The following are also decent and have varying degrees of appeal:
https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD09188234 (2.01ct-F-VVS2, L/W 1.34)
https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD07789627 (2.50ct-D-VS1, L/W 1.4)
https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD08316745 (3.01ct-F-VS1, L/W 1.27)

However, most of these may be too chubby for OP's taste. As I alluded to previously, for more elongated stones, you are more likely to end up in crushed ice territory.
 

quantum

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
3
Hi tyty333, drk14 and msop04, thanks so much for the further ideas and information.

drk14, I took your advice and asked Jonathan and Good Old Gold to propose some options. He has been excellent to work with - thank you for pointing me in his direction! Very impressed.

I've decided the size I am looking at is around 2ct (which works well as it looks like I will only be spending about half my budget!).

Jonathan made a video here of the three diamonds he brought in:


Specifications here:
https://www.goodoldgold.com/diamond-search/2.01-Oval--GIA-G-VS1-diamond-stock-16165-cert-
https://www.goodoldgold.com/diamond-search/2.10-Oval--GIA-G-VS1-diamond-stock-16164-cert-
https://www.goodoldgold.com/diamond-search/2.01-Oval--GIA-F-VS2-diamond-stock-16166-cert-

The 2.01 VS1 and 2.10 VS1 look like superb options and seem to perform really well... but of course, I am no expert so would appreciate your opinion.

The LW ratio is lower than I had originally planned for (which makes the 2.10 more interesting, as it has the highest ratio), but I think I prefer the performance of the 2.01...
 

drk14

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
1,061
The LW ratio is lower than I had originally planned for (which makes the 2.10 more interesting, as it has the highest ratio), but I think I prefer the performance of the 2.01...

It comes down to what I had written in my first post (#2), i.e., whether you have a preference for the broad/chunky style of faceting over the pinfire/crushed ice type of faceting, or vice versa. The 2.10 is definitely of the pinfire/crushed ice variety. Crushed ice diamonds, by their nature, are impossible to accurately assess by video or ASET, but I would totally trust Jonathan's assessment that this particular 2.10 is a bright and attractive specimen. You may not know whether you like this type of diamond until you see it in person, though.

Broad/chunky style diamonds, by their nature, look better in videos, and it is also possible to use video to distinguish between better and worse examples of the broad/chunky style.

The 2.01-G-VS1, as Jonathan noted, has more of the chunky type facets than the other two ovals he had called in, and this is reason alone is the main reason why it may appear to have better performance in the video comparison. But keep in mind that comparing a broad/chunky oval to a pinfire oval is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Now, if you're fairly sure that you do have a strong preference for the broad/chunky style of faceting, then the 2.01-G-VS1 from GOG seems to be a nice pick. However, scintillation-wise, I don't believe it will be substantially better than the 2.10-G-VS1 from JA that @tyty333 had found for you (which also has larger spread). Nonetheless, you may find that having Jonathan's stamp of approval provides some reassurance for you, which is understandable.

Actually, since your original budget was $40k, you may be able to purchase two diamonds, evaluate both side-by-side in person, and return one within the return period. Something that I did was to work with a local appraiser and have the diamonds shipped to him, then we did the comparison together. One benefit of this approach is that GOG was able to send a diamond on memo (i.e., on loan) to the appraiser for 48 hours, so I was actually able to compare 3 diamonds (2 purchased from JA, one on loan from GOG). Some variation of this strategy could let you see a pinfire diamond and a chunky diamond next to each other, which is really the only way to know for sure which style you prefer.
 
Be a part of the community Get 3 HCA Results
    Ultimate Valentine's Jewelry Gift Guide
    Ultimate Valentine's Jewelry Gift Guide - 02/05
    Valentine's Date Night Jewelry
    Valentine's Date Night Jewelry - 02/03
    Did You See January 2023's Jewels Of The Weeks?
    Did You See January 2023's Jewels Of The Weeks? - 01/28
Top