A guide to buying loose diamonds
We all know the traditional way of buying diamond jewelry; a brick-and-mortar jewelry store, windows sparkling with rings, a sit-down chat with a sales advisor, and, more often than not, walking out with an engagement ring an hour later.
The Internet has changed diamond and jewelry shopping habits and with huge benefits to the buyers. One such development is the opportunity to select a loose diamond from a huge inventory and partner it with a beautiful setting.
Buying loose diamonds isn’t reserved for experts; in fact, all buyers, even the most novice, will benefit from choosing their jewelry in this way. This guide will cover the benefits of buying loose diamonds and our top tips for a smooth shopping experience.
What is a loose diamond?
A loose diamond is a diamond that is available to buy alone, i.e. without a setting. Loose diamonds are most commonly purchased to be set into an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry, however, there are also people who choose to buy loose diamonds simply for investment purposes.
Loose diamonds are sold to consumers in a cut and polished form. There are sites that sell rough or ‘raw’ diamonds, but these are generally intended to be kept rough as a stylistic preference.
The benefits of buying loose diamonds
The old school, brick-and-mortar process of buying a pre-set engagement ring has the advantage of offering immediate gratification. This perk is far outweighed by the benefits of buying loose diamonds.
Color and Clarity: It can be difficult to assess the clarity of a pre-set diamond. Often, settings are used to conceal the appearance of inclusions; while there is nothing wrong with this, it’s good to know exactly what you are buying from the offset rather than having a nasty surprise should you choose to re-set the diamond in the future. Similarly, warm tone metals such as yellow and rose gold will make the diamond appear whiter. A salesperson is unlikely to point these potential flaws out to you.
Cut: Hearts and Arrows viewers and Idealscope reflectors can be used to assess the cut quality of a loose diamond. These tools cannot be effectively used on a mounted diamond so a buyer must rely on their eyes and the diamond certificate – neither of which will give a complete view of the cut quality. The best online vendors provide ASET, Idealscope, and Hearts and Arrows imaging so that buying a loose diamond online gives you a thorough and accurate overview of cut quality and light performance.
Selection: Every diamond is unique. When you visit a jewelry store or buy a pre-set diamond ring online, the jeweler has already chosen that one diamond to go into the setting. You may fall in love with a ring, only to find the central diamond is below your required color/clarity/cut grade. This can lead to compromising. Choosing a loose diamond allows you total freedom to select your specific quality characteristics and choose from thousands of settings to create the perfect engagement ring. You could also purchase a loose diamond for a proposal and allow your partner to choose the setting.
Price: Being able to refine and tweak your loose diamond search settings allows you to work firmly to your budget. Unlike a pre-set ring, which is sold with a total price, selecting a loose diamond and a setting separately allows you to see exactly where your money is being spent.
How to buy loose diamonds
First-time buyers may feel that buying a loose diamond means more work – this is not true. Good vendors selling loose diamonds ensure that the process is straight forward. From choosing the diamond to mounting it in the setting and arriving safely at your door, the best companies will offer support at every step of the journey (without the pushy sales patter). These simple steps are all you need to successfully shop for loose diamonds.
Only consider buying a loose diamond that has been certified by the GIA or AGS. These laboratories are acknowledged as the most consistent and accurate grading authorities. Less reputable grading bodies will give inflated grades leading to customers over-spending on lower quality diamonds.
Whether shopping for pre-set or loose diamonds, a competent understanding of the Four C’s is essential. Our education pages cover the Four C’s in-depth, giving you the opportunity to arm yourself with knowledge before splashing out on a diamond. Why not take a look at our diamond buying guide for more information?
Spare yourself the biased sales pitch and instead seek reliable sources that will help you maximize your budget without compromising on quality.
One of the huge perks of buying a loose diamond online is the large inventories of loose stones available to view. While a brick-and-mortar store may hold a few loose diamonds for you to look it, they cannot compete with the variety found through online vendors. This gives you the chance to make side by side comparisons of quality and diamond prices, and rule out unsuitable diamonds with ease.
Loose diamonds aren’t only purchased for engagement rings. Pendants, rings, and even earrings can all be set with your loose stones. Vendors such as James Allen offering a matching service, allowing buyers to find equivalent diamonds for their earrings.
Filter tools feature on almost every site selling loose diamonds. They are a fantastic way to search within specific quality brackets and observe first hand how these impact on the price.
Advanced search filters give buyers the chance to fully refine their search, focusing in on the all-important intricacies of diamond cut.
High-res photos will prove a big help when buying loose diamonds online. James Allen, Whiteflash, and Blue Nile all provide super clear, magnified images of the diamond – even easier than using a jeweler’s loupe. Look out for ‘sample images’ used on websites; there is nothing wrong with vendors using sample images for their diamonds, but be sure to establish if what you are looking at; is the photo of the diamond you intend to buy or a stock image?
Whiteflash loose diamonds also come with additional light performance reports and images – their commitment to cut quality and fully informed customers shines through their business.
Is it cheaper to buy a loose diamond?
Loose diamonds aren’t necessarily cheaper than their mounted equivalent, however, they have the advantage of offering buyers a ‘complete view’ – no inclusions hidden by prongs or color concealment against a setting. Buying a loose diamond online will be considerably cheaper than buying from a store.
Diamond prices and personal budgets are going to be the greatest influences over your search. No compromises, no nasty surprises – buying loose diamonds online offers complete clarity and gives you total control over your budget.
People often ask the price of 1ct loose diamonds, for example, but whether the diamond is loose or in a setting, every quality characteristic will influence the price. Where possible, diamonds should be assessed on a stone to stone basis. You can also use our diamond price charts and calculators to get a better idea of how to set your budget.
The best places to buy loose diamonds
Our top three sponsoring vendors for loose diamonds are Whiteflash, James Allen, and Blue Nile. They each take a different approach but ultimately edge competitors on imaging, inventory size, and easy to use websites.
- Impressive in-stock inventory of loose diamonds ready to set and ship
- Branded A CUT ABOVE® Super-ideal cut diamonds
- Advanced imaging and light performance reports
- Extensive collection of designer settings
- AGS and GIA certified diamonds
- Exceptional customer service and guidance
- 30-day returns
2. James Allen
- Impressive inventory of loose white, colored diamonds and lab diamonds
- Branded True Heart™ ideal diamonds
- Super-clear imaging and 360°
- AGS and GIA certified diamonds
- 30-day returns
3. Blue Nile
- Impressive inventory of loose diamonds, including unusual shapes
- Branded Astor by Blue Nile™ ideal diamonds
- Designer Settings and collaborations
- 30-day returns
Loose diamonds conclusion
Our advice, and the shared opinion of our diamond community, is that buying a loose stone offers far more flexibility and choice than its pre-set alternative. While it may sound daunting to a first-time buyer, the process of buying loose diamonds is easier than ever and the online experience has proven to be the first choice for buyers in the now.
The PriceScope community has assisted thousands of buyers to navigate the world of loose diamonds and our extensive resources will provide you with all the information that you need to shop with confidence.