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When choosing the best place to buy an engagement ring, you must consider the factors which are the most important to you. It is an entirely individual experience; therefore, the services and quality offered by the vendors must meet your criteria and expectations.
The options seem endless and can make the process seem gratuitously complex, so I’m writing this to cover the basics when shopping for an engagement ring, as well as taking a closer look at some of the leading retailers in the diamond engagement ring world.
Although I will cover some of the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ jewelers, buying a diamond online is always my recommendation. The quality and value for money when using a reputable online vendor is truly unsurpassed, and their smaller running costs allow for prices that are simply unobtainable to a traditional jeweler.
For those considering purchasing a diamond online for the first time, I would strongly recommend taking a look at my article buying diamonds online for guidance, reassurance and a detailed look at the benefits of buying online.
If you are considering buying an engagement ring from a traditional brick and mortar jewelry store, one thing is for certain; you will pay a large premium. While there are small perks that an online retailer may be unable to meet (champagne, twinkling lights, being able to see the diamond in the flesh), you can expect to pay up to $2,000 extra for these small privileges.
For this reason, I find it difficult to give recommendations for a traditional jewelry store for those working within a budget (which realistically, is almost everyone). I cannot justify the premium you will pay, knowing that for the same budget you could obtain a larger and better quality diamond from an online retailer.
If money is truly no object, there are of course, some stunning diamonds available from traditional jewelry stores. In this instance, my recommendations would be the leaders of the diamond world, starting with Tiffany & Co. and moving all the way up to Graff and De Beers. As some of the largest diamond houses in the world, you are guaranteed a stunning diamond as long as you don’t mind a six-figure price tag.
If you are considering these, you are in the lucky minority.
Do not feel disheartened if the heady heights of De Beers and Graff are out of your reach. The infinite beauty of a diamond is not determined by the brand name that is attributed to it, but rather by quality, knowledge and exceptional service offered by the retailer.
Before we delve into the specifics of the leading online retailers, there are some helpful tips you can consider which will make your engagement adventure a little easier to manage.
You should only buy from vendors who offer high-resolution photographs of the actual diamond you would be purchasing. Better yet, many of the leading retailers (Blue Nile, James Allen, ) give a full 360° video view of the stone in question.
A common argument against buying online is that people feel uncomfortable that they can’t ‘see’ the diamond before purchase; however, the specialist equipment used to photograph the diamond will actually allow an untrained eye to see a great deal more than they would if they were looking through a jewelers loupe or simply looking at a diamond by eye at a shop.
Jewelry stores have flattering lights which will help disguise any potential flaws within the diamond, and an overly keen salesperson may fail to point these out to a prospective buyer. Photographs and videos offer a detailed and thorough view of the diamond, allowing you to make the best choice.
A word you will hear at every juncture when buying a diamond. Only consider retailers who offer GIA and AGS certified diamonds. This is the only way to ensure you are getting the most accurate diamond grading, by an unbiased and internationally respected authority. Do not be tempted by inferior grading systems; they may appear to offer the same quality diamonds for lower prices, but their standards will be lower, and thus the final grade will be inaccurate. The best vendors will also offer additional data such as ASET images, Ideal-Scope images and a hearts and arrows view (where applicable).
Explore the terms of purchase offered by the retailer and ensure that assurance to the buyer one of their priorities. As a minimum, you should be offered a fair refund or exchange policy; this should allow a reasonable amount of time for a return given that the diamond is in the same condition you received it, and return postage should be covered by the retailer. This minimizes risk and cost to the buyer and shows that the seller has confidence in their diamonds.
Explore the warranty on your piece of jewelry. Basic wear and tear will not be covered, but make sure any issues that have not been caused by general wear are covered in the warranty agreement.
You may also be able to upgrade, or part exchange your diamond in the future. Most importantly, look for clear and helpful customer service throughout the process. Many of the best online retailers now offer chat or concierge services to answer questions and offer guidance at every stage. When the time comes to give payment for the diamond you have chosen, you should feel confident and empowered by the support and information that you have been offered.
James Allen is one of the leading online retailers for engagement ring purchases. It offers an impressive inventory of certified stones, which are all presented with the highest quality imaging available.
There is an overall feeling of individuality and romance throughout the James Allen site allows potential buyers to explore a diverse and provocative selection of settings and style options to create the perfect ring.
James Allen often collaborates with designers, which again broadens its repertoire of engagement ring possibilities.
It ticks all the boxes when it comes to aftercare, offering free cleaning every six months, lifetime warranty, and free ring re-sizing on top of the 24/7 customer service helpline, free shipping, and money back guarantees.
James Allen blends quality diamonds with an overall positive buyer experience, and those key factors determine its continued popularity with buyers across the globe.
The focus for Whiteflash is its unwavering dedication to the highest quality diamonds possible, and this ethos is particularly prominent in its A CUT ABOVE® diamonds. Put simply, if you want the best quality diamond available within your outlined budget, Whiteflash would be your first choice.
Its inventory is slightly smaller than James Allen and other competitors, but all of Whiteflash diamonds are in-stock and ready to ship from the US. While Whiteflash also offers fancy cuts, the selection of shapes is limited.
If designer engagement ring is what you’re looking for, then Whiteflash is where you should be. It carries over 8 different designers in their offering, this means you’ll definitely find something you’re looking for with Whiteflash.
With all that said, if you are looking for a princess or round brilliant cut, their in-house A CUT ABOVE® diamonds are unrivaled when it comes to quality and technical data offerings.
A stand out feature on the Whiteflash website is the exceptionally detailed Education section. This contains in-depth explanations of cut quality, ASET and Ideal-Scope imaging and the thorough specifications that a diamond must meet to be suitable for an A CUT ABOVE® diamond. This section contains almost everything you need to know about diamonds.
If you are a perfectionist with a thirst for knowledge and demand only the best, then Whiteflash is a perfect choice.
Blue Nile offers the largest inventory of any online vendor. While their Signature collections fall short of those offered by James Allen and Whiteflash, it compensates for this with an overwhelming selection of diamonds and an accessible website, allowing the buyer to sort and refine their search to match their specific needs.
Blue Nile was the pioneers of 360° imaging, and its commitment to presenting the diamond in the truest and most accurate way remains paramount. Its settings can be a little hit and miss. It offers a good return policy which may give you the confidence to roll the dice on this, but if not, you may consider purchasing a loose stone and having it set yourself.
If you are looking for a fancy cut, Blue Nile is an obvious choice, as the sheer size of its inventory gives you a maximum chance for comparison on both price and quality.
Its prices are extremely impressive too, no matter what your budget is, Blue Nile will have something for you. An excellent choice, and certainly one of the best places to buy an engagement ring.
Leibish compensates for a gap in the market when it comes to high quality, fancy colored stones. Leibish is also experts at sculpting jewelry around the unique and vibrant colors, ensuring the setting and style perfectly complements the beauty of the center stone.
I would consider them specialists in colored stones; therefore, if you are considering a fancy colored stone, such as Canary/yellow stone, for your engagement ring, Leibish has an outstanding choice for both performance and quality for you to choose from.
Once you have outlined your personal specifications, you can explore my in-depth reviews of the above vendors and many more here to decide which is most suited to your needs.
This is just a small selection in a sea of diamond possibilities, both good and bad. Should you find a retailer that is not within my recommendations, be sure to the run the checklist of features and minimum requirements before conducting any further research. Always remember to put the diamond’s 4 Cs at the center of comparisons.
As always, the golden rule with buying an engagement ring is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Knowledge and understanding of quality and competitors will ensure you make the right choice and find your perfect engagement ring.