The final step in selecting a diamond is to compare the stones you’ve shortlisted and choose the one that you will buy. After you’ve eliminated the stones with quality issues, you will hopefully have at least several diamonds to choose from.
Select at least 2-3 diamonds that fit your criteria, if possible, so that you have backup options if some stones get sold. A diamond can become unavailable even if you reserve it since there is a lag between the time of reservation and the time the wholesaler gets notified to hold the stone. (Oftentimes, the retailer doesn’t stock the stones but works with wholesalers that deliver them quickly on demand.)
When deciding between stones, if you’re comparing diamonds with the same color, clarity, and cut, the choice is pretty much clear: Either get the cheaper one or the bigger one. But what if the diamonds are not nearly identical?
If two similar diamonds differ only on clarity and color, which should I choose?
Let’s say it comes down to two diamonds that are both 1 carat and have an Ideal cut, but one has higher clarity while the other has a higher color. Assuming their prices are close and both are eye clean, which is the better choice?
In such a case, you should first check if they both fit the optimum criteria for fluorescence, culet, and girdle we discussed earlier, and that they don’t have any red flags in the report.
If everything is fine with these characteristics, it is probably a wash. But if you have to choose, we recommend that you go for the better color.
Why not the better clarity? With clarity, a stone only needs to be good enough – i.e., not have inclusions visible to the naked eye. Once that requirement is met, as we assumed for this example, you won’t be able to tell which stone has a higher clarity grade just by looking at the diamond.
With color, you might still be able to perceive a slight difference between grades, depending on how sensitive your eyes are, even if these variations are almost imperceptible. Or, you may not be able to see any difference at all, but you still have to choose one stone and eliminate the other.
Why do diamonds with the same color, clarity, carat, and cut sometimes differ significantly in price?
You can often see diamonds that seem identical but whose prices differ by $1,000 or more. Generally, this is usually because of differences in one or more of the characteristics we discussed above – fluorescence, culet size, girdle thickness, polish, symmetry, as well as slight differences in proportions.
Just follow the guidelines for selection on these criteria that we outlined earlier and you’ll be fine. If it comes down to two diamonds with the same color, clarity, cut, and carat, you can pick the cheaper one as long as it is within the recommended ranges for fluorescence, culet, girdle, polish, and symmetry.
You shouldn’t worry too much about differences in the proportions for depth, table, crown, and pavilion – if the diamond’s cut is graded Ideal/Excellent, they will be within the optimum range.
If you cannot adjust your budget by much, we would suggest that you slightly reduce the carat. We do not recommend that you go for a lower-grade cut because the brilliance of the stone will suffer. Similarly, it is probably not a good idea to compromise on eye-cleanliness or color.
A bigger diamond with visible flaws, low brilliance, or yellow tints will look worse than a smaller but clean, sparkly, and colorless stone.
If you don’t want to go lower on carat weight, there is still an alternative option – you can relax your color requirements and go below J color while having the stone set in yellow gold to make the diamond look whiter.