Quick and Easy Buying Guide

Carat weight: 1 carat = 200 milligrams = 6.5 mm diameter. Doubling weight doesn't double diameter.

Diamond clarity: FL/IF/VVS/VS = super expensive, near perfect. SI = best value if you can check a photo for obvious inclusions (defects).


Color: D-G = colorless, expensive, only if you have money to burn. H-J = best value. Can go lower in gold metal settings than white metal.

Cut: Better cut ratings let more light into a diamond, making it sparkle more. Very important property, don't skimp here.

Set a budget and minimum cut (Premium). Go J color for gold and I/H for white metals. Go searching for SI1/SI2 clarity diamonds at James Allen. Pick a diamond with small/no inclusions. Choose a ring setting and buy it risk-free (60-day returns).

Zales Diamond Store

Zales is a very large chain of more than 700 jewelry stores as well as an online retailer where you can order jewelry at any time of day or night. Rather than a 3 month (90 day) return policy, they instead offer a 100 day “risk-free” return policy – during which time you can get either a full refund or an exchange, depending on what you want. If you’re buying in store, they have a “Ten for Ten” layaway service where you put down a deposit of 10%, then make another ten equal payments, one per month, to pay off the item. Unlike most other stores, for items over $200 they offer lifetime replacement for the diamond if it is ever broken, lost, or chipped (excluding online clearance items). This is a pretty nice bonus for buying there. In terms of their range, you can get classic and contemporary diamond styles, gold and sterling silver jewelry, watches and gemstones. They’ve been around since 1924.

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