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).

The New York Diamond District

The New York diamond district is an amazing area in New York City. According to their website, there are more than 2600 different businesses in the area, almost all of them related to diamonds or jewellery.

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The district itself is located in Manhattan, around the area of 47th Street. The district handles a large proportion of all diamonds that enter the United States – up to 90% by some accounts.

The district has its origins in the early 20th century. It is a major centre of diamond trade in the world, like London, Mumbai and Antwerp.

Like any place where you buy a diamond ring (unless you're buying from a member of your own family who owns a jewellery store), you need to follow the standard practices.

Make sure you've done your research before you step foot in the district with any intention to buy. This includes knowing the basics like the 4Cs.

One thing that is particularly easy in the New York Diamond district is shopping around. With so many stores in a relatively small area, it is easy to walk around and see many different options in a relatively short period of time. And of course it's always exciting shopping in New York City.

This very advantaged can also be a little intimidating. If you do some research online, you should be able to find some of the more reputable stores that deal directly with customers. This is important, as not all the stores are set up to deal that well with customers directly – some deal mainly with jewellery stores.

In terms of after transaction service, what happens in the New York Diamond district may be a little different to what you get in a local jewellery store chain. Some of the dealing techniques such as shaking hands may be a little confronting for some. Then there's also the issue of whether you can return, refund, or exchange your ring at a later date. Play it safe – check the reputation of the store and get in writing what their return policy is if they have one. And if they don't have a return policy, make very, very sure that you and your partner will be happy with your purchase.

If you've travelled to New York especially just to buy a diamond engagement ring, make sure you set some time aside to get out and see the rest of New York. I visited New York in 2004, and it truly is an amazing city, and I am going back again next year.