Best Bang for Your Buck Diamond #illumedati

Today we’re going to talk about the Best Bang for Your Buck Diamond.


Stock Photo from: Pixabay

As a primer for this post, I’d recommend you read these ones first:

What You Need to Know About Diamonds

Diamond Cut Types

Diamonds Old Mine Cut

Diamond Cut Grading

Ok… so what’s the most Bang for my Buck?

Well, first of all, this works best for Round Brilliant and Princess Cuts. It also works ok for Cushions, Radiants, Emeralds, etc, but less so. If you are planning to buy an Old Mine Cut, then even less. The reason for this is because the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL), only certifies Round Brilliant Cuts and Princess Cuts as Ideal.

If you are going to go with a Cushion, Radiant, Emerald, etc. evaluating Cut is difficult. However, the other 3 C’s – Carat, Clarity, Color can still be evaluated the same way.

Also, evaluating an Old Mine Cut, for the same reason, will be difficult to do on your own, since they usually aren’t certified.

Let’s break it down into the 4 C’s.


If you’ve read the prior posts, I believe Cut is the single most important factor above the other 4 C’s. For this reason, in order to get the Best Bang for your Buck, I would recommend getting an Ideal cut Round Brilliant Cut or Princess Cut which is certified as such by the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL).

However, if don’t necessarily want an Ideal Cut certified diamond, then you opt for an Excellent Cut designation from either American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) or Gemological Institute of America (GIA). I am specifying these two institutions because they have shown to be very consistent in their grading of diamonds with the most reproducible standards. The other certifications, EGL, IGL, etc. I do not recommend because of the wide variation in their grades.

However, that said, an “Excellent” designation even at AGS and GIA is still a broad range.

For example, let’s say there’s a home run derby. 

Only 1 person gets the top score of 10 home runs, this is considered “Ideal”.

10 people get scores between 5 and 9, and these are considered “Excellent”.

At the bottom of this range is a 5 and at top of the range is 9 which is “Near Ideal”.

How do you decide, whether your “Excellent” diamond is the 5 or the 9?

You can’t.

For that reason, you need additional information, like the diamond’s exact dimensions AND its Idealscope images. Remember, Holloway Cut Advisor (HCA) is a great tool, but it’s only a tool to EXCLUDE bad diamonds. You need the Idealscope images in order to evaluate for light leakage.

Here is the reference chart for Idealscope images.

The alternative to this is you can go to a reputable retailer who will just flat out tell you that they have certain diamonds that are “near Ideal”. They should happily provide the Idealscope images for you to look at.


Carat size gets a lot of hype. Everyone likes to talk about my 1 carat diamond or 2 carat diamond or whatever. For many this one piece of information allows people to make a rough estimate as to how much money was spent on the diamond. ie. A 2 carat diamond is “worth more” than a 1 carat diamond.

Don’t believe the hype.

The truth of the matter is that no matter how much you paid for your diamond, it’s not worth nearly that much, except to you. Diamonds are a horrible investment, as I’ve stated before. That said, they do carry strong symbolism and I don’t see that going away any time soon.

However, for the purposes of this discussion, the most expensive Cut is the Round Brilliant Cut in terms of Carat size. Let’s say there are two diamonds which are both Ideal as rated by the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) with similar Color and Clarity. However, one was Round Brilliant Cut and one was Princess Cut. If they are of equal price, the Round Brilliant Cut would be smaller in carat size.

However, even with that, Carat isn’t that important as I’ve stated before unless one diamond is a magnitude larger than the other, like a 1 carat diamond versus a 3 carat diamond.

See Chart:

1 carat is 6.4 mm, 1.5 carat is 7.3 mm, and 2 carat is 8.1 mm. Remember, this is millimeters.

Even a 3 carat is only 9.4 mm. For this reason, it is probably pretty easy to notice the difference between a 1 carat and a 3 carat… however, between a 1 carat and a 1.5 carat, not so much.

For this reason, I’d recommend setting a budget first, then trying to find the carat size that fits in your budget. Personally, I think diamonds just below what I consider to be break points are the Best Bang for Your Buck.

For example, get a 0.9 carat diamond instead of a 1 carat. (Or 1.4 carat diamond instead of a 1.5 carat, or 1.8 carat diamond instead of 2 carat, etc.)


Color is kind of a personal thing. Some are more sensitive to slight color changes than others.

I couldn’t find the source of this image. If someone knows the true source, please let me know so I can link the page here and give them proper credit.

In general, D-F is pretty much impossible to tell the difference between. For me, even G-I looks pretty similar to D-F.

At around J you begin to see a little tint to the diamond.

For this reason, I think that G-I for color is Best Bang for your Buck. G if you are very sensitive and I if you are less sensitive.

If you are on a budget, it’s probably ok to skim here a little and go into the J-L category. However, anything above them M-Z and you will begin to notice the tint pretty easily.


F/IF = Flawless/Internally Flawless

VVS1, VVS2 = Very, Very Slightly Included

VS1, VS2 = Very Slightly Included

SI1, SI2 = Slightly Included

I1, I2, I3 = Included

Clarity is kind of difficult to assess in terms of Bang for your Buck:

However, I personally don’t think anyone needs an F/IF diamond, as these inclusions are either impossible or nearly impossible to see at 10x magnification.

VVS1 and VVS2, these are difficult to see even at 10x magnification.

VS1 and VS2, these are visible at 10x magnification, but are usually difficult to see with the naked eye.

SI1 and SI2, these are easy to see at 10x magnfication, but can usually be seen with the naked eye.

I1, I2, and I3, are usually visible with the naked eye.

For this reason, the Best Bang for your Buck Range (to me) is VS1, VS2, and maybe SI1 and SI2.

Without getting too technical, it depends on where the inclusions are and how big your diamond is. In general, inclusions on the table are easier to see with the naked eye. Also, the bigger a diamond is, the better clarity is needed in order for it to be eye-clean.

Why is SI1 and SI2 only a maybe?

Well, it requires you to have access to the diamond to confirm to yourself that you don’t notice any inclusions. Or, if you shop from a reputable online retailer and you trust their opinion that it is “eye-clean” then that’s also a possibility.

Ok, you keep saying “reputable dealer”. Who?

Well, I can only speak for the two I’ve worked with:


Brian Gavin

(I don’t have a financial relationship with either of them.)

However, I did buy my wife’s diamond from Whiteflash with a custom setting/ring and they did a fantastic job. I almost bought from Brian Gavin, but they didn’t have quite the diamond I wanted. However, my experience with him and his staff was also great. I did help my best friend buy his engagement ring from Brian Gavin just recently and he had a great experience with them.

What diamond did you buy?

I bought a Round Brilliant that was Ideal certified by AGSL. It was G color with VS2 clarity and was confirmed eye-clean by Whiteflash (and later by me). It was also just underneath a break point in Carat Size.

So basically, the advice I’m giving you is what I did.


Best Bang for Your Buck Diamond:

Best Cut you can get (preferably Ideal certified from AGSL)

Carat size underneath a “break point”, after consulting the size chart.

Color between G-I (in general), or J-M if you want to save some cost here and are less color sensitive.

Clarity of VS1/VS2, or SI1/SI2 if can be confirmed eye-clean by you or reputable seller.



Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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