Today I’m helping Michael look for a diamond around $10,000 and he’s been stretching his budget trying to get the size/color/clarity that he wants and at the same time, a well-cut one of course. His preferred specs are ~1.5ct, F color, VS2 clarity, and plugging this into my Rapaport price calculator tells me that we’ve got some work to do. In short, Michael’s budget is about 40% less than what I would expect to pay for a truly well-cut 1.5ct FVS2, for example this one from Whiteflash.
So the first thing we have to do is figure out what can we realistically expect to get with a $10,000 budget. Michael has told me he can stretch to $10,800 for the right diamond. The first thing we’ll have to consider is to go with a smaller diamond. Our aim is still to try to get the largest stone that meets our other specs, but we’ll just have to be looking in the 1.25 to 1.49ct range.
The difference between a 1.25ct diamond and a 1.5ct diamond is 0.4mm, which although a noticeable size difference isn’t really what I would call a big difference. However, in terms of price, the 1.5ct diamond is about 64% more expensive than the 1.25ct diamond. You can see why the just under 1.5ct range is a very popular option for those who are looking for a larger diamond without breaking the bank.
But what’s good for the buyer is not good for the seller so what you tend to find is that there are not a lot of well-cut diamonds available in the 1.4ct to 1.5ct range. This doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to find something, but it’s another reason why to be realistic we should aim for around 1.35ct.
Putting in the 1.25ct – 1.5ct FVS2 into the James Allen search filters with my usual advanced cut filters returned only 2 results neither of which looked promising. Expanding the total depth criteria to 62.5% produced a total of 10 options. Of the 10, there were 2 that were worth further investigation.
Diamond 1 is a 1.31ct FVS2 GIA Excellent Cut diamond from James Allen priced at $10,170.
This diamond has decent proportions on paper with all the major facets within the recommended range. The only thing is a 4% girdle thickness that causes the total depth of the stone to be on the higher end of the recommended range. A weight ratio of 1.079 tells us that this diamond is hiding a fair amount of weight and so it falls below the 7mm mark that we would expect from a well-cut 1.3ct diamond.
Looking at the 360, this diamond is nice and bright and generally has good light performance. The contrast pattern is good, but it misses the mark of a near-H&A because you can clearly tell that a couple of the arrows are misaligned from face up.
Next up, Diamond 2 is a 1.30ct FVS2 GIA Excellent Cut diamond from James Allen priced at $10,060.
This diamond is fairly similar to Diamond 1 in that it has a 4% girdle thickness and the spread isn’t good so it is also smaller than 7mm. The light return is not as bright as Diamond 1 due to a slightly steeper 35.5° crown angle. However, the optical symmetry of this diamond is better than Diamond 1 but still misses the mark of a near-H&A.
Between these two, the clear winner is Diamond 1 and it’s a pretty good starting point.
Our next step is to see what other options we have, now that we have to start making some further compromises. Michael prefers going down in color before going down in clarity since he’s already at VS2 and he wants a completely eye-clean diamond. So let’s take a look at what opens up if we come down a bit in color.
Since we already have a pretty nice 1.3ct diamond that is FVS2, it wouldn’t make sense to search for something that is any smaller. However, this of course reduces the number of available options that we have to consider. Nothing in the G color range drew my attention but luckily there were three H color diamonds that caught my eye.
I know going down two color grades is a compromise, but if you can get a better cut, that can often more than make up for the difference how much body color you see in the stone and a diamond with excellent light return is going to look much whiter than one that has weak light return and a lower body color.
Diamond 3 is a 1.36ct HVS1 GIA Excellent Cut diamond from James Allen priced at $9,090.
This stone comes well within Michael’s budget and has ideal proportions. The 35° crown angle is balanced well by a shallower 40.6° pavilion angle and to make it even safer it has 80% lower girdles that are also shallow.
This is a really great looking VS1 that is loupe-clean and super bright. The weight ratio is 1.058 and that is within what I recommend. What’s more is that for this slightly higher weight ratio which means you lose a bit of spread but you get a nice 15.5% crown height that will deliver lots of colorful fire and sparkle. Also, this diamond is well over the 7mm mark and the length and width of the diamond is within 0.02mm, which is within margin of measurement error.
This diamond is a near-H&A and it is priced extremely well. I’d be surprised if this diamond stays on the market for more than a few days. Incredible! I almost want to just stop here and recommend you buy this diamond but let me show you what else I found.
Diamond 4 is a 1.35ct HVS1 GIA Excellent Cut diamond from James Allen priced at $9,290.
This diamond has a slightly steep 35.5° crown coupled with a normal 40.8° pavilion. This means it needs a 80% girdle in order to produce a decent amount of light return, however it still doesn’t have as good light return as Diamond 3. Overall, it’s just not as good a choice considering how good Diamond 3 is, but one thing going for this diamond is that it is an extremely clean VS1.
Diamond 5 is a 1.4ct HVS1 GIA Excellent Cut diamond from James Allen priced at $10,220.
This is the largest diamond that we’ve looked at so far and it is a rare 1.4ct in weight. This is also an amazing option that I think ticks a lot of our boxes. Light performance wise, this is not quite as strong as Diamond 3 but it’s no slouch. The proportions are still ideal and you’re still getting a near-H&A diamond with a weight ratio of 1.057 pretty much the same as Diamond 3.
This is also a clean VS1 and although there are a lot of inclusion types, this means each inclusion is likely less significant in the diamond. This diamond does have surface graining though which although a polishing issue, can have the visual impact sometimes similar to VS2 diamonds. This generally makes graining of any type not desirable in a VS1 and if you look carefully you can see the effects of the graining in the 360 as very faint parallel lines going across some of the facets.
Overall, this is still a great looking diamond and the graining in this case doesn’t affect how eye-clean the diamond is at all and has a negligible impact on the transparency of the diamond.
We’ve taken a look at quite a few options today and ultimately it comes down to Michael’s personal preferences but if he is willing to compromise with an H color, which is still a very respectable white color, then I definitely would recommend going with one of the HVS1s.
As for overall which is the better diamond? I would have to give it to this one. As always, I welcome your feedback/questions.