Today’s diamond request is from a reader who is looking for a minimum 0.5ct diamond that is H color or better, and an SI2 or better that is eye-clean. He has picked out a 14k yellow gold setting from James Allen and wants to find a diamond from them with a budget of around $1100 USD.
He asked me to review the following 3 diamonds:
Diamond 1 is a 0.52ct HSI2 being sold for $1080.
One of the first things I notice is that this diamond is not very bright. The lack of brilliance is most noticeable under the table facet and this is an area where you want to see more light return from the pavilion facets in a well-cut stone. The weak light return is caused by a crown angle, which at 36° is too steep and a 41.2° pavilion angle that is too deep.
The optical symmetry of this diamond is far from perfect, but many of the arrow shafts are aligned with their respective arrow heads so the the optical symmetry is good and the diamond has a good contrast pattern.
There’s not much to say about the color of this diamond except that it looks like a good H color stone. Clarity wise, finding an eye-clean SI2 can be a huge challenge especially when you’re buying a diamond online. The inclusions in this diamond are twinning wisp, cloud, and feather, all of which are usually clear/white looking inclusions. This is an eye-clean SI2.
Diamond 2 is a 0.50ct GSI2 being sold for $1070.
This diamond has proportions that fall into the category of a 60/60 type diamond rather than the Tolkowsky ideal-cut range of proportions that I generally recommend. A 60/60 cut often has a large table reflection that takes up a lot of the area under the table facet. This diamond also has long lower girdles that causes large asymmetric hotspots around that table reflection taking up even more of the space under the table facet. The good thing is that 60/60s usually have excellent spread.
When the diamond is facing up, the 6 o’clock arrow is misaligned and the 5 o’clock arrow is not formed well. The hotspots are large and very asymmetrical and this indicates that the pavilion angles are all different so the diamond has poor optical symmetry.
This diamond has a very nice color to it which I would describe as a solid to high G color stone. The clarity is also decent, again with the only inclusions being cloud, twinning wisp, and feather. The clouds in the diamond do not appear to be affecting the overall transparency of the diamond. If you look inspect the diamond closely then you might be able to see these clouds but this stone should still be considered eye-clean on casual viewing.
Diamond 3 is a 0.50ct FSI2 being sold for $1120
Similar to Diamond 1, this diamond is steep/deep with a 35.5° crown angle and a 41.2° pavilion angle so the light return under the table is still weak/starting to leak light. There are two things that make the light return of this diamond slightly better than that of Diamond 1. The first is the slightly shallower crown and the second is a slightly shallower lower girdle angle.
One positive thing about this diamond is that the brilliance outside the table facet is pretty good and this tell us the minor facets are cut well. However, this makes the weaker light return from under the table more apparent.
If you look between the 3 and 4 o’clock arrows, you will see that there is a pair of very large hotspots. These large hotspots are caused by a pair of lower girdles that had to but cut longer and shallower in order to compensate for a steeper pavilion angle at that position. There will be significant light leakage in the area under the table facet between those two large hotspots.
F-color is a very high color grade so there are no concerns with color here. The cloud at the 7 o’clock arrow head is actually less of a concern than the smaller inclusions in this diamond that are reflecting within the stone affecting its transparency. This diamond will still be considered eye-clean to most sellers and I still consider this a good SI2.
Wow, what a challenge! It’s not easy finding an eye-clean SI2, let alone one that is well-cut. A common question for people choosing a yellow gold setting is how the ring might impact the color of the center diamond. To relieve any concerns, let me start by saying that an H-color diamond is a great color for a yellow gold setting.
You definitely don’t want to be over-paying for something in the colorless range, but you also shouldn’t go too far down the color scale because the color of the setting may make the diamond look more yellow. This is usually only a problem if the stone is not well-cut so that it is leaking light.
Using my regular search filters I was not able to find an option that costs less than $1100. However, if you can stretch your budget to $1180, then I think I may have found the one diamond that ticks all your other boxes.
Check out this 0.50ct HSI2 from James Allen.
This diamond has a crown height of 35° which is well balanced with a 40.6° pavilion angle. This combination produces light return that is considered ideal. Together with with shallow lower girdles, the light return coming from under the table facet is much stronger than the 3 options above.
With a 15.5% crown height, you can expect plenty of fire from this diamond. In diamonds with slightly higher crowns, you usually have to trade-off either the light return or the spread of the diamond. However, as I already pointed out the light return here is ideal. The weight ratio of this diamond is 1.040, which is excellent and means that there is very little weight retention so the diamond has excellent spread as well.
The optical symmetry is not perfect but it is pretty good and far better than your original 3 options. Rather than looking for perfection here, what is important is that the symmetry of the diamond is not so far off that I would start worrying about the proportions.
The color of the diamond is a nice H with a yellow undertone that is light in hue and not very saturated. It is a solid H color. The inclusions should not be visible to the naked eye and so should be an eye-clean SI2 and overall excellent diamond!
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.