Affordable Diamonds: How and Where to Buy Online

Hi Thomas, 
I want to find a small (read affordable) diamond. 
Can you give me your recommendations
on how to find something nice
but not too expensive? 
What is the best diamond ring 
I can get with a budget of $1000?


Thanks for sending in your question. I think a lot of people are surprised to find out that the supposed 1 carat ideal size is not the size most people choose. In Fred Cueller’s fantastic book “How To Buy A Diamond” (2018) he says that for many years the average size diamond for engagement rings has been 38 points (0.38ct).

So even if we find a 30 pointer we’re not too far from the average size. Even a 30 pointer can be found which is 4.35mm across. An excellent cut 38 pointer will only be 4.5mm across, so the difference is very small.

Let’s see if we can’t find you a beautiful little diamond that will delight and inspire.

View 1 carat diamonds at Blue Nile

The Setting

Budgeting enough for a platinum solitaire setting leaves us with about $310 for the stone itself.

Why Platinum?

I consider platinum to be a better choice than plated gold as you avoid ongoing cost of re-plating the gold. White gold is plated yellow gold which is something not everyone is aware of.

The Stone

First we will bring up Blue Nile’s diamond search page and enter these parameters:

click image to enlarge

The lowest costing diamonds are going to be found among the K color and SI2 diamonds. Now Blue Nile already scans all their diamonds and puts their best cut diamonds in their Astor by Blue Nile™ category. Now this means they have to add a little extra cost to these diamonds because they come with the additional GemEx Diamond Light Performance Certificate. The convenient thing about looking among these diamonds is that a bright diamond looks more impressive than a dull one.

However Blue Nile doesn’t place any K color diamonds in the Astor by Blue Nile™ category.

This means we do stand a chance of not only finding a diamond that has an ideal cut among these diamonds but we are not paying for the Astor by Blue Nile™ branding premium.

I generally recommend avoiding fluorescent diamonds when buying online. If you can see the diamond in person then it’s a different thing.

Diamonds with anything more than negligible fluorescence have been known to look a little cloudy. For this reason I always say that it’s better to buy diamonds without fluorescence when buying online. Look, maybe you feel like you want to chance it, so that’s up to you. But on the overall I recommend staying away from fluorescence unless you are really looking for a bargain and are willing to risk having to return it for an exchange once you get it in front of you, you take it out into the sunlight, or other UV light and find that it looks milky. However I feel that for most people this is really not something they want to be bothered with.

Triple excellent

choose excellent polish and excellent symmetry
choose excellent polish and symmetry

A diamond’s quality or “make” is reliant on the stone having excellent polish. Symmetry should also not be ignored. For this reason I always slide the sliders as shown here.


choose depth of 60% to 61%

If you have read through my other posts you will see I often set the depth at a maximum of 62.5%

For this one I am suggesting a slightly smaller depth ratio so Blue Nile will show us diamonds that have greater spread. Now anything below 60% is unlikely to look bright enough for our purposes, especially since we are potentially going to be dealing with diamond that has a K color grade. But 60% to 61% depth should give us the diamonds that are not too shallow but still face up nice and big for their weight.


choose 54% to 60% table

This one I will leave fairly wide if you compare it to what I have recommended in some of my other posts.

Once the images of the diamonds in the search results show up you can quickly see which ones have nice patterning and which ones show up nice and bright. Smaller tables are favored when you want more contrast in the diamond, while a larger table is favored where more brightness is desired. There are admittedly other variables that do affect the final result, but for our purposes this rough guide will do just fine.

360 degree view available checked

Finally I will check the box next to where it says “360° View Available” in order to assess the diamonds visually.

The Selection

7 beautiful diamonds

The search returns a lovely selection, one below budget, and the others only over by a bit.

As you can see it’s a good thing that we included the other colors, not just the K diamonds as there are diamonds from F, H, I, J and K in this lineup.

The diamond that caught my eye from the initial search is this one:

It’s not a bad choice. The diamond has strong contrast and we didn’t have to go to the lowest color grade. Any diamond we choose will involve some form of compromise. Trust me, even people looking for a 3 carat diamond will sometimes find the SI2 diamond represents the best value, while other people are diametrically opposed to anything below VVS1.

It’s worth looking at Blue Nile’s suggestions below your find. Sometimes there may be a diamond that was just outside the parameters that you’ve chosen but is actually a great find.

This is one I particularly like.

Though this one is higher in color, the clarity grade is VS2, so the inclusions are not going to be an issue. It has nice spread measuring 4.40 x 4.38 mm. The arrows are well formed compared to the other diamonds from the search we conducted. With a large table it is likely to be nice and bright. And the way the light which is passing through the diamond reduces the diamond’s color confirms this to me. See my other post on how efficient light return reduces the appearance of color in a diamond: Help With Choosing A Colorless Diamond

From here I will leave it to you to decide which stone you feel drawn to.

diamonds at Blue Nile
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Send in your question

Hello reader,

If you are looking to buy any type of diamond jewelry online you are welcome to send in any questions you may have.

As an affiliate of the some of the world’s finest jewelers I am motivated to find the right purchase that is perfect just for you. Every person has specific needs and every jeweler has specific areas in which they excel.

Please use your preferred contact method.

If you do not receive a response within 48 hours possible reasons include: my response has ended up in your spam folder; your inbox is full; you did not include a correct reply address. The best thing after a 48 hour delay is to try again, maybe using a different contact method.

Thomas J Stevens GIA DG CSG

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