“Is it better to Build Your Own Ring on Blue Nile, or Search Blue Nile for Round Diamonds, when buying a diamond engagement ring online? If I may take advantage of the free Diamond Concierge Service you refer to on the web site, I’d like your help finding a round ideal cut diamond in the range of two carats or larger, H-color or higher, VS-2 clarity or higher, GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal cut. I’d really like to be under $30k for the diamond if possible, can you conduct a search and let me know what the best options are at the moment. It’s fine if you want to respond via blog post, because I’m still in the research phase and probably won’t be pulling the trigger for a month or two. I hope you don’t mind running a search now to help me get an idea of what I can afford, and then again when I’m closer to making a decision. Thanks!”
Whether you decide to Search Blue Nile for Diamonds or use the Build Your Own Ring feature on Blue Nile, you will have access to the same diamond inventory, and thus it truly is a matter of personal preference. Regardless of which approach you elect to take, I definitely recommend taking a moment to set the Advanced Filters to include the range of total depth and table diameter outlined in the article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success.
Obviously when I search for diamonds on behalf of clients, I don’t use the Ring Builder feature on Blue Nile, because I usually don’t have an idea which setting you have in mind, and that information is stored by Blue Nile on the client computer side of the operation, and is not passed on in the links provided. But you can always start out using the ring builder feature, place the ring in your shopping cart, and then add the diamond that I recommend by clicking on the link provided, and then clicking add diamond. So here’s what you’re going to do to build your engagement ring on Blue Nile:
Start out by clicking this link if you haven’t already done so to open up the Blue Nile Ring Builder tool in your internet browser. Then click on “Build your own ring” or the picture of whatever type of jewelry item you are looking to create, such as a diamond engagement ring, a diamond solitaire pendant, a diamond anniversary ring, or a pair of diamond stud earrings. The process is identical, regardless of what type of diamond jewelry item you are looking to build. In this particular instance, we’re building a diamond engagement ring, so you’ll click on the picture of the diamond engagement ring. Simple enough, right?[separator]
The decision whether to select the diamond or the setting first is simply a matter of personal preference, but I tend to search for the diamond first and the setting second, because I’m a diamond guy. The reality is that choosing a setting is largely a matter of personal preference, whereas picking a diamond is all about the proportions and overall cut quality. So it really doesn’t matter whether you choose to search for the diamond first, or choose your setting, at the end of the journey, you’re going to end up putting together a spectacular looking diamond engagement ring, provided that you restrict the diamond selection to one that meets the selection criteria outlined in 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success.[separator]
Or better yet, take the guesswork out of the equation completely, and just take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service. If you happen to know what setting you prefer, send me a link for it in the message. Along with the price range you are working with, and what you’re hoping for in a diamond in terms of shape, carat weight, diamond color, diamond clarity, and the degree of blue fluorescence that you’re willing to consider.
If you simply restrict the selection parameters on the Blue Nile Build Your Own Ring diamond search tool to find diamonds that weigh 2.00 carats and higher, that are VS-2 clarity and higher, and H-color and higher, with either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal polish and symmetry, you’re going to be presented with more than 500 diamonds to choose from, and the reality is that most of them will not meet my selection criteria. So click on the words “Advanced Filters” that appear in the lower right corner of the search options, and then set the Total Depth between 59 – 61.8% and the Table Diameter between 53 – 61.8%.[separator]
Doing this along with setting polish and symmetry to Excellent / Ideal reduced the number of diamonds to 72, which is a much easier number of options to consider. The next step is to open up the diamond details page for each diamond, so that you can determine the offset for crown and pavilion angle, as well as determine the extent of the inclusions.
To further reduce the number of results you are presented with when using the Build Your Own Ring diamond search feature from Blue Nile, click on the orange arrow that appears on the right side of the line for each diamond listing (red arrow) and then RIGHT CLICK your mouse over the words “More Details” (green arrow) to open up the diamond details page for that diamond in a new window. Obviously when I did this, I ended up with 72 little tabs at the top of my internet browser. The next step is to click on each of those tabs, and then click on the icon for the GIA diamond grading report, which will open up the report in that window. Click the tab, click the GIA icon, click the next tab, click the GIA icon, don’t wait for the diamond grading report to open on each page, just repeat the process until you’re through all 72 tabs.[separator]
Once the diamond grading reports are open on each of 72 diamond detail pages, then I go back to the beginning, click on each tab and for the moment we’re only going to focus on the proportions diagram.
This is the proportions diagram for this 2.07 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round diamond, which is one of five options remaining of the 72 potential diamonds we had to consider, after I eliminated all the diamonds that did not featured a crown and pavilion angle that is between my preferred range, specified in the article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success. In case you don’t want to go read that article right this minute, what we’re looking for are diamonds that have a crown angle between 34.3 – 35.0 degrees, which is offset by a pavilion angle that is between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees, with a culet size of either GIA “none” or AGS “pointed” which is the exact same thing, the only difference is the terminology. You don’t need to pay attention to the total depth (61.3% in this case) or the table diameter (55% in this case) because we took care of that when setting the Advanced Filters to run the initial search, so everything should be within the range specified.[separator]
Keeping the crown and pavilion angle within the scope of my preferred range is going to provide a high volume of light return, and a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle). In the case of the 2.07 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round diamond, the crown angle is 34.5 degrees, and the pavilion angle is 40.8 degrees, which is smack dab in the middle of the spectrum for the zero ideal cut proportions rating!
You can use the images provided on the supplementary diamond grading report issued by GCAL for Blue Nile Signature round diamonds to get an idea of the optical precision that this diamond has been cut to exhibit, as well as the inclusions and light performance. Needless to say, this diamond meets my selection criteria for proportions and overall cut grade, or we wouldn’t be discussing it at this point.
This 2.08 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Blue Nile has a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees, which will produce a high volume of light return, while the 34.5 degree crown angle produces a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) and the 80% lower girdle facets will produce pin-fire type sparkle, which will make the diamond sparkle like a disco ball. Note that if you think you might prefer broad spectrum sparkle which is larger in size, then you’d look for options with lower girdle facets in the range of 75 – 78%. I was not able to locate clarity or reflector scope images for this diamond, however I am familiar with the manufacturer, I used to do business with them and they tend to produce a spectacular looking diamond![separator]
This 2.10 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Blue Nile is cut within the same range of proportions, and thus it is going to exhibit the same high volume of light return, and exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. The 80% lower girdle facet length is going to produce pin-fire type sparkle, which will make the diamond sparkle like a disco ball. As you can see, I was able to obtain a clarity photograph, and images of the diamond as seen through a reflector scope. These images are not provided by Blue Nile, but sometimes I’m able to find them via the resources that I have available to me as a member of the diamond industry. Feel free to ask me whether I can find images for any diamonds that you are considering from Blue Nile, I can’t promise that they will be available, but I’m happy to forward them to you if I’m able to find them. These images enable us to get an idea of the inclusions, as well as the degree of optical precision this diamond is cut to.[separator]
I was also able to obtain a clarity photograph and reflector scope images for this 2.25 carat, H-color, Internally Flawless clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Blue Nile. As you can see, the diamond looks great in the clarity photograph, even though the depth of field is a little bit off and the diamond is slightly out of focus. The reality is that we’re not going to be able to see any inclusions in the photograph of an internally flawless clarity diamond anyway. More importantly, the reflector scope images reveal that the optical precision of this diamond is a bit better than the degree of optical precision exhibited by the 2.10 carat diamond referenced above. The pattern of hearts is more uniform, and better formed, it’s still not up to Hearts and Arrows grading standards, but it is better than I’m used to seeing in standard ideal cut diamonds which are not specifically cut to exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, nor does the diamond reflect the cost involved with doing so.[separator]
Needless to say, this diamond meets my selection criteria for proportions, polish, symmetry, and overall cut grade. It is going to deliver a high volume of light return, a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and sparkle that is larger in size, because of the 75% lower girdle facet length. Be sure to notice the difference between the width of the arrow shafts pictured in the images provided for the diamonds with 80% lower girdle facet length, and those with 75% lower girdle facet length, as they are different. One is not necessarily better than the other, but perhaps you prefer the look of one arrows presentation over that of another.
I was not able to obtain a clarity photograph or reflector scope images for this 2.34 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Blue Nile, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re dead in the water. Here’s what you do. Click on the link, and place the diamond in your shopping carat, then call Blue Nile at the number that appears at the top of the page. Tell the customer service representative that you’re working with Todd Gray from the affiliate site Nice Ice (this is a critical internal catch phrase) and that you have a diamond in your shopping cart. Ask them to manually take over the order, and then transfer you to the division dedicated to my clients, to obtain additional information on any diamond that is of interest.[separator]
This approach is supposed to get you to a higher level of customer service, but feel free to reach out to me if it doesn’t work for any reason. But as far as this diamond goes, based upon the information provided I can already tell you that it is easily within the Top 1% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds. The 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return, the 34.5 degree crown angle is going to provide a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and the 80% lower girdle facets are going to produce pin-fire type sparkle that makes it look a lot like a disco ball.
So there you have it, an in-depth tutorial on how to use the Blue Nile Ring Builder, and some discussion on whether it is better to search for the diamond or select the ring first. Once again, it is largely a matter of personal preference, but I prefer to look for the diamond first, and then select a setting, but it’s really six and one half dozen of the other… Be sure to take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service if you don’t feel like doing all of the work yourself, all I ask is that you try to use the affiliate links that I provide as compensation for the time spent conducting a search on your behalf. Doing so will not change your price on the diamond, it’s a win / win.
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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