Diamond stud earrings are an integral part of your jewelry collection. At the same time, it can be challenging and frustrating to shop for diamond studs online. After all, it's difficult to judge the sparkle factor and light performance without being able to see the diamonds in person.
While those are reasonable concerns, the reality is that it is possible to buy a great looking pair of diamond studs online if you know what you're doing. And that is why we've written this in-depth tutorial on how to buy diamond stud earrings for light performance.
In light of the fact that diamond studs are worn up in the ears, they will not be subject to the same scrutiny as diamonds set in an engagement ring. With that in mind, most jewelers suggest that diamond earrings do not need to be of the same high quality.
Although this may be true, the reality is that the sparkle factor will shine through her hair and capture your attention from across the room.
With that in mind, we recommend a minimum clarity of SI-2 and K-color for diamond earrings. Of course, you can select a higher clarity and color combination if you prefer.
Regardless of what combination of color and clarity you choose, we recommend adhering to our recommended proportions guidelines. In the first place, the proportions of the diamond will determine the volume of light return and the balance of brilliance and dispersion. Secondly, a degree of optical precision will create more virtual facets within the diamond and sparkle factor that is more vivid and intense.
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In our experience, here are the best places to shop for diamond stud earrings online:
Of course, we hope that you take the time to read this tutorial on how to buy diamonds for earrings. That's because the cut quality of a diamond can affect the price by up to 60%.
With that in mind, buying a pair of studs is not as easy as comparing carat weight, color, clarity, and price. As a matter of fact, the diamond dealers above serve a different niche in the market.
Here are some general guidelines to follow when buying diamond stud earrings online. In addition, we're going to provide you with some professional tips and tricks that will ensure your success.
In the first place, you should know that diamond cut quality is the most important of the 4Cs of Diamond Grading. That's because the proportions and degree of optical precision dictate the volume of light return and the balance of brilliance and dispersion.
With that in mind, we recommend that you limit the search to diamonds that meet our proportions criteria. By the same token, you should learn how to use an ASET Scope to judge light performance. It's equally important to understand that the overall cut ratings of AGS Ideal and GIA Excellent cut are little more than a starting place.
The reality is that the majority of standard ideal cut diamonds still leak a lot of light. That's because the labs allow for a much broader range of proportions in an attempt to remain viable to the largest number of cutters. At the same time, none of the gemological laboratories take optical precision into account. Be that as it may, you can use ASET and Hearts and Arrows Scopes to judge that for yourself.
When you buy diamond earrings, the carat weight description represents the total carat weight of the two diamonds. With that in mind, a pair of half carat diamonds weighing 0.500 and 0.517 carats each will be expressed as the combined total carat weight (CTW).
For example, a jeweler might describe the pair of Brian Gavin Signature diamonds above as weighing 1.017 carats combined total weight. Or they might describe the total weight of the diamonds as follows:
Be that as it may, it's important to understand that diamond studs are sold by combined carat weight. That means that a pair of one carat total weight diamond earrings will consist of two half-carat diamonds.
The majority of the industry matches up diamonds for earrings by carat weight. In the first place, this seems to make sense because two round brilliant cut diamonds weighing a half carat each should be around the same size. However, subtle differences in the proportions can make diamonds of equal carat weight face-up different sizes.
With that in mind, we also consider the average outside diameter of diamonds when matching them up for earrings. Let's continue to use the pair of 1.017 carat total weight, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamonds from above as an example.
The 0.50 carat diamond measures 5.14 x 5.17 x 3.12 mm. The first two measurements represent the outside diameter and the last one is the depth. To determine the average outside diameter, you simply add together the first two measurements and then divide the sum by two like this:
5.14 + 5.17 = 10.31 / 2 = 5.155 mm average outside diameter.
The 0.517 carat diamond measures 5.16 x 5.19 x 3.10 mm. If you use the formula provided above, you will determine that the average outside diameter is 5.175 mm and that is certainly close enough for earrings.
It's easy to get caught up in the desire to buy higher color diamonds for earrings. However, it's also important to keep in mind that diamond studs are mostly seen from a distance. In addition, it's likely that a strand or two of her hair is going to be flying around. Obviously, this type of thing makes it more difficult to focus on anything but the sparkle factor.
With that in mind, we find that most people are happy with diamond studs in the range of G-K color. At the same time, quite a few of our clients do prefer higher (D-E-F) color diamonds for earrings. As a matter of fact, that's perfectly fine because it should be based on your perception of diamond color.
As a matter of fact, the majority of diamond stud earrings that you'll find online will be lower in clarity. That means that most of the diamonds will be I-1 and lower in clarity. This is because most people tend to focus on price and might not be aware of the role that diamond cut quality plays on light performance.
From our perspective, we think that you should not consider a clarity lower than SI-2 for diamond earrings. That's because there is a better chance of the diamonds facing up eye-clean at a distance.
At the same time, we prefer that diamonds for earrings be in the range of SI-1 to VS-2 because there is less chance of being able to see the inclusions without magnification. The reason for this is because we've seen quite a few clients pull their diamond studs out of their ears and bring them down to their hand as part of a 3-stone ring.
One of the most challenging things about buying diamond earrings is that very slight differences in characteristics can have a major effect on diamond prices. With that in mind, we invite you to ask us for diamond buying advice based on your individual preferences and price.
Unless you're famous and shopping for diamond earrings worn by celebrities, you're probably working with some kind of a budget. That's perfectly fine since the reality is that we all need to stay within our means.
With that in mind, the price range you choose to spend is largely a matter of personal preference. Basically, there are two ways to go about deciding how much to spend on a pair of diamond earrings.
In the first place, you can simply decide how much you're comfortable spending on a pair of diamonds. As a matter of fact, this is a pretty good way to do things because you only have to see what is available within that price range.
The second option is to decide what characteristics you are looking for and then determine how much that is going to cost. Of course, this method often leads to frustration because you might end up concluding that you've got champagne tastes on a beer budget.
Needless to say that the nature of the reason for the gift is likely to factor into the amount you are willing to spend. In other words, you might be willing to spend more to commemorate a significant birthday or wedding anniversary.
Remember that the size of the diamonds is not as important as the sparkle factor or the meaning behind them. In our experience, women enjoy having diamond earrings of different sizes. That way they can choose to wear whichever size diamond earrings are appropriate for that moment.
The vast majority of diamond stud earrings feature round brilliant cut diamonds. However, other shapes such as cushion and princess cut diamonds are also quite popular.
As a matter of fact, the first place that I usually search is Brian Gavin Diamonds. That's because Brian is a fifth-generation diamond cutter who used to oversee the production of diamonds for our private label collection.
At the same time, he tends to match up diamonds for earrings in the same way that I do. That means that you'll be able to put together a pair of diamond stud earrings quickly and easily. Not only that, but they're going to be gorgeous.
One of the biggest challenges that you'll face when trying to match-up fancy shape diamonds for earrings is the lack of consistency in shape. In other words, there is no consistency in the facet structure or outline of most fancy shape diamonds.
As a matter of fact, this is another reason why I like to work with Brian Gavin. In the first place, the facet structure of his Signature Cushion and Princess cut diamonds is consistent. Secondly, the consistency of cut quality ensures that the sparkle factor and light performance are comparable.
The traditional 4-prong setting is definitely the most popular type of diamond stud earring. Be that as it may, that might only be because that's what jewelers choose to offer. The fact of the matter is that the 3-prong handmade Martini settings by Brian Gavin tend to be the most popular with my clients.
The reason why these settings are so popular with my clients is that they sit low in the ear and are very comfortable to wear. At the same time, these settings are handmade to custom fit whatever diamonds you select. That means that the diamonds will fit more snugly in these settings because they are made to fit them specifically.
In the first place, you'll find that the prices for each of these "3-prong Martini settings" varies dramatically depending on the vendor. That's primarily because the quality of the findings is different, such as the design and gram weight. Although this may be true, the biggest difference is going to be in the overall craftsmanship. The old adage that you get what you pay for is as applicable to diamond stud earrings as to other consumer products.
By this point, it shouldn't surprise you that I think that the best 4-prong studs are the handmade 4-prong Martini settings by Brian Gavin. As a matter of fact, you might be beginning to sense a trend here because I recommend BGD pretty heavily.
Of course, you might wonder why that is given that I have affiliate agreements with all the companies featured in this article. Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that I think that Brian Gavin produces the best-looking diamonds and I really like the quality of his settings. As a matter of fact, Brian Gavin's team of jewelers made my son's engagement ring. Now, what does that tell you?
At the same time, I realize that not everybody wants the very best diamond earrings for every occasion. Sometimes people are just looking for reasonably priced studs that will do the trick.
That's perfectly fine because part of knowing how to buy diamond earrings is being aware of the differences in quality. That way you can make an informed decision based on facts and buy whatever is appropriate for the situation.
Standard 4-prong and basket style settings are available online from the following vendors for diamond stud earrings:
By the way, the order that the companies are presented above tends to be the order that I search for diamonds. In the event that I'm looking for diamonds that exhibit the best light performance, I'm going to start with Brian Gavin.
As a matter of fact, Brian Gavin is the only diamond cutter in the world who holds a patent for maximizing light performance in the modern round brilliant cut diamond. U.S. Patent #10,405,618. Plus, Brian Gavin is the first diamond cutter to provide AGS Advanced ASET maps on the diamond grading reports for his diamonds.
In the event that you're looking for diamond stud earrings with a more unique design, then you should check out the 8-prong settings by Brian Gavin. These studs are designed to sit comfortably in the ear and offer a pretty low profile.
There is also a split 4-prong setting available from Brian Gavin if you prefer that the look of eight prongs, but want them to be placed closer together. Once again, you're going to find that most diamond dealers offer similar designs. The best advice that I can give you is to take a good look at the minor details of the design and pay particular attention to the workmanship. After all, those are the factors that contribute to price, but also the overall comfort and look.
In the same fashion as my previous recommendations, I think that these handmade milgrain-edge diamond studs by Brian Gavin are the best option if you're looking for bezel set earrings. Once again, my recommendations are based on what I am likely to buy myself if I were looking for this style.
The workmanship of these earrings is superb and I really like the way they sit in the ears. In addition, I think that the bezel makes the diamonds look a little bit larger because it adds about 1 mm around the edge. Of course, there are other places to buy designs that are similar and you should check them all out and conduct your own due diligence.
P.S. These bezel drop style diamond earrings with a milgrain-edge by Brian Gavin are absolutely to die for!
Generally speaking, the findings for diamond stud earrings are available in all the standard alloys used to manufacture jewelry. For example, these halo style earrings from Brian Gavin are available in: 14k and 18k rose gold (as pictured), yellow gold, white gold, and platinum.
As a matter of fact, rose gold jewelry has been enjoying renewed popularity in the past few years. However, yellow gold, white gold, and platinum are also extremely popular and good choices for diamond studs.
It's important to realize that the color of the settings is likely to influence your perception of diamond color by about one color grade. That means that if you set a diamond in white metal then it's likely to face-up about one color grade brighter and whiter. Whereas if you set the same diamond in rose gold or yellow gold, it is likely to appear to be one color grade warmer. Obviously, this is something to be aware of when shopping for diamond stud earrings.
In light of the fact that 18k white gold and platinum jewelry have become very popular, it's also good to understand the difference between the two alloys. As a matter of fact, platinum is denser and people assume that means that it is more durable. However, this assumption is not exactly true because platinum prongs are more likely to shear off upon impact.
Whereas 18k white gold prongs are more likely to move with an impact and bend over without breaking. Of course, 950 platinum jewelry tends to be more hypoallergenic and thus it can be a good choice for people who suffer from metal allergies. At the same time, most people seem to be perfectly fine with 18k white gold. It's with some of the 14k white gold alloys that people prone to metal allergies seem to experience the most problems.
As a matter of fact, there is one other thing to consider when trying to decide between 18k white gold and platinum settings. Specifically, that is the slight difference in the color and how the two metal alloys will look throughout the passage of time. Generally speaking, 18k white gold will look brighter and whiter for longer without needing to be polished. Whereas platinum jewelry will begin to patina and turn kind of a dull silver color until it is polished to shine brightly again.
When you start to search for diamond stud earrings, you're going to discover that they are available in two basic categories. As a matter of fact, I think that this is the worst way to buy diamond stud earrings because you have no control over the cut quality.
In the first place, most of the diamonds are not likely to meet my selection criteria for proportions. Secondly, you're not likely to have access to the reflector scope images necessary to judge the light performance.
With that in mind, I strongly recommend that you avoid present diamond stud earrings at all costs. After all, you'll have more control over the outcome if you search for matched pairs of diamonds yourself.
There's an old adage about how having the right tool for the job makes all the difference in the world. With that in mind, we're going to focus our search for matched pairs of diamonds for studs to those dealers who offer that option:
In the first place, you'll want to adjust the sliders to the range of carat weight that you are looking for. Keep in mind that you're shopping for matched pairs of diamonds in terms of combined total weight. That means that if you want the diamonds to weigh 0.50 carats each that you'll set the minimum carat weight to 1.00 carats.
The next step is to adjust the sliders for clarity, color, and price. Then you'll set the advanced filters for total depth, table diameter, polish, symmetry, fluorescence, etc. Note that this option is available on Blue Nile and Brian Gavin.
However, James Allen does not enable you to filter the results using this option. Needless to say, that means that I'm more apt to search for matched pairs of diamonds on Blue Nile and Brian Gavin.
We recommend the following proportions for diamond stud earrings. That is, of course, assuming that you're looking for the best sparkle factor and light performance.
As a matter of fact, this range of proportions will produce a high volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. However, the proportions alone are not a guarantee of light performance. That's because any variance in the consistency of facet size, shape, or alignment (optical precision) can create light leakage.
With that in mind, we recommend that you work with diamond dealers who provide you with ASET Scope and H&A Scope images.
You're going to have less control over the cut quality in the event that you decide to buy preset diamond stud earrings. that's because the vendor or their supplier is going to match things up for you. In my experience, they are not going to match the diamonds up as carefully as we will.
At the same time, it's important to realize that preset studs are made to target people who tend to be focused on price and convenience as opposed to performance. For these reasons, I strongly suggest that you avoid preset diamond stud earrings at all costs.
Be that as it may, the preset diamond studs option is available from practically every dealer online if you're looking for a quick and easy option. In that event, all you need to do is point and click and adjust the sliders to the range of carat weight, color, clarity, and price that you want to consider.
As a matter of fact, it can be difficult and frustrating to shop for diamond earrings and remember all these details. That is why we're happy to help you search for diamonds and evaluate the images. Just send us a request using our Free Diamond Concierge Service.
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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