30 Minute Engagement Ring Challenge:

Buying a diamond engagement ring is one of the most expensive and significant purchases most people will make in their lifetimes. Next to the cost of buying a house, or a luxury automobile, an engagement ring is probably one of the most expensive purchases you’re likely to make. You can drive yourself nuts and waste a lot of time running all over the place, reading every diamond buying tutorial you can get your hands on… Or you can simply read this one, and reap the benefits of the last 30 years of my experience as a professional diamond buyer for the trade.

It’s one thing to simply buy an engagement ring in 30 minutes or less, but I’m going to teach you how to buy a spectacular performing diamond in 30 minutes or less. Using my time-proven system for buying ideal cut diamonds. In this article, I’m going to share with you the exact selection criteria that I’ve used to purchase thousands upon thousands of ideal cut diamonds for the Nice Ice private label. But just because I’m sharing my secret formula with you, doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service. If you’d like my help finding the very best diamond available within your desired range of characteristics, just drop me a note. It doesn’t matter whether the diamond is from one of my preferred vendors, or one that you’ve found elsewhere. I’m here to serve.

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Best Proportions for an Ideal Cut Diamond:

By now you’ve probably realized that you need to buy an ideal cut diamond engagement ring if you want the diamond to exhibit the highest amount of light performance. But you’ve also probably discovered that the definition of “ideal cut” is rather broad. My definition of what constitutes an ideal cut diamond tends to be a lot stricter than what most vendors promote as being ideal. If you’re looking for the very best, then I suggest restricting your search to the following range of proportions:

  • Total Depth between 59 – 61.8%
  • Table Diameter between 53 – 58%
  • Crown Angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees*
  • Pavilion Angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees
  • Lower Girdle Facets between 75 – 80%
  • Girdle between thin to slightly thick, faceted or polished.
  • Culet Size of either GIA none or AGS pointed (same thing)

* Note that if you’re considering diamonds graded by the GIA, that they round off the measurements for crown angle, star facet length, and lower girdle facet length. Thus a crown angle of 34.75  – 34.9 degrees will be rounded up to 35.0 degrees. The challenge is that a crown angle slightly steeper than 35.0 degrees might also be rounded down to 35.0 degrees. This is one of the reasons why I personally prefer diamonds graded by the AGS Laboratory.

Crown angle measurements shallower than 34.2 degrees are likely to produce a higher degree of brilliance (white sparkle). Crown angle measurements steeper than 35.0 degrees are likely to produce a higher degree of dispersion (colored sparkle). Diamonds with a crown angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees will usually deliver a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.

If you strictly adhere to the ideal cut diamond proportions outlined above, you’ll be miles ahead of the curve. I’m going to assume that you can follow simple instructions and that you’re going to do just that. But if you’re the type of person who likes to fully understand all the intricacies of what you’re buying, then read the tutorial 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success for a more in-depth analysis of proportions.

Buy the Best Engagement Ring from Brian Gavin Diamonds:

Halo style engagement ring by Brian Gavin, 18k white goldIf you really want to take the guesswork out of buying an engagement ring online, then simply focus your efforts on Brian Gavin Signature Diamonds. Either those with blue fluorescence, or those without. It doesn’t matter. Brian Gavin Diamonds offers diamonds of exceptional quality. The proportions will always be within the range outlined above. And the Optical Precision of the diamonds is superior to just about everything else out there. The degree of optical precision exhibited by a diamond, has as much to do with the sparkle factor as the proportions! What is Optical Precision? Quite simply, it is the consistency of facet shape; size, and alignment. Optical Precision also takes into account the consistency of facet alignment from the perspective of 360 degrees. Optical Precision is not the same as the Symmetry grade that appears on AGS and GIA diamond grading reports. That is “meet point” symmetry, which is mostly about how the points of the facets meet up with each other. It is critical to take the Optical Precision of an ideal cut diamond into consideration.

Search Brian Gavin Signature Round DiamondsWe set the standard for Hearts and Arrows Diamonds...

Buy an engagement ring from Brian Gavin diamonds in 30 minutes or lessConducting a search for 1.00 carat, F-G color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamonds, took about 30 seconds to run. The search provided me with seven super ideal hearts and arrows cut diamonds. Every single one of the diamonds met my strict selection criteria. No guesswork required. Absolute perfection. every one of the diamonds will be drop-dead gorgeous. It took me another three minutes to find a halo style engagement ring in 18 karat white gold. Thus I completed my engagement ring shopping in under 10 minutes.

Needless to say, the halo style engagement ring from Brian Gavin diamonds is going to be absolutely spectacular! Now I can spend more time on this, but the fact of the matter is that the diamonds offered Brian Gavin are the very best. This makes it extremely easy to buy the engagement ring of her dreams in 30 minutes or less. With absolute confidence provided by a high-resolution video of the diamond, clarity photographs, and reflector scope images necessary to determine the degree of optical precision. This is why Brian Gavin diamonds is my preferred vendor of choice!

Buying an Engagement Ring from HPD:

Swan pave solitaire engagement ring by D. Vatche, from High Performance DiamondsHigh Performance Diamonds is the online distributor for Crafted by Infinity hearts and arrows diamonds.  My search on HPD for one carat, F-G color, VS-2 clarity, super ideal cut diamonds yielded seven results. Three of those diamonds met my selection criteria 100%. This is not to say that the other diamonds were not spectacular, but the crown angle was one 10th of one percent shallower than I prefer. So I eliminated those. Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity just fainted. Then again, Paul knows that I’m a total diamond snob. It took me less than five minutes to look over the diamond details pages, the clarity photographs, and the reflector scope images. And another three or four minutes to find this stunning Swan pave solitaire ring designed by D. Vatche. Once again, I’ve managed to put together a stunning diamond engagement ring in less than 30 minutes. 10 minutes actually…

Crafted by Infinity is actually one of my favorite brands of hearts and arrows diamonds. Together with Brian Gavin, their combined production comprised the majority of diamonds sold under the Nice Ice private label.

While Crafted by Infinity produces an exceptional diamond, they are simply not good at photographing them. The fact of the matter is that Brian Gavin invested a substantial sum of money in a state-of-the-art imaging system that takes an exceptional photograph. I don’t know what imaging system Crafted by Infinity is using, but it’s not up to the same standards. Thus I tend to have a higher rate of rejection with Crafted by Infinity diamonds online. Whereas when I was purchasing diamonds in bulk from both of these vendors, and photographing the diamonds in my own personal gemological laboratory, I had a much higher rate of success.

Buying an engagement ring from James Allen:

I used this selection criteria to search James Allen for ideal cut diamonds. The search yielded 20 potential candidates and took 3:32 minutes to run. Including the amount of time that it took me to open up twenty diamond details pages, and look over the details provided on the diamond grading reports.

How to buy an engagement ring from James Allen in 30 minutes or less, sku 559063There were five ideal cut diamonds from James Allen that met my selection criteria. My top pick of the group is this 1.06 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond. The diamond has super ideal proportions, which means that the proportions are within my preferred range outlined above. The diamond exhibits a very good pattern of hearts and arrows. There are minor inconsistencies and variances in the size and shape of the hearts. This diamond is basically on the high end of the scale for an ideal cut diamond. But it’s not quite what I consider to be “Hearts and Arrows” by Japanese standards… There is just too much variance in the spacing between the tips of the hearts and the arrowheads that appear in the center region. But this diamond is definitely well within the Top 1% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds! Definitely worthy of your consideration!

Search James Allen for Ideal Cut DiamondsUsing Nice Ice preset criteria for proportions, polish, and symmetry!

The other four ideal cut diamonds from James Allen which meet my selection criteria are as follows:

I actually think it took me longer to write this description than it took me to shop for ideal cut diamonds on James Allen. It certainly won’t take you more than 26 minutes to select an engagement ring. Moving on.

Buying an engagement ring from Ritani:

Buying an engagement ring from Ritani is a little more hit or miss than buying from Brian Gavin, Crafted by Infinity, or even James Allen. This is because Ritani does not provide high-resolution video, nor clarity images for all of the diamonds in their inventory. They do however provide clarity photographs for what seems to be about half of the diamonds contained in their virtual inventory. I have not been able to obtain reflector scope images with any degree of regularity. And thus it makes it difficult, if not practically impossible to judge the optical precision of Ritani diamonds.

This puts Ritani on par with industry giant Blue Nile, who also primarily works off of virtual inventory. Ritani offers a wide selection of GIA and AGS graded diamonds.  However, there is a lot more guesswork involved. Therefore it might take me a little longer than 10 minutes to select a diamond from their inventory.

Buying an engagement ring from RitaniIt took me less than a minute to adjust the sliders and set the settings to search for ideal cut diamonds on Ritani. Then again I know what I’m doing. I’ve probably done this a thousand times before. It might take you 3 to 5 minutes. I was presented with five options between the range of 1.00 to 1.20 carats, F-G color, VS-2 clarity.

It took me one minute and six seconds, including the time it took the pages to load, to determine that none of the options presented met my selection criteria. None of the diamond detail pages for the five diamonds presented contained a clarity image. Thus you would be buying blind. Armed only with the details provided on the diamond grading report in this instance. However, sometimes there are more details available.

While I did not happen to find anything that I liked this time around on Ritani, it is certainly worth looking for options another day. Ask me for help if you want assistance finding the best diamonds from Ritani.

Design Your Ritani Engagement Ring TodayFree in-store preview of your made-to-order engagement ring

Buying an engagement ring from Blue Nile:

Build your own engagement ring on Blue NileIt took me seven minutes and three seconds to open up 58 diamond details pages presented by Blue Nile for my consideration. Once again the range of characteristics that I was considering were round brilliant cut diamonds weighing between 1.00 – 1.20 carats, F-G color, VS-2 clarity. GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal polish, symmetry, and overall cut grade. I did not open up the diamond details pages for any of the options indicated as having a small culet size, because those do not meet the selection criteria outlined above. Of the six options remaining, I eliminated one diamond due to the presence of a knot which was indicated on the diamond grading report.

A knot is an included diamond crystal which breaks through the surface of the diamond. It is possible that a knot could be knocked loose from a diamond, leaving a cavity in its place. I’m not fond of knots or cavities within diamonds. I suggest avoiding diamonds that contain either inclusion type. The five diamonds remaining from Blue Nile are as follows:

Build Your Own Engagement ring on Blue NileThe largest inventory of GIA Excellent cut diamonds online!

Blue Nile engagement ring, Signature diamond, LD05786175, GCAL 251110076All of these diamonds meet my selection criteria by the numbers. However, Blue Nile only provided images for one of the diamonds. This 1.14 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round diamond. Which does not exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows by my standards. Those hearts look more like lawn darts to me. Thus this GIA Excellent / Blue Nile Signature round diamond is not something which I consider to be comparable to the true hearts and arrows diamonds offered by Brian Gavin or Crafted by Infinity. It is, however, a nice ideal cut diamond that is in the Top 1% of the annual production for rounds. It took me another seven minutes to find images for three of the remaining four diamonds.

So let’s see, where does that leave me in terms of time? I’ve spent a little less than fifteen minutes searching for diamonds on Blue Nile. I found six GIA Excellent cut diamonds with proportions within my preferred range. And I was able to locate a clarity image and/or reflector scope images for all but one of the diamonds. That’s pretty good. I’ve got fifteen minutes left to find an engagement ring to set the diamond in. That shouldn’t be too difficult.

Buying an engagement ring from Victor Canera:

Buying an engagement ring from Victor Canera hearts and arrows diamondsLast but not least. I invite you to to search for diamonds on Victor Canera. It took me less than two minutes to run a search for hearts and arrows cut diamonds. All three of the ideal cut options presented met my proportions criteria. All three of the diamonds contain inclusions that meet my selection criteria. The hearts and arrows patterns aren’t absolutely perfect, but then again, they never are. I put them in the same classification as James Allen True Hearts and Whiteflash ACA diamonds. The hearts patterns tend to exhibit minor imperfections.

However, the hearts patterns are a whole lot better than you’re likely to find in the majority of ideal cut diamonds. There are varying degrees of perfection to be found in “Hearts and Arrows Ideal Cut Diamonds” just as there are differences to be found in the myriad of GIA Excellent and AGS Ideal Cut diamonds being offered.

The three diamonds that I found on Victor Canera are as follows:

Braided shank halo solitaire engagement ring by Victor CaneraAny one of them would look absolutely stunning set in this Braided Shank Hal0 setting by Victor Canera. I’ve got about ten minutes invested in buying an engagement ring from Victor Canera. Most of that time was spent pondering the numerous options presented in his online catalog of custom engagement rings. One of the differences that set Victor Canera apart from the pack is that he hand-forges every ring that he makes. The ring pictured to the left was not designed using Computer Aided Design (CAD). The wax for the ring was not produced using a computerized lathe. Victor does not rely upon lost wax casting like most of the industry. Rather, he hand-forges each ring that he makes. Each ring is quite literally made by hand. Which makes them a bit spendy. But it also makes each ring individually unique. This is kind of similar to how the internal components of a Rolls Royce are all fabricated by hand. Every masterpiece by Victor Canera is hand-fabricated.

Hearts & Arrows Diamonds by Victor CaneraAGS Ideal-0 cut diamonds and hand-forged jewelry!

How to buy an engagement ring in 30 minutes or less:

I think I’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s possible to buy an engagement ring in 30 minutes or less. And an exceptional engagement ring at that! You just have to know where and what to look for.  Everything that you need to purchase a gorgeous engagement ring is contained within this article. However, if you would like help selecting the diamond for your engagement ring, please take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service. I will be happy to take a few minutes to help you select the very best diamonds available from each vendor that I work with.

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Train Your Dragon Naturally SpeakingBy the way, the majority of this blog post was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking. I’m in the process of training my dragon. It didn’t do too well with specialty phrases such as F-color, G-color, and VS-2 clarity. “Bad Dragon” needs more one on one time in the training room. However, it performed exceptionally well throughout the rest of the article. It enabled me to write this blog post much faster than usual. I actually type pretty fast, but the fact of the matter is that I can talk a lot faster than I type. Dragon Naturally Speaking has come a long way since the last time I tried to use it. Which was probably about a decade ago when I broke my right hand and couldn’t type. This time I was simply curious as to whether Dragon Naturally Speaking would enable me to be more productive. It definitely seems to give me a competitive advantage. The odds are that I’ll be using it to write a lot more blog articles. I’ve been using it for the past few days while responding to email.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see how long it would take me to read this article. It took me just under 30 minutes and a cup of my favorite Costa Rican Coffee from Britt. I imagine that this tutorial on how to buy an engagement ring in 30 minutes or less will take you a bit longer than that to read and digest. But I hope that you enjoyed reading it. Please leave a comment below.

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