The popularity of James Allen engagement rings continues to rise. There are photographs of beautiful marriage proposals like this one all over Pinterest. The surge of story book proposals appearing on social media is at an all time high. Just follow hashtags like #isaidyes and #shesaidyes for inspiration.
At the same time, the pressure upon us guys to create the perfect moment has become mind bending. It seems like it’s no longer good enough to buy the perfect engagement ring. Now we have to create the scene for a picture perfect moment on top of that. This one is from a series of photographs commemorating Tyler and Colbey’s scrapbook proposal on the beach.
On the other hand, these storybook engagement portfolios provide us with an endless source of proposal ideas. Never before has such an excellent resource been available for the love struck fool. Prior to the invent of social media, our fathers probably looked to Hollywood for romantic inspiration. Whereas today, one glance at our Instagram account can provide us with all the inspiration we need.
Just as we can discover how to create the perfect proposal moment online, we can also learn all about diamonds. No doubt, that is why you’re reading this tutorial on buying James Allen engagement rings. If you’re like most guys, you probably want to know whether James Allen engagement rings are good quality.
The short answer is that James Allen engagement rings are good quality. However keep in mind that they offer a wide variety of engagement rings. The old adage you get what you pay for definitely applies. It goes without saying that lighter, less expensive jewelry isn’t the same quality as more expensive jewelry.
It’s important to remember that James Allen engagement rings are only going to look as good as the center stone. It’s amazing to me how many people focus on the ring first and the diamond second. They devote so much money to the ring portion of the project, and then try to skimp on the diamond. This type of thinking is backwards from my perspective, because the diamond is the center piece.
With that in mind, tell me what you see when you look at this picture? Do you find that your focus is drawn to the diamond? Are you able to see the details of the ring clearly? According to the description on Pinterest, this is a close-up of the James Allen French pavé setting. However, we really can’t see the details of the ring in this photograph. Thankfully the proud owner of this ring, took the time to post several more for us to appreciate. Plus she provided us with great details, such as this is a 1.23 carat round on her size six finger. I find this kind of visual reference incredibly helpful!
Focus on finding the most incredible looking diamond possible for your budget. This doesn’t mean that it has to be the highest clarity or color grade. Those things have very little to do with sparkle factor. What you want to focus on is diamond cut quality and the degree of optical precision. But as you’ll find out shortly, you have to look beyond the basics of cut grade or brand.
I’ll tell you straight up that some of the diamonds you’ll find on James Allen will look spectacular. However there are quite a few diamonds on James Allen that don’t meet my selection criteria. That statement is more a reflection of my precise nature as a diamond buyer, than it has to do with James Allen.
Unlike most people, I really am only looking for the best when I go diamond shopping. I’m a diamond buying professional with 30+ years trade experience. I’m not just another consumer trying to figure things out. From that perspective, I’m not going to be fooled by slick advertising, glossy photographs, or unfounded statements of quality.
With that in mind, I won’t insult your intelligence by saying stuff like James Allen engagement rings are the best. Because the fact of the matter is that those types of blanket statements are bullshit. The intent of this article is to help you navigate the marketing hyperbole by focusing on light performance.
Hardly a day goes by without somebody asking me about the quality of James Allen diamonds. The interesting thing is that most of them aren’t asking about a specific diamond. Under those circumstances, I can only assume they are under the impression that all James Allen diamonds are the same.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that James Allen offers a wide range of diamonds. As with most companies today, they are doing their best to appeal to the largest market possible. Therefore you’ll find a broad spectrum of diamond quality and engagement rings at James Allen.
The trick is knowing what type of diamond buyer you are. If you’re like me, then your focus is on light performance. You’re looking for a diamond that exhibits the highest volume of light return. You want the diamond to display a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. In other words, you want your diamond to exhibit maximum light return with lots of white sparkle and fire!
But I’m guessing that you also want the biggest bang for your buck! And at the same time, you want the diamond to face-up eye clean and not look yellow. So, how do you achieve all of that and not break the bank?
The first thing to remember is that AGS Ideal & GIA Excellent cut does not guarantee the best light performance. This is because every grade represents a broad range or spectrum of quality. Which means that the parameters of the AGS Ideal and GIA Excellent cut grades include:
It goes without saying that my use of the dollar sign there is intentional. The cost is significantly higher to cut diamonds that exhibit the best light performance. It is far more profitable to cut diamonds to the outer edges of the AGS Ideal and GIA Excellent cut grades.
Which is why you’ll see a lot of ideal cut diamonds on James Allen with proportions that are undesirable. This is because most diamond cutters are content doing the least amount of work necessary to make the cut grade.
It’s also just more profitable to cut diamonds for the highest retention of carat weight. The reality is that most people shopping for engagement rings don’t know anything about diamonds. Most people think limiting their search to Excellent / Ideal means that the diamond will look great.
The diamond cutters know that people wrongly assume that AGS Ideal or GIA Excellent means the best. So, they’re going to cut for the minimum standard and let the paper speak for itself. I beg to differ and present these images for your consideration.
This is a 1.01 carat, G-color, Internally Flawless, GIA Excellent cut round diamond. It has a total depth of 62.5% with a 55% table diameter. Under normal circumstances, the 40.8 degree pavilion angle would produce a high volume of light return. However the 36 degree crown angle is too steep (16.5%) and the diamond lacks optical precision.
This is evident because of the high volume of light leakage visible under the table facet in the ASET image. That is the multi-color image that appears in the upper right corner. The green arrows indicate light leakage which is highest in the translucent sections. The red ideal scope image below that also shows a high volume of light leakage.
So, it makes sense that proportions affect light performance. In this instance, the crown angle is simply too steep to produce great light performance. It’s also evident from the hearts image (lower left) that the diamond lacks optical precision.
Two of the hearts are incomplete, because light is not reflecting evenly within this GIA Excellent cut diamond. The hearts are misshapen and lack symmetry of size and shape. The spacing around the hearts varies dramatically, and the tips of the hearts are twisting. This means that there are differences in the size, shape and indexing of the facets.
This is an example of a diamond that is on the outer fringe of the GIA Excellent cut grade. Clearly there are better options to be found within the GIA Excellent cut classification. Knowing how to set the advanced parameters when searching for diamonds is half the battle.
You need to understand that sparkle factor is the result of diamond cut quality:
On the lower half of the diamond, the pavilion angle dictates the volume of light return. On the upper half of the diamond, the crown angle determines the balance of brilliance and dispersion. Symmetry and the degree of optical precision dictate the number of virtual facets within the diamond.
With this in mind, you want to focus on buying a diamond with the most precise cut quality possible. Because that is going to produce the highest volume of light return and the most virtual facets. In short, those are the internal reflections of light that make or break diamond performance.
With this in mind, you want to focus your search on James Allen True Hearts Diamonds. Those are the most precise cut diamonds that James Allen has to offer. The most compelling evidence of this fact is evident in the hearts pattern. It takes less than a second to see that this GIA Excellent cut diamond is cut better than the one above.
Consequently, this would be a great choice for a James Allen engagement ring. It has a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees which is offset by a crown angle of 34.5 degrees. Which means that it’s going to exhibit a high volume of light return. At the same time, it’s going to exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion! Plus, the higher degree of optical precision is going to create more virtual facets. As a result, the sparkle factor is going to be outstanding!
By and large, you’ll find that the majority of James Allen diamonds to not meet . This is primarily because we’re looking for the best of the best. The few diamonds that are cut to the middle of the spectrum. We’re looking for diamonds with proportions in the sweet spot. In short, we’re looking for diamonds that represent the Top 1% to 0.001% of the annual production for rounds.
It goes without saying, that majority of diamonds have proportions beyond the target range. Which is why most people are wearing diamonds that just kind of sit there. They lack sparkle, they lack luster, and they don’t seem to exhibit any real signs of life. That’s not what you want and those are the sort of diamonds that I’m looking for either.
Thus the real secret to buying James Allen engagement rings, is knowing just what to look for in a diamond. You should have a pretty good idea of what that is after reading this article. But you’ll want to print out my diamond buying cheat sheet keep it on hand for easy reference.
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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