Buying a loose diamond is kinda like going to a theme park where you can only see the line in front of the ride or restaurant, but not what you might be in line for. Yes, you might know the general theme of the theme park: diamonds. You might get some clue about what the ride is about: 4C's from the diamond report. If you are lucky enough you might also make out the vague shape of the ride: images or videos of the diamond itself.
But do you know if that is the stone for you? Nope. You only know once you are done with that wild, wild ride.
That might be acceptable if it is just a Saturday afternoon and a 40 dollar ticket. Not acceptable is a 3-month salary according to the common saying.
But don't worry, not all hope is lost. Rather than worrying about the individual diamond, how about comparing the source itself? I am pretty confident that a ride at Tokyo Disneysea (the undisputed king of the Disneylands) will beat some random ride at your local county fair.
Once you figured out what is the best source to score your loose diamond, you can be confident that the diamond won't be far off the mark in terms of choice, quality, and price.
Basics: What are loose diamonds?
Any diamond bought by itself, not as a finished jewelry piece is considered to be a loose diamond. A loose diamond is the preferred method of purchasing diamonds within the diamond industry to produce finished jewelry pieces.
Basics: Why do regular consumers even want loose diamonds?
As with any question in life...follow the money. Before the age of the internet, diamond prices were very opaque. Many retailers marked up their prices and regular consumers had little knowledge and opportunities to get a hold of a diamond at such prices.
This all changed with the invention of online platforms that listed diamonds for average consumers. With information becoming available everywhere, more and more consumers choose to purchase the diamond separately from the mounting (the non-center stone part of the jewelry). Yes, although it is more work compared to the full package that retailers offer, buy diamonds loose gives the consumer much more room to choose their center stone. Most importantly much more bling for their buck.
Local Jewelry Store?
Your local jewelry store might actually have loose stones on hand for sale or to be turned into engagement rings and other jewelry. Some might be able to offer you competitive prices on these diamonds if they need some cash flow. The harsh reality is that old-school local brick-and-mortar stores are fighting a battle with their backs against the wall.
Internet giants are eating away more and more of their business with prices that they can never dream to compete with.
You can try, but don't expect too much.
If you are connected with industry people or planning a trip to New York City's famous Diamond District, you could try your luck at getting a loose diamond from the diamond traders themselves. They could offer you a good price, but that is unlikely. Not to say that they are all evil and there to scam you, but the majority of them are middlemen and not diamond polishers themselves. So at the time when they get their hands on these diamonds, the diamond itself has already been marked up.
Still, if they need some cash for their stones, you could find a good deal. But do double-check their return policy and triple check the GIA diamond report (our gemologists can look over any GIA report for you). Please, make sure everything checks out before you hand over the money.
If you keep searching for diamonds on the internet, the all-mighty ad machine will eventually put related ads in front of you. (Guilty here. I am too far gone now and all I see are diamond ads.) Should you try your luck here?
I would say proceed with caution. While on Instagram, many of the diamond traders who work in the trade are present and are trustworthy. The same thing cannot be said about other social media platforms. Just as buying from the trade, you should double-check their return policy and triple check the GIA diamond report, and ask for a professional opinion. Once you are sure of the diamond, the price, and the return policy, make sure to look the page up in google for reviews. If you get a whiff of fishiness, you should be on high alert.
Diamond websites similar to Rare Carat
So far what I have described does not sound like a rosy path to your dream stone. Fear not! Because of the difficulty in purchasing a diamond on your own, diamond websites have taken up the challenge and made purchasing a loose diamond a much easier and less stressful ordeal than the previous venues.
I really think as a gemologist that the general public should at least look at these websites to get a sense of what the prices and options are out there and then make a decision.
First of all, you will get a sense of what types of diamonds you are looking for by playing around with the 4C selection sliders. Then you can figure out if your expectations match up with your budget. In addition, many of them have images of settings and sometimes fancy virtual reality try-on tools to aid in your selections. Lastly, it's free! You can play around with the diamond and setting until you find your dream stone.
But how is Rare Carat different from all these other websites? Incentive structures!
What do I mean by that? Many of these websites make their money by selling the diamond. Rare Carat, in contrast, makes money by having you click on diamonds. That means that we can dedicate all our resources to helping you find the best diamond rather than selling a diamond.
Rare Carat has the reason and resources to invest in algorithms and features that compare prices all across our vendors, calculate if the offer is a good deal, measure the quality of the diamond against other diamonds, and even have a staff of gemologists to personally review your pick. Click HERE to check out a Rare Carat Report.
It may sound like tooting our own horn but start your diamond search here. I personally recommend it to all my friends who are non-gemologist. If you don't like it, you can always go somewhere else. Compare with other websites and see which one you prefer. But I have a strong feeling that you might come back.