fundraising calendar

Help us reach our annual fundraising goal!

Consumers' Checkbook is the only nonprofit providing in-depth service reviews and price research. We take no advertising or referral fees from businesses. Help us continue to serve your community.

Donate by December 31 to support unbiased independent service reviews.

Focus on value. You’ll get a lot more bang for your extra bucks by buying an ideal-cut diamond. But if you can’t otherwise discern differences in quality between two stones, don’t pay more for the higher-quality stone. Most shoppers should avoid paying extra for diamonds with color grades above F or with clarity scores better than SI1.

Stick with GIA-certified stones. If the store can tell you only that a diamond is “certified,” without a designation from the GIA or other reputable organization, ask to see something else. Many other certifications tell you nothing about stone quality.

Compare prices. You’ll find huge store-to-store price differences for comparable diamonds. When our undercover shoppers obtained price quotes from local stores and chains for excellent cut round brilliant diamonds, weighing 1.50–1.55 carats, VS1 or VS2, G or H color, some stores offered prices of $19,356 or more while others charged $11,500 or less. Prices available from online-only sellers were even lower.

Look at loose stones. Some stores pre-set lousy diamonds to hide flaws.

Consider alternatives. Sapphires, rubies, and other stones offer similar dazzle at significantly lower prices. Lab-grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds but cost about 20 to 30 percent less.

Review the return policy. Buy from stores that offer returns with a full refund within 30 days. And pay by credit card. If a store doesn’t come through, you’ll have the option of disputing the charge with your credit card company.

Get expensive purchases appraised. Although you’ll have to pay about $50 to $200 for an appraisal, it’s good insurance against being given—either intentionally or by mistake—a switched-out gem that’s of lower quality than what you paid for.