It all depends on how important the four Cs are to you.
Carat. For some reason this is important in America even though large stones are not necessarily flattering for many people’s hands.
Colour. For some reason this is important in France even though most people cannot see the difference between a D and an I diamond once the diamond is set in a ring.
Clarity. For some reason this is important to high street jewellers even though people cannot see the difference between an fabulously expensive flawless diamond and a VS2 (and sometimes an S1) except under a x10 magnifier.
Cut. For some reason this seems to be unimportant to high street jewellers even though 90% and more of a diamond’s beauty is determined by cut.
This is my advice
Go and try on lots of rings with stones of different sizes and shapes and, rather than just concentrating on how the diamond looks, concentrate on finding the size and shape that makes your hand look pretty. Do the same for the setting.
What you will probably find is that there are ‘sweet spots’ where things look good. So, for instance, you might find that 0.15-0.3, 0.5-0.70, 1.25-1.40 and 2.7-3.0 all look good on your hand but the sizes in between don’t. This could be different for different shaped diamonds and could vary by setting. (You’ve been on this site a while and so you know that there are some fantastic rings and yet a huge range of diamond size can be considered beautiful. Some diamond rings just seem to work even though one person might have spent $100 and another $100,000.)
You are really unlikely to get a wonderful diamond 2-3ct for $10,000 and so I think you have a choice. You either trade beauty for size or you trade size for beauty. If you want to trade beauty for size then I don’t think that you need to read any further. Just go and buy something.
If what you want is a beautiful diamond and you are prepared to go for a smaller stone then I would suggest the following.
1. Consider good quality online diamond retailers – Whiteflash, Brian Gavin, Good Old Gold, Diamonds by Lauren are all very good. They sell better diamonds at a cheaper price than high street jewellers. I’ve also heard good things of Mervis diamond importers. Pricescope can give you more information on these sites and others.
2. Go for the best cut. Don’t compromise. A fantastic cut makes the diamond sparkle and has the advantage of making the diamond look bigger. If you prefer a round stone consider Heart & Arrows cuts.
3. Choose the size and shape of diamond that you want.
4. Lower the clarity to VS1/VS2.
5. Lower the colour to H/I (if set in white metal) and J/K (if set in yellow metal). If necessary consider pale yellow diamonds that aren’t quite fancy colours.
6. Quite a few of these online sites also have a real shop presence. I think Good Old Gold is near New York, Whiteflash is in Houston and Mervis is in Washington. If you get the chance to go and see the diamonds in person, do so. I actually think that if your Fiance is super romantic he might fly you somewhere to choose a diamond in person. (That’s what I would do if I was a bloke.) Seeing diamonds in person is really important if you go for fancy cuts (anything other than round) but actually I think that it’s a good idea anyway. Even among the top cuts some diamonds are just prettier and more sparkly than others.
7. Background colour. Every white diamond has a faint background colour. If you are colour sensitive then even an H white diamond will have faint hint of yellow, brown or grey. You might want to make sure that the diamond has a yellow background colour.
8. Certification for insurance purposes. Go with GIA or AGS. They are more stringent than European labs.
9. Make sure that in buying an expensive diamond you don’t skimp on ring quality. The ring has got to last many years and so you need to make sure that the ring is robust enough. You don’t want it so delicate and easily damaged that it spends all its time in a box. You don’t want it to be so spiky that it keeps snagging on clothing, hair, and other people’s children. You don’t want it so large that you spend all your time looking at it – if you look at it all the time you will get diamond shrinkage and become hypercritical of your ring. You don’t want it so ornate that it collects huge amounts of hand cream. You don’t want diamonds dropping out and getting eaten by the dog. You don’t want to spend your entire life going to a jewellers to get your ring fixed. Etc., etc.
10. If after all this you find that diamond size is not important to you then go to De Beers and get them to pick out a small but perfectly formed diamond for you. They have gemologists whose job it is to do so.. You will probably have the smallest and yet the most sparkliest diamond in the room. People will tell you that it’s ‘cute’ but they will notice it because it wll glitter at them from every corner and in every light.
Good luck and let us know how you get on.