More and more people are purchasing their engagement rings online.  Despite the poor USD to CAD exchange rate, many people are purchasing their engagement rings online.  If you have USD exchanged already this may be an even better option for you than a traditional brick and mortar shop.

The idea of buying something so expensive online can be daunting and the selection and charts can be overwhelming.  Here are some tips on buying an engagement ring online in Canada.

What about Duty and Taxes?

Many people are worried about duty and taxes when they order an engagement ring online.  Under the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) any diamond (set in a ring or not) that was manufactured in North America allows you to only pay for taxes (your provincial tax at the GST).  You will not have to pay duty.  It is a good idea to double check with the company that you plan to buy your ring from.  Most online jewelry stores will ship via Fedex and you will have to pay a customs brokerage fee which is usually under $20.  Here is a forum discussion on Price Scope to confirm this (often known as the authority on diamonds)

Wait for Discounts

Many of the online retailers, James Allen for example, have Black Friday sales, or random sales such as 15% off your item.  It unfortunately does not include loose diamonds (or set diamonds) just the setting or wedding bands etc.  Which is still a nice deal!

Another example is Adiamor.  They send you a $25 off voucher if they notice you have not gone through with your purchase when you add an item to the cart.

How to Refine Your Search

Tips on Buying an Engagement Ring OnlineAs we all know, of the 4 C’s, cut is king.  So how does one go about finding a good cut in a large inventory database of diamonds?

For example, in the James Allen website, go to the Choose a Diamond, click on the:

  • Shape
  • Clarity (SI1 meaning ‘slight inclusion’ can be ‘eye clean’ and VS2 and VS1 are usually eye clean, you can either ask the representative if it is eye clean.  With James Allen you can view the actual diamond with 10x zoom or super zoom to look to see if it is ‘eye clean’  Sometimes the inclusion can be on the side of the diamond so that it can be covered up by the claw of the setting.
  • Colour (H and better, H is good ‘bang for your buck’)
  • Cut (would recommend ideal and above but it’s your call)
  • Carat (can ‘buy shy’ e.g. choose a 0.97 carat instead of a 1.01 carat because you will not be able to tell the difference but there will be a noticeable difference in price)
  • and click on ‘Advanced Options’ and for round brilliant diamonds (over 60% of people have round brilliants for their engagement centre diamond) and then choose:
    • Table (53-58% input will weed out the badly cut diamonds and give you optimal table width)
    • Depth (60.2-62.7% are ideal depth values)
    • Lab– GIA, AGS, or IGI.  GIA is optimal but AGS is also good
    • Polish– excellent
    • Symmetry– excellent
    • Fluorescence– some say a blue fluorescence can help a diamond with a yellow tinge look more white, but usually ‘none’ fluorescence is considered better, however it is up to you
  • Here are other parameters for ideal cuts with different shaped diamonds from Diamond Buyers Guide

Check to See if the Diamond Looks its Weight

With Diamond Database, you can input the parameters of the diamond (the measurements are usually found on the GIA certificate that you can see online) and you can compare the diamonds side by side to see how it would look on a finger (you can customize this too!) and depending on the width of the setting band (you can customize this as well).  It can tell you if the diamond has an adequate face up size.  Some diamonds are shallow cuts or too deep cut so even though it might be a 1.25 carat, it only looks like a 1 carat if it is not cut properly.  Using this diamond database will help you eliminate that issue when you are looking for an engagement ring online.

Also, make sure it’s not too big (haha many woman say ‘nonsense, it can never be too big!’) for her finger.  This size guide for round brilliants is helpful.  For example, a 2 carat diamond on a size 3.75 finger is just going to look silly (some people beg to differ of course).  So if you have a girl with smaller petite fingers, you will save a bundle!

Order the Correct Size

Finally, when you order a ring online you can order the exact size.  Some even have quarter sizes.  The easiest way is to find a ring she owns and have it checked at a brick and mortar shop with a ring gauge or she can try one of the ring size chains (I don’t think that’s what they’re called but it kind of looks somewhat like a measuring spoon set).   If it doesn’t fit most online retailers will help you resize it for free.

Readers, do you have other tips to share on how to buy an engagement ring online?

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