Diamond studs are a timeless piece of jewelry. They bring any outfit to life and can be comfortably worn and enjoyed every day. Often, I see customers put huge amounts of energy into their engagement ring search, but overlook the importance of quality when it comes to diamond earrings. If you want your diamond studs to dazzle for a lifetime, a thorough search for a pair of high-quality diamonds and a focus on secure, masterfully-made settings are essential.
There are two options when it comes to diamond studs. You can choose a pre-set pair, where your chosen retailer has already found two similar diamonds or you can lead the search yourself to find two exquisite diamonds for a pair of twinkling studs. Both approaches have their own obstacles so this article will help you to decide which route is best for you.
Unlike diamond rings, earrings are generally viewed from a distance. There is more flexibility when it comes to color and clarity grades. If you are looking at diamonds 0.3ct or smaller, there is no need for certified diamonds and you will struggle to find them.
However, if you are considering diamonds above 0.3ct weight, certification becomes more important. Buying blind, i.e. without certification, can mean spending more money for a lower quality diamond.
One of the biggest issues with pre-set studs is that retailers will forgo certification in order to keep costs down. Diamonds vendors know that the majority of people will spend time researching before buying an engagement ring – the average consumer will have some idea of diamond certification so the pressure is on to produce certificates from respected diamond laboratories (AGS or GIA).
Unlike an engagement ring, considered to be a lifetime purchase for a significant other, diamond studs fall into the category of ‘gifting’. Having two certified diamonds would push the cost beyond the threshold for jewelry gifting so many diamonds studs hold uncertified diamonds. In lieu of proper certification, many vendors will give a vague suggestion of the quality that a consumer can expect, for example ‘at least a G in color, at least an SI1 clarity” and so on.
Although not traditionally considered a diamond stud, you may choose to go for an on-trend style of diamonds earrings like the James Allen rose gold disc earrings pictured above. This is where pre-sets have the upper-hand, as you will find more unusual styles and designs than if you choose to build your own.
Some people make the mistake of thinking buying pre-set, uncertified diamonds will save them money – sadly this is not the case.
They also come with two options for color and clarity either ‘I-J VS-SI’ or ‘G-H VS-SI1’ clarity. I chose I-J.
In the product details section, we can see that there is hardly any information about these diamonds. They could be a I or J in color and somewhere around a VS or SI clarity. There is no information at all about the cut and the diamonds are uncertified.
I chose a total carat weight of 1.00ct and the total cost of this pair, including an 18k white gold four-prong setting, was $5,990.
Next, I used the Whiteflash ‘find a pair of diamonds’ tool on their website. This is an excellent feature which allows you to specify your grades and total carat weight, along with a number of other details, and searches their inventory of diamonds to find a pair. You then choose a setting and voila! You have a set of diamond studs.
I searched for round brilliant H-SI1 diamonds totalling 1.00ct and found this pair of diamonds for $4,839 wire or $4,998. Not only are they AGS certified, they are from Whiteflash’s in-house A CUT ABOVE® collection. This collection of high-performance diamonds are super-ideal cuts with exceptional light return and unrivalled sparkle. I chose a four-prong basket setting in platinum to set them, for a total cost of $5,125.15 (wire)
The Whiteflash earrings are AGS certified and hold the coveted A CUT ABOVE® title. They are a better color and an Ideal cut. Using their high-res images and additional performance reports we can see that the diamonds are an eye-clean VS1 clarity with fantastic light return. The platinum setting features four-prongs making them suitable for every day wear.
The Hearts on Fire earrings are uncertified. The color is lower (either an I or a J). The clarity might be higher, but as it is not specified and there is no high-res image, we cannot say either way. The setting is 18k white gold, and while it is perfectly fine, 3-prongs do not offer as much security making them less suited to every day wear.
And yet, the with so much unknown about the diamonds, the Hearts on Fire earrings are more expensive than Whiteflash. This is a huge pitfall of buying pre-set diamonds. No one wants to discover they’ve spent over the odds on a pair of lower quality diamonds.
Whether you choose to select your own diamonds and build your own earrings or go for a pair of pre-sets, you should still consider the best options for cut, color and clarity. As is the case with any diamonds jewelry, the grades you choose will change depending on carat weight, diamond shape and personal preference. In the table below I have outlined my guidelines for diamonds stud earrings. I have given fairly broad parameters to allow for various budgets and individual sensitivities (e.g. some people are particularly sensitive to color so will choose the upper end of the scale).
|Round Brilliant 0.25ct – 0.50ct||Good or above||H-J||SI1-VS2||14k/18k Gold or Platinum|
|Round Brilliant 0.60ct – 1.50ct||Very Good or Above||H-I||SI1 – VS2||14/18k Gold or Platinum|
At least 4-prong
|Round Brilliant 1.60ct – 3.00ct||Very Good or Above||G-H||VS2-VS1||14k/18k Gold or Platinum|
At least 4-prong
|Round Brilliant 3.00ct +||Very Good or Above||G-H||VS2-VS1||14k/18k Gold or Platinum|
At Least 6-prong or bezel setting
In each case, I would not recommend going above the upper limit of the grades. You will be paying for a difference that simply cannot be appreciated by eye.
The most popular setting for diamond stud earrings is a traditional prong setting or a bezel setting. Bezel set earrings like this 18k pair from Whiteflash offer the most security to the diamond and are much easier to clean than prong settings.
Prong settings allow more light to access the diamond and come in a variety of styles. Martini settings like this are a popular choice; the cone shaped setting gives a profile that resembles a martini glass, giving an elegant appearance.
When it comes to choosing a metal, always select gold (14k or 18k), or platinum. This will allow you to wear your earrings daily without concerns of the metal deteriorating.
There are lots of different types of earring backs, but for fine jewelry there are two which work best.
On the left in yellow gold are push backs (also called friction backs or butterfly backs). They are the most commonly used earring back for studs. You slide the earring back onto the post by applying pressure. They are suitable for light-weight earrings and diamonds studs below 0.50ct. You should also check regularly that they have not become loose.
On the right in white gold are screw backs. Screw backs resemble push backs but the back must be rotated around the post and screwed into place. They are the best choice for diamond earrings as they cannot slide off the post, meaning they keep your diamonds securely in place.
If you are in the market for a pair of fashion studs in an unusual setting, pre-sets are likely to deliver the goods. However, if you are looking for a pair of beautiful diamonds in a traditional setting, building your own earrings is going to be your best bet. Not only can you specify your cut, color and clarity preferences, you can also save money and receive a higher quality diamond at the same time.
Consumer-friendly, trusted vendors like Whiteflash do the hard work for you by selecting a pair of diamonds based on your search criteria making it even easier to find the perfect pair. If you’re really budget conscious I would suggest heading to James Allen or Blue Nile but the quality of the diamonds won’t be the same.
Take the time to carry out research, talk to specialist jewelers who are happy to pro-actively provide comprehensive image reports and videos. Please get in touch with me directly for free personalized advice