How to Buy a Lab-Grown Diamond Engagement Ring Online – The Ultimate Guide (2022)
You’ve decided to pop the question and ask the love of your life to marry you. Congratulations on making the important decision!
Now comes the next challenge — the engagement ring!
Buying a diamond engagement ring is perhaps the biggest and most important jewelry purchase you will ever make. And there’s a lot to learn. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make the wrong diamond purchase decision if you are not fully prepared.
In contrast, if you know how to inspect and evaluate diamonds, you will undoubtedly save money while getting a higher quality (or bigger) diamond engagement ring. That’s why we have put together this guide to buying the perfect lab-grown diamond engagement ring.
In the following, we’ll guide you through buying a lab-grown diamond engagement ring before recommending our top 5 best places to purchase lab-grown diamond engagement rings. If you’re eager to get started, we’ve broken it down into easily digestible sections.
If you’re already familiar with some aspects of the diamond buying process, you can skip ahead. And if you want to learn more, then read our intro guide to lab-grown diamonds and our easy-to-follow buying guide before jumping into your lab-grown diamond engagement ring search.
You can also read our intro to lab-grown diamonds explaining the 4Cs in greater detail if you want to learn even more. And if you want more assistance, tips, and recommendations through the buying process, then read our easy-to-read step-by-step buying guide to lab-grown diamonds.
- What is a lab-grown diamond?
- What you need to know about buying a lab-grown diamond engagement ring online
- 1. Diamond engagement rings are all about the sparkle – so get familiar with the Four C’s
- 2. Match engagement ring budget and expectations
- 3. Determine the engagement ring style
- 4. Choose a lab-grown diamond online retailer
- The Top 5 Best Places to Buy a lab-grown diamond engagement ring
3 of our favorite places to buy lab-created diamond engagement rings
What is a lab-grown diamond?
First up, lab-grown diamonds are 100% identical to mined diamonds. The processes for cutting and polishing a lab-grown diamond are the same as for mined diamonds. Similarly, the inspection and grading processes are the same, and the same laboratories perform them.
The only difference between mined and lab-grown diamonds is that mined diamonds were created billions of years ago and extracted through extensive mining operations. In contrast, lab-grown diamonds are created in advanced laboratories in a controlled process that reduces cost, and energy consumption, and eliminates the devastating impact on the environment and communities surrounding the diamond mines.
Did you know that lab-grown diamonds are the more sustainable and ethical choice and have become increasingly popular with consumers, celebrities, and even royals showcasing their lab-grown diamond jewelry on the red carpet?
With that out of the way, let’s jump to the exciting part — how to buy a lab-grown diamond engagement ring online.
What you need to know about buying a lab-grown diamond engagement ring online
The good thing about online shopping is avoiding pushy sellers and in-store markups. The best online lab-grown diamond sellers have huge selections (far greater than any brick-and-mortar store). And you sit comfortably at home while browsing through hundreds of stones and styles while taking your time and doing your research. Unlike in a store where you’ll likely be pressured to make a wrong and too expensive purchase.
Many online retailers, such as James Allen, Clean Origin, Ritani, and more, can even help you custom-design your ring or buy diamonds individually for it. And one online retailer, With Clarity, will even create a replica 3D model of the engagement ring that you are considering, which gives you the ability to assess the looks and feel of the ring. Free of charge!
Below are some of the most common questions about lab-grown diamond engagement rings. Read more about what you need to know before buying a lab-grown diamond engagement ring.
Is it safe to buy an engagement ring online?
Yes, it’s completely safe to buy an engagement ring online — as long as you ensure that you’re buying from a reputable website that offers certification, a hassle-free return policy, and excellent customer support. For example, the best online diamond engagement ring sellers offer HD images with a 360-degree view that allows you to view every diamond up close. In addition, they provide excellent customer service and have outstanding warranties and return policies.
How much should I spend on an engagement ring?
The honest answer is that you should only ever spend what you can afford on an engagement ring! You’ve probably heard about the two months salary rule stating that you should fully 2 months’ salary on an engagement ring. But please don’t let the jewelry companies fool you — this rule was made up by DeBeers, one of the world’s largest diamond sellers. So spend only the amount you’re comfortable with, and don’t take out a loan to finance your engagement ring! In the end, your future fiance is more into you than any expensive diamond ring.
Follow the steps below, and you’ll be sure to end up with a fantastic lab-grown diamond engagement ring at the very best price.
You can also learn more in our in-depth guide to buying a lab-grown diamond.
1. Diamond engagement rings are all about the sparkle – so get familiar with the Four C’s
When buying a lab-grown diamond engagement ring, the most important thing you need to know is that diamonds are all about the sparkle — also referred to as brilliance or fire in diamond industry lingo. Brilliance is influenced almost exclusively by the diamond’s cut (and only to a minimal degree by color and clarity).
The sparkle makes diamonds so unique, which is why you should buy them in the first place. So if you only take away one thing, let it be this: Do not buy a large stone with poor brilliance. Always, always maximize the sparkle and get the best diamond cut — worry about size later.
Next, it’s critical to learn about the Four C’s of diamonds. The four C’s stand for cut, color, clarity, and carat, and it is the globally recognized standard for evaluating diamond quality.
Engagement Ring Diamond Cut
First and foremost, the diamond’s cut refers to how the diamond reflects light and therefore sparkles (and not the diamond shape as it is commonly mistaken for). Diamonds are all about the sparkle, or brilliance, as the diamond industry calls it. Diamonds have a unique ability to radiate and emit light back, which is what makes them unique. Diamonds sparkle because of the stone and the precise and complicated manner the diamonds are cut.
So, what grade should you look for? Easy! Always go for the highest available diamond cut grade. Some graders use excellent as the highest grade, while others use ideal as the best diamond cut grade (notably IGI, which certifies most lab-grown diamonds). Don’t worry. The diamond certificate should state both the grade and the grading scale (if you can’t see the diamond certificate, buy somewhere else).
You can read much more in our detailed article about lab-grown diamond cuts.
Engagement Ring Diamond Color
The color refers to the absence of color (unless it’s a fancy colored diamond). With white diamonds, “color” means that the diamond has a yellowish or even brown tint which you want to avoid. More importantly, it affects light reflection and thus “fire” (which is what really matters). Color is graded between D (colorless and most expensive) to Z (most colored and least costly).
The acceptable standard color range usually falls within the D-J color grade – but it also depends on the setting of the diamond. Completely colorless diamonds are extremely rare, even with lab-grown diamonds. Even a little coloring won’t affect the sparkle if it’s not noticeable to the naked eye. Downgrading on color will save you a fortune. You can safely go with at most H, I, or even J in almost any case.
Also, keep in mind that the jewelry setting will impact color appearance. For example, if you choose a yellow gold or rose gold setting, you can downgrade more on color. Finally, the diamond shape also affects how noticeable the color is, and so does cut grade (brilliance tends to over-shine color, quite literally).
Learn more in our guide to lab-grown diamond colors.
Engagement Ring Diamond Clarity
Diamond clarity relates to inclusions or blemishes trapped in the stone or surface blemishes. Inclusions and blemishes are imperfections either trapped in the stone or on the surface (often inside the stone where the cutter can’t get to them). Diamonds are graded on a scale from Flawless (F) to I3 (the worst). Diamonds with fewer and less apparent inclusions are graded higher, and the price rises accordingly.
Most gem-quality diamonds fall between the VVS and SI grades (read more on grading).
A diamond doesn’t have to be flawless (FL) or even at the top of the clarity grade scale – as long as it is “eye-clean”. In many cases, a VS1 or VS2-grade gives you the best quality for your money, and even an S1 can be fine, potentially saving you a fortune or allowing you to upgrade.
That said, impurities that you cannot see with the naked eye can harm the diamond’s ability to reflect light and, therefore, its brilliance. So make sure to only buy through reputable sellers that offer high-quality magnified and 360-degree images.
We highly recommend James Allen, Ritani, With Clarity, and Clean Origin since they all have the required HD images or video available on their site and, importantly, have some of the lowest prices and best service (read all our reviews here).
Engagement Ring Diamond Carat
Carat (ct.) refers to the weight of a diamond rather than its size. One diamond carat is equal to 0.007 ounces or 0.2 grams. About the weight of a paper clip, according to GIA. While weight seems pretty straightforward, as with anything related to diamonds, it’s not.
Two diamonds with the same weight (and same shape) can appear different in size. The reason is that some diamonds are cut more deep, and some are more shallow. So just like an iceberg, a lot of the stone can be hidden below the surface.
That does not mean that you want the most shallow diamond, particularly not if you are looking for a brilliant diamond shape like the round. In that case, you want to aim for the optimal cut that reflects light best. Because even a smaller diamond can shine brighter if the cut is better!
So, again, you should always prioritize the diamond cut grade over anything else.
TIP: Get a stone that is just below a whole carat. The difference between a 0.96 carat diamond and a 1.0 carat diamond isn’t noticable to the human eye, but you can get it at a much better price!
2. Match engagement ring budget and expectations
Matching budget and expectations is a good initial step because it’s common not to have the right expectations compared to the budget. Luckily, with the introduction of lab-grown diamonds, prices have dropped significantly, and buyers can now acquire a much better quality diamond – and a much larger one for the same price.
That’s one reason we think you should buy a lab-grown diamond engagement ring.
And remember that a bigger diamond isn’t necessarily better. A lower carat diamond can appear bigger and more impressive if the cut, clarity, and color grades are higher.
Ask the gemologist about how color and clarity impact your cut of choice if in doubt. All recommended diamond sellers offer you to meet or chat with a trained, expert gemologist (for example, James Allen, With Clarity, Ritani, and Clean Origin).
3. Determine the engagement ring style
Determining your ring type is one of the most critical phases when purchasing an engagement ring. From the classic and timeless solitaire rings to vintage-style rings or perhaps a more eye-catching engagement ring? And what about different shapes and sizes?
There are many choices to make. Regardless if you’re shopping alone or you’re looking together, it can be daunting to even narrow it down to the one.
Look for ideas on Instagram and Pinterest and narrow down your favorites to a few shapes. Keep in mind that the ring should reflect the person who will be wearing it, and while it might feel nerve-racking to pick an engagement ring, rest assured that you know the person getting the gift better than anybody else.
To narrow down the various types of engagement rings, consider the following:
Consider the different types of metals
The choice of metal has a significant impact on the visual appearance of the engagement ring. For instance, even a colorless diamond set in a rose or yellow gold setting can take a slight hue and appear more yellow (usually 1 or 2 color shades lower).
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as some people appreciate the warm glow of the diamond and setting – but it’s something to consider when choosing the metal. And if you do pick a gold setting, then go ahead and drop the diamond color grade a few notches.
Keep ring and hand size in mind
The smaller the finger (and hand), the larger the diamond will appear. And speaking of hands, how do you find the ring size if you’re buying an engagement ring as a surprise? Luckily, our friends at James Allen have a lot of good advice. For instance, they advise that you sneakily borrow one of her rings (and make sure it’s from the correct ring finger!) and use their online or plastic engagement ring sizer to determine the ring’s size.
James Allen even offers to ship a free plastic engagement ring sizer, while With Clarity offers to create one or two replica rings to see what the engagement ring looks like finished – they’ll even send it to you for free! Both options can help you find the right size.
Determining the lab-grown engagement ring diamond shape
Popular choices include engagement rings with round, oval, emerald- and princess-cut diamonds. Not sure about the various diamond shapes? Then read our in-depth guide to lab-grown diamond shapes (with illustrations of all diamond shapes).
Below are some of the most popular shapes for engagement rings:
Round lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The round-cut diamond ring is a classic and one of the most popular diamond shapes for engagement rings. The round, brilliant shape maximizes light reflection and thus fire (also known as brilliance). However, the brilliant round shape tends to be more expensive due to higher demand.
Read more about brilliant diamond shapes and buying tips
Oval lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The brilliant oval shape has many of the same light-emitting capabilities as the round brilliant shape. This form is popular because an oval-shaped diamond ring lengthens the finger and gives the impression that the diamond is larger than it is. The main drawback of the oval shape is that it almost always exhibits some extent of the bow-tie effect.
Read more about oval diamond shapes and buying tips
Marquise shaped lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The shape is similar to the oval shape but with more pointed ends. This shape has a bit more of an edge to it. The marquise shape, like the oval, has excellent brilliance. The longer length creates a larger diamond surface and enhances the diamond’s appearance.
Also, similarly to the oval cut, an issue with the marquise is the presence of the bow-tie effect.
Read more about marquise shapes and buying tips.
Pear shaped lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The pear shape is the love-child of the round and marquise diamond shapes, and it is shaped just as you would expect. They are also sometimes called teardrop diamonds. The pear shape has an exceptional brilliance and appears larger than a brilliant-cut shape of the same carat weight. As with the oval and marquise, the pear shape is also prone to exhibit bow tie.
Read more about pear diamond shapes and buying tips.
Princess shaped lab-grown diamond engagement ring
This is the most common of the “fancy” forms and one of the most popular engagement rings. The reason for its popularity is the stunning brilliance and prominent appearance due to the diagonal lengths (despite the actual surface area measuring smaller than it looks). In addition, they’re often a lot less expensive than round-cut diamonds. However, the biggest drawback is that princess-cut diamonds are infamous for chipping corners because the prongs attach to the sharp edges.
Read more about princess-cut shapes and buying tips.
Cushion shaped lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The cushion cut dates back to the 18th century and is one of the oldest “fancy” cuts. It has a lot of brilliance, and the cushion shape helps hide inclusions well. It is also less expensive than the round brilliant shape, and it was one of the most popular shapes in the 19th century. It has recently surged in popularity because of its elegant and antique look. The biggest drawback is that the diamond’s visible surface area is smaller than a round brilliant (at the same carat weight).
Read more about cushion-cut diamond shapes and buying tips.
Asscher shaped lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The Asscher diamond shape has a distinct appearance reminiscent of the roaring twenties and art deco. It resembles emerald cuts, with the most noticeable difference being that they are square rather than rectangular. As with the cushion shape, the main disadvantage is that the surface size is smaller than that of the round brilliant and the smallest of the common fancy cuts (relative to its carat weight).
Read more about Asscher-cut diamond shapes and buying tips.
4. Choose a lab-grown diamond online retailer
Now that you have hopefully decided on an engagement ring, the next step is to find a reputable online retailer. The best places to shop for an engagement ring have HD images, high-quality videos, and all the information you need to carry out your due diligence. In addition, many of our preferred diamond retailers have gemologists on staff that will expertly guide you through your lab-grown diamond engagement ring purchase.
When choosing an online diamond retailer for your lab-grown diamond engagement ring, the following criteria are critical:
- Selection: The biggest (and best) diamond retailers have impressive selections that allow you to browse through hundreds and hundreds of lab-grown diamonds, so you can be sure that you find just the right stone for your diamond engagement ring.
- Imaging: It’s crucial that the diamond seller offers HD images and high-quality videos and all the information you need to carry out detailed inspections of any stone you’re considering.
- Certification: Never buy a diamond engagement ring without a diamond certificate! For instance, all diamonds purchased through James Allen, With Clarity, Clean Origin, and Ritani are graded and certified by IGI, AGS, and GIA, the highest regarded diamond labs.
- Customer service: Excellent service and expert support is crucial when buying a diamond ring online. That’s why many of our favorite retailers have gemologists on staff that will help you with any questions to ensure that you find the perfect diamond and engagement ring.
- Return policies: Always choose a retailer that offers a good return polity. For instance, Clean Origin offers a market-leading generous 100-day completely free return policy. Note that your return options may be limited if you decide to customize an engagement ring.
The Top 5 Best Places to Buy a lab-grown diamond engagement ring
When you’re ready to make your purchase, make sure to check out our easy-to-follow buying guide and recommendations for the top 5 best places to buy lab-grown diamond engagement rings online.
Not only are lab-created diamonds 30-40% cheaper than the equivalent mined diamonds, but you can also save even more during sales on lab-grown diamonds.
We keep a close eye on the market and get the inside scoop on the best diamond prices and deals. Sign up for our newsletter if you want to be alerted of any upcoming sales or discounts.
Note that these ratings are specifically for lab-grown diamond engagement rings. Read our guide to find the overall best places to buy lab-grown diamonds.
The best for engagement rings
With Clarity is best known for their Home Preview for engagement ring customizations and the ability to order a preview box where you select two free 3D-printed rings and customize them for metal, shape, and carat. This is a really neat feature that allows you to have a thorough look and feel at the ring(s) before you commit to buying the ring.
- Free Home Preview replica engagement rings
- Large selection of lab-grown diamond engagement rings
- Great prices and customer service
The best buying experience
James Allen is the perfect pick if you want expert guidance throughout the engagement ring buying process. James Allen’s superior customer service will help you make sure you end up with the perfect lab-grown diamond engagement ring at the lowest possible price. Keep reading below to learn more in the detailed review of James Allen and more about how to buy a lab-grown diamond engagement ring at James Allen.
- Outstanding customer service
- Independent expert gemologist guidance
- Excellent prices and high-quality diamond engagement rings
The lowest prices
Clean Origin is the best pick if you want the lowest possible price while still getting excellent customer support and guidance. Clean Origin are experts in lab-grown diamond engagement rings and will make sure you get the most value for your money. Read more in the detailed review of Clean Origin.
- The lowest prices on lab-grown diamond engagement rings
- Extremely helpful and honest customer service
- 100-day risk-free returns
The best quality and build your own
Ritani not only has some of the absolute best prices on lab-grown diamond engagement rings. They also have the biggest inventory of diamonds and the best options for building your own lab-grown diamond engagement rings. Learn more in the detailed Ritani review.
- The largest inventory of lab-grown diamonds
- The lowest and extremely transparent prices
- Best options for building your own lab-grown diamond engagement ring
The best for the environment
Brilliant Earth is the best choice if environmental and ethical impact is important for you. They offer sustainably graded lab-grown diamonds, offset carbon emissions, and use recycled materials and packaging. And at very competitive prices! Learn more in the detailed review of Brilliant Earth.
- Sustainably graded diamonds and climate-neutral
- Recycled metals and packaging materials
- Very competitive prices on lab-grown diamond engagement rings