Jewelry Guide

A quick guide to buying diamond stud earrings (updated)

A pair of diamond stud

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Diamond stud earrings are easily one of the best pieces of investment jewelry to own; they are simple, elegant and you can wear them to most occasions. When choosing to buy a pair you’re shopping for a future heirloom, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for.

Arguably a pair of diamond earrings is worth spending more money on than, say, a wedding dress, as you can wear them every day if you wanted to and they will never go out of style. In this comprehensive guide to buying your best diamond stud earrings, we outline everything you need to know before you make that purchase. 

Read our article on best places to buy diamond stud

How to Choose Diamond Earrings – Narrowing Down the Choice

How to choose diamond earrings can be difficult with all the options available out there. The first step is working out what’s important to you.

  • Do you want a pair of earrings from an iconic brand such as Harry Winston?
  • Are you working on a budget?
  • Is there a design you’re already head over heels about?
  • What metal will these earrings be made from?
  • Would you wear a pair of vintage diamond earrings?

Answering these questions will help narrow down the myriad of choice that is out there when choosing your earrings.

What is a Good Size for Diamond Stud Earrings?

Is bigger always better? The ideal size for diamond stud earrings comes down to two key points; personal taste and cost. Cost is a careful balancing game between the 4Cs whereas personal taste is all about the color, cut and setting. Some people want to go big or go home whilst others seek out a more minimalist pared-back style.

classic diamond stud

The quintessential diamond stud earrings. See them here.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re looking online at diamond stud earrings then the total carat weight listed will be the combined carat for both studs together, not each stud. If you want a pair of 1 carat diamond earrings this actually means having two 0.5 carat earrings.

Bear in mind that as the diamond carat increases, the flaws in the stone will become more noticeable as well, often requiring you to choose higher quality diamonds.

The size of the diamond can be enhanced by the earring setting and style. Choose a setting such as halo, cluster or pavé which are made with lots of small diamonds. Small diamonds are always cheaper than a single diamond of the same carat weight. So for example, if you have three diamonds of .33 carats and a single 1 carat diamond, the three smaller diamonds will be much more affordable than the single stone.

An example of halo pave setting diamond studs. Find it here

Triple diamonds used to create unique and affordable diamond studs. See them here.

This is a smart way to minimize the cost while still having fabulous looking diamond studs.

Round diamonds for stud earrings

Source

Some sites, like James Allen, allow you to build your own diamond studs, giving you control over the diamonds you choose for it by playing with the combinations of the 4Cs. This lets you keep to your budget while still choosing a great pair of diamonds.

The Best Clarity for Diamond Stud Earrings

Compared to buying a diamond ring, color and clarity are less important when you are looking at diamond stud earrings. Unlike buying a diamond ring, the best thing about buying diamond earrings is that people are unlikely to stick their faces up close to have a look at the stone. What’s more, stud earrings can also be obscured by long hair.

Clarity is a measure of the inclusions inside the diamond. Generally, the higher the clarity grade the clearer the diamond but it’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily translate to how sparkly a diamond is.

IF and SI2 clarity diamonds

Which of these pairs of diamonds has an Internally Flawless clarity grading and which has a Slightly Included 2 grading? Would you have guessed that the second pair is SI2 and $2790 lower in price than the first pair?

Diamonds are usually graded with a letter to denote the clarity grade which ranges from FL (Flawless) to VS2 (Very Slightly Included) all the way to I2 (Included). The best clarity for diamond stud earrings is probably an SI1, Slightly Included, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see these inclusions with the naked eye. To keep costs low, skip out on anything with a higher clarity, such as a VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly Included) as these diamond stud earrings will be a lot more expensive and the price tag is probably the only visible difference you will see.

Choosing Color for Your Diamond Studs

The color of diamond stud earrings can be looked at in two ways. The first is the colorless scale which is highly applicable for colorless diamonds. This refers to the letter grade that diamonds are given and indicates any hues in the stone.

Diamond color chart from perfect colorless to noticeable color

At the top of the scale are true colorless diamonds which are graded with a D and at the bottom of the scale are Z diamonds which may have yellow or gray hues. Like the best clarity for diamond stud earrings, it’s wise not to buy a diamond at the top of the color scale. We don’t often view earrings up close, and it’s unlikely someone else will be able to tell if your diamond earrings are an E or a G. H-J color grade would be the best for diamond earrings as this is just as good and you will be saving money on your purchase. You’ll then be able to put this saving towards a more expensive metal or carat weight.

Compare this pair of H color diamonds with this pair of D color diamonds. Although they look nearly identical and share similar features, the H grade diamonds are much more affordable.

Color can also refer to the actual color of the diamond. Fancy colored diamonds have seen a massive rise in popularity which has given the jewelry world a bit of a shakeup. No longer are you limited to just white diamonds; champagne, brown, pink white and yellow are all popular colors for diamond stud earrings. Opting for a colored stone is a perfect way to add some personality to your studs.

Bezel set blue sapphire earrings. Find them here.

Ruby studs with pave halo setting. See them here.

It’s best not to get too caught up in the grading of diamonds. At the end of the day, these gradings are just to confirm the properties of the diamonds you are buying. What’s most important is to check the diamond studs carefully and see if they have any visible inclusions or unsightly tints that take away from the beauty of the stones.

The Best Diamond Stud Cuts and Settings

Classic diamond cuts such as princess and round solitaire studs are the styles you will most commonly encounter. As these styles are so popular it will be easy to find this at all the best places to buy diamond stud earrings.

However, you can find diamond studs in all the popular diamond shapes although these are less commonly used as cuts for stud earrings. Square and circular cuts are symmetrical from every position and make it a lot easier for a jeweler to match two similar stones. On the other hand, cuts such as heart, oval, pear or marquise settings can only be worn in one position, leaving you wondering if the earring has rotated to an unbecoming position. It is also more difficult for jewelers to source stones with identical cuts as they are less in demand and can be more difficult to cut.

When choosing the setting for your diamond studs, you have to consider safety for the stone, the appearance of the diamond and of course, your personal taste. The setting is the part of the studs that holds the diamond.

Here are two popular settings for diamond studs:

Prong Settings

Prong settings contain about 3 to 4 claws that hold the diamond in place. While prong settings can make the diamond appear bigger as there is no metal encasing the stone, the stone is also more liable to falling out or being damaged.

Bezel Settings

In contrast to a prong setting is a bezel setting where a metal band completely or partially surrounds the diamond, holding the diamond safely in place. If safety is a priority, a bezel setting will be ideal for you.

Bezel settings can look more traditional and are often seen on vintage diamond earrings as they are a more secure way of setting a diamond. One drawback with bezel settings is that it hinders the visibility of the diamond and can make it appear smaller.

Apart from these, there are setting shapes to consider as well. These are often called setting styles.

Diamond Stud Setting Styles

There are several types of diamond stud earring styles that offer varying pros and cons for the wearer.

Martini-Style Settings

See them here

These are conical in shape, and has a very minimalist appearance. A benefit is that as the diamond is set close to the setting, the earring will not sag. The pointed end of the cone, however, can push into the ear-hole, which some people find uncomfortable and also stretches the ear-hole.

Basket Style Setting

See them here

This setting holds the diamond in a basket, which has a flat bottom. The setting does appear larger but the earring does not dig into the ear-hole, which can make it more comfortable for some.

Crown Style Settings

See them here

A crown style diamond stud setting is very solid and secure, as it has a lot of metal holding the diamond (although not as completely as a bezel). As you can see from the image, the setting is substantial which can cause the stud to sag against the ear. However, it provides more protection for the diamond.

In recent years, diamond settings have become much more stylized and modern. Designers like Alison Lou have taken the jewelry world by storm offering cool diamond stud earrings in settings shaped as hearts, letters or even emojis! These settings are fabulous if you have multiple ear piercings as they look stunning when layered.

Check the Backing of Your Diamond Studs

This is an aspect that most people tend to forget when it comes to buying diamond stud earrings. What type of earrings backs should you opt for and which provides the most amount of safety for your studs? The last thing you want is for your carefully chosen and expensive studs to fall out of your ears and get lost!

There are three main types of earring backs and posts, varying in security and price. These are:

Screw Back Earring Post and Nut

Diamond stud with screw back

This is a very secure method to hold your earring in place, with the earring post and nut working as a regular nut and bolt. There is little chance that the nut will slide out or loosen up over time, making it a great choice. It is important, however, to carefully thread the nuts through the grooved posts and to ensure that you don’t just push the nut up the post as this can damage the threads. One main con is that putting on and taking off the nut takes longer than the other methods outlined here.

La Poussette Locking Earring Backs

This is the most secure of the three types mentioned here. While it contains smooth posts and a nut, similar to the Friction Back, it has a small locking mechanism that securely holds the nut in place. All you have to do is slide the nut as you normally would, and once in place, slide it back a little until you hear the lock ‘click’. These are rarer to find and can be costly.

Friction Earring Posts and Nuts

Diamond stud with friction backs

Friction backs are also known as Butterfly backs. These are the most common type of earring backs and features a smooth post with a small notch near the end. The earring nut is held by this notch and slides easily up and down the post when you want to put on or take off the earrings. One main downside is that over time, the nut can get loose through wear and the tension that holds the nut firmly behind the ear can get lost.

Some vendors charge for the earring backs separately and don’t include these with the diamonds. Check if this is the case before you purchase your studs. Also, note that no earring backing is a 100% secure, and there is always some risk of the backing falling out.

The Best Diamond Stud Metals

The world’s your oyster when you come to choosing what metal you want your diamond studs to be made from. Ideally, precious metals are best as they are an investment. Gold and platinum are two of the best choices, with 14K and 18K generally considered the best gold options.

Opting for an affordable metal is a savvy idea if you want to spend more money on the diamond carat or clarity. Most jewelers work with affordable metals such as 9K gold and sterling silver. There are also newer industrial metals that are great for jewelry and are also highly affordable, such as titanium.

If you’re treasure hunting for something that looks really unique, choose a different colored metal such as rose or black gold. These make interesting and unusual colored settings for showstopper stud earrings and a bold statement.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to go for. Think about what metal suits your skin tone and if you’re matching these to another piece of jewelry you own. Mixing and matching metal colors can look really striking (for example, black gold diamond earrings with a white gold necklace). For a more classic look, try wearing yellow or rose gold exclusively.

What if I Don’t Have the Budget for Diamond Stud Earrings?

A great alternative to natural diamond stud earrings is to opt for a pair of synthetic diamonds. Note that synthetic diamonds are not fake diamonds. They’re only different in the way they are formed, i.e. in a lab as opposed to forming in nature over millions of years.

The other option is to go for a different stone, such as a moissanite, that looks like a diamond but does not come with the steep price tag.

Moissanite stud

Check out this pair of moissanite stud earrings. They sparkle as beautifully as a diamond and it is impossible to tell them apart simply by looking at them. Note that moissanite is more than just a diamond look-alike. It is a gemstone in its own right.

For moissanite studs, we recommend Charles and Colvard as the experts in the moissanite field. Read our review on Charles and Colvard here.

What to Look For When Buying Diamond Earrings

If you’re shopping online make sure that you see a photo of the earrings worn on a model. Model shots give a good indication of size as often stand-alone photos can make jewelry look much bigger than you think.

GIrl wearing diamond stud

Some sites offer images of the studs on a model. See it here

As well as seeing the jewelry on a person it’s important to see the back of the earrings. Surprisingly this is one of the most overlooked factors when buying diamond stud earrings. It’s easy to forget about which fastenings earrings use when you’re focused on looking at the front. Most jewellers will make the earring fastening in the same metal as the earring but it’s always worth checking this as well. All good jewelers and retailers should be proud to showcase the back of the earrings as well as the front.

Another important thing to look for when buying diamond earrings is, are they sustainable? Sometimes sustainability is not always everyone’s priority but for others, it is a make or break decision. Not only ethically sourced diamonds, but you can also look for sustainable metals. Brilliant Earth is a company that puts sustainability at the forefront when it comes to their jewelry.

 

Before you buy, it’s important to consider the technical aspects of the purchase. Is there any aftercare included in the cost? Guarantees, insurance and warranties may not be the most exciting part of the process, but a more expensive pair of diamond earrings could save you a lot of money if there is a comprehensive aftercare service. It would also be worth knowing the returns policy, just in case. You would hope this would never be a problem, but some retailers have specific requirements regarding the returns for earrings due to hygiene reasons.

The Best Place to Buy Diamond Stud Earrings

 

Never before have there been so many places to shop for jewelry. Online shopping is a great way to compare costs and styles from all over the world, but when you’ve been scrolling online for hour’s decision fatigue can often take over. Shopping in physical stores gives you a more tactile and personal experience but can’t offer the diversity of choice you’ll find online.

 

The best approach, in my opinion, when buying diamond earrings is to use a mixture of online and offline shopping. You can check out what you like at the physical store – try them on and get a feel for it. Then take your search online, as you will know what you are looking for. This will enable you to take advantage of the competitive prices available online.

 

  •  James Allen offers very competitive prices without needing to compromise on the quality. They provide high quality videos and images of their diamonds, so you get to really inspect the item properly. You can also design your own ring, as they have over 200,000 diamond pairs to choose from to create your own unique diamond studs. They also offer excellent customer service and assistance in choosing your item, as well as very good warranty and returns policies.
  • Blue Nile also offers you a large inventory and a stunning range of diamond studs. They have very competitive prices and good service. They have images and videos for almost all their inventory and great after sales service as well.
  • If you’re looking for colored diamond studs, you cannot go wrong with Leibish. They are the best when it comes to colored diamonds and have great variety and exceptional quality. Their customer service is great and they provide assistance throughout the process of purchasing your jewelry.
  • Amazon offers you a stunning array of diamond stud earrings in a range of prices. If you want the look but not the cost, Amazon also offers you great diamond substitute options such as cubic zirconia or zircon studs. Due to the overwhelming amount of choice, it’s important to have a clear idea of the type of studs you are after to help you pick out the best pair. Make sure that you check the after sales policies of the vendor you buy from. Conversely, Amazon is also a great place to get an idea of the type of studs you are after.

If you would like more in-depth information about these vendors, check out our reviews on James Allen, Blue Nile and Leibish. For an overall comparison, check out Pros and Cons of Engagement Ring Retailers.

Alternatively, for a truly unique experience when buying diamond jewelry, you can visit jewelry shopping districts such as the famous Diamond District on 47th Street in Manhattan, NYC or the Jewelry District in Los Angeles. At a specialist area, you can get all your questions answered and see the jewelry in person. If you’re lucky enough, there may be some jewelry trade shows in your area. At major trade shows (like the world-class JCK in Las Vegas) you can see a lot of jewelry in one day and often buy something at slightly better prices.

 

Ready to browse? Check out James Allen’s range of diamond stud earrings or Amazon’s impressive array of high quality diamond stud earrings.

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