Loose vs. Mounted Diamond – Here’s What to Know

When you’re thinking about buying a diamond engagement ring, there is one consideration that most people tend to overlook.

Should you purchase a loose diamond or an already mounted diamond?

JamesAllen Engagement Rings

To clarify, a loose diamond is where you buy a diamond separately and then have it mounted in a setting of your choice. A mounted diamond is ready-made, where the diamond has already been fixed to a setting.

Both these options have pros and cons so let’s break this down and see what the main considerations are.

Pros and Cons of Mounted Diamonds

Engagement ring with mounted diamond
A diamond already mounted in its setting. See more here.

Clearly, the main benefit of a mounted diamond is convenience and ease. It’s a grab-and-go situation where you simply have to purchase the ring based on whether or not you like it.

Buying a mounted diamond is faster, more convenient and does not require as much effort and thought as purchasing a loose diamond.

The main disadvantage of buying an already mounted stone is that you will not be able to properly assess the quality of the diamond. When a diamond is mounted, it can be set in such a way as to hide any flaws or inclusions that may be present. For example, if a diamond has flaws along the edges, mounting it in a halo or bezel setting can hide these flaws from view. The diamond remains imperfect and may even have compromised durability.

Floating double-halo engagement ring white gold
A ready-made engagement ring by Blue Nile. See more here.

Another issue with mounted diamonds is that the setting can often make it difficult to properly assess the stone’s clarity and color. For example, the color of the setting can impact the way a stone looks.

A yellow gold setting can minimize the yellow tints of a diamond, while a white gold mounting can enhance the diamond’s whiteness and make it appear brilliant. In other words, the setting may make the diamond appear better than it is. This can result in an overpriced diamond.

Pros and Cons of Loose Diamonds

Whiteflash round shape diamond
Buying loose diamonds online. See more here.

Without doubt, purchasing a loose diamond takes a lot more work. First you have to buy the diamond and next you have to have it set in a compatible setting. However, buying a loose diamond is often a safer purchase. Here’s why:

1. You Can Evaluate Your Diamond

The main benefit of buying a loose diamond is that you are able to inspect the entire diamond before you buy. If there are inclusions or imperfections, you can see them and decide whether or not the diamond is worth purchasing. There are no hidden surprises.

You will also able to see the light performance of the diamond without any hindrance. Certain mountings such as bezel and flush settings can impede light performance and make it difficult to see how the diamond interacts with light or how brightly it sparkles. When you purchase a loose diamond, you will not have this issue and you can assess the 4Cs of the diamond much more easily.

2. Gives You More Choice

When you decide to purchase your diamond and your ring setting separately, you have a lot more choice than if you were to simply choose a ready-made ring. Buying a pre-set ring means being limited to the choices on offer.

Now, you can access hundreds and thousands of diamonds and then choose a setting that complements your diamond. This way, you can keep to your budget while also finding exactly what you want.

How to Choose Your Loose Diamond

There are many aspects to consider when choosing your loose diamond. It’s important to have a clear understanding of the 4C’s and other technical features of a diamond such as fluorescence, polish and symmetry. Read our comprehensive guide on a step by step guide on choosing a diamond for more information.

If you decide to purchase your diamond online, choose a reputable and licensed vendor. Ensure that you have access to HD photos and videos of the diamond (and not simply that of a stock photo), and if possible, other data such as ASET images and grading report.

The grading report is very important, so ensure that you ask for this. Most vendors will provide one with the diamond. The report would ideally be from an independent and reputable lab such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The report is your guarantee that the diamond is what the retailer claims it to be.

Round shape loose diamond from James Allen
See more loose diamonds on James Allen.

For example, when you check a loose diamond on James Allen, you will see that the diamond certificate, images depicting cut proportions and magnification tools to see the diamond clearly have all been provided. This gives you sufficient data to make an informed decision prior to purchase.

How to Propose with a Loose Diamond

How to choose engagement ring

If you have decided to go with a loose diamond, you might be wondering what step to take next before your proposal. Proposing with a loose diamond just doesn’t cut it and she’s probably going to be expecting the perfect ring, right? Not necessarily so.

Here are some ways to propose if you’ve chosen to go the loose diamond route:

Complete the Ring

First, you could have the diamond mounted in a setting that you pick out. If you want to keep it as a surprise and you want to have the completed ring at the time of proposal, then choose a setting that you think she will love and have it made ahead of time. This is the traditional method of proposing and there’s little room for further changes to the ring.

Create a Mock-Up

However, perhaps you feel that you both should be involved in the process of creating the engagement ring. In this case, you can propose with a mock-up of the ring you want to have created. After the proposal, you can decide how you feel about the design and complete the journey together.

You can have the diamond set into a temporary and affordable setting for this option. This way you get to surprise her and have all the romance of the proposal, while still sharing the creative process.

Propose with the Loose Diamond

Or why not simply propose with the loose diamond? Lots of people are considering this option now as it allows both partners to share in the process of acquiring the perfect engagement ring. One picks the diamond and the other can have their say with the setting.

For this, ensure that you have a beautiful box to present the loose diamond in. Some retailers will provide you with a presentation box on request. There is a high chance that your loved one will actually appreciate this gesture as a sign that you want to share the process and create the ring together. This also takes a lot of the pressure off of you, especially if your loved one has particular tastes and you aren’t sure how to find the ideal ring for them!

Loose Diamonds or Mounted: Which Should I Choose?

Now that we’ve had a look at the pros and cons of both loose diamonds and mounted diamonds, it comes down to this:

Which should you choose?

This depends on your particular circumstances, including amount of time and budget. If you are short for time and need a ring quickly, buying a pre-set ring may be your best option. While your options may be somewhat limited, you will still be able to get a fantastic ring. But the most important aspect is to purchase from a vendor that you can trust.

If you have a bit more time on your hands and you want a high-quality diamond, then choose a loose diamond. You’ll know that the diamond you’ve purchased is exactly what you wanted and you will have lots of options with the setting.

Looking for loose diamonds? Check out James Allen’s impressive range of quality diamonds, complete with 360 degree video and HD images. Alternatively, check out which online stores we recommend when it comes to purchasing your diamonds and diamond jewelry online.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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