15 years ago, buying a diamond or engagement ring in the UK was a very different prospect.
On the High St, you could find low quality diamonds at low prices.
At the top end of town, designer jewelers like Tiffany sold high quality rings at pumped-up prices. Someone has to pay for the beautiful stores, glasses of bubbly and expensive ad campaigns, after all.
And then there were the specialised diamond shops, often found in clusters like Hatton Garden or Birmingham’s Diamond District. These had a reputation for baffling buyers with terminology and sending them off with a very average diamond that they had been told was top quality.
It was into this environment that 77 Diamonds launched in 2004:
Their aim was to leverage the power of the internet to bring greater choice, better prices and more transparency to diamond buyers in the UK.
And while there were already businesses with similar models operating in the US, this was a new concept over here.
And to be honest, even 15 years later there still isn’t anyone in the UK who is doing it as well.
Should you buy from 77 Diamonds?
Is buying a diamond from 77 diamonds a perfect experience?
Not currently – there are a few quirks that I’ll guide you through here.
But is it the best place to review the widest selection of diamonds and get genuinely fair prices from a UK based company?
I think it is.
So, this is both a review of 77 Diamonds and a buying guide. I’m going to show you how you can make sure you get the most beautiful diamond and the most value with your purchase. We’re going to look at:
- Ring selection
- Diamond selection
- Buying guide
77 Diamonds Ring Selection
When buying a diamond ring, I always recommend three steps, in this order:
- Decide your budget. Write it down. Look at it. This is important
- Find the setting style you are looking for. Note down the price.
- The difference between the two is the budget for your diamond.
This may sound extremely obvious, but many people get so caught up in the diamond purchase that they forget about the setting cost until it is too late.
77 Diamonds has a wide section of settings to cater to any budget.
Importantly, they have many variations of individual styles. For example, if you’re looking for a classic solitaire setting, there’s a wide variety of settings to choose from:
Solitaire settings start from £250, which is exceptionally competitive. Choosing a retailer that offers reasonably priced settings means that there’s more of your budget available to spend on the diamond.
And if you are looking for something more ornate, they also offer a good selection of other ring styles too:
Many other jewellers will have just a couple of variations of the halo, which means that you’re stuck with a limited selection. But a wider variety of settings means that makes it’s easier to find the one that fits your preferences.
For instance, you may want a halo setting but don’t have a lot of room in your budget to include a lot of extra ‘melee’ diamonds, in which case the ‘Rossetti’ setting with 0.13 carats set into the halo is a choice that could work for you.
Or, if you want to use a halo to increase the visual impressiveness and total carat weight of your ring, the ‘Empress’ includes a full 1/2 carat of melee diamonds. Having this choice is a big benefit.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a shape other than a round diamond, then 77 Diamonds offer a great selection for you too. For example, they offer five variations for pear diamond halo rings:
This is not common, and again means that you should be able to find what you’re looking for.
A wide selection of setting styles plus fair prices is a good place to start your ring hunt.
77 Diamonds – Diamond Selection
77Diamonds claim to have the largest selection of diamonds available in the world. With reportedly 500,00 available to choose from at any one time, this seems likely.
In fact, they claim to have access to 80% of the diamonds that are available in the entire world, which is pretty incredible.
If we look at just round brilliant diamonds, they have over 350,000 to choose from:
With so many diamonds available, it’s therefore very likely that you’ll be able to find the one that’s right for you.
For me, the ability to choose from this huge number of diamonds is the biggest advantage of shopping online, rather than at a bricks and mortar retailer. You can take their time to filter through the inventory and find the exact combination of the 4Cs that is right for you, rather than being sold to.
Diamond certificate choice
One thing to know though is that this huge selection of diamonds includes a small proportion of stones that have been graded by labs that I would recommend avoiding.
Some labs are less strict when grading diamonds, which means that you may not be getting the quality of diamond that you think you are. I go into more detail on this in the ‘buying guide’ further down, this page, but the bottom line is that when searching for your diamond, I recommend that you only consider diamonds with a GIA or AGS:
Even once you have filtered out the other grading labs, there are still over 300,000 diamonds available to choose from for round brilliant diamonds alone, so there is still a huge selection to choose from:
77 Diamonds Pricing and Value
Pricing for both ring settings and diamonds is extremely competitive with other retailers, and 77Diamonds have a page on their site which details just how much less expensive they are than other retailers and which details their price guarantee.
77 Diamonds claims to be ‘76% cheaper than the High Street’. To be honest, this claim is difficult to substantiate without knowing exactly what they are comparing to.
But comparing a Tiffany ring to 77 Diamonds, the difference in value is pretty clear. Looking at specs that I would be happy to recommend:
- Colour: H
- Cut: Excellent
- Clarity: VS2
- Carat: 1.02
- Setting: 6 prong, platinum
Here’s what this ring would cost at Tiffany:
£12,700. Remember that number.
And here’s what an equivalent ring would cost at 77 Diamonds:
At £12,700, the Tiffany ring is £5,842.32 more expensive that 77Diamonds.
That’s a huge 85% mark-up.
For that mark-up you do get a lovely purchasing experience at Tiffany, including a glass of champers while you talk to a diamond consultant. But I spoke to Tobias, CEO of 77 Diamonds, and he said that if you come to their showroom in Mayfair, he will also pour you a glass of bubbly but won’t charge you nearly £6k for the privilege.
77 Diamonds Price Guarantee
So 77 Diamonds prices are good, but they’ll also match a competitor’s price if you find an equivalently specced diamond for cheaper.
Not only will they match a competitor’s price, they will actually beat it by 1%, up to a maximum of £50.
No VAT shown
One thing to note about the prices you see on the 77 Diamonds side is that they don’t include VAT:
This is a significant failing on their website and something that would make the experience of using the site much easier if it was changed.
It can make it more difficult than it needs to be to find the biggest and best diamond for your budget as you are constantly trying to work out if if actually fits into your budget once VAT has been added.
77 Diamonds Service
Buying a diamond ring is a big purchase, both financially and emotionally, so it’s important to find a retailer that has:
- Exceptional reviews to give you peace of mind over your purchase
- Excellent after-sales service
77 Diamonds has both of those covered with an average 4.9 / 5 rating over the last 12 months:
Important after-sales service offered by 77 Diamonds includes:
All items are covered against manufacturing problems or issues forever. This is important for settings like a halo or a pave band, where there are lots of tiny ‘melee’ diamonds which can easily fall out if the workmanship isn’t top drawer.
While this isn’t necessarily likely to happen, it’s good to know that if it does as a result of a manufacturing issue, 77 Diamonds will stand behind it.
30 Day Returns Policy
If you’re not satisfied for any reason, 77 Diamonds will refund your money no questions asked. This is definitely not something that all jewellers will offer, many of whom make it very difficult to get your money back.
This is a big one. If you’re buying an engagement ring as a surprise, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the ring size spot on, so it’s very likely that you will have to take them up on this offer.
Tip: go slightly bigger than you think to make sure that you can actually fit it onto the finger at the time of the proposal to take the all-important selfie!
77 Diamonds Review Score
Unless you are looking for something super specific, it’s very likely that you will be able to find your engagement ring through them at the best possible price.
The quirks of their website does make the buying process a little bit more difficult than it necessarily needs to be, but the section below this is a buying guide to help you navigate these quirks successfully.
77 Diamonds buying guide
So far, we’ve looked at the good and the bad of buying a ring at 77 Diamonds. In this section, I’m going to talk you through four tips to make sure you get the most beautiful diamond and the most value.
Tip 1: Ensure that you include ‘cut’ in your search
Of the 4 Cs, the one that is most important to ensuring that your diamond actually sparkles is ‘cut’.
Cut determines the proportions of the stone, which determines how much light is reflected from the inside facets back through the top of the diamond as sparkle.
A diamond with a poor cut grade will not sparkle well.
But 77Diamonds don’t currently include ‘cut’ in their standard search options on the website:
However, it is vitally important that you do.
When searching for a stone on 77 Diamonds, make sure to click ‘advanced’ on the search options.
From there, I would recommend that you only consider diamonds graded ‘Excellent’ to ensure that it sparkles as much as possible.
Getting a diamond that sparkles beautifully isn’t quite as simple as that unfortunately as there are many minor factors that make a significant difference.
If you’d like a personal recommendation, then just get in touch and I’ll get straight back to you.
Tip 2: Choose your certificates carefully
Diamond certification is incredibly important to guarantee that you are getting what you are paying for. They are issued by laboratories who assess the diamond on the 4Cs and a host of other aspects too.
Ideally, all labs would grade diamonds equally, so that if you were looking at a 1 carat, G colour, VS2 clarity, Excellent cut diamond anywhere in the world, you would be able to compare it to another and be able to rely on the grading to compare them.
The issue with some certificates is that the labs that issue them are less rigorous than others when assessing a diamond. So a diamond that receives a mediocre grade from a strict lab, may be judged to be excellent by another. This inconsistency can make it difficult to compare diamonds that have been graded by different labs.
To test the labs, diamond industry body ‘Rapaport’ conducted a test where it sent the exact same stone to six diamond grading labs to see how they graded it.
The table below shows the results from one of the tests:
If you compare the results you can see that GIA graded the diamond more strictly than all of the other grading labs.
And the difference between some of them is pretty shocking – particularly GIA and EGL Israel. While GIA graded the diamond G for colour (fourth on the scale), EGL Israel awarded the same diamond the very top grade – D.
Something to know is that the diamond industry knows that EGL grading reports are overly-generous. As a result of this, diamonds with these grading reports are priced significantly lower. Even allowing for this, I would recommend avoiding any diamond that has been graded by any variety of EGL.
My two recommended grading labs are GIA (which was consistently the most rigorous in the test) and AGS (which wasn’t tested here, but is at least as rigorous as GIA and is also available from 77 Diamonds):
Tip 3: Make sure you calculate your budget correctly
When you’re buying your diamond, I recommend that you set your budget, then write it down and leave it somewhere visible next to your computer when you search.
Not having your budget set in stone can mean that you are susceptible to price creep when you’re searching for your ring.
We’ve already mentioned that 77 Diamonds don’t currently include VAT in their search tool. This means you need to include your budget excluding VAT when searching.
So, if your budget for a diamond is £5,000, then you would need to enter this price, less 20% into the search tool.
The 77 Diamonds site only allows you to search in £500 increments, so you may need to just get as close as you can:
Even when you expand this view, there’s still no price including VAT visible until you click the ‘add to item’ button.
This is a bit fiddly, but not insurmountable.
The one time you can see the price is if you have a reasonable big screen and can open up the window pretty wide, in which case a footer pops up at the bottom of the screen which features the price including VAT.
When viewed on most laptops, this only appears when the browser window is stretched wide or ‘full-screen’ mode is engaged.
Tip 4: Make sure you get the best balance of beauty and value
Buying a diamond can be confusing, and it can be difficult to know what really makes a difference to the beauty of your diamond, and which attributes you can cut back on.
If you’re looking for a round brilliant diamond, I recommend you use the search parameters below to get a stone that looks exceptional, without paying extra for ‘quality’ that can’t be seen.
Even when doing so, there can be a large number of diamonds to choose from:
Knowing which of these is the right one for you can be tricky, which is why I offer a free service to guide you through your purchase.