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Diamond Stud Earrings – How to Buy (Actionable Tips)

Diamond stud sitting on a flower

There are certain classic staples that every woman can treat herself to – a little black dress, a fancy pair of heels and of course diamonds. Diamond stud earrings are versatile, wearable and with a bit of guidance, can be one of the most affordable luxurious investments that you can make.

Here’s how to buy the perfect pair of diamond stud earrings that you’ll love for a lifetime.

The Takeaway

If you’re after a quick summary, here’s the takeaway from this article:

  • Diamond studs are versatile and can be used for a range of occasions, including daily wear. They’re a worthwhile investment.
  • Choose a pair of earrings in the H-J color range with I1 clarity for best value.
  • Cut is the most important of the 4Cs, so look for sparkle when searching.
  • Choose the setting style and backing of the earrings for comfort and safety.
  • Lab-created diamonds are an excellent, sustainable alternative to mined diamonds.
  • Gemstone stud earrings are perfect for an affordable, colorful option.
  • Be prepared to spend at least $500 for a pair of quality diamond earrings.
  • Buy your earrings from a reputable site with high quality images and videos of the actual pair of studs.

Are Diamond Stud Earrings Worth It?

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. Diamond stud earrings are very simple in appearance, which is why they are so often replicated using cheaper stones such as cubic zirconia or crystal. You might be wondering why you should spend the extra money on a pair of diamond studs when you can get the same look for a fraction of the price.

Angelina Jolie wearing diamond stud

Angelina Jolie sports a pair of diamond stud earrings with a matching diamond pendant

Natalie Portman wearing diamond studs

Diamond stud earrings give Natalie Portman a minimalist yet classic red carpet look

Well, aside from treating yourself to something of such quality, diamond stud earrings are also arguably the best value for money pieces of diamond jewelry that you can own. Their simplicity means that they are the perfect touch for everyday elegance, but their sophisticated stature makes them worthy of finishing even the most formal ensembles.

Gifting yourself or someone else a pair of diamond studs is a great idea as they are as practical as they are precious. They can go from casual to red carpet ready in an instant.

Before You Buy Your Diamond Studs

Girl putting on diamond studs

There are many technical aspects to buying diamonds that we will cover, but as a start, it’s always a good idea to assess your own jewelry box first. You’ll want to choose a pair of diamond studs that are wearable – this means that you should take the rest of your jewelry into account when thinking about design.

A few things to look for are the dominant metals in your jewelry box. If most of your jewelry is gold, you’ll want to stick with gold-set earrings as this will make it easier to match your pieces.  Also, take a look at the shape of the stones. If your jewelry features mostly round or oval stones, you’ll want to find a pair of stones cut in the same shape.

Once you have a few aspects of design to look out for, you can narrow your search down by filtering by budget. But first, let’s take a look at some of the technical factors that can determine a diamond’s price.

The 4Cs of a Diamond

Diamonds are valued according to four factors, often referred to as the four ‘C’s. These are clarity, color, carat, and cut. Each of these affects the look of a diamond differently.

Diamond Clarity

Pair of diamond studs closeup

SI clarity diamond studs. See them here.

The clarity of a diamond refers to the absence of marks on the inside and outside of the stone. Marks on the outside are called surface blemishes and marks on the inside are called inclusions. Remember, diamonds are formed by over billions of years of pressure on coal a process that can result in naturally occurring flaws. However, blemishes can also occur from the cutting of a diamond. The number and severity of these marks decrease the value of a stone.

You’ll usually need to have the eye of an expert to spot imperfections unless they are exceptionally large. Often blemishes are small cracks, air bubbles or non-diamond minerals inside the diamond and can only be seen with a loupe up close.

Clarity can affect the brilliance (sparkle) of a diamond, but because they are difficult to spot, clarity should be less of an important factor when choosing diamond stud earrings. A jeweler may explain the level of clarity using several different scales that can be numerical (1-10) or on scales that explain whether the diamond contains flaws inside and/or out. The I1 range offers the best value and appearance combination.

Verdict – In general, if you can’t notice it, it’s probably best to not pay extra to avoid it – especially for small studs that will seldom be closely inspected. Drop down as far as you can go on the clarity scale while still having diamonds without visible inclusions.

Diamond Color

Oval shape i color diamond studs

I color grade oval diamond studs. See them here.

The grading of diamond color actually refers to the lack of color in a diamond. If there is less visible color in a diamond, then it is of higher value. The degrees of color are generally graded from colorless (D) to yellow (Z). Naturally occurring colors present in diamonds are generally cloudy brown and yellow and can affect the sparkle of a diamond as the color can filter light.

Diamond color is easier to see than marks that affect clarity, but again, unless you are comparing two differently colored diamonds it is difficult to notice. When it comes to diamond earrings, we would recommend that you only pay for a difference in color if you can notice tints without comparing it to the color of a higher graded diamond. The H to J range is generally the best.

Verdict – You can drop to I color or lower for diamond studs that will still look colorless. If the setting is yellow gold, you can drop down even further as the gold will hide any yellow tints.

Diamond Carat

.50 carat diamond stud earring

Half carat diamond stud earring size. Check Price Here.

Diamond carat is probably one of the most misunderstood factors when selecting diamonds. Many people associate the size of a diamond with the carat – however, this is not entirely true. The carat of a diamond refers to the weight of the stone. The size of the diamond is impacted by the shape of the stone as well as the carat. Some diamonds appear larger than they are thanks to the cut of the stone, such as emerald and oval.

There is no best carat size for diamond studs, but in general the larger the diamonds, the more formal the look. The average diamond stud earrings are .50 carats each, which is an excellent size for daily wear.

The carats of a diamond are more closely associated with status – so unless your personal preference is for high carat diamonds, we would suggest spending your budget on the other C’s instead. 

Verdict – Unless you want a statement pair of studs, go for studs between .40 to .50 carats for a casual yet trendy look.

Diamond Cut

Milgrain diamond studs closeup

Excellent cut round diamond studs. See them here.

The cut is the most important of the Cs for diamond studs. It gives the stone its sparkle and is what immediately catches our eye when we look at a pair of studs.

A diamond that is properly cut will absorb light, refract it within the diamond and reflect it outwardly from the top of the stone (or table) to create a glimmering beam of light. This is why a well-cut diamond results in maximum sparkle! A diamond cut to the wrong proportions will send light outward through the sides or bottom of the stone which will make the diamond appear dull. A diamond cut to the right depth in relation to the table will produce just the right facets for optimal brilliance.

Many experts consider cut to be the most important C when it comes to diamond jewelry. This is true also to diamond stud earrings as you will want to maximize brilliance to ensure that your diamond studs can be seen. Unfortunately, unlike the other C’s it is more difficult to quantify. Round cut diamonds are graded by independent grading labs, such as the GIA and AGS, from Excellent to Poor, but fancy cuts (all other diamond cuts) aren’t given a cut grading by labs.

Verdict – Choose a pair of sparkling studs. You’ll have to rely on expert opinion or simply on how brilliant the diamond looks to you if opting for a fancy cut diamond stud earrings.

Diamond Stud Styles and Settings

The 4Cs are important for finding the most brilliant diamond at the right price, but the setting and setting style of the diamonds in your earrings are just as important. The setting of a diamond refers to how the diamond is held in place and comes in two main forms: prong and bezel settings.

Prong vs. bezel stud earrings. See more here.

In a prong setting, the diamond is held using 3 to 4 claws that wrap around the sides up to the top edges of the diamond to hold it down. Prong settings are secure and hold the diamond carefully. They also allow the diamond to be viewed from more angles and appear more brilliant.

A diamond in a bezel setting has its sides completely enclosed in metal. Bezel settings are generally thought of as being more secure as more of the diamond is held in place by the setting, however, this also means that less of the diamond is visible. With bezel settings, the metal becomes an integral part of the overall design. Bezel settings can also be more expensive as they feature more metal.

Once you’ve decided on this, you’ll also have different setting styles to choose from. This will affect how the earrings sit against your ears.

  • With a martini style setting, like this 3 prong martini setting, the prongs follow the sides of the diamond to a single point. It is a simple style that shows the diamond off most, however, the design may irritate some wearers as there is a sharper point to dig into the ears.
  • A basket style setting, like this white gold pair, holds the diamond in a basket shape that has a flat bottom. The setting will look larger and can dominate the design of the stud, but there should not be the issue of the earring digging into the ear.
  • A crown style setting, like this 1 carat solitaire pair, is the most secure of the prong settings. A crown style setting is somewhat like a cross between a basket style and bezel setting in that the prongs come down to a flat back that is more substantial (almost bezel like) but still partially exposes the sides of the diamond. The considerable setting is more secure but also sets the diamond higher from the earlobe which means that the diamond will sit farther off the ear and potentially sag.

Best Backing for Diamond Stud Earrings

Earrings are so easily lost because of their size and the fact that they are for the most part, out of sight. The best way to ensure that your earrings stay on your ears is by choosing a secure pole and backing. And interestingly, most of us rarely consider this when purchasing a pair of earrings.

Friction backing diamond stud

Friction backing stud earrings. Check Price Here.

The most common post and backing design is a friction or butterfly back. In these designs, the post is completely smooth apart from a small notch at the end that catches the backing if it slips. This is an effective design, however, wear can render it ineffective. The tension of the nut can loosen over time which can cause slips and the notch can gradually wear out.

Screw back diamond stud earrings

Screw back diamond stud earrings. See them here.

Screw-back earrings are a more secure option. With a screw back earring design, the pole of the earring is notched and the backing acts as a nut. Just be sure that you follow the notches carefully. Forcing the backing over the notches will wear the grooves and compromise the design. Screw back designs can also be uncomfortable for people with sensitive ears as the poles are generally thicker to accommodate the grooves.

la pousette locking studs

La Pousette back diamond studs by Wilson Brothers. See them here.

The most secure backing choice is a La Pousette locking design. It works using a smooth post, but instead of a simple notch, the nut is held firm by a locking mechanism that can only be released by pinching the clasps on the nut. The secure and slender design is also complex which makes it more costly and difficult to find.

It’s important to note that no post and backing design is 100% secure, so it pays to check that your earrings are still there every now and again particularly when pulling clothing over your head or tucking your hair behind your ears. You’ll also get a little reminder that you are wearing your special set of diamonds.

How Much Should I Spend on Diamond Stud Earrings?

The price of diamond studs is closely connected to the size of the diamonds, as this is what impacts the value of the studs. Take a look at the screenshot below from the James Allen site, which shows how the price of the diamonds increases with the increase in carat weight.

choosing diamonds when buying diamond stud at James Allen

Depending on the size you wanted, you could choose either the .25 carat or the 1 carat studs (or more if you search through their diamond pairings here). Note that these are the total carat weight of both studs and not the carat weight for each stud.

So, the cost of the studs can vary greatly, and is affected by the total carat weight of the studs, quality of diamonds, metal used, type of setting and jewelry brand. On average, you could expect to spend about $500 on the lower end.

Affordable Alternatives to Diamond Stud Earring

If you love the look but not the price of diamond studs, here are some excellent alternatives:

  1. Synthetic diamonds: Also known as lab-created diamonds, these are identical to mined diamonds with the only difference being that they were created in a lab. Synthetic diamonds are not cheap but can be much less expensive than a pair of mined diamonds. They’re also eco-friendly and ethical alternatives. See lab-created diamonds here.
  2. Diamond look-alikes: There are many less expensive diamond look-alike alternatives that make for excellent stud earrings. While they won’t feel prestigious or expensive against your ear, they’ll look exactly like the real thing. Some options are cubic zirconia stud earrings, like this yellow gold toned studs, and Swarovski crystals, like these faceted round studs.
  3. Moissanite stud earrings: We love moissanite for their exceptional sparkle and fire, which is even more intense than that of diamonds! Moissanite is a gemstone in its own right, is extremely durable and looks very similar to diamonds. Here’s a stunning 1.60 carat pair of moissanite stud earrings that shows the beauty of this stone. 
  4. Gemstone stud earrings: Why not add a pop of color to your look with gemstone stud earrings? The choices are endless, and you could opt for precious gemstones like sapphires or rubies or alternatively, go for stylish but affordable stones like citrine or amethyst. Most gemstones also correlate to birth months which can give an added layer of meaning. Check here for a range of high-quality, diverse gemstone stud earrings.
  5. Clever settings: If you want diamond studs at an affordable price range, one option could be to opt for clever settings like cluster or double halo.  These settings trick the eye into seeing the stud like one large diamond, when in fact it’s made up of a several stones. This halo cluster stud earrings are the perfect example, with 56 diamonds making up the whole design!

Where to Buy Diamond Stud Earrings

When looking for diamond stud earrings, choose a highly reputable vendor with a solid track record. Look for good after sales policies and excellent customer care. Based on our experience, we recommend the following retailers:

James Allen

With one of the largest online diamond inventories, James Allen is known for their high-quality products and excellent customer service. Their Diamond Display Technology makes it easy to view each diamond carefully and cherry pick the best of the bunch. You can Build Your Own Studs by picking your own diamonds, and talk to a Diamond Expert to help you with the process. James Allen is also one of the few top retailers to offer lab-created diamonds.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile offers a large inventory and a stunning range of diamond studs. They have very competitive prices and good service. You can carefully check their diamond studs via their HD images and videos and choose from a range of gemstones and settings as well.

Amazon

Amazon is an excellent option for diamond, synthetic diamonds and imitation stones. In other words, you can find everything on Amazon. However, 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 and do your due diligence as each Amazon retailer has their own standards and policies.

Etsy

For artisan, hand-made and vintage studs, Etsy is the place to go. Search for everything here, from gemstones to CZ to diamonds. Etsy, like Amazon, is simply a platform and each retailer has their own rules, policies and standards so do your due diligence to avoid getting ripped off.

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