Wal-Mart is getting attention for carrying high-end jewelry online this holiday season. A quick scan of walmart.com shows mid-grade diamond rings for around $5,000. Example: this 1.0 carat, G-H clarity, SI2 quality diamond in a simple solitaire setting for $5130.

Out of curiosity, I went to bluenile.com to compare prices, unsure whether Wal-Mart was willing and able to keep its trademark low margins on high-end merchandise. And it’s close. I pieced together this G-clarity, SI2, 1.01 carat diamond in a similar setting. Total price: $4605. Spending $5130 could have upgraded me to 1.08 or 1.09 carats with H clarity. I also could have spent a lot more money on the same size stone with better balance or other features. (SI2 isn’t all that special in the diamond world.)

In all, though, it’s not such a bad buy. Wal-Mart appears to be pricing some fluctuation into its list price, but its quality and cost are certainly fair. Zales charges $6999 for virtually the basic ring.

I am neither a jewelry nor a diamond expert, so this is just a casual observation from someone who knows a thing or two about buying diamonds. I’d personally go somewhere other than Wal-Mart (and Zales, for that matter) to buy my engagement ring. But for the casual shopper, it looks to be as honest as any storefront jeweler.