How to Search for Diamonds at Blue Nile and compare them to diamonds from other vendors

Hello, first let me thank you for putting so much information regarding diamonds on vendor review, I’ve been looking for a week now to find a perfect diamond and am really struggling finding something that suits my perfectionist needs. I was wondering if you could potentially help me narrow down my search and find something in their inventory, I’m looking for something between .9 – 1.2 carat, and was really trying to stay in D,E range, but wanted to see if i could find something around 9-11k range without going below VS-1, please slap me if I’m being unrealistic, or if i should expand my criteria. There is quiet a bit out there and I think I’m a little overwhelmed with the amount of diamonds I’m seeing. Thank you in advance, really look forward to your advice. ~ Andrey S.

Thank you for your inquiry Andrey, there are definitely a lot of options available within the range of clarity and color that you specified, however the majority of those options are quickly eliminated the moment the my selection criteria for proportions is applied to the field of possibilities.

How to Search for Diamonds on Blue Nile:

Search for diamonds at Blue NileLet’s begin by conducting a search for diamonds at Blue Nile between 0.90 – 1.20 carats, D to E color, and VS-1 in clarity, and restrict the polish and symmetry ratings to either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal, I am presented with 247 round diamonds within the price range up to $11,000.00 but as soon as I limit the total depth of the diamond to be between 59 – 61.8% and the table diameter between 53 – 58% the number of options to consider drops forty three.

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I was curious to see how long it would take me to flip through the diamond grading reports for the forty three diamonds which resulted from my search for a diamond on Blue Nile, so I activated the Stopwatch app on my phone and hit start. It took me exactly 3:11:8 seconds to skim the proportions diagram on the diamond grading reports to determine whether the offset for crown and pavilion angle fell within my preferred range of 34.3 – 34.9 degrees for the crown angle and between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees for the pavilion angle… when I clicked stop on the stopwatch, five options remained, let’s go through them one by one:

0.90 – 0.99 carat Diamonds from Blue Nile:

Blue Nile Signature Round Diamond, GIA 2156400339This 0.91 carat, D-color, VS-1 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Diamond is the only option weighing between 0.90 – 0.99 carats, it has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent, and has a combination of proportions that falls within my preferred range. The total depth of the diamond is 61.5% and the table diameter is 57% with a crown angle of 34.5 degrees that is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet.

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The diamond is accompanied by a GIA Diamond dossier, which does not include a plotting diagram of the inclusions, so there is no way to determine the location of the inclusions, nor get an idea as to their size or extent, but I’m not too worried about that since the inclusions are likely to be of little concern in higher clarity diamonds like those in the VS-1 to VVS-1 clarity range.

According to the GIA Diamond Dossier, the inclusions within this diamond consist of clouds of pinpoint size diamond crystals, feathers, needle shaped diamond crystals and pinpoint size diamond crystals. The term “cloud” is a little misleading because it gives the impression that the pinpoints are clustered together in such a way that they might block light return, however I’ve yet to see a cluster of pinpoint size diamond crystals that actually has that effect… usually a cloud just looks like a constellation of tiny pinpoints of light, kind of like sparkling stars when I’ve viewed it through a diamond grading loupe with 10x magnification.

Unfortunately Blue Nile does not provide the reflector scope images necessary for me to judge the optical symmetry of the diamonds which they sell, there are no ASET scope, Ideal scope, or Hearts and Arrows scope images available. However based upon the overall cut grade of GIA Excellent and the proportions which are within the center of the range designated by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) for their zero ideal cut rating, I know that this diamond is in the Top 1% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds.

There are signs of Azimuth Shift visible to me within the clarity image of the pavilion which is provided on the diamond grading report issued by GCAL, as is visible in the variation of the size and shape of the hearts, as well as the twisting which is visible at the tips of some of the hearts.

One Carat Diamonds from Blue Nile:

Blue Nile Signature Diamond, GIA #2146777629

This 1.01 carat, E-color, VS-1 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Diamond graded by the GIA with an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent, has a total depth of 61.8% with a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. The GIA indicates that the primary inclusions responsible for the VS-1 clarity grade are in the form of crystals, feathers and pinpoint size diamond crystals, all of which look minimal on the plotting diagram which is provided on the diamond grading report. As with the diamond mentioned previously, there are signs of Azimuth shift within the clarity image provided of the pavilion section, especially the heart located in the nine o’clock position which is smaller than the others.

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Realize that when I talk about Azimuth Shift on diamonds of this caliber, I realize that I’m splitting hairs on diamonds which represent the Top 1% of annual production, however the ability to do so is what I’m known for… My primary focus is helping people differentiate the subtle differences between diamonds that are in the Top 2% of annual production, and make an informed decision based upon their preferences with full knowledge of the differences that exist between diamonds of seemingly similar cut quality and characteristics… so while I point out things like Azimuth Shift, and subtle variances in the hearts patterns between diamonds, the reality is that all of these represent diamonds which I consider worthy of consideration, the ones which do not meet my selection criteria are eliminated and not mentioned within this review.

1.02 carat, Round Diamond from Blue Nile:

Round brilliant ideal cut diamond from Blue Nile, GIA #2151631437This 1.02 carat, VS-1 clarity, E-color with medium blue fluorescence from Blue Nile might be of interest to you, I’m not sure because you did not indicate whether you were interested in diamonds with blue fluorescence or not… Personally I’m kind of fond of them because they present a great price point, and I like the look of blue fluorescent diamonds. This one has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent and a total depth of 61.4% with a table diameter of 58% with a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. The primary inclusions are small feathers and pinpoint size diamond crystals, all of which look fine. Since this is not a Blue Nile Signature Diamond, it is not accompanied by an additional diamond grading report from GCAL, so I can’t provide insight into things like Azimuth Shift.

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1.04 carat, Round Diamond from Blue Nile:

Round Brilliant Ideal Cut Diamond from Blue Nile, GIA #6131624820This 1.04 carat, D-color, VS-1 clarity, round brilliant ideal cut diamond from Blue Nile has medium blue fluorescence and an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent, with a total depth of 61.2% and a table diameter of 57% with a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium, faceted girdle and no culet. The primary inclusions are indicated as being diamond crystals, feathers, pinpoint size diamond crystals and needle shaped diamond crystals. All of the inclusions look minimal and I’m sure that the medium blue fluorescence will give this diamond a look which is beautiful, they used to call diamonds like this “blue white diamonds” because of the presence of fluorescence back in the early 1900’s. The fluorescence will glow a beautiful neon blue color when the diamond is exposed to black light, but it will look normal the rest of the time.

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1.07 carat, Round Diamond from Blue Nile:

Blue Nile round brilliant ideal cut diamond, GIA #2156778908There is another diamond with medium blue fluorescence which looks interesting, it is this 1.07 carat, E-color, VS-1 clarity, round brilliant ideal cut diamond from Blue Nile which has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent and a total depth of 61.4% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. According to the GIA the primary inclusions consist of diamond crystals, small feathers and needle shaped diamond crystals. Here again, this diamond is not a Blue Nile Signature Diamond  and thus it is not accompanied by a supplemental diamond grading report from GCAL, so no additional information is available by which to judge the optical symmetry of the diamond, which is something that drives me nuts because I tend to be kind of detail oriented.

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How to Buy a Diamond Like a Professional:

When I purchase diamonds, I really like the additional insight which is provided by the various reflector scope images which are provided by other online diamond vendors like Brian Gavin Diamonds and High Performance Diamonds who rely on the same hands-on approach that I relied on when I was the diamond buyer for Nice Ice.

The reality is that I would never purchase a diamond myself, without the additional insight provided by an ASET scope image, an Ideal Scope image, and an image of the diamond as seen while unmounted through a Hearts & Arrows scope, because they enable me to judge the optical symmetry of the diamond, and get a feel for the overall cut quality of the diamond which is measured beyond the level that the GIA and AGSL grade diamonds for symmetry.

The reason why the optical symmetry of a diamond is important, is because it controls both the degree of light return and the visual performance of the diamond in terms of brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. Interestingly enough, diamond vendors who fail to provide their customers with this type of detailed information always claim that it is unnecessary, and that I am being overzealous in my approach to diamond buying, but diamond vendors who do provide this type of information mirror my sentiments about how optical symmetry affects the production of virtual facets, the number and size of the flashes of light, etc.

While I tend to be a very detail oriented diamond buyer, the reality is that thousands of people purchase diamonds every day without looking beyond the basic description which is provided on the diamond grading report. Only you can decide whether the additional insight provided by the various reflector scope images is important to your diamond buying process.

With this in mind, I’ll tell you that I personally would not purchase anything but a Signature Diamond from Blue Nile, and that is only because their “Signature Diamonds” happen to be part of their exclusive inventory… Every other diamond offered by Blue Nile, which is not a Blue Nile Signature Diamond, I would try to source from another diamond vendor who is capable of providing me with the additional reflector scope images and personal evaluation, it might be kind of a Jerk Move, but I’d use their inventory list to search for diamonds which are of interest, and then I’d ask Brian Gavin Diamonds or High Performance Diamonds to source the diamonds and provide me with a personalized evaluation.

This little bit of insight might cause the diamond office at Blue Nile to burst into flames (and probably my email inbox as well) but the reality is that Blue Nile only has the exclusive right to list the diamonds which they offer that are  not Blue Nile Signature Diamonds, and not the exclusive right to sell those diamonds… Thus the odds are that the diamond dealer of your preference, can try to locate the diamond using the multiple listing service which is relied on by the trade to market and search for diamonds, and then bring the diamond in for evaluation, in my experience they will usually match the price which Blue Nile has listed the diamond for.

This might be a bit bold to print, but the reality is that I used to sell a lot of diamonds which were listed exclusively on the Blue Nile web site to clients who would contact me and say something like “I’ve been looking for diamonds on Blue Nile and like this one, can you get me something like it?” to which I’d reply “Hold on, let me see if I have access to that particular diamond…” while I searched for it, and then I’d bring the diamond in from the cutter for evaluation and match the price.

The benefit to you as a client, is that you get to purchase the same diamond which interested you initially, but with the additional information provided by a personalized evaluation, complete with all of the various reflector scope images… and I have to say that about 40% of the diamonds did not pass my physical evaluation ~ which is why this sort of thing is kind of important!

Just for the record, I’ve asked Blue Nile to provide this sort of in-depth documentation for the diamonds that they sell multiple times, the response is always along the lines of “it doesn’t fit our current business model” so they’ve made a choice, just as you have the right to make a choice as to the type of diamond grading detail that they feel is important for you to consider…

James Allen True Hearts Diamond:

James Allen True Hearts Diamond Review, GIA #5136646024All right, I found one other option worthy of consideration with your preferred range of characteristics and that is this 1.15 carat, D-color, VS-1 clarity, True Hearts Diamond from James Allen, unfortunately it exceeds your desired price range by several thousand dollars. But this diamond is useful because it enables me to demonstrate the importance of a hearts image, because the image provided shows clear signs of Azimuth Shift as can be seen in the tips of the hearts located in the relative 2:30 and 10 o’clock regions, as indicated by the lime green arrows which I added to the graphic.

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Do you see how the tips of the hearts bend? Especially the one in the 10 o’clock position? Is the slight bending of the tips of the hearts the end of the world? Would it cause me to eliminate this diamond as a contender? Absolutely not, but it is something which I would take into account while comparing diamonds and deciding which one to select. Once again, we’re splitting hairs on diamonds which represent the Top 1% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds, but this is the level of the game where I’ve chosen to play.

Review of Brian Gavin Signature Diamonds:

I realize that you specifically requested options that are D-E color and VS-1 in clarity, but I wanted to find some other options for you to consider that have the level of optical symmetry and overall cut quality that I personally look for, so I expanded the range to include F-color and VS-2 clarity because I wasn’t finding anything in the tighter range of clarity and color… As with all of the other diamonds which we’ve discussed thus far, I’ll tell you what I do and don’t like about each diamond…

Brian Gavin Signature Diamond Review, AGSL104063219023So the first option which we’re going to consider is this 0.918 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin. While both Brian Gavin and Blue Nile refer to their exclusive inventory as “Signature Diamonds” they are cut to completely different standards, and as you can see from the screenshot of the diamond details pictured to the left, Brian Gavin provides much more in-depth information.

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One of the reasons why I like diamonds from the Brian Gavin Signature collection is that they are all cut to the center range of the spectrum defined by the AGSL for their zero ideal cut proportions rating, which means that I don’t have to sift through 43 diamond grading reports to find a few that are going to meet my selection criteria for proportions.

The next thing I like about diamonds from the Brian Gavin Signature collection is that they are all sent to the AGSL to be graded on their Proprietary Light Performance grading platform which integrates Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) into the grading process, so insight into the brightness of the diamond is actually provided on the diamond quality document, and as a result I’m able to determine how the diamond makes use of the light which is available to it, and I get some idea as to the optical symmetry of the diamond.

But Brian Gavin takes it a step further and also provides images of the diamond seen through their own ASET scope, as well as providing images of the diamond as seen through an Ideal Scope, and a Hearts & Arrows viewer, so I can determine to what extent the diamond is leaking light, and determine the degree of Azimuth Shift… there is even a high resolution video clip of the diamond which can be moved back and forth to view the inclusions frame by frame, all of this makes my detail oriented personality very happy!

Getting back to the 0.918 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin, it has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 with a total depth of 61.4% with a table diameter of 58.2% and a crown angle of 34.9 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.9 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted girdle and a pointed culet.  According to the AGSL, the primary inclusions consist of diamond crystals, feathers, and needle shaped diamond crystals. I clicked on the option to “verify lab report” and was able to access a high resolution copy of the lab report as provided by the AGSL, and could see the inclusions clearly… everything about this diamond looks great!

If you click on the Hearts image provided for the diamond, you will see that all eight of the hearts are consistent in size, shape, and spacing, and the tips of the hearts are not twisting… this is what I consider to be a picture perfect example of a “Hearts & Arrows Diamond” and it meets my selection criteria perfectly.

Now the difference between D-E-F color might be something which is visible to somebody who is trained to distinguish the subtle differences between diamond colors, such as a professional diamond grader like myself, or somebody who works with color on a daily basis, like a graphic artist or lighting architect, but the average person is not going to see a clear difference under normal lighting from a top down perspective… what they will see is a difference in the sparkle factor and diamonds cut like this are designed to deliver maximum light return and sparkle factor!

Additional options from Brian Gavin Diamonds:

The next diamond that caught my eye is this 1.095 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Diamond, which is graded by the AGSL with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 and has a total depth of 61.9% with a table diameter of 56.1% and a crown angle of 34.9 degrees with a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees and a thin to medium, faceted girdle with a pointed culet. According to the AGSL, the primary inclusions consist of small feathers and diamond crystals.  The inclusions should be readily visible when you view the diamond through a 10x diamond grading loupe, but the difference between this and a VS-1 clarity diamond will not be apparent to the naked eye.

In a perfect world, I’d prefer to see the total depth of the diamond fall under the 61.8% mark, but I’m willing to overlook the difference of a tenth of a percent since the crown and pavilion angle are spot-on, since after all, those are the surfaces that are primarily responsible for the volume of light return.

If you’re open to considering diamonds with blue fluorescence, then I would definitely look at this 1.207 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, diamond from the Brian Gavin Blue collection, because the medium blue fluorescence will have virtually no effect upon the visual properties of the diamond and it provides a slight discount… the diamond is cut on the same production line as diamonds from the Brian Gavin Signature collection, so the light return and sparkle factor is top notch!

As you probably expect by now, the diamond has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 and the inclusions meet with my approval, there are just a few diamond crystals and small feathers…

Hearts & Arrows Diamonds by Crafted by Infinity:

The one diamond cutter who I feel rivals the production quality offered by Brian Gavin Diamonds is Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, who markets their production through High Performance Diamonds and a small handful of other dealers… I looked through their inventory and found one option that is close to your preferred range of criteria, but exceeds your price by just a bit, it is this 1.143 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Crafted by Infinity diamond with negligible fluorescence.

Just like the Signature Diamonds from Brian Gavin, this diamond is graded by the AGSL on their Proprietary Light Performance grading platform and has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0. The diamond has a total depth of 61.2% and a table diameter of 55.9% with a crown angle of 34.4 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted girdle and a pointed culet. The primary inclusions consist of diamond crystals and needle shaped diamond crystals.

High Performance Diamonds also provides the various reflector scope images required to judge the optical symmetry of the diamond on their diamond details pages, so I’m able to see that this diamond looks great when viewed through an ASET scope, an Ideal Scope, and a Hearts and Arrows viewer…

I hope that one or two of the options which I’ve found for you to consider works out for you Andrey, feel free to run any other options that you might be considering by me if you’d like me to review the diamond details for you.

Todd Gray
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
Todd Gray

@NiceIceDiamonds

Professional diamond buyer with 30+ years trade experience in the niche of super ideal cut diamonds. In my free time, I enjoy freediving & photography.
The incredible #story behind the Sirisha diamond necklace by @BrianGavin 71 #Diamonds cut to order #Amazinghttps://t.co/dHOo1T99xT - 2 years ago

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