Brilliant Earth Diamond Reviews

Brilliant Earth sells conflict free diamonds made from diamond rough which originates from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia. Their claim to fame is only selling diamonds of ethical origins which are beyond conflict free. In a recent conversation with the powers that be at Brilliant Earth, I challenged their (USP) Unique Selling Proposition. I suggested that Brilliant Earth is simply promoting the basic premise of the Kimberley Diamond Act of 2003. Bragging about conflict free diamonds is not really a USP, since everybody I know is Kimberley compliant these days.

The Kimberley Process:

The Kimberly Process (KP)  is a joint initiative designed to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds are any rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments. The KP has 54 participants, representing 81 countries. The European Union and its member states count as a single participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.

The people from Brilliant Earth patiently listened to my rant…

Time to Revisit Brilliant Earth Diamond ReviewsAnd then we talked a bit more on the telephone about what sets them apart from other diamond dealers. There was a lot of ground to cover, so we agreed that it would be best if they followed up with an email. In light of the new insight provided by my correspondence with Brilliant Earth, and some improvements they’ve made to the web site, it’s time to revisit Brilliant Earth.

How come that last sentence sounds like the title for a cool science fiction movie? “Time to Revisit Brilliant Earth: the quest for diamonds which are beyond conflict free.”

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Brilliant Earth ~ Beyond Conflict Free:

Brilliant Earth claims to go beyond the conflict free standard established by the Kimberley Diamond Act of 2003. In an email sent to me by them on May 23rd, they wrote:

“We go beyond the Kimberley Process’s conflict free standard, which states only that the diamond didn’t fund a rebel movement against a recognized government.”

The implication is that the Kimberly Process does nothing to protect human rights beyond the scope of government. Um, I get what they’re trying to say, but isn’t a government representative of the people?

We the People of the United States…

… in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Obviously I’m playing a hand of Devil’s Advocate:

Rumors that I popped out of my mother’s womb, sporting a bright red, shiny set of horns are greatly exaggerated. But my younger brother files his horns down bi-weekly… I’m quite positive that he’s the devil, he’s also a lobbyist… I’m not kidding, my brother is Nick Naylor in the flesh.

But on a more serious note, the population of many countries lack the ability to influence their government via free and fair elections. This is something that we tend to take for granted in the United States and other developed nations.

The fact of the matter is that throughout the course of time, there have been some heinous atrocities committed against humanity. Some of these atrocities have involved diamonds, other times it revolved around drugs, gold, oil and anything else worth money. I’m not downplaying the depth of these atrocities, I’m merely pointing out that this is the unfortunate nature of mankind. The diamond industry makes every effort to self-police itself.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Kimberley Process & Anti-Money Laundering:

Diamond dealers need a Kimberley Process (KP) certificate when exporting rough diamonds from a participating country. If the diamonds fall under the Customs Tariff subheadings:

  • 7102.10 diamonds unsorted, worked or not worked.
  • 7102.21 miners diamonds unworked, sawn, cleaved, or bruted.
  • 7102.31 diamonds unworked, sawn, cleaved, or bruted.

Customs authorities in both the country of export and the destination should require a Kimberley Certificate. The Kimberley Process only applies to rough diamonds, but shipments of polished diamonds also fall under scrutiny. Diamonds are a monetary instrument, they are valuable whether they are cut or uncut.

Diamonds shipments are subject to scrutiny for the same reasons you’re required to disclose transporting more than $10,000.00 while traveling. Every member of the diamond industry is well acquainted with the U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). Here’s a bit of light reading for you:

World Diamond Council supports Kimberley Process:

In an effort to support the provisions of the Kimberley Process and further reduce the trafficking of conflict diamonds, the WDC proposed this system of warranties:

“The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.”

Buyers and sellers of both rough and polished diamonds must make this statement on their invoices. Notice that this statement goes beyond the effects upon government:

  • Diamonds must be from legitimate sources.
  • Not involved with funding conflict.
  • Comply with United Nations resolutions.

This system meets with the approval of every country that participates in the Kimberley Process. Every legitimate member of the diamond industry participates in this program and provides this statement on their invoice. The people who profit from the sale of conflict diamonds are:

  • Criminals.
  • Money Launderers.
  • Organized Crime.
  • Terrorists.
  • War Lords

And guess what people? They’re not selling diamonds online via legitimate channels… They’re not issuing invoices, nor transporting diamonds across borders using legitimate means that pass through customs… They’re smuggling diamonds hidden in the rectum of an alpaca or some other type of mule, in the same way that other drugs move across borders.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Brilliant Earth takes it a step farther:

The basic premise behind the Brilliant Earth movement is that they sell diamonds which are beyond conflict free. Kudos to that, because I don’t know anybody who wants their diamond engagement ring to fund conflict.

Brilliant Earth guarantees their diamonds are:

  • Conflict Free
  • Wholly untainted by human rights abuses.
  • Wholly untainted by environmental degradation.
  • Positively contribute to community development.
  • Country of origin is apparent.

Brilliant Earth informed me that they exclude many countries which participate in the Kimberley Process. Like Zimbabwe for example “because they do not meet our standards for ethical sourcing.” [email excerpt]

Ah yes, the trade journals are full of news articles about Zimbabwe. The country’s violence led to an official ban of rough diamond in 2013 under the provisions of the Kimberley Process. Three years later, the embargo is no longer in force. Now the government is kicking all the diamond mining companies out and taking over the business for themselves. Perhaps this move will better serve the interests of the Zimbabwe people, or maybe it simply puts more money in the hands of government. If I were a betting man, I’d hedge on the side of the people getting ripped while the fat cats in government get rich.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Can a diamond ever truly be conflict free?

I honestly don’t know what to think, but I suppose that it depends on how you define conflict. It seems like every natural resource is subject to the influence of a handful of corrupt individuals. Even the Canadian diamond scene is subject to the influence of monetary driven disputes between aboriginal tribes, diamond companies and government. The combined efforts of the Kimberley Process & the World Diamond Council system of warranties seems like a step in the right direction:

World Diamond Council System of Warranties:

“The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.”

Brilliant Earth Certificate of Origin:

Clearly I’m not convinced that Brilliant Earth offers diamonds which are any more conflict free than other vendors. But I do like the underlying concept which Brilliant Earth promotes, which is that diamonds should be conflict free. I also fully agree with their belief that there should be free trade certification for diamonds, but such a system is not currently in-place.

I really like the fact that you can search for diamonds using origin of rough as a deciding factor. Brilliant Earth is currently offering conflict free diamonds mined in the following countries:

  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • Namibia
  • Russia
  • Sierra Leone – West Africa [Pride Diamonds]
  • South Africa

Brilliant Earth diamonds review, country of originThe Sierra Leone Civil War in West Africa is actually what brought global attention to conflict / blood diamonds in the first place. It’s been over since 2002 and legitimate diamond mining operations are a key factor of the local economy.

If you want to be able to search Brilliant Earth by country of origin, simply click on the Advanced Search option. Note that when I did that, the option to search diamonds from Canada, Botswana sort, and Russia became available.

It’s unclear to me how to find the diamonds from Namibia, Sierra Leone or South Africa. Perhaps that option will be available on the Brilliant Earth diamond search page soon? Or do those diamonds appear as part of Brilliant Earth’s normal inventory?

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

How to Search Brilliant Earth for Diamonds:

Brilliant Earth offers conflict free diamonds in every popular diamond shape, but I’m going to focus on rounds since that is the most popular. The proportions of a round brilliant cut diamond are going to dictate the volume of light return, and balance of brilliance and dispersion. The degree of optical precision is also going to factor into light performance. The article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success indicates the following best proportions for round diamonds:

  • Total depth: 59  – 61.8%
  • Table diameter: 53 – 58%
  • Crown angle: 34.3 – 35.0 degrees.
  • Pavilion angle: 40.6 – 40.9 degrees.
  • Lower girdle facets: 75 – 78%
  • Star facets: 45 – 50%
  • Girdle thickness: thin to slightly thick
  • Culet: GIA none or AGS pointed
  • Polish: GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal
  • Symmetry: GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal
  • Cut Grade: GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Click on the banner above to Search Brilliant Earth…

Then adjust the sliders to accommodate your preferred range of carat weight, color, clarity, and price. Move the slider for Cut Quality all the way to the right to eliminate any options which are not Ideal to Super Ideal. None of the other cut classifications have a chance of meeting my selection criteria. Then click on Advanced Search to expand the next set of selection criteria. Adjust those options as follows:

  • Origin = your preference.
  • Length to Width ratio: not applicable, leave it.
  • Symmetry: Excellent.
  • Table diameter between 53 – 58%
  • Report: GIA.
  • Polish: Excellent.
  • Fluorescence: none to strong blue.
  • Depth between 59 – 61.8%

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

For the sake of this example, let’s search Brilliant Earth for a conflict free diamond with these characteristics:

  • Shape: round brilliant.
  • Price: $9,500.00 or less.
  • Clarity: VS-2 or higher.
  • Color: G-color or higher.
  • Fluorescence: none to strong blue.
  • Cut class: Super Ideal

Set the search parameters like this to follow along:

Search Brilliant Earth for conflict free diamonds reviews

As you can see, this range of diamond characteristics and price produced 73 options for us to consider. What we’re going to do next is:

  • Right click our mouse over “View”
  • Select “Open Link in New Tab”
  • Repeat for every diamond listed.

Search brilliant earth diamonds detailsRight click your mouse over “View” and select “Open Link in New Tab” to open each diamond details page in a new browser tab. Repeat this process for all of the Brilliant Earth diamonds presented as options. The screenshot on the left shows how this is going to look on a Macbook Pro. The wording might be different on a PC, but the concept is the same.

Scroll down the list of diamonds and repeat the process until each page is open. Once you have all the diamond details pages opened up in separate tabs, we’ll review the lab reports. This will also be a time consuming process, since you have to click on the GIA icon to open each diamond grading report. The process of opening up every lab report is time consuming, but the investment will pay off in terms of sparkle. You’ll see why this is important in just a minute.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Brilliant Earth vs Nice Ice Super Ideal:

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, SKU 2263521, GIA 228172105 descriptionThe first super ideal cut diamond on the list is Brilliant Earth SKU #1854574A. This diamond is graded by the GIA weighing 0.95 carats, G-color / no fluorescence, VVS-2 in clarity. The overall cut grade of the diamond is GIA Excellent, the lab report number is 2228172105.

Note that I don’t link Brilliant Earth diamonds because the URL goes 404 Page Not Found when they sell. But you can look up the diamond grading report in the future using GIA Report Check.

I actually do this for every Brilliant Earth diamond, because the lab reports provided are blurry and illegible. This might be due to how their script creates the viewing window or a setting on my computer. For best resolution always pull the original report from the gemological laboratory.

This Brilliant Earth diamond is not Super Ideal by my standards…

Suffice to say that every diamond dealer has the right to decide upon their own definition of what constitutes a Super Ideal Cut Diamond. The article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success suggests the following range, which many diamond cutters also consider to be the criteria for super ideal:

  • Total depth: 59  – 61.8%
  • Table diameter: 53 – 58%
  • Crown angle: 34.3 – 35.0 degrees.
  • Pavilion angle: 40.6 – 40.9 degrees.
  • Lower girdle facets: 75 – 78%
  • Star facets: 45 – 50%
  • Girdle thickness: thin to slightly thick
  • Culet: GIA none or AGS pointed
  • Polish: GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal
  • Symmetry: GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal
  • Cut Grade: GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal

Diamond brands that adhere to my super ideal standards:

A diamond must have these proportions before we can even consider it worthy of the super ideal classification. The diamond must also exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows which I will explain in detail below. The creation of hearts and arrows patterns in round diamonds, requires the highest degree of optical precision. All of the facets in every section of the diamond must be uniform in size and shape, and align precisely from the perspective of 360 degrees.

In terms of rarity, a true super ideal cut diamond represents the Top 0.001% of the annual production for round diamonds. They cost more than standard ideal cut diamonds, because they about four times longer to cut and polish. It also takes a much greater degree of skill to cut diamonds to the higher degree of optical precision that produces the hearts pattern.

The proportions of this Brilliant Earth “super ideal cut diamond” are:

  • GIA #2228172105
  • Total Depth: 61.2%
  • Table Diameter: 56%
  • Crown Angle: 33 degrees (prefer 34.3 – 35.0 degrees)
  • Crown Height: 14% (okay with steeper crown angle)
  • Pavilion Angle: 41.2 degrees (prefer 40.6 – 40.9 degrees)
  • Pavilion Depth: 43.5% (I’ll explain this momentarily)
  • Star Facets: 45%
  • Lower Girdle Facets: 75%
  • Cut Grade: GIA Excellent

Obviously the proportions of GIA #2228172105 do not meet my super ideal cut diamond selection criteria. Actually the proportions of this diamond do not meet my selection standards for ideal or super ideal cut. The proportions which are crossed out are well beyond my preferred range as outlined in 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success.

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, 0.95 carats, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, SKU 2263521, GIA 2228172105The 33 degree crown angle is likely to produce a higher degree of brilliance, as opposed to a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. For the purpose of this discussion, brilliance is white sparkle, dispersion is colored sparkle or fire. The shallower 14% crown height will contribute to the higher volume of brilliance reflected by this diamond.

The 41.2 degree pavilion angle is too steep, this is likely to significantly reduce the volume of light return. The 43.5% pavilion depth happens to be the critical tipping point where light begins not to strike fully off the pavilion facets. Notice all the black obstruction that appears in the triangles between the arrows? And how the tips of the arrows are bending away from the arrow shafts in several locations? This is not what I consider to be a super ideal cut diamond.

Note that my selection criteria is significantly tighter than what is allowed by the gemological laboratories. My reputation as a Diamond Cut Snob is well established, which is why you should have me pick your diamond!

Nice Ice Diamond Concierge ServiceTake advantage of 30+ years diamond buying experience for free!

Country of Origin for Brilliant Earth diamond: GIA 2228172105

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, SKU 2263521, GIA 2228172105 origin certificateThe Origin Certification for this Brilliant Earth diamond, SKU #1854574A indicates that it the diamond rough is from Canada. Now do you remember earlier in the article where we talked about the Kimberley Process being built upon a system of mutual trust? This diamond is listed as Lot #71508909 in the MLS used to trade diamonds globally. The cutter is located in Mumbai, India and the diamond currently in their Hong Kong office.

What proof do we have that this diamond is actually produced from diamond rough mined in Canada? I’m glad you asked…

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews via Nice Ice, SKU 1854574A, GIA 2228172105 Canada MarkThe diamond cutter indicates the Brand as Canada Mark within the details provided on the Multiple Listing Service. A screenshot of the Canada Mark brand reference by the cutter from the MLS is provided to the right. It’s been redacted to eliminate the company name. The cutter should ship the Canada Mark certificate along with the diamond.

The Canada Mark tracking system works something like this:

  • Diamond rough mined in Canada.
  • Diamond rough weighed in Canada.
  • Tracking number assigned to diamond rough.
  • Diamond shipped to diamond cutter overseas.
  • Diamond cutter cuts the diamond.
  • Reports polished weight to Canada Mark.
  • Canada Mark issues Certificate of Origin.

Now how do we really know that this particular Beyond Conflict Free Diamond was actually produced from that piece of Canadian diamond rough? It is based upon an honor system, none of which works if the diamond cutters lack integrity.

  • Canada Mark is based on an honor system.
  • Kimberley Process is based on an honor system.
  • WDC System of Warranties is based on an honor system.

All it takes is one disreputable diamond cutter to throw a monkey wrench into the works… These are the type of arguments you’ll hear if you sit down with diamond cutters to discuss this topic. They’ll argue that Canadian diamond rough is not worth any more than other diamond rough… But Canadian Diamonds cost about 10% more than non-Canadian diamonds that pass through the Kimberley Process. Is the expense worth the piece of mind? That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? We’ll address that concept momentarily…

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Brilliant Earth Diamond Reviews:

Remember that my search of Brilliant Earth for “super ideal cut diamonds” produced a list of 73 results. Seven of those diamonds meet my criteria for proportions and overall cut grade. None of the diamonds are “super ideal cut” by my standards:

  • AGS Ideal or GIA Excellent overall cut grade.
  • Total depth between 59 – 61.8%
  • Table diameter between 53 – 58%
  • Crown angle between 34.3 – 35.0 degrees.
  • Pavilion angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees.
  • Hearts & Arrows Pattern (crisp and complete)
  • ASET Scope image (indicates distribution of light)
  • Ideal Scope image (reveals light leakage)

Why I don’t consider these diamonds super ideal:

Brilliant Earth does not provide Hearts & Arrows or reflector scope images for the “super ideal cut” diamonds listed below. The cutters who produced these diamonds, did not provide those images within the MLS either. Thus the only information we have to go by are the proportions and overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. This is not enough to establish the claim that these diamonds are “super ideal” and thus I consider them to be standard ideal cut diamonds. With that understanding in mind, these diamonds still represent the Top 1% of the annual production for rounds:

  • GIA #7226683802: 0.99 carats, H-color, VS-1 clarity. SKU: 1935720A
  • GIA #6225595131: 1.01 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity. SKU:1956687A
  • GIA #3225899663: 1.01 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity. SKU:1947344AN*
  • GIA #5233118152: 1.02 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity. SKU #1960384A
  • GIA #2228945009: 1.06 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity. SKU #1942533A
  • GIA #7228245316: 1.07 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity. SKU #1879158AN*
  • GIA #2171599233: 1.09 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity. SKU #1889790Y

I’ve have clarity photographs on file for most of these diamonds if you’re interested. I’m not providing links to these diamonds on Brilliant Earth, because the pages become “404 not found” once the diamond is sold. I find it completely unacceptable that the diamond details pages are unavailable once a diamond is sold. What if you want to access the diamond details page at some point in the future? I suppose that you can screen capture the diamond details page for future reference. This is what I’ve done to back up the details of this blog post by the way, but it’s so lame to have to do so…

Click this button to search Brilliant Earth by SKU number:

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

* Indicates that this Brilliant Earth diamond details page features a clarity photograph. All the other diamond details pages do not feature a diamond clarity photograph, or any reflector scope images.

Are Canadian diamonds worth the premium?

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, SKU 1935720A, GIA 7226683802-priceThe certificate of origin provided on Brilliant Earth for SKU #1935720A indicates that the diamond rough is from Canada. This is a 0.99 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Brilliant Earth. This photograph is provided by the cutter for GIA #7226683802 which is priced at $7,900.00 from Brilliant Earth.

This diamond is produced by the same cutter who produced the 0.95 carat, Canada Mark diamond reviewed above. The diamond cutter is located in Mumbai, India. The MLS details page indicates that the diamond is currently also located in Mumbai.

The brand field for the diamond in the MLS listing for this diamond is blank. There is no indication that the diamond is Canada Mark.

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews via Nice Ice, SKU 1935720A, GIA 7226683802 CanadianThis is a screenshot of the brand reference section for this diamond on the MLS. A screenshot of the listing details for this diamond is also on file. We have to assume that Brilliant Earth has access to details beyond what is provided on the MLS details page. Many dealers rely upon direct data fees for such information.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews: GIA 7226683802

It has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. The 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. The 35.0 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle). The 75% lower girdle facet length should produce sparkle which is larger in size, than what would be produced by 80%.

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, SKU 1935720A, GIA 7226683802We would need reflector scope images like ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and Hearts & Arrows images to judge the degree of optical precision. But there is actually a lot we can tell about the diamond cut quality from the clarity photograph. Notice how there is a slight variance in the width of the arrow shafts?

Did you also notice how the arrow shafts in the 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock positions are translucent? It’s not just the position of the diamond in the static clarity photograph. They are also translucent as the diamond rotates in the video provided by the cutter on the MLS. This type of variation in contrast brilliance are usually due to slight differences in the angle of the facets polished on to the diamond.

The dark spots that you see between the arrow shafts in the same quadrant are likely due to slight variances in the size of the lower girdle facets. This diamond actually represents the Top 1% of the annual production for rounds. However this is the type of thing that helps us distinguish whether a diamond is a standard ideal cut diamond, or a super ideal cut diamond.

Brian Gavin Hearts & Arrows super ideal cut diamond:

Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond, AGS104087405084This 0.965 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows cut diamond is priced at $7,275.00 and will be discounted to $7,057.00 for payment via wire transfer. The diamond rough was not mined in Canada, but did pass through the Kimberley Process. Brian Gavin also adheres to the WDC System of Warranties.

The presence of the hearts and arrows pattern, indicates that it is cut to the highest degree of optical precision. The overall cut grade is AGS Ideal-0 which is the highest cut grade available throughout the industry. Only the AGS Laboratory uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) as a standard for Light Performance. This diamond represents the Top 0.001% of round brilliant cut diamonds produced in the average year. The sparkle factor is quite literally off the charts!

Crafted by Infinity H&A super ideal cut diamond:

Crafted by Infinity diamond reviews, HPD7443, AGS 104078594002This 0.906 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round hearts and arrows cut diamond is priced at $7,036.00 and will be discounted to $6,684.00 for payment via wire transfer. This diamond rough was not mined in Canada either, but did pass through the Kimberley Process. Crafted by Infinity also adheres to the WDC System of Warranties.

This diamond also exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows due to the higher degree of optical precision. Every CBI diamond is sent to the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) for grading and has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0. This is a real super ideal cut diamond by my standards. Do you notice how there isn’t any of the obstruction located at the base of the arrows pattern?

Now that you know what to look for, you see the importance of those silly hearts patterns… The ones that most dealers don’t want to take pictures of because they know their diamonds aren’t really super ideal. But you’re going to insist upon those photographs now, aren’t you? Because now you know that the higher degree of optical precision that creates the hearts pattern, improves the volume of light return. It also reduces the volume of light leakage and creates sparkle that is larger in size, and bolder, brighter, and more vivid. Why would you accept anything less?

Brilliant Earth Diamond Details Page Comparison:

If it were within my power to improve your diamond buying experience with Brilliant Earth, I would ensure that diamond clarity and reflector scope images were available for every diamond. It’s not enough to simply know the proportions and overall cut grade of a diamond. You must have access to ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and H&A Scope images to judge the degree of optical precision. This is why dealers like Brian Gavin and High Performance Diamonds make these images readily available to their clients.

Compare the details pages of Brilliant Earth, Brian Gavin & High Performance Diamonds:

Brilliant Earth SKU 1935720A, Brian Gavin 104087405084, Crafted by Infinity HPD7443

These are screenshots of diamond details pages from Brilliant Earth, Brian Gavin, and High Performance Diamonds. I’ve got some rather simple question to ask you:

  • Which diamond details page is most appealing?
  • Which diamond dealer provides the most detail?
  • Do you prefer more information or less?

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, SKU 1935720A, GIA 7226683802Brilliant Earth didn’t provide a clarity photograph of this diamond, even though it was available on the MLS. Here is the photograph that the cutter provides within the MLS listing for the 0.99 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Brilliant Earth.

The cutter didn’t provide any reflector scope images, so we can’t determine the degree of optical precision or lack thereof. Don’t be misled into believing that GIA Excellent is the pinnacle of diamond cutting, I can show you tons of reflector scope images for GIA Excellent cut diamonds that are leaking a lot of light!

Oh heck, since this is a diamond grading tutorial of sorts, I might as well show you a GIA Excellent / Canada Mark diamond that is leaking light despite the ideal proportions. I’ll add in a little Canada Mark Diamond review a bit further down this page.

The Brian Gavin diamond details page provides you with:

  • AGS Diamond Quality Document.
  • High resolution video.
  • Diamond Clarity photograph.
  • ASET Scope photograph.
  • Ideal Scope photograph.
  • Hearts & Arrows photograph.

The High Performance Diamonds details page provides you with:

  • AGS Diamond Quality Document.
  • Diamond Clarity photograph.
  • ASET Scope photograph.
  • Ideal Scope photograph.
  • Hearts & Arrows photograph.
  • Video upon request.

The Brilliant Earth diamond details page provides you with:

  • GIA or IGI diamond grading report.
  • Certificate of origin.
  • The occasional photograph.

The diamond details page for the 0.99 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round from Brilliant Earth provides little more than is on the diamond grading report. In fact, that’s actually the only information provided, besides an indication that the diamond rough is from Canada. The clarity photograph provided above is from the multiple listing service, it’s not provided on the diamond details page:

Brilliant Earth diamond reviews, SKU 1935720A, GIA 7226683802

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Would you pay $625.00 – 864.00 more for the Canadian diamond?

The difference in size between these three diamonds is not something that you’re likely to see from across the dinner table. All three diamonds are compliant with the Kimberley Process and the WDC System of Warranties.

  • Brilliant Earth #1935720A = 0.99 carats, H-color, VS-1 clarity for $7,900.00
  • Brian Gavin #104087405084 = 0.965 carats, H-color, VS-1 clarity for $7,275.00
  • Crafted by Infinity #HPD7443 = 0.906 carats, H-color, VS-1 clarity for $7,036.00

The proportions of all three diamonds are right in the middle of the spectrum designated for the zero ideal cut proportions rating. To that regard the diamonds are equal and the overall cut grades of the diamonds are GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal. However the Brian Gavin Signature and Crafted by Infinity diamonds are clearly cut to a higher standard of optical precision. Both BGD & CBI provide us with the reflector scope images necessary to verify the higher degree of optical precision.

The Price Per Carat (PPC) of the three diamonds are as follows:

  • Brilliant Earth SKU #1935720A = $7,979.79 per carat.
  • Brian Gavin #104087405084 = $7,538.86 per carat.
  • Crafted by Infinity #HPD7443 = $7,766.00 per carat.

To determine the Price Per Carat (PPC) of a diamond, simply divide the selling price by the carat weight. For example, take the credit card price of the 0.99 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut diamond from Brilliant Earth: 7900.00 / 0.99 = $7,979.79

Remember that all three of the diamonds are H-color, and VS-1 in clarity. The diamond from Brilliant Earth has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent, the other two diamonds have an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0.

So which ideal cut diamond will you buy?

Understand that I’m not trying to suggest that you buy one diamond over the other. I’m simply asking which diamond you would choose based upon the information that each dealer provides. This is the type of thing that every person must decide for themselves when buying a diamond.

Some people are willing to pay a higher price for a Canadian diamond because they are from Canada, or simply like the concept of a Canadian Diamond. I’m willing to pay more to pour pure maple syrup from Canada on my pancakes, because I prefer the higher quality. But it’s doubtful that I would pay a higher price for that maple syrup if the quality wasn’t actually better than what I could buy elsewhere.

Diamond clarity photographs were available on the MLS for six out of the seven Brilliant Earth diamonds referenced above.  I have those images on file if you decide to purchase one of those diamonds. Unfortunately only one of the Brilliant Earth diamond details pages featured a photograph [SKU:1947344AN]. I’m happy to look Brilliant Earth diamonds up on the MLS and provide you with whatever images are available. Just send me the link via my Diamond Concierge Service:

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Canada Mark Review: GIA 6225666156

This is the ASET Scope and Hearts image for a 1.09 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round from Enchanted Diamonds. The diamond details provided by the cutter on the MLS indicate that the diamond brand is Canada Mark. The diamond has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. The proportions are well within the scope of my preferred range, as outlined above.

The pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees should produce a high volume of light return. The 34.5 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle). However the ASET Scope image indicates a high amount of light leakage under the table facet, as indicated by the red arrow in the eight o’clock region:

Enchanted Diamonds reviews via Nice Ice, SKU R109-5Z3Z5Z67Z, GIA 6225666156 scope images

So what’s going on? This is probably the result of a combination of azimuth shift and differences in the length of the lower girdle facets. The little bit of extra dark space that is visible around the heart in the six o’clock position, is creating the light leakage visible in the ASET image. The red arrows in the hearts photograph point towards the extra space that is creating the problem.

The red circles indicate where the tips of the hearts appear to be bending in different directions. In reality, the tips of the hearts are not bending at all… Each heart consists of two reflections of light reflecting off the lower girdle facets from the other side of the diamond. When the lower girdle facets are different in length, the reflection of light is uneven, which creates the illusion that the tips of the hearts are bending.

Now you can see why I like to have reflector scope images…

Enchanted Diamonds review via Nice Ice, SKU R109-5Z3Z5Z67Z, GIA 6225666156I’m sorry to report that the majority of diamond details pages found on Brilliant Earth provide only basic diamond details. Most of the diamond details pages feature a copy of the grading report, and an indication of the origin of the diamond rough. I think it’s time for Brilliant Earth to up their game and provide their customers with more in-depth details.

Enchanted Diamonds didn’t take these photographs themselves, they got them up from the MLS listing. That’s also where I got these images from… If we can pull these images from the MLS, then so can Brilliant Earth. They simply need to add a few lines of code to their web site. Then they can transform their diamond details pages into something useful like the example you see here. This type of detail provides extensive peace of mind.

Interestingly enough, even though you can Search Enchanted Diamonds for Canadian Diamonds, they’re not marketing this diamond as Canada Mark. The only reason I know that this diamond is Canada Mark, is because the diamond cutter indicates it as such within the brand field on the MLS.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

Brilliant Earth Diamond Reviews: GIA #6225666156:

After I found this 1.09 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond on Enchanted Diamonds, I ran a search for it on Brilliant Earth. This same 1.09 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round Canada Mark diamond appears on Brilliant Earth as SKU #1956733A.

The same 1.09 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond is available from Blue Nile. Although Blue Nile offers Canadian Diamonds, there is no indication that the diamond rough is of Canadian origin. Here are screenshots of the diamond details pages from Brilliant Earth (left) and Blue Nile (right):

Brilliant Earth Diamond Reviews, SKU 1956733A, GIA 6225666156 details vs Blue Nile LD07128917

Brilliant Earth diamonds reviews, SKU 1956733A, GIA 6225666156 Canada markThe diamond details pages offered by Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile are pretty much the same. Neither vendor is providing the clarity photograph and reflector scope images that are available on the MLS for this diamond. Brilliant Earth is promoting the fact that the diamond rough originated from Canada.

Interestingly enough, I did not find the same diamond when I searched James Allen for Canada Mark diamonds. Nor did the same diamond appear as an option when I searched Blue Nile for Canadian diamonds. Which does seem kind of strange to me, since the diamond is virtual inventory currently available on the MLS and Canada Mark appears in the brand field.

What I expect from a diamond details page:

In order to make a truly informed decision when buying a diamond, you really need a diamond details page that provides you with the following details:

  • Full Size copy of the diamond grading report
  • 30x Diamond Clarity photograph
  • High Resolution Video of the diamond.
  • ASET image of the diamond
  • Ideal Scope image of the diamond
  • Hearts and Arrows image of the diamond

I don’t feel that you should have to stop and ask whether clarity photographs and reflector scope images are available. The photographs and images are being provided on the MLS by more diamond cutters every day, this is where Enchanted Diamonds is sourcing them. I’d like to see both Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile step up to the plate and modernize their web sites to reflect this kind of necessary detail.

Brilliant Earth Sparkles in the Engagement Ring Department:

According to Brilliant Earth, all of their engagement rings are made to order in the United States. The engagement rings are handcrafted and cast as a single piece. This tends to create an engagement ring which is more durable than rings cast as multiple pieces. Brilliant Earth ensures me that every ring they produce exhibits exceptional craftsmanship, with meticulous attention to detail.

Each ring is individually cast to the customer’s exact finger size and the dimensions of the diamond chosen for the ring. This is a significantly better approach than simply offering the same mass produced semi-mounts that many companies offer online. Mass produced engagement rings need to be sized, and are designed to fit a range of center stone sizes.

Brilliant Earth offers an extensive selection of unique engagement rings… They also offer custom design services if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind engagement ring.

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Custom Design Your Engagement Ring Today!

Another thing that sets Brilliant Earth apart from their competitors is their commitment to only using recycled precious metals. Since recycled gold and platinum are re-refined into their purest elements, they are identical in quality to newly mined metals. The objective of Brilliant Earth is to diminish the negative impacts of dirty gold and other precious metals by reducing the demand for newly mined materials.

Lab Grown Diamonds from Brilliant Earth:

Brilliant Earth is one of the few online vendors that offer lab grown diamonds. I have to state clearly for the record that I am not a fan of lab grown diamonds. I feel that lab grown diamonds are one of the biggest acts of consumer fraud that diamond buyers are subject to.

The majority of lab grown diamonds are for use by the medical and technological industries, where resale value is not a primary consideration. As the technology to produce lab grown diamonds improves, the cost of producing them becomes less and less. This might seem like a good thing at first glance, until you realize that the value of a lab grown diamond depreciates faster than a new car.

None of my friends in the diamond industry are investing in lab grown diamonds. Most diamond dealers view lab grown diamonds as a bad investment. It’s a cold, hard fact that diamond dealers aren’t in the business of losing money… Notice that Brilliant Earth offers a “free lifetime diamond upgrade” for natural diamonds, but even they don’t want your lab grown diamond back:

Brilliant Earth upgrade policy excludes lab grown diamonds, July 01, 2016Suffice to say that I’ll help you select a lab grown diamond from Brilliant Earth if that’s what you really want. However I strongly suggest that you stick with natural diamonds. Of course, these are just my personal opinions about lab grown diamonds. It’s your engagement ring and you should buy whatever type of diamond you want. Just go into the situation with your eyes wide open. Be aware that Brilliant Earth does not take lab grown diamonds back in for upgrade. Full disclosure. Problem solved.

My Take on the Brilliant Earth Experience:

Believe it or not, I actually like the concept behind Brilliant Earth. I realize that it might not seem that way, since this review highlights the things that I’d like to see Brilliant Earth improve. There is something kind of cool about knowing the origin of your diamond rough. Hopefully more diamond cutters will provide this type of information for their customers in the near future.

I think that the combined efforts of the Kimberley Process and the WDC System of Warranties are a step in the right direction. However no system is perfect, there will always be people who abuse the system. Every system contains room for improvement. Brilliant Earth is providing the diamond industry with an example of how they can improve things by being more transparent.

I urge the management of Brilliant Earth to adapt tighter parameters for their super ideal cut classification. The range of proportions that I provide in this Brilliant Earth review are a great place to start! Those are the same guidelines that super ideal specialists like Brian Gavin, Crafted by Infinity, and Hearts on Fire adhere to.

More and more diamond cutters are providing clarity and reflector scope images for the diamonds uploaded to the MLS. It would be relatively easy for Brilliant Earth to incorporate those images into their diamond details pages. This is how diamond companies like Enchanted Diamonds and James Allen provide images for their virtual inventory. The reality is that Brilliant Earth is probably already in the process of incorporating these images. However I have to write reviews which reflect the current state of things, not what may be up and coming in the near future…

Brilliant Earth "Beyond Conflict Free"Diamonds from Canada, Namibia, Botswana and Russia

The Best Way to Buy from Brilliant Earth:

Feel free to take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service if you’ve got a diamond from Brilliant Earth that interests you. I’ll be happy to look over the details and provide you with any images that may be available on the MLS. Be sure to tell me exactly what you’re looking for:

  • The Price range you’re working with.
  • Diamond shape
  • Carat weight (minimum)
  • Clarity range (minimum)
  • Color range (minimum)
  • Fluorescence preference.
  • Canadian diamond? Don’t care?

Note that I will not run searches on Brilliant Earth for diamonds. Although vastly improved since my last review, the format of their search engine still makes me want to bang my head on the keyboard. It’s much faster and more efficient for me to run diamond searches via the MLS and then determine who is selling the diamond online. I’m able to search the global inventory of diamonds, using full proportions parameters including crown and pavilion angle in seconds. I’m even able to limit the results to specific types of inclusions, like I said… It’s time for online diamond dealers to up their game.

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