Are Blue Nile Canada Diamonds Better Than Brian Gavin?

This page may contain affiliate links.

minute/s reading time

November 19

"I'm trying to decide between Blue Nile Canada and Brian Gavin Diamonds. I have learned quite a bit about diamonds from reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’m in the process of shopping for a diamond, and it's a little overwhelming."

"Upon viewing many diamonds with less than ideal proportions, I came across GIA #1132987464, which is a 2.00 carat, G color, VVS2 clarity diamond, with a 60% table, 59% depth, 32 degree crown angle, and a 40.8 degree pavilion angle, which scores 1.6 “Brilliant Ideal Cut” on the Holloway Cut Adviser."

Blue Nile Canada Diamond Buying Guide.

Blue Nile Engagement Rings.

"This stone has some of the proportions you recommended, but apparently, it only has a very good cut rating? I’m keen on buying only GIA Excellent cut, but I am kind of wondering whether this stone is worth buying? This diamond also has only Good polish, which I’m also concerned about."

"I’ve heard great things about Brian Gavin, but am concerned about the tariff and duties involved with shipping diamonds to Canada. I feel that with the money I save on taxes, will enable me to get a better bang for my bucks locally."

"I’m also very skeptical about buying online, so I’ve been using Blue Nile Canada as a benchmark for diamond prices. I’m looking for an exceptional over 2 carat with a 35K budget; are there any diamonds that you would recommend? Thanks. ~ T.C.”

Blue Nile Canada Diamond Review: GIA 1132987464

Blue Nile Canada Diamond Review.

Blue Nile Diamonds.

First, I need to point out that the diamond which you referenced as being a 2.00 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, round diamond, GIA 1132987464; is described as a 2.00 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity diamond, on the lab report pictured left.

I looked up the GIA diamond grading report number using the GIA Report Check feature provided on their web site. Be sure to take the difference in cost between a G-color and an I-color, two-carat diamonds into account when using Blue Nile Canada as a platform for comparing diamond prices with your local retailer in Canada.

Due to the proportions indicated on the diamond grading report, along with the good polish, and very good symmetry rating, this would not be a diamond that I would normally consider. However, it presents us with a good opportunity to learn.

On that note, I want to thank you for indicating that it is all right for me to publish this blog post while you are in the midst of shopping for a diamond. I appreciate your honesty in letting me know that you are early in the research phase of buying a diamond, it enables me to make effective use of my time, and for other people to benefit from the explanations and insight provided.

The Proportions Do Not Meet Our Specifications

All right, so the pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees is within my preferred range of proportions and it should produce a high volume of light return. However the crown angle of 32.0 degrees is significantly shallower than my preferred range of 34.3 – 34.9 degrees, which is likely to result in the diamond exhibiting more brilliance (white sparkle) than dispersion (colored sparkle) and I tend to prefer a virtual balance of the two factors.

In addition, the shallow crown angle is likely to cut down on the degree of static contrast exhibited by the diamond, especially given the fact that the diamond has very good symmetry instead of excellent. Personally, I’ve never liked diamonds where the table diameter is larger than the total depth, because of the effect that it tends to have on how light travels through the stone; and therefore this is not what I would consider being “an exceptional 2-carat” diamond unless you’re focused on price rather than visual performance.

Ideal Scope for Blue Nile Canada GIA Excellent cut diamond.

Blue Nile Ideal Scope Rendering.

With this in mind, it might be confusing as to why the Holloway Cut Adviser gave this diamond a score of 1.6 BIC = Brilliant Ideal Cut, especially since the highest proportions score that the diamond could possibly get from the AGS Laboratory would be AGS-1 Excellent; based upon the 60% table diameter with a 32.0 degree crown which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees!

However, that is not likely, given the projected Ideal Scope image that I created using mathematical ray tracing for a diamond of those proportions if it were to actually have excellent optical precision.

Say what? Okay, the thing to realize about computer-generated reflector scope images such as this, is that they are a rendering that is created based upon a rendering of the diamond. Consequently, that is based solely upon the basic measurements of the diamond, which are averaged and rounded off by the gemological laboratories.

The actual degree of optical symmetry is not taken into account, because the program has no way of knowing what the degree of optical symmetry actually is; so this is essentially a “best-case scenario” of what a diamond of these proportions would likely look like if viewed through an Ideal Scope, in the unlikely event that the diamond cutter took the time to align every facet on the diamond perfectly, for a diamond which the GIA Laboratory determined had only very good symmetry.

For the same reasons, I recommend not getting too caught up in the numerical score provided by the Holloway Cut Adviser, and paying more attention to the description provided for the factors of light return and sparkle factor:

  • Light Return = Very Good.
  • Fire = Excellent.
  • Scintillation = Very Good.
  • Spread = Excellent.

Now the spread of the diamond is simply the ratio of visible outside diameter in comparison to the depth and carat weight of the diamond, and the HCA tends to give higher scores to round brilliant cut diamonds which have a total depth less than 60.3% but this has very little to do with the light return, so let’s forget about it.

This leaves you with an estimated Light Return of Very Good; and Excellent Fire, but only Very Good Scintillation… This doesn’t sound very promising to me, and I wouldn’t recommend buy a diamond cut like this unless the price is your primary concern.

By the way, the HCA works on very basic proportions analysis and does not take optical symmetry, or lower girdle facet length into account, it is essentially a first-level diamond elimination tool, which has lived well beyond its time.

The Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) employed by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) makes it obsolete since it actually measures diamonds for light return, it’s one of the reasons I prefer AGS to GIA graded diamonds.

So leaving that option behind, let’s see what is available within your desired price range of $35K

Brian Gavin Signature Diamond Review: AGS 104063637005

Brian Gavin Signature Round Diamond.

Brian Gavin Signature Diamonds.

My top pick of the litter would be this 2.311 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, because it is cut to the range of proportions that will deliver the highest volume of light return along with a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.

It will also exhibit a degree of optical symmetry that will result in flashes of light/sparkle which are going to be larger in size, bolder, and brighter, than what most diamonds will exhibit.

This is apparent by the presence of a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows that is pictured to the left, as well as how the diamond appears in the ASET / Ideal Scope images provided on the diamond details page.

This 2.311 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond has been graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on their Light Performance-based grading platform which uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) to measure diamonds for brightness.

That kind of technology leaves proportions-based grading systems in the dust. So, while I happen to know that the total depth of 61.4% and table diameter of 57.2% combined with a crown angle of 34.9 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.9 degrees, with 77% lower girdle facets and 52% star facets is going to produce a diamond that exhibits a volume of light return and sparkle factor that is out of this world; the fact is that you don’t need to rely on my word for that information, it is provided on the AGS Diamond Quality Document.

Now we’ve gone down a little bit in terms of clarity; however, that will not be noticeable to the naked eye; the difference between VVS2 and VS2 clarity diamonds can only be ascertained using 10x magnification. However the difference in sparkle factor between the two diamonds is something that will be visible from across the room!

Canada Diamond Import Duty, Taxes, and Tariffs:

I happen to be an affiliate for Blue Nile and Brian Gavin Diamonds, and several other companies that ship diamonds to Canada and around the world on a regular basis. The list price advertised by Blue Nile generally includes import tax. However, GST/HST taxes apply and will be added to the total once the shipping address is entered in checkout.

Just so that you’re not surprised, there might be an import/excise tax on settings, but that isn’t likely to add up to much. It’s hardly worth mentioning, but I don’t want you to be caught off guard.

When you buy from Brian Gavin, the import and excise taxes will be collected by the shipping agent at the time of delivery. The reality is that you have to pay import taxes and tariffs for any diamond which you buy online and have shipped to Canada. The primary difference here is that Blue Nile is collecting it upfront, and Brian Gavin is letting the government collect it upon delivery. At the end of the day, you’re paying the tax either way.

It’s reasonable to assume that your local jeweler in Ontario, Canada has to pay the same import and excise taxes when importing diamonds into Canada. Those charges are, of course, being passed on to you when you buy the diamond locally.

So whether you buy a diamond in Canada from your local jewelry store, from Blue Nile Canada, or from Brian Gavin Diamonds, or any other diamond dealer online, you’re going to pay Canadian diamond import and excise tax in one form or another.

How to find the best diamonds from Blue Nile Canada:

Finding the round brilliant cut diamonds that are most likely to exhibit the highest volume of light return and sparkle factor on Blue Nile Canada is really not any different than searching for diamonds on the original Blue Nile Diamonds site.

Consequently, the only thing that seems to change is the country designation of /ca that appears after the standard Blue Nile [dot] com URL in the address bar of your browser, and the flag that appears in the upper right corner of the website, and the currency; beyond that, the inventory and pricing are the same once you take the rate of currency conversion into account.

Click here to search for round brilliant cut diamonds from Blue Nile Canada; then set the Advanced Filters options as follows:

  • Cut: Ideal / Astor Ideal;
  • Polish: Excellent / Ideal;
  • Symmetry: Excellent / Ideal;
  • Total depth between 59 – 61.8%.
  • Table diameter between 53 – 58%.
  • Fluorescence: your preference;
  • Culet: “none”

I set the limit on price at 40,000 Canadian Dollars which is roughly the equivalent of $35K U.S. Dollars, the color range was G-H color, and the clarity range is VVS-2 and higher.

When I conducted this search for round diamonds on Blue Nile Canada, I was presented with 31 results, which I then opened up page-by-page, so that I could flip through the diamond grading reports to determine if any of the diamonds had crown and pavilion angle offsets that meet my selection criteria.

Of the thirty-one round brilliant ideal and Blue Nile Signature Ideal diamonds that I was presented with, only four of those diamonds ended up meeting my selection criteria, and two of those sold while I was writing this blog post, it’s that time of year… But the other two are presented here in my order of preference.

Despite the fact that all of the different websites for Blue Nile seem to simply be an extension of the original website, Blue Nile requires its affiliates to partner with each website separately; and only credits the affiliate with a referral, if you happen to purchase the diamond using a link that the affiliate generated specifically for your country.

This is totally lame in my opinion, but it is what it is… So if you order a diamond from Blue Nile Canada and have it shipped to the United States using one of the links provided below, or vice versa, Blue Nile is not likely to credit me with the referral; but they will certainly collect your money and ship the diamond to wherever you want!

If you’d like to know what I “really” think about this Blue Nile affiliate policy [insert an appropriate string of expletives here].

C’mon, use your imagination, don’t hold back; tell me how you really feel… Believe me, I’ve told them what I think about it. So if you ever find yourself on Blue Nile and wondering whether I’m going to be credited for helping you with your diamond search, and want to be sure that I am compensated for my time (which helps keep this website going) then feel free to send us a link for the diamond via our Diamond Concierge Service and ask for a link encoded with our affiliate code for your country.

Then, order the diamond using that link, do NOT order the diamond by telephone, because Blue Nile does not track referrals by telephone; and then send me an email with the order confirmation number after you have placed it online… it’s amazing to me how many of you are happy to help me out this way, you’re the best!

By the way, it costs you nothing to use the affiliate links provided herein, your cost on the diamond does not change, Blue Nile compensates me for my time out of their annual advertising budget. With that in mind, let’s shop Blue Nile Canada for diamonds:

Blue Nile Canada diamond review: GIA 2161621420

Blue Nile Canada GIA Excellent cut diamond.

Blue Nile Canada.

This 2.01 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, round ideal diamond from Blue Nile Canada has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent with a total depth of 61.1% and 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 thin to medium, faceted girdle, no culet, and 75% lower girdle facets; which gives it proportions that are right in the middle of the “sweet spot” that I look for in terms of proportions; it is going to exhibit a high volume of light return.

And this diamond should exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) while the 75% lower girdle facet length will produce flashes of light/sparkle which is larger in size, bolder, brighter, and more intense than would be produced if a diamond with these same proportions had LGF’s in the range of 80 – 82% which makes this my type of diamond.

Blue Nile Canada vs Enchanted Diamonds Review.

Blue Nile Canada.

Of course since this 2.01 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, round ideal diamond from Blue Nile Canada is not a Astor by Blue Nile diamond. In that case, it is not accompanied by the supplemental GCAL diamond grading report that provides a clarity photograph, and some indication as to the light return and sparkle factor that this diamond is likely to exhibit.

Thankfully I was able to find the same 2.01 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, round at Enchanted Diamonds, and their diamond details page featured the clarity image pictured to the left. We still don’t have any of the reflector scope images that are necessary for me to judge the optical symmetry of the diamond.

The degree of optical symmetry that a diamond exhibits is an important factor because it affects the intensity and volume of sparkle, but suffice to say that based upon the proportions and overall diamond cut quality, this puppy is easily within the Top 1% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds. Needless to say that I’d definitely put this two-carat diamond from Blue Nile Canada diamond at the top of your short list.

Blue Nile Canada diamond review: GIA 216634412

GIA Excellent Cut Diamond from Blue Nile Canada.

Blue Nile Canada.

Next up, we have this 2.30 carat, H-color, VVS-2 clarity, round ideal diamond from Blue Nile Canada, which has the super ideal, center range, zero ideal cut proportions that I recommend.

The 40.8 degree pavilion angle is offset by a 34.5 degree crown angle. However, it has 80% lower girdle facets, which are going to give the stone more of a crushed ice look.

Consequently, some people really like that combination because the stone will give off pin-fire type sparkle that is very similar to the sparkle seen bouncing off of a disco ball.

However this sparkle is smaller in size, and thus our eyes may have difficulty dispersing the white light into colored light (hence the term dispersion) and thus diamonds like this have a tendency to appear more brilliant than give off a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and this is where personal preference enters the equation.

What Makes Brian Gavin Signature Diamonds Different?

Brian Gavin Signature Diamond Ideal Scope image.

Brian Gavin Signature Diamonds.

Obviously, you know that I love the production quality of Brian Gavin, which is why I suggested the 2.311 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond. Just look at the Ideal Scope for this diamond which is provided to the left.

This is an actual Ideal Scope image, not a computer-generated rendering; this is what the diamond actually looks like when viewed while unmounted through an Ideal Scope.

In that case, we’re able to judge the actual optical symmetry and degree of light leakage exhibited by this Brian Gavin Signature round diamond; nothing is left to chance, we’re not having to guess or assume anything; this diamond is going to be dynamite!

Additional Options from Brian Gavin:

There is also this 2.164 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity Brian Gavin Signature round diamond which is currently in production, it is one clarity grade higher than the 2.311 carat, and one clarity grade lower than the VVS-2 range that you specified as a preference, and obviously I-color instead of H-color, but the increased sparkle factor will make up for that.

And then there is this 2.055 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond that is currently in production and available as a pre-order from the factory; it’s only off one color grade, and that’s not something that most people are apt to notice when looking at diamonds in real-world lighting conditions.

These are Hearts and Arrows quality diamonds, that are quite well known and sought after in the Asian markets, I used to ship tons of H&A diamonds over to Asia, and I purchased quite a lot of those from Brian Gavin when he only sold diamonds wholesale to the trade, they are considered to be the best of the best, I really can’t rave about them enough.

All right, this is the best of the best of what I’m seeing floating around out there… I realize that you’re still in the early research stages of the diamond buying process, but hopefully, you have a better idea of what I look for in a diamond, and that it doesn’t matter whether you buy from Blue Nile Canada, Brian Gavin, or any of the other vendors who I work with; Canada diamond import and excise taxes will be due upon receipt, and/or are padded into the retail price being offered by your local jeweler.

About the Author

Dive deep into the glittering world of diamonds with Todd Gray, the CEO of Gray Matter Development, LLC. Todd has 35+ years of experience as a diamond buyer and trade consultant. He ghostwrites content for several online vendors and is an avid Freediver, currently exploring the Cenotes of Yucatan, Mexico. Dive into brilliance with Todd Gray!