Diamonds weighing between 0.90 – 0.99 carats present an excellent opportunity to find something that looks fairly close to a one carat diamond in size without breaking the bank because they are not affected by the price increase which occurs between the 0.99 – 1.00 carat marks. With that in mind, this Blue Nile Signature Diamond review will focus on diamonds weighing just under a carat which are G-H color and VS-2 in clarity.
Diamonds within the Blue Nile Signature Collection are diamonds which were produced exclusively for Blue Nile by the diamond cutters which they work with, these diamonds are not available from other vendors. The diamonds are usually graded by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory with an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent which is the highest rating available from the GIA for diamond cut quality which is based on the proportions of the diamond, the polish and the symmetry.
To narrow down the list of possibilities and increase the chance of finding diamonds which meet my expectations in terms of light return and visual performance within the Blue Nile Signature Collection I used the “Advanced Criteria” option on their diamond search tool to set the Total Depth of the diamonds between 59 – 61.9% and the Table Diameter between 53 – 57.5% and limited the Polish and Symmetry grades to GIA Excellent / AGS Ideal on the off chance that there might actually be a diamond graded by the AGS Laboratory within the Blue Nile Signature Collection.
All right so the first diamond which appeared on the list of options is this 0.90 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD02511043 which is graded by the GIA Laboratory with a total depth of 62.5% and a table diameter of 57% with a crown angle of 35.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 41.0 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet.
According to the GIA Laboratory, the inclusions within the diamond consist of clouds, crystals, pinpoints, feathers, indented naturals and naturals… the diamond has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent with no fluorescence. Now there are a couple of things which perplex me about this diamond, not the least of which is why it appeared in the search results when it has a total depth of 62.5% and I specified a range of total depth between 59 – 61.9% but perhaps that is because according to the GCAL Grading Report the diamond weighs 0.90 carats and has a total depth of 61.8% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees offset by a pavilion angle of 41.0 degrees.
Now in case you haven’t been paying attention (sarcasm) that’s a difference of 0.02 carats for carat weight and a difference of 0.7% for total depth and one entire degree for the crown angle, yet the pavilion angle measurement remains the same and if you look at the two reports you’ll see that the outside diameter of the diamond is relatively equal. Then there is the fact that the listing on Blue Nile indicates that the diamond weighs “0.90-carats” but the GIA diamond grading report indicates that the diamond weighs 0.92 carats.
At first I thought that somebody had mixed up the two lab reports for this diamond when loading it on to the server at Blue Nile, but then I noticed that the inscription of the Blue Nile Signature Diamond logo and the number for the corresponding GIA diamond grading report “GIA 2145364413” is pictured on the GCAL diamond grading report, so I don’t know what is going on… perhaps Blue Nile is listing diamonds in their search engine based on the data provided by GCAL and not the GIA, but that seems absurd since GCAL is a second or third tier gemological laboratory in terms of market recognition.
If we’re to believe the numbers specified on the GIA diamond grading report then mathematical ray tracing analysis indicates that the diamond probably has a light return, fire and scintillation rating of good; however if we trust the numbers presented on the GCAL report then light return is more like excellent with the other factors being very good… You probably realize that I’m more inclined to trust the information provided by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory, so let’s move on in an attempt to thaw out my brain.
The second option which presented itself is this 0.90 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD03008275 which is graded by the GIA was having a total depth of 61.7% with a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 35.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and a small culet. The diamond grading report format presented with this diamond is slightly different from the one above in that it is a GIA Diamond Dossier which is commonly used for diamonds weighing less than 1.00 carats because it is less expensive to produce; it does not contain a plotting diagram of the inclusions, but indicates that they are clouds, crystals and feathers.
This is where a clarity photograph showing the location and extent of the inclusions would be a masterful addition to the diamond details pages provided by Blue Nile, however this is not conducive to their business model which relies on their vendors to hold the majority of diamonds in their inventory and handle shipping for them… these images are available upon request however.
But I’m not going to request clarity images of this diamond or additional images such as ASET Scope, Ideal Scope and Hearts & Arrows images because I know from experience that I don’t like diamonds with a 35.5 degree crown angle even when it is offset by a 40.8 degree pavilion angle because I realize that the light return would be better if the crown angle were kept between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees, so I’m going to pass even though the GCAL report for this diamond indicates that the light return will be excellent… it’s just not my cup of tea, but it’s worth buying if the price is right and it is priced accordingly for its characteristics. This diamond is pretty typical of the quality stocked by a lot of high end jewelry stores, but is priced well below traditional brick and mortar jewelry store retail pricing.
This next 0.90 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD02471373 is cut quite similar to the last option with a total depth of 61.6% and a table diameter of 55% and a crown angle of 35.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted girdle and a small culet. The inclusions are small clouds and pinpoint size diamond crystals. Like the option described above, it’s worth considering if your primary focus is price and you’re just looking to knock the socks off your local jewelry store.
Now we’re getting somewhere… this 0.90 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD02543883 is worthy of a Blue Nile Signature Diamond Review written by Nice Ice. With a total depth of 61.9% and a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 34.0 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 41.0 degrees it is much closer to the perfection which I seek in terms of proportions… it’s not quite perfect, but it’s definitely within the top 1% of annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds and is going to be able to walk the talk in terms of light return!
Now I can tell by the images of the diamond provided on the GCAL report that the hearts pattern is not perfect, so there is a little bit of Azamet Shift in the diamond, but the arrows pattern looks pretty good! By the way, I use the hearts images or pavilion view image of a diamond to look for consistency in the facet structure which provides some insight into the sparkle factor of the diamond… this diamond is likely to exhibit a higher degree of sparkle factor than the other diamonds which we’ve reviewed thus far because these images are better for this diamond than they have been for the others, but I’d still prefer to use the tools actually designed to make this judgement, such as an ASET Scope for Light Return, an Ideal Scope for Light Leakage and a Hearts & Arrows Scope for Visual Performance… but I can kind of make due with the images provided on the GCAL report. The inclusions within this diamond look good on the plotting diagram provided on the GIA diamond grading report, there are a couple of feathers, clouds, pinpoints and an extra facet, but nothing of any consequence. This puppy is definitely a contender.
Another option worthy of consideration is this 0.91 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD02454931 which is graded by the GIA as having a total depth of 61.3% with a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 35.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted girdle and no culet. The steeper crown angle of 35.5 degrees can work pretty well with the shallower pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees and quite often results in a diamond with excellent light return! Here again the images of the arrows and hearts pattern provided on the GCAL report provide some indication that there is some variance in the size and shape of the hearts, there is a little bit of twisting visible in the tips of the hearts, but it’s better than most of what we’ve looked at so far and is pretty typical of an ideal cut diamond which was not specifically produced to exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts and Arrows like those found within the Brian Gavin Signature Collection of Hearts and Arrows Diamonds or High Performance Crafted by Infinity Diamonds and James Allen True Hearts collections.
This 0.92 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD02447068 is another viable option with a total depth of 61.5% and a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 34.0 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 41.0 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and a small culet. It is likely to produce excellent light return and fire with pretty good scintillation. There is a fair amount of variance in the size and shape of the hearts, so I’m more partial to the last two options… but here again, it’s essentially equivalent to the high end offerings of most jewelry stores and is priced much better than what it would be in the average brick and mortar jewelry store which quite frankly would have a heck of a time trying to compete with Blue Nile on price! The primary inclusions are indicated as being feathers, crystals, pinpoints and an indented natural, everything looks fine in terms of the plotting diagram.
This 0.92 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature round #LD03108963 is another excellent contender with a total depth of 61.7% and a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 35.5 degrees offset by a pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees with a medium, faceted girdle and a small culet. Here again, the steeper crown angle is well served by a slightly shallow pavilion angle. There is some variation to be seen within the hearts pattern represented on the GCAL report, but we’ve come to expect that… right? The primary inclusions are clouds, crystals, needle shaped diamond crystals and an indented natural, everything looks fine as far as the plotting diagram goes.
The phrase “every prophet in her house” (or his house) is used throughout one of my favorite television shows Carnivàle by HBO to indicate that every person has their place and likewise every diamond vendor has a tendency to represent a specific niche within the market… It seems to me that the Blue Nile business model is designed to compete on a basis of price and not diamond cut quality and visual performance. If you’re content with the light return and visual performance of the average GIA Excellent Cut Diamond which you have been offered by traditional brick and mortar jewelry stores in your area, then you’ll most likely find the diamonds offered within the Blue Nile Signature Collection to be comparable in quality but priced less expensively.
If by chance you’re a total diamond cut snob like me and your primary focus is on Light Performance and Visual Performance, then quite frankly none of the diamonds listed within this particular Blue Nile Signature Diamond review are going to cut it because they aren’t quite perfect enough. I specifically look for the total depth of a round brilliant cut diamond to be within 59 – 61.8% with a table diameter between 53 – 57.5% and a crown angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees offset by a pavilion angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted or polished girdle and either a GIA culet of “none” or an AGS culet of “pointed” with an overall cut grade of either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal. Now this is not to say that it can’t be found within the Blue Nile Signature Diamond collection, it simply there today and I’ve reviewed all of the 0.90 – 0.99 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity options available at this moment in time… tomorrow may yield a different outcome.
But if I were to make a decision as to what to purchase today, based on the selection criteria outlined above and my expectations for Light Performance and Visual Performance, I would select this 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond because the proportions are within my desired range and the pattern of hearts and arrows is crisp, complete and symmetrical. The diamond was graded by the AGS Laboratory on their Platinum Light Performance grading platform, so it has been scanned from 244 different vantage points to determine where it is gathering light from within a virtual room which is designed to mimic the light available in earth’s hemisphere and the diamond scan looks exceptional.
This Brian Gavin Signature round diamond also looks really good in the Ideal Scope image which indicates that the light leakage is minimal, understand that there will always be some light leakage, but it should be minimal as indicated by this image. And as stated the pattern of hearts and arrows is spot-on, so I am confident that the diamond has minimal Azamet Shift and as a result it is going to produce a higher number of virtual facets than the average round brilliant ideal cut diamond and as a result it is going to produce larger flashes of sparkle and a higher number of reflections of light… so more brilliance, dispersion and scintillation!
Now you’ll notice that this particular diamond costs more than the options previously discussed from Blue Nile, therein lies the rub… as with every other commodity in the world, things cost more when they are produced to a higher standard of quality. There is a variable of Diamond Cut Quality within the highest grades for overall cut grade as represented by the different gemological laboratories and for this reason it is necessary to look past the basic information provided on the lab reports and look at the images of the diamonds as seen through the various gemological tools mentioned throughout this page. It is essentially the only way to determine whether the diamond which you are buying is “turbo charged” for brilliance, dispersion and scintillation or merely a top end performer… both options have their place in the market, but only you can decide what your preference is and what you are willing to pay for the benefits.
I hope that this Blue Nile Signature Diamond review was helpful and insightful, please feel free to contact me if you would like assistance selecting a diamond from the Blue Nile Signature Collection or other vendors such as Brian Gavin, High Performance Diamonds or James Allen.
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)
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