Hi Todd, I’m not sure how your Personal Diamond Shopper service works, but I’m shopping for an Engagement Ring on Blue Nile and want the diamond to be in the range of 0.90 – 0.99 carats, G color, SI-1 or VS-2 in clarity for around $6K. I like the Hearts and Arrows concept, so would like the diamond to be either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal. Is the difference between Blue Nile Signature Ideal vs Ideal worth the premium? I’m also open to suggestions from other vendors like Brian Gavin and Crafted by Infinity, but they seem to be more expensive. – Brian D.
Thank you for your inquiry Brian, my Personal Diamond Shopper service is set up pretty simply… People submit a request form online just as you did, outlining the details of the diamond they are searching for, and I try to find it for them. There is no charge for the service, my consultation fees are paid by the various vendors who I work with, and your cost on the diamond does not change. I do request that you purchase the diamond using the affiliate link which I provide you with either on this page or via email so that my efforts are accounted for.
I thought that the details of diamond quest might be helpful to other people who are trying to figure out the difference between Blue Nile Signature Ideal and other Ideal Cut Diamonds on Blue Nile because I get this type of question pretty frequently. Let’s start with discussing how I Search For Diamonds at Blue Nile which begins by clicking on that link, then I adjusted the parameters for Carat weight, Color, and Clarity to fit your preferred range of 0.90 – 0.99 carats, G-color, and a range of clarity from SI-1 to VS-2, and then adjusted the range for Cut for Ideal / Signature Ideal, which will automatically move the range for Polish and Symmetry to Excellent / Ideal, which is available under the Advanced Criteria drop down feature.
Then I click the boxes for Depth % and Table % and set the range for Depth % between 59.0 – 61.8% and the range for Table % between 53 – 58% which will narrow down the list of available options to those which have a chance of actually being ideal cut. When I did this, it reduced the number of Blue Nile “Excellent / Ideal” options available from 123 to 27.
The next step is to open up the diamond details page for each diamond, I simply right click my mouse over the View button for each diamond and click on Open Link in New Tab, and then I click on the icon for the lab report and eliminate any options which do not have a Crown Angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees and a Pavilion Angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees, this further reduced the number of options for me to consider from 27 down to 2.
For the record, there are other combinations of crown and pavilion angle offset that will produce a similar volume of light return, brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation, and I did take those into consideration while looking at the diamond grading reports, but there were not any options which were appealing to me.
It is a common misconception that all round brilliant ideal cut diamonds which have an overall cut grade of either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal-0 will exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows, however this is not true. Likewise it is not true that a diamond which exhibits a pattern of hearts and arrows, will automatically qualify for either the GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal overall cut rating.
By the way, the tiny black dots which are visible within the hearts pattern pictured above are caused by reflections of the diamond crystals which are the primary inclusions within this diamond. The Hearts & Arrows Diamond Scope magnifies the size of the diamond, and therefore the inclusions, which face up dark because the diamond is being back-lit so that it can be photographed.
This diamond exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows because it was specifically cut to display that pattern. In order for the pattern to be this consistent, every facet must be virtually the same size and shape, be aligned perfectly with all of the other facets necessary to create each heart (that’s a subject for a much longer tutorial) and be precisely indexed with the next facet. It takes an incredible amount of skill to produce Hearts and Arrows Diamonds and they do cost more because of increased production costs… and I think that they’re worth the extra expense!
Interestingly enough, the two diamonds which remained after the other twenty five diamonds were eliminated for having proportions which do not meet my selection criteria, were not Blue Nile Signature Diamonds… and this is not unusual.
As near as I can tell, the primary difference between Blue Nile Signature Diamonds and the other Ideal Cut Diamonds which Blue Nile features by republishing the inventory of various suppliers, is that the Blue Nile Signature Diamonds are inscribed with the Blue Nile logo and are accompanied by a secondary diamond grading report issued by GCAL. In the words of Bugs Bunny “That’s All Folks!”
And while I have great respect for the people who own and operate GCAL, the fact of the matter is that the report which Blue Nile pays for provides very little information which actually enables me to make an informed decision as to the optical symmetry of the diamond, because it does not provide an image of the diamond as seen through an ASET Scope, an Ideal Scope, or a Hearts and Arrows Scope. And I’ve seen other diamond grading reports issued by GCAL which do provide Hearts and Arrows images, but I’m told that adding those to the report costs more.
I consider the ability to judge the optical symmetry of a diamond to be important because it has a direct effect upon the brightness, as well as the levels of brilliance, dispersion and scintillation that the diamond will exhibit. Arguably you could try to use the clarity images provided on GCAL reports for the Blue Nile Signature Diamonds to try and judge the optical symmetry, but those images are not intended for that purpose and the results will not be accurate.
So we have two options from Blue Nile to consider and neither of them are Blue Nile Signature Diamonds, which is fine since I don’t really see any real benefit being added in exchange for the extra cost. In fact, I’m kind of inclined to see whether these diamonds can be sourced by another vendor such as Brian Gavin or High Performance Diamonds, who are capable of providing me with an assessment of the diamond and the additional images which I need to judge the optical symmetry.
The fact of the matter is that these are not Blue Nile Signature Diamonds, and as such they are most likely available to other vendors who also subscribe to the multiple listing service… I used to source diamonds all the time when I was the buyer for Nice Ice, for people who found them on Blue Nile and then asked me if I could get them. This is the disadvantage to the Blue Nile business model, since a lot of the diamonds which they offer are not part of their exclusive inventory, they are often up for grabs from other vendors.
Since the clarity grade of this diamond is SI-1, I’d kind of like to know the extent of the inclusions and have some idea as to where they are located within the diamond, because it may or may not be “eye clean” and the range of inclusions permitted for the SI-1 clarity grade is pretty broad. In addition, I’m not terribly fond of the slightly thick girdle measurement, it’s not the worst thing since the proportions of the diamond are spot-on, but in a perfect world I would prefer that it be either thin to medium, medium, or medium to slightly thick. This diamond is currently selling for $4,890.00
This diamond is currently selling for $5,922.00 which is about a thousand dollars more than the SI-1 clarity option and the odds are that they will look pretty much the same in terms of the overall volume of light return and the sparkle factor. We just don’t know whether the SI-1 clarity diamond is eye clean… Of course, we could ask Blue Nile to bring the diamond in for evaluation and they could make that determination, but I’m inclined to ask another vendor such as Brian Gavin or High Performance Diamonds if they can source it, because they can also provide us with the additional images that I need to judge the optical symmetry.
Nothing against Blue Nile, but their business model isn’t really set up to provide the depth of gemological detail that I rely on to make my buying decisions… they have their place in the market, but aren’t all that great a fit for my client base. And as I stated earlier, these two diamonds aren’t the exclusive property of Blue Nile, they are being sourced from the global inventory which is available to all registered members of the trade.
In addition to the 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin, there is also this 0.92 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Crafted by Infinity Diamond from High Performance Diamonds, and this 0.94 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Crafted by Infinity Diamond from High Performance Diamonds, which meet my selection criteria. All of these diamonds exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows, and have an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 from the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) as determined on their Proprietary Light Performance grading platform, which includes a plotting diagram of the inclusions – which look great by the way!
Now if you want to save a little bit of money, while maintaining the optical symmetry of the diamond, then consider this 0.926 carat, G-color, SI-1 clarity, round brilliant ideal cut diamond from the Brian Gavin Blue collection. Although Brian Gavin doesn’t market these diamonds as “Hearts & Arrows” they are produced on the same production line as the diamonds from his Signature Collection, by the same diamond cutters… I’m not sure that they know how to produce anything else, I’ve looked at quite a few of these diamonds through a Hearts & Arrows viewer and they all looked pretty good to me! The diamond costs a little bit less because of the medium blue fluorescence, which is ridiculous because it’s going to help the diamond face up a little whiter in direct sunlight.