Categories: Diamond Reviews

Blue Nile Signature Ideal Diamond vs Blue Nile Ideal Cut Diamonds. Is BN Signature worth the premium?

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.

How the Personal Diamond Shopper Service Works:

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.

How to Search for Diamonds on Blue Nile Like a Pro:

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.

Optical Symmetry Requirements for Hearts & Arrows Diamonds:

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.

The hearts and arrows pattern exhibited by this 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin is the result of incredibly skilled diamond cutting and precise indexing of the facets, which is beyond the consideration that gemological laboratories give diamonds when grading for Symmetry. Diamonds which exhibit this level of superior optical symmetry, tend to exhibit a higher volume of light return, brilliance, dispersion and scintillation, than other ideal cut diamonds because of the increased symmetry of the virtual facets. If you want an H&A Diamond, I suggest either Brian Gavin, High Performance Diamonds, or James Allen True Hearts.

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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!

Blue Nile Signature Ideal vs Ideal Cut:

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.

Blue Nile Ideal Cut Diamond Comparison:

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.

So the first diamond which we’re going to consider is this 0.90 carats, G-color, SI-1 clarity round brilliant cut diamond from Blue Nile which has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. The diamond has a total depth of 61.6% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees and a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. The primary inclusions are listed as being crystals, clouds, and feathers, but we don’t know where they are located within the diamond,  nor the extent of the inclusions, because this diamond is accompanied by a GIA Diamond Dossier, which does not provide a plotting diagram of the inclusions.

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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

The second option which I found is this 0.90 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, round brilliant cut diamond from Blue Nile which is graded by the GIA with an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. The diamond has a total depth of 61.5% with a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a 40.6 degree pavilion angle with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. The primary inclusions consist of clouds of pinpoint size diamond crystals and crystals. Although this diamond is also accompanied by a GIA Dossier, I feel a little better about it because it is VS-2 clarity and there isn’t a feather.

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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.

Options from Brian Gavin & High Performance Diamonds:

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.

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)

@NiceIceDiamonds

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

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

View Comments

  • Todd,

    I am looking for a diamond for my fiance to be and am very impressed by the article above. It does mention you provide a diamond buying service. Are you able to help.

    I would like a 1 carat diamond, F or G colorless and VS2 or higher. I am very confused between the ideal and signature ideal cuts and did follow your instructions in the selection criteria listed above. As this is a very big purchase i dont want to make any mistakes.

    I have seen a few Hearts on Fire diamonds and Hearts and Arrows diamond and very impressed by the sparkle and shine of those diamonds, i want something very similar if not better.

    Please let me know

    Thank you

    • Thank you for your comment, I'd be more than happy to help you search for options if you'll send me a note via the Diamond Concierge Service form, please include the range of carat weight, color, clarity, and the price range that you are working with. If you're looking for goods comparable to Hearts on Fire, then I'd recommend Brian Gavin Signature or the Crafted by Infinity round diamonds which are distributed online via http://highperformancediamonds.com/, both of which are cut to the highest standard of optical precision, and exhibit exceptional overall diamond cut quality. When I was actively buying diamonds for resale, I literally purchased thousands of diamonds produced by Brian Gavin (including A Cut Above diamonds distributed through his wholesale division, Alpha Creations) and Crafted by Infinity; I never rejected a single diamond for diamond cut quality, and was always impressed with the volume of light return and sparkle factor, which is broad spectrum due to the balanced proportions, lower girdle facet length, and the degree of optical precision -- which means that the sparkle is larger in size, bolder, brighter, and more vivid than what the majority of "ideal cut diamonds" will produce.

      This 1.044 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, and 1.028 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, are perfect examples of the type of diamond that I would recommend; both diamonds have an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0, and exhibit the highest degree of optical precision, as can be determined by looking at the ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and Hearts & Arrows scope images provided; and they have proportions that are going to deliver the highest volume of light return, with a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) and it will be broad spectrum sparkle, as described above.

      Since both diamonds are going to face-up eye clean due to the VS clarity grades, I would be inclined to purchase the F-color, VS-2 clarity diamond, over the G-color, VS-1 clarity diamond, because I'm more apt to see the slight difference in color (with some scrutiny) than the difference in clarity, which can only be determined using magnification.

    • Hi George,

      Thank you for your question. I always like to same the same range of proportions when shopping for round brilliant cut diamonds for all purposes. The reason is because the proportions and degree of optical precision is going to dictate the visual performance. How the diamonds are going to be used has no effect on the sparkle factor... some people might feel otherwise, but it seems to me that the sparkle factor of the diamonds always matters, regardless of whether the diamonds are for an engagement ring, earrings, or a diamond pendant.

      I sent you an exclusive Blue Nile discount coupon via email. Please let me know if you'd like my help selecting the diamonds for this pair of earrings!

      Happy Holidays,

      -- Todd

  • Hi Todd, thank you so much for your opinion on this topic. Very useful! Would you be able to send me exclusive Blue Nile discount coupon via email as well? Thanks in advance!

    • Hello Mike,

      Thank you for reading my blog post! I'm glad that you found it useful. As per your request, I sent your Blue Nile coupon via email.

      For anybody who might be reading this comment in the future, just send me a request via the Diamond Concierge Service form (it's faster). You should also download my Ultimate Diamond Buying Cheat Sheet. You'll receive a follow-up email about an hour after doing so, and then you'll have my email address!

      -- Todd

  • I have found your articles incredibly informative and I wondered if you were perhaps aware of any UK distributors who could provide a similar service to Brian Gavin or High Performance Diamonds?

    I have found this beautiful Colin Cowie cathedral setting from Blue Nile here in the UK but worried about the inclusions that may be in the feature diamond as I can't then afford a signature ideal gem.

    I've set a budget of £4,500 but the setting makes up almost £2,000 of that. Any help or advice you're able to provide would be most welcome.

    • Hello Daniel,

      Thank you for your inquiry. The Colin Cowie pave setting from Blue Nile is quite pretty and very popular. I'll be happy to help you search for a suitable diamond on Blue Nile if you'd like to submit a request via my free Diamond Concierge Service.

      If you haven't done so already, be sure to download your free diamond buying cheat sheet. Print it out and keep it beside you while you're shopping for a diamond. It will make it much easier to follow along as we talk about the different options available from Blue Nile.

      Brian Gavin and High Performance Diamonds ship to the UK all the time. I have tons of clients in the UK who I've helped buy diamonds from these guys. The best approach is to consider options from all three of them, and then determine which option provides you with the best value. Send me a note and we'll get right to it!

      -- Todd

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