So you’re shopping for diamonds online and you want to know whether diamonds in the Brian Gavin Signature Collection are any better than diamonds found within the Blue Nile Signature Collection. After all, both Blue Nile and Brian Gavin are excellent vendors who enjoy a stellar reputation online for customer satisfaction.
Is there a difference between the diamonds featured within the Signature Collections of Blue Nile and Brian Gavin? Let’s look at two seemingly similar diamonds from their “Signature Diamond Collections” and find out.
The Collective Value of a Signature:
In terms of collectibles such as art, sports memorabilia and personal belongings, the collector value of the item is directly affected by the perceived value of the signature of the person who signed it. The original Starry Night painting signed by Vincent Van Gogh is going to sell for considerably more than a poster or even an identical modern-day copy of the piece.
Now if you research Vincent Van Gogh, you’ll discover that his style was influenced by another painter named Paul Gauguin, but I’ve never heard of him so I’d be more inclined to pay more for a painting signed by Van Gogh; this is where familiarity and perception have a direct effect upon the price of a collectible item such as art… it is no different in the world of diamonds.
People are likely to purchase a Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin or Blue Nile simply because they are more familiar with one vendor than the other or because of a perceived difference in value, but is there a difference between the two lines of Signature Diamonds?
Now just as it would be a mistake to buy a signed piece of memorabilia without conducting a little due diligence to authenticate the validity of the signature, it is also a mistake to assume that a diamond is going to exhibit top-notch Light Performance and Visual Performance simply because it is part of somebody’s “signature collection” of diamonds. Look beyond the fanfare and hype of catchy slogans and collection names and consider the individual characteristics of each diamond on an individual, case-by-case basis…
Note: Blue Nile changed the format of how deep links were created when they switched their affiliate network from GAN to CJ, and thus the original links to the following diamonds were broken and have been replaced with links directed to their diamond search engine, which is fine since these options have probably sold by now. Please use my free Diamond Concierge Service if you would like me to help you find the best options currently available, but the information that can be obtained by reading the article is still applicable even if the diamond details pages can not be accessed.
Take These Two Signature Diamonds for Instance:
Let’s take a moment to compare this 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Diamond with this 0.97 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Diamond. Without clicking on the links, you already know from the description that the Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin weighs a little bit less in terms of carat weight, but is one color grade higher than the Signature Diamond from Blue Nile.
Now if you happen to be extremely color sensitive, you might automatically choose the Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin simply because it is one color grade higher. But if your primary concern is size, then you might choose the Signature Diamond from Blue Nile because it is larger carat weight. However, none of this takes the actual sparkle factor of the diamonds into account and my primary focus has always been to choose the diamond which offers the highest amount of Light Return, Light Performance and Visual Performance.
Now it’s pretty easy to get an idea of the degree of Light Return that a diamond is going to exhibit by looking at the measurements of the diamond, so let’s compare those variables side-by-side:
[table]Vendor, Total Depth, Table Diameter, Crown Angle, Pavilion Angle, Girdle Thickness, Culet
Brian Gavin 0.946,61.7%,57%,34.9°,40.9°,”Thin to Medium, Faceted”,Pointed
Blue Nile 0.97,61.2%,56%,34.0°,40.6°,”Medium, Faceted”,None[/table]
In terms of Light Return, these diamonds are going to be pretty equal because the pavilion angle measurements are between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees which is a range that I designated as part of our selection criteria years ago because it positions the primary reflective surface of the diamond in such a way that it returns most of the light which enters the diamond back up towards the person viewing the diamond.
While I prefer a range of 34.3 – 34.9 degrees for the crown angle, the fact is that a 34.0 degree crown angle works equally well in terms of Light Return, it just might change the type of light being returned and result in a diamond that exhibits more brilliance (reflected white light or white sparkle) than more of a balance of brilliance and dispersion (reflected colored light or “fire”) and this is more a matter of personal preference. Since I prefer to see more of a balance of brilliance and dispersion in the diamonds which I wear personally, I tend to buy diamonds with a crown angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees like the Brian Gavin Diamond… but I’m willing to bet that the difference between the two diamonds is so slight that the average person would not be able to see a difference without a great deal of coaching.
Getting Clear on Clarity:
Now in this particular instance, it is easier to get a clear picture regarding the clarity of the 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin because it is graded by the AGS Laboratory (AGSL) on the Platinum Light Performance grading platform and this version of the lab report includes a plotting diagram of the diamond which shows the location of the inclusions and provides some insight into the extent of those inclusions. According to the AGSL the primary inclusions consist of crystals, needle-shaped diamond crystals and small feathers. I’ve looked at the plotting diagram and the clarity photograph provided by Brian Gavin on the diamond details page and everything looks to be very slight and of no consequence.
It is essentially impossible at this point to get a clear idea as to the location and extent of the feather(s) which the GIA Laboratory indicates is the primary inclusion(s) within the 0.97 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Diamond because the lab report is a GIA Diamond Dossier which does not contain a plotting diagram and the GIA does not make the information available upon request. In order to get a plotting diagram of the inclusions from the GIA, the diamond would have to be resubmitted for grading and the cost for a full version of the lab report would be required.
The GIA Diamond Dossier is intended to provide an affordable option for grading diamonds that weigh less than 1.00 carats, but I find it to be relatively useless since it provides no insight into the clarity characteristics of the diamond beyond merely stating what they are.
So my concern with this diamond is that a feather is a minute fracture within the crystal structure of the diamond and without a plotting diagram and a clarity photograph we have no way of knowing whether there is one large feather or several tiny feathers, or where they are located within the diamond… just that there is a feather or feathers within the diamond and this is what is responsible for the VS-2 clarity grade.
Now the good news is that a feather within a VS-2 clarity diamond is probably pretty small and of no consequence; so if I were still a diamond dealer, I would be inclined to bring this diamond in for physical evaluation and look at the diamond under the gem scope..
Blue Nile does not routinely make clarity images of their diamonds available on their web site, but I’m sure that we can get a couple of clarity photographs if the diamond is of interest, let me know and I’ll ask the powers that be… the reality is that I have direct access to their buying department and can usually get these type of photographs pretty quick if a customer expresses serious interest in a particular diamond (but they won’t take them for me just because I want to write a review… yet).
Defining Differences Between “Signature Diamonds”
One of the biggest differences between the Blue Nile Signature Collection and the Brian Gavin Signature Collection is that Brian Gavin clearly states that all of his “Signature Diamonds” exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts and Arrows. From the perspective of a diamond buying professional, the presence of a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows within a round brilliant cut diamond is an indication that the diamond cutter took the time to cut the pavilion main facets at the correct angle and that the facets of the diamond are perfectly shaped and precisely aligned for maximum visual performance.
Retail jewelers who try to explain away the importance of a hearts and arrows pattern within a round brilliant cut diamond by suggesting to their customers that the visual effect is merely “smoke and mirrors” clearly do not have a handle on diamond cut quality and perhaps even don’t understand the basics of diamond cut and design.
The fact of the matter is that round brilliant ideal cut diamonds which are cut to exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts and Arrows exhibit a higher number of virtual facets which results in more sparkle… and isn’t sparkle one of the primary reasons why you’re buying a diamond?
The photograph to the left is of the 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Diamond from Brian Gavin, it shows that the diamond exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows when viewed while unmounted through a special scope.
The size and shape of the hearts is relatively consistent which indicates an absence of Azimuth Shift (misshapen and misaligned facets) which results in a higher degree of light return. The tiny black dots which are visible within the hearts pattern is merely a reflection of the inclusions within the diamond which are visible because the diamond is being magnified while being photographed.
Blue Nile does not routinely provide images of their diamonds as seen through a Hearts and Arrows scope on their diamond details pages, so we have no way of knowing to what degree a pattern of hearts and arrows might be visible within their signature diamonds. Likewise Blue Nile does not provide images of their signature diamonds as seen through an ASET Scope or an Ideal Scope which is a standard feature of the diamond details pages for Brian Gavin Signature Diamonds.
The purpose of an ASET Scope is to provide insight as to where in the room a diamond is gathering light from and how it is returning that light towards the viewer. It provides insight into the brightness and contrast of a diamond and was designed by the AGS Laboratory for this purpose. If you limit your search to diamonds from the Blue Nile Signature Collection which have been graded by the AGS Laboratory using their Platinum Light Performance grading platform, the ASET results are part of the report and you can pretty much assume that all is well in terms of Light Performance if the diamond received an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal 0. However the GIA Laboratory does not offer anything comparable to the AGS Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool (ASET) at this time… the ASET scans the diamond at 244 vantage points and runs the data through a supercomputer to determine how the diamond is affected by light, I think that the insight is invaluable when it comes to selecting a diamond.
The purpose of an Ideal Scope is to provide insight into the degree to which a diamond is leaking light, all diamonds leak a little bit of light, but some leak more light than others. Here again, Brian Gavin Diamonds automatically provide an Ideal Scope image for every diamond in their inventory of Signature Diamonds as well as their Brian Gavin Blue collection which features round brilliant ideal cut diamonds with blue fluorescence.
While I think that both the 0.946 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Diamond and the 0.97 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Diamond are likely to be quite pretty and vibrant in terms of Light Return, I’m more confident that the Light Performance and Visual Performance of the signature diamond from Brian Gavin is going to meet my expectations if for no other reason than I have immediate access to a clarity photograph, a plotting diagram of the inclusions and images of the diamond as seen through an ASET Scope, Ideal Scope and a Hearts & Arrows scope. Thus I’m pretty confident about the sparkle factor of this particular signature diamond.
When I was the diamond buyer for Nice Ice, we always provided these same images for our clients as a means of supporting the statements which we made concerning the cut quality of the diamonds which we selected for inventory and I think it is reasonable to expect this type of supporting documentation when purchasing a diamond online.
As I understand it, Blue Nile is willing to try and obtain these images on an individual basis for diamonds that are of interest to my clients. However, the reality is that sometimes I’m able to find them much faster if they are available on the multiple listing service reserved for the trade, so drop me a note if you’d like help reviewing a Signature Diamond from Blue Nile or any other online vendor.