In the world of internet diamonds, Blue Nile is the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
Blue Nile offers the largest inventory of GIA Excellent cut diamonds in the world. As a matter of fact, a quick glance at Blue Nile’s inventory shows that there are 136,223 round brilliant cut diamonds to choose from:
While it certainly is impressive that Blue Nile offers such a substantial amount of GIA-graded diamonds, the reality is that having to sort through all those choices can be overwhelming.
Don’t worry. I’m going to teach you exactly what to look for and how to buy the best diamond from Blue Nile.
This Blue Nile Review is really a crash course in how to buy a diamond that exhibits the highest volume of light return and sparkle factor. After all, nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars on a dull looking chunk of crystallized carbon that’s just going to sit their lifeless on her finger. No, I’m reasonably certain that you’re reading this Blue Nile Review because you’re looking for a great looking diamond at a fair price.
Unfortunately, most people go about buying a diamond all wrong…
They make the mistake of thinking that GIA Excellent Cut (automatically) means that the sparkle factor will be exceptional.
Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth.
The overall cut grades of GIA Excellent and AGS Ideal-0 are based on a range or spectrum of inclusion. Which means that some GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal cut diamonds are cut better or worse than others. Which also means that some GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal cut diamonds will exhibit a higher volume of light return and sparkle factor which is more vivid and intense.
So, you know by now that GIA Excellent is not necessarily good enough. The next step is to remember that subtle differences in crown and pavilion angle or height can have major effects on light performance. You will also want to be aware of the effects of contrast brilliance and obstruction.
We’ll get to all that in a minute. But first, you probably want to know basic things such as:
These are some of the questions you have about Blue Nile, right? Because I imagine that you’re reading this Blue Nile review to discover how you can buy the best diamond available within your price range. You probably also want to have the peace of mind that comes with making an informed decision. With that in mind, I’m going to tell you what I know about Blue Nile and then teach you how to buy diamonds like a professional diamond buyer.
According to Forbes, Blue Nile was founded in 1999 by Mark Vadon after he had a less than satisfying experience shopping for a diamond engagement ring through traditional retail routes.
Vadon had been working for the venture capital firm Bain & Company at the time for six years. You might have purchased shares in Blue Nile when the company went public on May 18, 2004. Blue Nile raised $76 million in its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on that day. The share price for Blue Nile was $28.40 at the close of business.
In February 2017, an investment group comprised of Bain Capital Private Equity, Bow Street LLC, and Adama Partners, acquired Blue Nile for $40.75 per share in a cash transaction. A Securities and Exchange Commission 8-K document said the “total amount of funds used to complete the merger and related transactions and pay related fees and expenses was approximately $520 million.”
Um, yea, I think that Blue Nile can afford to issue a full refund quickly and easily in the event that you aren’t completely satisfied with your purchase.
People frequently ask about Blue Nile’s return policy for diamonds and engagement rings. The screenshot above captures the essence of Blue Nile’s return policy:
This means that you can buy your diamond engagement ring from Blue Nile with total confidence and peace of mind.
In the event that you’re not completely satisfied, you can return it for a full refund. Blue Nile will even pay the return shipping and insurance.
That’s pretty simple, right?Blue Nile has served more than 1.7 million customers and sold more than 1 million engagement rings and wedding bands since it's inception. Click To Tweet
It goes without saying that you want to buy the best diamond from Blue Nile. As a matter of fact, you want it to sparkle like crazy and literally blind everybody who sees it. Am I right? With this intention in mind, you’re going to want to download the Ultimate Diamond Buying Cheat Sheet. Print it out and keep it next to you while you search for diamonds.
Before you get too far along, take a moment to adjust the slider for “Cut” to Ideal / Signature Ideal. Just that simple act, reduced the number of diamonds available to 95,649!
But that’s still too many options to consider. So we’re going to keep fine-tuning things as we proceed through this Blue Nile review.
For the sake of this example, use the following basic settings:
This reduces the number of options down to 2,691 but we still need to set the Advanced Filters.
The simple act of setting the Advanced Filters on Blue Nile to my preferred range will significantly reduce the options. Which means that it is becoming easier and easier for you to successfully buy a diamond online from Blue Nile. The next steps are easy:
The number of diamonds available has decreased to only 310. That’s a step in the right direction, but checking the box next to 360º brings that number down to 111. That’s a much more manageable number and this limits the options to only those with video of the diamond. By the same token, we’ve significantly improved the quality of choices to choose from.
Why is that? Because a round brilliant cut diamond with a total depth deeper than 61.8 – 61.9% is not likely to perform well. This is because the crown and/or pavilion sections are going to be too deep. Which means that light will not reflect properly, or the balance of brilliance and dispersion will be off.
To say nothing of the fact that the visible outside diameter of the diamond gets smaller when the total depth is deeper. Which means that you’re paying a premium for diamond carat weight, which is buried in total depth. Which is why you want to limit your search to round diamonds with a total depth between 59 – 61.8%
Blue Nile is in the process of adding more and more 360º videos to show off their diamonds! This is great because until recently, only Blue Nile Signature diamonds featured images. The first thing you want to do is click the arrow to the right of the listing. That will open up the video of the diamond in a window to the right:
Then you want to right click your mouse over “More Details” and choose to open the page in a new tab.
Repeat this process for every one of the 111 diamonds available. It goes without saying that you’re going to have a million tabs open in your browser. Be that as it may, this is how to find the best diamonds on Blue Nile.
I have to admit that it can seem a bit daunting to have 111 tabs open in your browser. But actually, it’s not going to be 111 tabs, because you’re going to skip over any diamonds with a culet size other than none or pointed. So if you see a culet size of small or very small, just skip over that option.
Once all the tabs are open, you’re going to click on each one to view the diamond details page. Don’t waste any time looking at the video (yet) just click on the icon for the lab report. Don’t wait for the lab report to open, just go straight down the line of tabs, clicking on each one, opening up the diamond grading and proceeding to the next. It took me less than 10 minutes to open all the tabs, click on the lab reports and run through the next step.
Which is to eliminate all the options with the right offset for crown and pavilion angle. In order to do this so quickly, you only want to focus on the portion of the proportions diagram highlighted in green.
You are only interested in diamonds with a crown angle between 34.3 – 35.0 degrees, offset by a pavilion angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees. This will produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion with a high volume of light return.
Don’t waste your time looking at anything else. Just close the tab on any diamonds with proportions outside this range. If you’re following along, you now have only 26 diamonds to choose from. The remaining diamonds represent the Top 1% of the annual production of rounds.
By now you probably realize that we’re reviewing the diamond details in waves. Each pass ensures that we’re only considering the best of the best. Not to mention the fact that we’re eliminating options that are not likely to produce the best light performance.
With that in mind, the next pass focuses on 3 things. See the red line running over the measurement of 16% in the picture to the right? You want to make sure that measurement is not 16% or deeper. Because a 16% crown height is not conducive to a crown angle between 34.3 – 35.0 degrees.
Then you want to make sure that the pavilion depth is between 42.5 – 43.3% which goes with a pavilion angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees.
Now, this next step is kind of optional, but it can make all the difference in the world. The 75% measurement circled in green indicates the length of the lower girdle facets (LGF). If you like sparkle that is larger in size and bolder in appearance, then focus on options where this measurement is between 75 – 78%
If you think you might prefer pin-fire type sparkle which is smaller in size, then look for options that are between 79 – 80%. I personally prefer the sparkle created by LGF’s in the range of 75 – 78% (but this is kind of a minor point).
All right, so you’ve eliminated all the options with proportions outside the preferred range. And if you’ve followed my lead, you’ve closed the tabs for all the diamonds with 80% lower girdle facets. Which leaves us with 10 Blue Nile diamonds left to review. You’ll want to flip through the diamond grading reports really quick to make sure that the following inclusions do not appear under the key to symbols:
Because all of those clarity characteristics can pose a durability issue. In this particular instance, none of the diamonds contain these undesirable inclusion types. So let’s move forward with our Blue Nile review…
So the next step is to close all the diamond grading reports and take a look at the diamonds. Just click your mouse over the “X” located in the upper right corner of the diamond grading report.
Then click on the icon of the diamond in the face-up position as indicated by the green arrows. This will stop the diamond from rotating in the video and enable you to judge the degree of contrast brilliance. This diamond has really nice contrast brilliance, as evident by the contrast exhibited by the arrows.
And as you can see, there is very little obstruction evident under the table facet. So this is the diamond that I would be most apt to buy as a result of this Blue Nile review. If you’re wondering why I’m not pointing out which diamond it is, that’s because it’s likely to be sold by the time you read this review of Blue Nile. It’s better if we run a fresh search when you’re ready to buy a diamond. Speaking of which, be sure to take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service.
All right, so this is how a professional diamond buyer like myself approaches buying a diamond on Blue Nile. Obviously, this approach is probably different than what the average consumer will do. But then again, you’re probably not looking to buy a diamond that is just an average diamond.
Let’s review the steps real quick:
Now if you think about it, this whole process really breaks down into 3 easy steps:
I hope that you enjoyed this in-depth Blue Nile review. Remember that it took me only 20 minutes to review the details for 111 diamonds and pick the best one.
Of course, I’ve been buying diamonds professionally for 30+ years. This stuff is kind of second nature for me. Which is why it might be easier if you just take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service. Take a moment to fill out the form and provide me with the details of the diamond you seek. I’ll take care of running the searches and provide you with a list of the top contenders.