Brilliant Earth Diamonds are "Beyond Conflict Free," according to their website and co-founder Beth Gerstein. In the same fashion, they promote the idea that diamonds from Canada, Botswana, Namibia, and Russia are beyond conflict-free.
Although this may be true, I don't see how this is a unique selling proposition. After all, I can find the identical diamonds listed on other sites for a lower price sometimes.
Take this 1.09 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Brilliant Earth below, for example.* The GIA diamond grading report number is GIA #6331788135.
At the time of this review, you could buy this diamond from Brilliant Earth for $7,815.00 cash/wire price. However, Blue Nile and James Allen offer the same diamond for significantly less, as shown below.
Brilliant Earth Diamonds Reviews Comparing Prices:
As stated previously, I found the 1.09 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Brilliant Earth on multiple sites. According to their listing, the diamond is Botswana Sort (more on that further down the page).
As you can see below, the price of the same diamond from Brilliant Earth is considerably higher. After all, the same diamond is available from Blue Nile and James Allen for less.
Consequently, I'm personally not willing to pay $555.00 more just because they claim that it's beyond conflict-free. However, I'll leave that up for you to decide.
After all, you might see the "beyond conflict-free" proposition from a different perspective. Many people like the idea of being able to purchase a ring that is eco-friendly online or in a jewelry store.
Blue Nile vs. Brilliant Earth vs. James Allen Prices (same diamond):
Benefits of Buying from Brilliant Earth Diamonds:
Brilliant Earth offers competitive 30-day returns and a lifetime upgrade policy. If you want to upgrade, you'll receive full credit for your original purchase and need only spend fifty-percent more to qualify. The only caveat is that their trade-in policy does not apply to lab-created diamonds.
It's also possible to purchase a ring online or visit a Brilliant Earth Diamonds jewelry store in the following locations:
Are Brilliant Earth Diamonds Beyond Conflict Free?
In the first place, Brilliant Earth of San Francisco claims that the diamonds they sell are beyond conflict-free. Although this may be true, I have to question whether that statement adds value.
After all, I was able to find the same "beyond conflict-free" diamond on Blue Nile and James Allen for less. Be that as it may, the listing for the diamond on Brilliant Earth indicates that the diamond is from Botswana:
As a matter of fact, I'm not sure how Brilliant Earth Diamonds is able to verify the origin of this particular stone. After all, the supplier does not provide that information on the multiple listing service. Here is a screenshot of the listing from the MLS on February 25, 2020:
Brilliant Earth Diamonds Review, GIA #6331788135:
Consequently, I'm not accusing Brilliant Earth Diamonds of any fraud or wrongdoing. I'm simply saying that I don't know where they are getting the information that this diamond is Botswana-sort. Nor do I see how the origin of the diamond makes any difference in terms of value.
In other words, I don't think that knowing whether a diamond is from Botswana warrants paying a higher price. After all, the same "beyond conflict-free diamond" is available for less from other vendors.
In the first place, I suppose that you need to decide whether the alleged origin of the diamond is essential. Secondly, you need to decide whether that is something that justifies paying a premium.
Of course, the third option is to search Brilliant Earth Diamonds. Then determine whether the same one is available anywhere else for a better price. The majority of online diamond dealers are willing to match prices for identical diamonds.
The Brilliant Earth Diamonds Scam:
In the same way that I'm not accusing Brilliant Earth Diamonds of any fraud or wrongdoing, I didn't make up that headline. It's a quote found around the 30-second mark of this video by Philip DeFranco.
In that case, this video focuses on litigation between Brilliant Earth Diamonds and Jacob Avital. Jacob bought a Canadian diamond from Brilliant Earth. Then he returned the diamond and tracked it back to the supplier who denied the Canadian origin.
Spoiler Alert: According to a notice filed in New York Supreme Court on October 27, 2017: The Brilliant Earth Class Action Lawsuit was discontinued with prejudice and without any costs or disbursements. Consequently, the original videos created by Jacob Avital are no longer available:
Brilliant Earth Reviews to Infinity and Beyond:
Not too long ago, I spoke with Brilliant Earth Diamonds customer service on the telephone. In the first place, I had a lot of questions about what makes their diamonds beyond conflict-free.
Given that we had a lot of ground to cover, we agreed to follow up via email. Based on the new insight covered in our correspondence, I decided that it was time to revisit their website.
How come that last sentence sounds like the title for a fantastic science fiction movie? As in its "Time to Review Brilliant Earth: the quest for diamonds that are beyond conflict-free."
It seems like the perfect tagline for a movie. After all, more and more people are making an effort to be more socially responsible.
Of course, the question is not whether you should buy ethical jewelry, diamonds, or a wedding ring. The problem is whether or not you are willing to buy into their story?
Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds:
As shown above, Brilliant Earth Diamonds claims to go beyond the conflict-free standards of the Kimberley Diamond Act. Under those circumstances, they market their diamonds as being beyond conflict-free. According to the email sent to me on May 23:
"We go beyond the Kimberley Process's conflict-free standard, which states only that the diamond didn't fund a rebel movement against a recognized government."
In other words, the Kimberly Process does nothing to protect human rights beyond the scope of government. In the first place, I understand what they're implying. However, isn't a government representative of the people?
We the People of the United States...
... in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Playing Devil's Advocate on Brilliant Earth:
Rumors that I popped out of my mother's womb, sporting a bright red, shiny set of horns might be a stretch. However, my younger brother files down his horns on a bi-weekly basis.
With that in mind, I'm pretty sure that he's the devil. He's also a lobbyist. I'm not kidding; my brother is Nick Naylor in the flesh. Although that may be true, many countries' population cannot influence their government via free and fair elections.
That is something many people take for granted in the United States. There have been many heinous atrocities committed against humanity throughout history. Unfortunately, the allure of diamonds has been the focal point of some of those tragic events.
As unfortunate as that may be, the reality is that this is true of every other kind of monetary instrument. Please understand that I'm not trying to downplay the tragedy of blood diamonds or other atrocities. At the same time, I'm also not the one marketing on the backbone of those tragedies.
The Need for Ethical Diamonds:
It seems like bad shit is going to happen whenever there is money on the table. As an illustration of that fact, the daily news overflows with stories involving horrid criminal acts. All of them, including drugs, gold, human trafficking, oil, and everything else, involve monetary greed.
With that in mind, it's reasonable to assume that diamonds are no exception to the rule. Under those circumstances, you might consider buying a lab-grown diamond. However, I strongly recommend that you read our in-depth review of lab-grown diamonds before doing so.
After all, there are some distinct differences in natural and lab-grown diamonds' physical structure and optical properties. Not the least of which is that natural diamond crystals do not grow straight-up on a platform.
Nor do genuine diamonds require post-growth High-Pressure Heat Treatment (HPHT) for color correction. With that in mind, I prefer natural diamonds that are conflict-free in compliance with the Kimberley Diamond Act.
Legitimate Diamond Dealers are Kimberley Compliant:
In that case, I have the peace of mind of knowing that I'm buying an ethical diamond. I also feel good about creating jobs in countries where people appreciate the opportunity for steady work.
While we're on the subject, we should touch on wedding bands and ethical jewelry. Because this is another term that Brilliant Earth uses in their advertising. The basic premise is that they use recycled gold and platinum to make your ring.
There is nothing wrong with this statement, and it sounds perfectly reasonable. However, everybody else is pretty much doing the same thing in my experience.
Most manufacturers buy their casting shot from companies that refine scrap jewelry. When you buy a custom ring or engagement set, the metal is most likely recycled under those circumstances.
The Kimberley Diamond Act of 2003:
On the condition that you're buying a diamond from a legitimate source, the odds are that it is conflict-free. After all, the Kimberley Diamond Act of 2003 makes it virtually impossible for you to buy a conflict diamond.
That is assuming that you are buying an engagement ring from a legitimate dealer. In which case, bragging that your diamonds are beyond conflict-free in 2021 is like saying that organic apples come from a tree.
The Kimberley Process:
"The Kimberly Process (KP) is a joint initiative designed to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds are any rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments. The KP has 54 participants, representing 81 countries. The European Union and its member states count as a single participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds."
Kimberley Process & Anti-Money Laundering:
In the first place, diamond dealers need a Kimberley Process (KP) certificate when exporting rough diamonds from a participating country. In other words, if the diamonds fall under the Customs Tariff subheadings:
Shipping International Diamonds:
Customs authorities in both the country of export and the destination require a Kimberley Certificate for transport. Consequently, the Kimberley Process only applies to rough uncut diamonds.
However, shipments of polished diamonds also fall under intense scrutiny because of the potential for money laundering. Diamonds are a precious monetary instrument, whether cut or uncut.
As such, you can bet that many government agencies keep a watchful eye on diamonds' movement across borders. Diamond shipments are subject to the same type of scrutiny as other monetary instruments.
On that note, every member of the diamond industry is familiar with the U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). If you want to know more about it, here's a bit of light reading for you:
World Diamond Council Supports Kimberley Process:
As stated previously, you don't need to be concerned about conflict diamonds when buying online from legitimate sources. Although that may be true, I've got friends who like to debate such things to the ends of the earth.
With that in mind, the answer largely depends on how you define the nature of conflict-free. Arguably, that is because every natural resource is subject to the influence of a handful of corrupt individuals.
Consequently, even conflict-free Canadian diamonds might not be ethical. As an illustration of that fact, look at the monetary disputes between aboriginal tribes, diamond companies, and the government.
The Kimberley Diamond Process:
To support the provisions of the Kimberley Process, the WDC proposed this system of warranties:
"The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.”
In the first place, buyers and sellers of both rough and polished diamonds must make this statement on their invoices. It's also worth noting that this statement goes beyond the effects upon the government:
This system meets with every country's approval that participates in the Kimberley Process. With that in mind, every legitimate member of the diamond industry participates in this program.
WDC System of Warranties Statement:
In this case, legitimate members of the trade prominently display the statement above on their invoices. Under those circumstances, the only people who profit from the sale of conflict diamonds are:
With that in mind, you're not likely to encounter any blood diamonds while shopping for an engagement ring online. After all, those people are not selling diamonds through legitimate channels.
Pssst! Buddy, Do You Want a Receipt?
Criminals are not likely to issue invoices nor transport diamonds across borders through legitimate means involving customs. Whereas the diamonds being sold online by honest enterprises like those below appear on trade search engines:
In which case, they are subject to a high level of scrutiny from multiple government agencies. At the same time, you must be a registered member of the trade to subscribe to the multiple listing services.
With that in mind, I think you could argue that practically everybody is selling diamonds that are beyond conflict-free. Of course, I'll leave that to your final judgment because only you can decide what is right for you.
The Conflict Free Guarantee:
The basic premise behind Brilliant Earth is that they sell ethical diamonds that are beyond conflict-free. Kudos to that. That's good because I don't know anybody who wants their diamond engagement ring to fund conflict. With that in mind, they guarantee their diamonds:
According to Brilliant Earth, they exclude many countries that participate in the Kimberley Process. For example, they make it a point to say that they don't sell diamonds from Zimbabwe. An excerpt from their email correspondence states that it is "because they do not meet our standards for ethical sourcing."
Zimbabwe Diamond Embargo:
There was a time when the trade journals were full of news articles about Zimbabwe. The country's violence led to an official ban of rough diamonds in 2013. Of course, world governments took that action under the provisions of the Kimberley Process.
However, they lifted the embargo three years later, and it is no longer in force. That is because the government kicked out all the diamond mining companies and went into business for themselves.
That move is supposed to serve the interests of the Zimbabwe people better. Be that as it may, it could be just another clandestine move to put more money into the government's corrupt hands.
However, industry sources report that the percentage of sales that diamond miners must pay the state is 15%. Under the circumstances, I don't see that amount as much different from the sales tax we pay in the United States.
Countries of Origin:
I like the ability to search for diamonds using the origin of rough as a deciding factor. At present, Brilliant Earth is currently offering conflict-free diamonds mined in the following countries:
Interestingly enough, the Sierra Leone Civil War in West Africa brought global attention to conflict/blood diamonds. That war ended in 2002, and legitimate diamond mining operations are vital to the local economy.
If you want to search by country of origin, simply click on the Advanced Filters option. Note that the opportunity to explore diamonds from Canada, Botswana, and Russia became available when I did that.
However, it's unclear how to find the diamonds from Namibia, Sierra Leone, or South Africa. Perhaps that option will be available on the Brilliant Earth diamond search page soon? Or do those diamonds appear as part of their standard inventory?
Brilliant Earth Blockchain:
I'm not convinced that Brilliant Earth offers diamonds that are more conflict-free than other vendors. However, I do like the underlying concept that they promote. Specifically, that diamonds should originate from conflict-free sources.
At the same time, I agree that there should be free trade certification for diamonds. At the current time, such a system is not available. However, blockchain technology might provide the industry with that option shortly.
Leading by Example:
Brilliant Earth claims to be the first jeweler to offer blockchain-enabled diamonds at scale. However, I think it might be more accurate to say that they are the first online dealer to incorporate that option into their search engine.
After all, Brilliant Earth is probably not the one paying the $20M to fund the Everledger blockchain for diamonds. However, they are the first jeweler to scale the blockchain into their operations, and I applaud them.
I suspect that we will see more and more online vendors adopting the blockchain model. After all, a substantial number of well-known diamond producers are funding the Everledger blockchain.
In which case, more and more blockchain data will be accessible through the multiple listing services. Click here to search Brilliant Earth for Blockchain-enabled diamonds.
How to Search Brilliant Earth Diamonds:
In the first place, Brilliant Earth offers conflict-free diamonds in every popular diamond shape. However, I will focus on round brilliant cut diamonds since that is the most popular diamond shape.
The proportions of a round brilliant cut diamond dictate the volume of light return and balance of brilliance and dispersion. At the same time, the degree of optical precision is also going to factor into light performance.
With that in mind, we recommend the following range of search criteria and proportions:
Recommended Search Criteria:
Suggested Search Parameters:
For the sake of this example, let's search Brilliant Earth for a conflict-free diamond with these characteristics:
Those are the settings used to find the diamond at the top of the page. This screenshot shows the search criteria that I use to search for the best diamonds from Brilliant Earth.
Screenshot of Search Criteria:
Advanced Filter Settings:
Set the advanced filters on Brilliant Earth like this if you're looking for the best looking round diamonds:
You can check the boxes to designate a country of origin if you have a preference. However, I prefer to leave those options open to benefit from the most extensive selection. After all, it's already difficult enough to find diamonds that meet my selection criteria.
Filtering the Search Results:
In this instance, there were 86 diamonds with characteristics within the scope of the search criteria. Be that as it may, only a few of those diamonds will survive the next step.
After all, the majority of them will not have a desirable crown/pavilion angle offset. In other words, you're only looking for the diamonds with the following crown/pavilion angle offset:
With this in mind, the next step is to open up all the diamond details pages in a separate tab of your browser. To do that, follow these steps:
- 1Right-click your mouse over "View".
- 2Select "Open Link In New Tab" from the dropdown list.
- 3Repeat this process for every diamond in the list.
How to View the Diamond Details:
The image on the right shows what these steps might look like in your browser. If you're using Google Chrome, it will look pretty much exactly like this.
In the first place, you're going to right-click your mouse over the word VIEW. Secondly, you're going to select the option to Open Link in New Tab. Then, you'll repeat the process in like manner for all of the diamonds that appear in the search results.
Once the diamond details pages are open in separate tabs, you will evaluate the proportions. It is a time-consuming process to have to open up the diamond details pages individually.
Unfortunately, this is a necessary part of the process at this point. Be that as it may, the result will be worth the time spent if we're able to find a diamond with the right proportions. With that in mind, let's review the diamond details pages.
Brilliant Earth Super Ideal Diamonds:
The first super ideal cut diamond on the list is Brilliant Earth SKU #3686762A. In this case, the 1.00 carat, E-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond has a 40.8 degree pavilion angle.
Unfortunately, the crown angle is 35.5 degrees, and that is beyond the range of 34.3 - 35.0 degrees that we recommend. In that case, we'll close the tab on GIA #6341727158. Then, move on to the next diamond. However, I also want to point out that I could find the same diamond for less on James Allen.
1 carat Brilliant Earth Ethical Diamond:
Of course, this experiment's goal is to find ethical diamonds that meet my selection criteria from Brilliant Earth. With that purpose in mind, we'll continue to review the diamond details pages.
The following five diamonds do not meet my expectations. However, the seventh diamond down the list does at least have more desirable proportions.
This 1.00 carat, F-color, VVS-1 clarity, F-color, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Brilliant Earth has the proper proportions.
In the first place, the 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. Secondly, the crown angle of 34.5 degrees should create a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
Unfortunately, Brilliant Earth does not provide the reflector scope images necessary to verify the Super Ideal classification. The proportions are only one piece of the puzzle. In which case, we need Advanced ASET and H&A Scope images to judge the optical precision.
Brilliant Earth Diamonds Review #1:
As you can see on the left, this super ideal cut diamond is currently selling for $10,000.00 from Brilliant Earth.
However, I found the same diamond on Blue Nile for $9,067.91 cash/wire, as you'll see below.
Be that as it may, the reality is that this diamond does not meet my criteria for the super ideal classification.
In other words, Brilliant Earth does not provide the images necessary to prove that this is a super ideal cut diamond.
Not by my standards anyway because that requires the diamond to exhibit a crisp and complete hearts and arrows pattern. They also indicate that this diamond is from Canada. However, the supplier does not verify that origin in the listing details.
Super Ideal Cut Diamond Review #2:
This 1.00 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut diamond from Brilliant Earth has the proportions we recommend.
In that case, the 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return.
The 35-degree crown angle should also create a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
However, the clarity photograph on the left leads me to believe that there are issues with the optical precision.
This Is Not Rocket Science:
In the first place, there is too much variance in the arrows pattern. Secondly, the light does not appear to be reflecting very evenly throughout the body of the stone.
Here again, we would need reflector scope images to judge the degree of optical precision. At the same time, I found the same diamond on James Allen for only $6,790.00 cash/wire.
If you're keeping score, this is the 3rd diamond from Brilliant Earth for less somewhere else. They also indicate that this is a Canadian diamond. However, the dealer listing does not state the origin of the rough diamond.
You might also notice that James Allen does not suggest it's a Canadian super ideal cut diamond. Be that as it may, the diamond is neither more nor less beyond conflict-free in light of that information.
Brilliant Earth Diamonds Review #3:
This 1.01 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut diamond from Brilliant Earth has ideal proportions.
The 40.6 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return.
Simultaneously, the 34.5 degree crown angle should create a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
Unfortunately, this diamond does not meet my criteria for the super ideal cut rating.
In the first place, there appears to be some obstruction under the table facet in the 2 o'clock region. The pattern of light reflecting throughout the diamond also seems to lack symmetry.
ASET Scope Image:
The supplier for this Super Ideal Cut Diamond from Brilliant Earth provides this ASET Scope image. The light pink semi-transparent sections indicate a moderate amount of light leakage.
In this photograph, the red arrows highlight the obstruction under the table facet. At the same time, the green arrows point to secondary brightness in the crown facets. Those green areas should be red because that would indicate primary brightness.
While the proportions of this diamond are within my preferred range, the degree of optical precision is lacking. With that in mind, I would not classify this as a super ideal cut diamond. However, I suppose that everybody is entitled to their own opinion.
After all, I think that a "Super Ideal Cut Diamond" should be cut as perfectly as possible. In that event, the diamond would not exhibit signs of light leakage under the table facet. The light would also reflect evenly throughout the facet structure, and it is not doing so in this case.
Of course, you should consider every diamond on its merit and individual characteristics. Honestly, I'm just happy to find a Brilliant Earth Diamond with an ASET map.
Hearts & Arrows Scope Image:
The supplier for this GIA Excellent cut diamond from Brilliant Earth also provides this hearts' pattern image. As noted previously, this diamond does not meet my criteria for the super ideal cut diamond rating.
Brilliant Earth and I differ in our opinion of what constitutes a super ideal cut, and that's their prerogative. However, I want you to understand the technical aspects that support my assessment of this diamond.
In the first place, you'll notice that the hearts' pattern lacks symmetry because the hearts are different sizes and shapes. Secondly, you'll see that the spacing around the hearts is uneven, as indicated by the green arrows.
The tips of the hearts are also bending in different directions, as indicated by the green circles. That suggests a difference in the length of the lower girdle facets. If you're looking for a super ideal cut diamond, I highly recommend Brian Gavin Diamonds.
Brilliant Earth Lab Grown Diamonds:
Brilliant Earth is one of the first retailers to offer lab-grown diamonds. However, this may be true; their advertising about the nature of lab-grown diamonds seems misleading.
I cover this in great detail in my article the truth about lab-grown diamonds. In the first place, I'm afraid I have to disagree with the implication that lab-grown diamonds are just like natural diamonds.
There are chemical, physical, and optical differences between lab-created and natural diamonds. Not the least of which is the cavity left behind in the middle of the diamond when the "diamond seed" explodes to begin the creation process.
However, I still find it challenging to find lab-grown diamonds that meet my selection criteria. Yet, I have had some luck with James Allen True Hearts lab-grown diamonds.
Help Searching Brilliant Earth Diamonds:
If you're looking for a diamond from Brilliant Earth, we're happy to help you search. At the same time, we can help you evaluate the details for any diamonds that you may be considering. With that in mind, just initiate an inquiry using our Diamond Concierge Service.
* Links & Prices Disclaimer:
In the first place, it appears that Brilliant Earth deletes the diamond details pages once a diamond sells. In other words, links to those pages are temporary, and those pages will eventually return a 404 not found status.
With that in mind, we provide links to the search page on Brilliant Earth rather than individual diamond details pages. Screenshots of the diamond details pages used for the price comparisons are on file and available upon request. Consequently, the diamonds are subject to prior sale or memo, and prices are subject to change.