Are Brilliant Earth Diamonds Worth the Higher Price?
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 actually see how this is a unique selling proposition. After all, I can find the same 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 for example.*
The GIA diamond grading report number is GIA #6331788135. On February 25, 2020 it was listed on Brilliant Earth for $7,815.00 cash/wire price. However, Blue Nile and James Allen are offering the exact 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, the price of the same diamond from Brilliant Earth is considerably more expensive. After all, the exact 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.
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 is able to verify the origin of the diamond. 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 of any kind of fraud or wrongdoing. I'm simply saying that I don't know where they are getting the information that this diamond is Botswana sort. At the same time, I really don't 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. Especially when 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 important.
Secondly, you need to decide whether that is something that you are willing to pay more for. Of course, the third option is to search Brilliant Earth and then see whether the same diamond is available anywhere else for a better price. After all, if you can save money while still knowing that you're buying an ethical diamond it's a win/win.
The Brilliant Earth Diamond Scam:
In the same way that I'm not accusing Brilliant Earth of any fraud or wrongdoing, I didn't make up that headline. As a matter of fact, 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 and Jacob Avital, who bought a Canadian diamond. After which, Jacob returned the diamond and tracked it back to the supplier who denied that it was Canadian.
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 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 cool science fiction movie? As in it's "Time to Review Brilliant Earth: the quest for diamonds that are beyond conflict-free."
As a matter of fact, 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 question is whether or not you are willing to buy into their story?
Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds:
As shown above, Brilliant Earth 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 23rd:
"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 are greatly exaggerated. However, my younger brother files down his horns on a bi-weekly basis.
With that in mind, I'm quite positive that he's the devil. As a matter of fact, he's also a lobbyist. I'm not kidding, my brother is Nick Naylor in the flesh.
Although that may be true, the population of many countries lack the ability to influence their government via free and fair elections. As a matter of fact, this is something that many people take for granted in the United States.
In fact, there have been many heinous atrocities committed against humanity throughout the course of time. 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 not the one marketing on the backbone of those tragedies either.
The Need for Ethical Diamonds:
As a matter of fact, 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 is filled 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 the physical structure and optical properties of natural and lab-grown diamonds. With that in mind, I personally prefer natural diamonds that are conflict-free in compliance with the Kimberley Diamond Act.
Under those circumstances, I have the peace of mind of knowing that I'm buying an ethical diamond. In addition, I can feel good about creating jobs in countries where people really need the 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.
As a matter of fact, there is nothing wrong with this statement and it sounds perfectly reasonable. Until you check around and discover that everybody else is pretty much doing the same thing. After all, most manufacturers buy their casting shot from companies that refine scrap jewelry. That means that when you buy a custom ring or engagement set, it is most likely made from recycled metals.
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 2020 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:
Then customs authorities in both the country of export and the destination require a Kimberley Certificate for transport. As a matter of fact, 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.
Obviously, diamonds are an extremely valuable monetary instrument whether cut or uncut. As such, you can bet that a plethora of government agencies keep a watchful eye on the movement of diamonds across borders.
As a matter of fact, diamond shipments are subject to the same type of scrutiny as other monetary instruments. On that note, every member of the diamond industry is well acquainted with the U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). In the event that 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 really 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 personally define the nature of conflict-free.
Arguably, that is because every natural resource is subject to the influence of a handful of corrupt individuals. As a matter of fact, even conflict-free Canadian diamonds might not actually be ethical. As an illustration of that fact, just look at the monetary driven disputes between aboriginal tribes, diamond companies, and government.
The Kimberley Diamond Process:
In an effort 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. In addition, it's worth noting that this statement goes beyond the effects upon the government:
As a matter of fact, this system meets with the approval of every country 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. As a matter of fact, they are not issuing invoices, nor transporting diamonds across borders through legitimate means involving customs.
Whereas the diamonds being sold online by legitimate dealers like these are listed 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 judgement because only 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. According to this excerpt from their email correspondence that is "because they do not meet our standards for ethical sourcing."
Zimbabwe Diamond Embargo:
As a matter of fact, 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, that action was taken under the provisions of the Kimberley Process.
However, the embargo was lifted three years later and it is no longer in force. Apparently, that is because the government kicked out all the diamond mining companies out and went into business for themselves. Obviously, this move is supposed to better serve the interests of the Zimbabwe people.
Be that as it may, it could be just another clandestine move to put more money into the corrupt hands of government. 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 being much different than the sales tax we pay in the United States.
Countries of Origin:
As a matter of fact, I like the ability to search for diamonds using the origin of rough as a deciding factor. At the present time, Brilliant Earth is currently offering conflict-free diamonds mined in the following countries:
Interestingly enough, the Sierra Leone Civil War in West Africa is actually what brought global attention to conflict/blood diamonds. As a matter of fact, that war ended in 2002 and legitimate diamond mining operations are a key factor of the local economy.
If you want to be able to search by country of origin, simply click on the Advanced Filters option. Note that when I did that, the option to search diamonds from Canada, Botswana sort, and Russia became available.
However, it's unclear to me 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 normal inventory?
Brilliant Earth Blockchain:
Obviously, I'm not convinced that Brilliant Earth offers diamonds that are any more conflict-free than other vendors. However, I do like the underlying concept that they promote. After all, I agree that all diamonds should be 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 in the near future. As a matter of fact, 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 do applaud them for that.
As a matter of fact, 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'm going to 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:
As a matter of fact, these 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 in the event that 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 in order to benefit from the largest 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. In order to do that, simply 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. In the event that you're using Google Chrome, it will look like 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 be able to evaluate the proportions. Obviously, 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 in time.
Be that as it may, the end 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:
As a matter of fact, 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 are looking for. With that in mind, we're going to close the tab on GIA #6341727158 and move on to the next diamond. However, I also want to point out that I was able to find the same diamond for less on James Allen.
1 carat Brilliant Earth Ethical Diamond:
Of course, the goal of this experiment 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.
As a matter of fact, the next five diamonds do not meet my expectations. However, the seventh diamond down the list does at least have the right proportions.
This 1.00 carat, F-color, VVS-1 clarity, F-color, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from Brilliant Earth has the right 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 produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
Unfortunately, Brilliant Earth does not provide the reflector scope images necessary to verify the Super Ideal classification. As a matter of fact, the proportions are only one piece of the puzzle. In which case, we need Advanced ASET and H&A Scope images to verify 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, as you'll see below, I found the same diamond on Blue Nile for $9,067.91 cash/wire. 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 diamond is super ideal cut. Not by my standards anyway because that requires the diamond to exhibit a crisp and complete hearts and arrows pattern. In addition, they indicates that this diamond is from Canada. However, the supplier 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 right proportions.
In other words, the 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. While the 35 degree crown angle produces 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. 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.
In the event that you're keeping score, this is the 3rd diamond from Brilliant Earth for less somewhere else. At the same time, they indicate that this diamond is Canadian in origin. However, the dealer listing does not indicate the origin of the diamond rough.
In addition, you will notice that James Allen does not suggest that the diamond is super ideal cut nor Canadian. Be that as it may, the diamond is neither more or less beyond conflict free in light of that information.
Brilliant Earth Diamonds Review #4:
This 1.01 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut diamond from Brilliant Earth has ideal proportions. As a matter of fact, the 40.6 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. While the 34.5 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
Unfortunately, this diamond does not meet my criteria to be classified as super ideal cut. In the first place, there appears to be some obstruction under the table facet in the 2 o'clock region. In addition, there does not appear to be symmetry in the pattern of light reflecting throughout the diamond.
ASET Scope Image:
The supplier for this Super Ideal Cut Diamond from Brilliant Earth provides this ASET Scope image. As a matter of fact, the light pink semi-transparent sections indicate a moderate amount of light leakage. In the photograph to the left, the red arrows highlight the obstruction under the table facet.
At the same time, the green arrows point to the presence of secondary brightness in the crown facets. As a matter of fact, 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 personally would not classify this as a super ideal cut diamond.
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 like this one does. In addition, the light would reflect evenly throughout the facet structure and it is not doing so in this case.
Of course, you should consider every diamond on its own merit and individual characteristics. Honestly, I'm just happy to finally find a Brilliant Earth Diamond with and ASET.
Hearts & Arrows Scope Image:
The supplier for this GIA Excellent cut diamond from Brilliant Earth also provides this image of the hearts pattern. As noted previously, this diamond does not meet my criteria to be classified as a super ideal cut diamond.
Obviously, Brilliant Earth and I differ in our opinion of what constitutes super ideal 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 notice that the spacing around the hearts is uneven as indicated by the green arrows. In addition, the tips of the hearts are bending in different directions as indicated by the green circles.
As a matter of fact, this indicates a difference in the length of the lower girdle facets. In the event that you're looking for a super ideal cut diamond, I highly recommend Brian Gavin Diamonds.
Brilliant Earth Lab Grown Diamonds:
As a matter of fact, Brilliant Earth is one of the first retailers to offer lab-grown diamonds. Although this may be true, I their advertising pertaining to the nature of lab-grown diamonds to be misleading.
As a matter of fact, I go into this in great detail in my article the truth about lab-grown diamonds. In the first place, I strongly disagree with the implication that lab-grown diamonds are just like real diamonds.
As a matter of fact, 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.
At the same time, it's also true that lab-grown diamonds are becoming more and more popular. With that in mind, you'll find lab-created diamonds are available from James Allen, and Ritani. However, I still find it challenging to find lab-grown diamonds that meet my selection criteria.
With that in mind, you can basically forget about finding a lab-created diamond that exhibits a higher degree of optical precision. As a matter of fact, I don't know anybody who intends on producing lab-grown Hearts and Arrows diamonds.
Help Searching Brilliant Earth Diamonds:
In the event that you're looking for a diamond from Brilliant Earth, we're happy to help you conduct the search. At the same time, we're happy to look over 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 is sold. 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 diamonds details pages used for the price comparisons are on file and available upon request. Consequently, the diamonds are subject to prior sale and/or memo and prices are subject to change.