When reviewing the Blue Nile Astor Ideal diamonds, we have to consider whether they’re worth the price and if Blue Nile is a good source for diamonds of this quality and type.
As Blue Nile are among the best-known and most reputable online diamond vendors in the world, their quality is rarely disputed and for good reason.
Still, it’s worth pondering how the Blue Nile Astor Ideal collection stacks up against the competition and if it’s worth investing in one.
So, first things first, let’s take a look at cut and how this relates to the diamonds in the Astor Ideal collection.
Importance of Cut in Colorless Diamonds
When it comes to colorless diamonds, cut is paramount. You can compromise on other features of the stone, but experts all agree that it’s best not to lower cut quality just to save money.
Diamond cut grade involves several factors and can get very technical, as this image from GIA clearly shows. When the stone has been expertly cut to exacting precision, with perfect proportion and symmetry, this reveals a diamond that demonstrates incredible brilliance, fire and scintillation.
Colorless diamonds (only certain shapes) come graded according to their cut quality. The GIA cut scale ranges from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair to Poor. The excellent cut grade yields diamonds of perfect cut quality and most people are satisfied with this cut grade.
After all, the diamond has an excellent cut. What more do you want? But some people do want more, a cut that goes beyond excellence. This is where superideal diamonds come in.
What Are Blue Nile’s Astor Ideal diamonds?
The Blue Nile Astor Ideal collection is the vendor’s assortment of top-quality Hearts and Arrows diamonds. Previously, these were called Blue Nile Signature diamonds, but the company has since rebranded this collection as Astor Ideal. Blue Nile claims that only 1 in every 1000 diamonds has the potential to be an Astor Ideal.
As you can see in the 360-degree view of this 0.42 carat round cut Astor Ideal diamond, the distinctive arrow shapes can be seen extending outwards from the stone’s center when viewed from its crown, while the heart pattern is noticeable going inwards towards the stone’s center when viewed from the pavilion.
Hearts and Arrows diamonds such as the ones in the Blue Nile Astor Ideal collection are known as “Ideal/Excellent” or sometimes even “Beyond Ideal/Excellent” cuts. When we speak about an “Ideal” cut rating we’re referring to the AGS rating system (American Gem Society) which classifies top-quality diamonds this way. On the other hand, the term “Excellent” is used by the GIA rating system (Gemological Institute of America) in the same sense.
A lot of the Hearts and Arrows diamonds in the Blue Nile Astor Ideal collection are actually beyond ideal as they display perfect symmetry in their heart and arrow shapes. If such a stone isn’t perfectly symmetrical then it’s classified as just ideal/excellent but that’s still a top-quality rating displayed by 1-in-a-1000 stones.
Blue Nile offers Astor Diamonds in three shapes – round, princess and cushion. These are the top three diamond shapes at the moment.
Are Astor Ideal Diamonds Worth the Extra Expense?
As the Astor Ideal are among the best-cut diamonds Blue Nile has to offer, they are significantly more expensive than other stones, including those that have ideal/excellent cuts.
Take a look at the two diamonds below, one from the Astor Ideal collection and another from the Ideal cut grade. Both diamonds have very similar specifications. However, there’s a price difference of almost $4,000! In terms of visible difference, you’d be hard-pressed to say which was which simply by looking at them. The light performance in both diamonds are excellent and both are beautiful stones. So, it’s up to you to decide whether the premium is worth it.
The Blue Nile Astor Ideal diamonds are meant for people who are looking for the best of the best in a diamond. The comparison with Astor Ideal stones makes “mere” Ideal/Excellent cuts look sub-par but keep in mind that this isn’t the case – they are called “Ideal” and “Excellent” for a reason. The fact of the matter is that there is almost no discernable difference that can be observed with a naked eye between an ideal and an Astor Ideal stones, especially once mounted in jewelry.
Also, don’t forget that a branded diamond is almost always more expensive than a non-branded diamond. You are paying for the name as well, not just for the quality of the stone itself.
So, if you are looking for a diamond that’s of a great quality but is still budget-friendly, going for the Astor Ideal line may be ill-advised. However, if you have a bit of extra cash and you’re looking to splurge on the best quality there is, the Blue Nile’s Astor Ideal line is for you. We would recommend sticking with an ideal cut grade diamond.
By carefully examining the stone and checking its cut specifications, you can purchase an ideal diamond of exceptional quality. You could put the money you’ve saved towards something more discernible like a nicer setting or a larger diamond.
Does Blue Nile Provide Sufficient Information for their Astor Ideal Collection?
While one of Blue Nile’s greatest advantages over their competitors is the enormous size of their collection, this has always had the unintentional drawback of making it harder to navigate through their site and find what you’re looking for. Fortunately, Blue Nile has added a 360-degree video view of all their Astor Ideal stones which makes it easier for the customer to discern whether the stone they are about to purchase is to their liking or not.
Each diamond is also accompanied by a detailed description, a GIA grade for quality, and a GemEx report to guarantee its sparkle. Blue Nile also offers their Lifetime Diamond Upgrade Program and gives you multiple financing options before purchasing.
A word about Gemex reports.
Gemex is an independent laboratory that has their sole focus on light performance of the diamond. They measure the brilliance, fire and sparkle of a diamond against the those of similar diamonds of the same shape. Based on this, they provide a grade from low to very high. The report also provides 5 images of your diamond under 5 different light views, to gauge the diamond’s interaction with light.
Because the Astor Ideal is all about cut quality and light performance, the Gemex report gives you an indication about this. However, make sure you check the cut specifications of the diamond carefully and don’t just go on the face value of the report.
Astor Ideal by Blue Nile vs. True Hearts by James Allen
So, how do the Blue Nile Astor Ideal stones stand up to James Allen’s True Hearts collection? Both vendors feature exceptional diamonds on the market in their respective lines and both offer them at good value-for-money prices.
The main advantage of the Blue Nile Astor Ideal line is the same advantage the retailer has in other quality stones – the sheer quantity of items to choose from. Blue Nile is famous for the seemingly never-ending assortment of diamonds they offer and that’s very important when you’re looking for a pricey, high-quality stone.
Blue Nile also has the advantage when it comes to the various installment financial plans they offer, as well as an extensive supply of diamond-related information and education they offer to their customers.
James Allen’s True Hearts, on the other hand, are supported by superior quality photos and videos. Blue Nile also offers 360-degree videos for their stones, but James Allen is still ahead in terms of the quality of the video and images. Additionally, James Allen has the benefit of offering better-quality packaging and more cost-effective and user-friendly return policies.
Blue Nile’s Astor Ideal are some of the best diamonds on the market, with exceptional brilliance, sparkle and fire. However, they are priced at a premium, so if you’re on a budget, we recommend sticking to an ideal cut grade to make the most of value and cut quality.
If, however, you want only the best of the best and a branded diamond is more attractive to you, then by all means the Blue Nile Astor Ideal is a great place to take your search.