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Brilliant Earth is the go-to place for ethical jewelry shopping, with an inventory covering a range of ethical niche products and unique settings and designs.
- Good inventory with large choice of mined/lab-created diamonds
- Niche products – vintage, antique and recycled jewelry and metals
- One of the largest online stores for lab-grown diamonds
- Certificate of origin provided for diamonds
- Wide range of unique designs and settings
- 6 showrooms in the US
- Clear and easy-to-navigate website with many specific search filters
- Good range of jewelry information
- High quality classy and unique packaging
- Free shipping both ways
- Free resizing for 30 days
- Lifetime guaranty and upgrade policies
- Very friendly and supportive customer service
- Not all diamonds have images/videos
- Does not have 24/7 chat options
- Smaller inventory than some other online vendors
- Small range of colored diamonds and gemstones
- Slightly more expensive than online diamond giants Blue Nile or James Allen
- In brief:
- How are they different to other major diamond vendors?
- Where are their diamonds sourced from?
- What about lab-grown diamonds?
- Where do they get their metals from?
- How much do the diamonds cost?
- What does the packaging look like?
- How easy is the search interface and website to use?
- What can I buy from Brilliant Earth?
- Do they have videos and photos of their diamond and gemstone inventory?
- How good is their customer service and care?
- To sum up….
When it comes to the world of ethical diamond shopping, Brilliant Earth stands out as a leader in the market. Apart from having some fantastic jewelry and diamond options, you can be sure that any purchase you make from Brilliant Earth will be an ethical purchase, and this is because the company has made a commitment to ethical sourcing.
If you are one of those people who are environmentally- and socially-conscious, then this might be the ideal place for you! In this comprehensive review, I’ll be walking you through everything you need to know about Brilliant Earth and the pros and cons of shopping for your jewelry or diamond engagement ring with them.
How are they different to other major diamond vendors?
The company was founded in 2005 with the aim of creating a more ethical, transparent and sustainable jewelry industry. In fact, Brilliant Earth has been credited for creating a market for ethically-sourced jewelry (note: ethically-sourced jewelry refers not only to diamonds but also to recycled metals, pre-owned items and so on).
The company guarantees that their diamonds are not only conflict free, but also clean from human rights abuses and harmful environmental impacts, with ethical labor practices used in production.
Brilliant Earth makes an effort to contribute positively to community development and donates 5% of profits to charities supporting African communities afflicted by blood diamonds. In addition, Brilliant Earth is involved in support organizations like Diamond Development Initiative which work to improve conditions for small-scale miners worldwide. They are also pushing for changes in certification in the diamond industry.
Where are their diamonds sourced from?
Brilliant Earth sources their diamonds from countries such as Canada, Russia, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. Unlike many other vendors, such as James Allen (who do not know the origin of their diamonds unless it is from Canada), Brilliant Earth is able to track their diamonds to their origins and provide you with a diamond origin certification. They also have auditing processes in place to guarantee their diamonds and gemstones have pure origins. They state that their diamonds are traced throughout the mining, cutting and polishing process and are not in any way associated with war.
When searching for a diamond on their site, you can choose the country of origin of the diamond rough. There is also the option of choosing a recycled diamond that has been obtained from secondary sources. This feature can be found in the Advanced Search option.
What about lab-grown diamonds?
Brilliant Earth is currently one of the largest online vendors of lab-grown diamonds. Bear in mind that these are not fake diamonds. They are chemically and optically identical to minded diamonds. They are priced 15-20% lower than naturally mined diamonds because it costs less to acquire them than it does for mined diamonds. They have no mining footprint so are a great choice in terms of environmental sustainability.
Where do they get their metals from?
While we know that recycling is a step towards saving our planet, we rarely associate this concept with our expensive jewelry! Mining for precious metals is a serious environmental concern. Brilliant Earth acquires their gold, platinum and silver from renewed sources. According to their site, these sources encompass recycled jewelry, industrial products and electronics components. The recycled metals are identical in value to newly mined metals, as they are refined back to their pure state. As we mentioned above, you can get a recycled diamond too!
How much do the diamonds cost?
We’ve established that Brilliant Earth is an ideal place for clean (in the figurative sense) jewelry and stones. But does that mean that you pay a premium for these? When compared to sites like James Allen and Blue Nile, Brilliant Earth’s diamonds do come across as somewhat more pricey. However, in terms of socially conscious jewelry, they provide good value at the lowest possible price. For more information and to compare the three vendors, read our reviews on Blue Nile and James Allen.
What does the packaging look like?
Brilliant Earth scores high with their unique, creative and classy ring box! It is not the typical box that we have come to expect of jewelry shops. Easily distinguishable, it is a hand-made wooden box created in New Zealand, aligning with the company’s commitment to sustainability. The box looks luxurious and classy, with an understated elegance.
How easy is the search interface and website to use?
The Brilliant Earth website is easy to use and dynamic. The search interface is convenient and provides you many filters to narrow your search results. There are sections devoted to engagement rings, wedding rings, jewelry collections and jewelry education. The focus of the education section is broader than most other vendors, and gives you detailed and easy to digest information on a range of jewelry-related topics.
What can I buy from Brilliant Earth?
Brilliant Earth offers a wide range of products for their customers. Some of these are niche products that may be difficult to find elsewhere.
- Natural Diamonds: Brilliant Earth is very particular about the mined diamonds they sell and only .01% of the world’s diamonds can pass their criteria on quality and ethics. There are about 20,000 mined diamonds in their inventory. These can be bought in the ten main diamond shapes (round, princess, cushion, emerald, radiant, marquise, pear, heart, aascher and oval).
- Lab-grown (cultured) Diamonds: Brilliant Earth has one of the largest inventories for lab-grown diamonds and is a go-to place for anyone interested in mined diamond alternatives. About 8,000 lab diamonds are currently listed on their website. They are great not only for the environmentally-conscious but also for the science buff!
- Colored Diamonds: On the site, you can find natural and lab colored diamonds in blues, yellows and pinks. At the time of writing, there were only about 20 natural and 88 lab colored diamonds.
- Settings: Brilliant Earth has a good range of settings and metals for their engagement and wedding rings. There are 6 main choices for design style which are classic, halo, nature, antique and modern. They also have a section for customer favorites. Within these categories are more options to choose from.
You also have 3 types of setting styles – solitaire, accents and three-stone. You can mix and match these with 4 types of metal choices – 18k white and yellow gold, 14k rose gold and platinum. For wedding rings, you have the addition option of palladium for a metal. This gives you a huge range of combinations to choose from, as you mix and match design, style and metal.
- Gemstones: Brilliant Earth offers sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, rubies, morganites and moissanites. These are gorgeous alternatives to the traditional diamond engagement ring.
- Vintage and antique jewelry: Brilliant Earth has an excellent collection of pre-owned vintage and antique jewelry. Some of these are reproductions so make sure you check prior to purchase. The choices seem almost endless and is a paradise for anyone interested in these niche products! Many of these beautiful items have been upgraded, at times with new gemstones or metal work, but still hold the romance of the past. Excellent images of the antique items are provided making it easier for you to choose your jewelry.
The below image is a screenshot of the search filters for the vintage and antique collection.
Below are three examples of the classical vintage jewelry you can buy from Brilliant Earth (from left to right: Georgian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau)
- Diamond and gemstone jewelry: While some people prefer to design their own jewelry, there is a large array of ready-made fine jewelry also on offer. The categories for these are: rings, earrings, necklaces and gifts. Within these categories are lots of options, which are ready to ship, saving you the time and the effort of designing your own jewelry.
Do they have videos and photos of their diamond and gemstone inventory?
One of the main issues I have with the Brilliant Earth site is that they do not have photographs or videos for all the diamonds in their inventory. While all the details are clearly listed, Brilliant Earth only shows a diagram and sample photo for most of their diamonds.
Once you have chosen a diamond, Brilliant Earth will perform an eye-clean check on it, and if it is not suitable, they will find you a stone with similar specifications. This means that you would essentially be buying blind, relying on the judgement of the salespeople.
The good news is that they are working towards a more fully photographed collection and currently there is still a wide range of diamonds that have videos/photos. When searching, ensure that you select the ‘Real View Available’ tab to filter the diamonds with actual images.
How good is their customer service and care?
The Brilliant Earth customer service feels more personal than other large online vendors. The sales representatives are friendly and not pushy, assist customers with every aspect of the purchase, and are knowledgeable in their diamond information. However, they can only be contacted during certain hours which can make it difficult for international shoppers. The sales reps take extra pains to accommodate your requirements, for example, to ensure that your engagement ring remains a surprise.
Unlike vendors like James Allen who have 24/7 chat options and diamond experts, Brilliant Earth feels more like walking into a brick-and-mortar store and having a chat with the friendly salesperson there.
What services does Brilliant Earth offer?
Shipping and Returns: For customers in the US, Canada and Australia, Brilliant Earth offers free shipping both ways. So if, by any chance, you find that you have to return you ring, they will cover the cost of shipping it back to them. Remember that this must be done within 30 days. However, there is a 10% goods and services tax for Canadian and Australian shoppers.
Payment options: The company offers a range of flexible payment options. There is the Wells Fargo Jewelry Advantage credit card which gives you 12-month interest free if paid in full within that period (only for US customers). If you choose to use bank wire, you are eligible to receive a 1.5% discount on the total price of your purchase (US and Canada). If you have decided on your purchase but don’t have all the money to spare at the moment, you can always lay-away your purchase, allowing you to make monthly instalments (US and international customers).
Lifetime upgrade policy: If you don’t have the resources to splurge on a massive diamond at the start, you can always upgrade your diamond at any time with Brilliant Earth’s free lifetime upgrade policy. Bear in mind that this applies only to mined colorless diamonds and the new diamond must be at least 50% more in value. Also, you have to ensure that you have all the original documents to make use of this policy.
Lifetime Guaranty: This will give you the peace of mind that they will cover all manufacturing faults. In other words, you can get your jewelry repaired free of charge if the fault is due to manufacturing defects.
Complimentary resizing: Within thirty days of purchase, you are entitled to one free ring resizing, with shipping paid for both ways. This is very convenient and takes away any worry you may have about the ring size. Remember that you can also order a free ring sizer from their website which will be posted to you.
Does Brilliant Earth have showrooms?
Currently, Brilliant Earth has 6 showrooms based in the US. You can make an appointment to browse their collections of rings and to chat with their jewelry experts about any diamond or jewelry related questions you may have. So if you are a brick-and-mortar store type of person, this will tick that box for you. While these offices aren’t glamorous, remember that you pay for the glamour at traditional shops!
Customer reviews of Brilliant Earth
After going through over 200 customer reviews of Brilliant Earth on review websites, we can safely say that customers generally have a good experience with Brilliant Earth. Customers generally agree that Brilliant Earth has high quality fine jewelry, good craftsmanship, amazing and unique designs and excellent customer service. The main complaints are that sometimes craftsmanship can be poor, causing stones to get loose or fall out. These are extreme cases, though, as the majority of customer reviews praise the high quality of Brilliant Earth.
To sum up….
I would definitely recommend Brilliant Earth as a place where you are provided with unique jewelry choices and a chance to purchase ethical and sustainable products. You will have to be patient and work with the sales reps to find what you need, but it may well be worth it.