With Blue Nile's vast selection and Brilliant Earth's commitment to ethical sourcing, I know how challenging it can be to decide between the two.
But after thorough research and analysis, I've come up with a detailed comparison to help you make an informed decision on where to buy your next piece of jewelry.
Read on to find out which retailer reigns supreme in the battle of Blue Nile vs Brilliant Earth.
If you're in a hurry, click here to see our verdict (#spoileralert).
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Juli has written hundreds of jewelry and diamond articles and spends much of her free time browsing and helping out in ring buying Facebook groups to keep up with the latest diamond and wedding trends. Her wealth of knowledge and experience has given her a unique perspective on what information truly helps our readers find and buy the perfect diamond engagement ring or piece of jewelry.
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When comparing the overall shopping experience between Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile, I find that both sell high-quality loose diamonds and ring settings, and both retailers offer conflict-free diamonds responsibly sourced through the diamond mining supply chain.
However, there are some distinct differences between them.
When I browsed the Brilliant Earth website, I noticed they have the same main staples as many other online diamond retailers: empty ring settings and loose stones through a 360˚ viewer.
They offer various options, such as loose lab-grown diamonds, blockchain diamonds, standard natural diamonds, and recycled natural diamonds. They also have a wide selection of loose colored diamonds and colored gemstones.
The selection at Brilliant Earth is large enough to compete with top contenders like James Allen and Blue Nile. They carry around 111,000 natural diamonds of varying grades and just shy of 3,000 loose lab-grown diamonds.
The 360˚ viewer at Brilliant Earth is great for viewing inclusions and blemishes, especially if you're choosing from a clarity grade that isn't eye-clean like an I, SI or VS diamond. They don't actually carry I clarity diamonds, but I'd steer clear of any Fair Cut diamonds. You should only purchase Very Good or Ideal if we're talking round cut diamonds.
About 97,000 of their natural loose diamonds can be viewed in real time using their filter options. While it's not the whole inventory, there's more than enough choices. Just keep in mind the more specific your diamond grades are, the less you'll have to choose from.
The diamonds at Brilliant Earth may have a GIA Origin Report, GIA Diamond Report (standard), IGI Report, or HRD Report. I recommend only purchasing natural diamonds with GIA or AGS certifications. For lab diamonds, GIA, IGI, and GCAL reports will do.
If you decide the engagement ring you bought from Brilliant Earth just isn't quite up to your liking, they offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. You can return it to one of their 14 showrooms around the US, or for free online through their website. Their customer service representatives are available to assist with any questions or concerns during the return process.
Blue Nile is the oldest name in the online loose diamond game. That's right, they were the first company to take loose diamonds and ring settings online, and successfully. I discovered their history dates all the way back to 1999.
It's safe to say they've built a strong and committed customer base based on their experience in the online diamond industry.
They have a huge selection of loose natural diamonds, with over 200,000 available in different diamond grades. It makes sense though, considering how long they've been around.
Like Brilliant Earth, they don't have 360˚ video on every diamond. The video is clear, but I wish the diamond was positioned better to see the underside. I love that I can control this one too.
One of my favorite things about Blue Nile is that they guarantee all of their diamonds are GIA certified. For people who are really just stumbling into the world of diamonds and grading reports, Blue Nile takes the guesswork out of it and provides only the best.
No worries about accidentally buying a grading report from an unreliable lab.
One of my least favorite things about Blue Nile is that despite the huge shift in natural diamonds toward lab-grown diamonds or moissanite, I'm surprised that Blue Nile doesn't carry either.
They do offer a Lightbox Lab diamond jewelry section, but it's preset jewelry like lab-created diamond necklaces, bracelets, and rings. Currently, there are no options to customize a loose lab-grown diamond and pair it with a high-quality ring setting.
They don't have a repair warranty, not even one you can pay for. They provide a lifetime manufacturing warranty, but it's not going to help you when your white gold engagement ring needs rhodium plating or the prongs need retipping.
If you decide Blue Nile's engagement rings or wedding bands just aren't for you, they have free 30-day returns.
Keep in mind that special ordered items (which are labeled) are not eligible for return.
One of the biggest reasons companies lose customers is because of the service.
Both Blue Nile and Brilliant Earth give customers the option to sit down with a diamond expert to help them purchase. Let's take a look at some of the things each of these companies do for their customers.
We already know that Blue Nile has been around the diamond block for years. And of course that instills trust in customers and prevents them from moving onto a newer, unknown brand. But it can't just be fear that keeps these customers hanging onto the brand.
And it's not. In addition to the normal services they have for building your own engagement ring, they have an extensive fine jewelry selection. There's a variety of services and features Blue Nile offers in general.
A lot of people don't know that they have physical locations as well, and not just one or two main stores. They have 15, with another opening soon in Glendale, California.
Some of these customer benefits are universal at other online diamond jewelry stores too, such as a diamond upgrade program. Like other retailers such as Kay and Jared, you have to spend at least double the price you paid on the original piece.
But they also have another way to sell your own ring, one that wasn't purchased with them. If you have a diamond engagement ring you're trying to sell, you can consider Blue Nile's program with Circa. You can even opt for a Blue Nile gift card instead of cash to your account. If you do this, they throw in an extra 20% on that gift card.
Their customer service is open 24/7 via online chat, phone, SMS text, and even WhatsApp. That's a lot of avenues to talk to them. Most don't offer those last two. They have the most ways to get ahold of them out of our online retailers.
One thing they could really improve on for their customers' sake is their Astor diamond collection. Many diamond retailers have their own exclusive super ideal diamond brand, but the Astor diamond has to be my least favorite. Why?
They're not really described well on the site, and the only major difference between their Excellent cut/ regular ideal cut diamonds is the GemEx report.
GemEx reports aren't that special. It measures the light performance of your diamond, but it's by the GemEx company only. It doesn't increase the value of your diamond, only the price. It won't provide a visual to confirm best light quality diamonds, like you could get with ASET and Idealscope images from Whiteflash's super ideal cut diamonds.
You can schedule a virtual appointment with a jewelry expert on Blue Nile's website, but you'll have to call the showroom location if you're wanting to book an in-person appointment.
Brilliant Earth's customer service is open 24/7 via online chat, email, or phone. They have 15 locations around the United States in states such as Washington, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and more.
If you want to sit down with diamond expert either at one of their showrooms or online for a virtual appointment, you can book appointment times on the website. Just choose what you're needing help with and the location. They appointments are 45 minutes guaranteed for your attention only.
The Kimberley Process covers diamonds that weren't mined out of conflict areas using them for war, but says nothing about human rights, working conditions, or related concerns. Brilliant Earth knows that diamond ethics are a huge concern among buyers today.
When you buy a GIA certified diamond, you don't just get a regular report showing you the plot chart and your diamond grades, they also tell you the country it's from in a GIA Origin Report. Other diamond retailers don't offer this.
Recycled diamonds are diamonds that may have been previously owned, recut, and resold. Diamonds that have personal history in them. That reduces carbon emissions to 0%, which is even better than the "environmentally friendly" lab created diamonds.
Blockchain technology has been a system used to encrypt information you know that can't be altered. Brilliant Earth is the first to combine natural diamonds and blockchain technology.
When you purchase a blockchain diamond, you are emailed a special access code from the blockchain company. The code allows you to see a ledger of your diamond's history.
You'll see sign offs and locations of everywhere the diamond has been and it's an unhackable system. You can feel confident in the travels of your mined diamond through this safe and secure channel.
The company focuses a lot on ethics and giving back to the community. Their collection of Moyo gemstones have been mined by female miners in Tanzania.
The proceeds from the collection go to help fund education and good living conditions for future female miners and artisans and to encourage more women to step up into the field.
Most rings are made out of soft metals, like gold and sterling silver. They are vulnerable to scratches, dents, nicks, and other daily wear and tear issues. That's where a warranty comes in handy.
Let's find out if Blue Nile or Brilliant Earth provides better warranty options.
As far as warranties go, Brilliant Earth doesn't give your a free lifetime maintenance warranty like James Allen.
You get the lifetime manufacturer's warranty, but it only helps design flaws and defects.
It's better to have a warranty that covers rhodium plating for white gold. Rose gold and yellow gold engagement rings don't need it, but could benefit from other repairs within the warranty.
For that reason, Brilliant Earth offers the Brilliant Benefits Extended Service Plan. It's similar to Kay and Jared's Extended Service Plan.
Brilliant Earth only offers it to you for 3 years. You have the option to re-up, but you have to pay again. The price is dependent on the cost of the item. I don't like that it isn't lifetime, but I can appreciate they offer a warranty.
The other thing is they don't even show the ESP in your cart if you're wanting to be a quick shopper. You'll have to call Brilliant Earth after your purchase and have them add it over the phone. Not quite sure why they can't just add that feature like Kay Jewelers.
Outside of the ESP, customers are given 60 days resizing. Most companies offer one free resizing within the first year.
It won't take long to talk about Blue Nile's repair warranty, because they don't have one. They give you a lifetime manufacturer's warranty. Manufacturing defects are like when the same stone keeps falling out over and over again, or the shank itself keeps breaking.
Most retailer rings are mass produced and sometimes bag eggs are sold to customers. That's what a manufacturing warranty will cover. It's nice, but honestly I don't think companies should make a big fuss about it. If there's a flaw in the design, they'd better cover it right?
You can still send your ring out for repair work, but they'll give you an estimate. You also get one free resizing.
Price vs Value
Since Blue Nile doesn't have loose lab grown diamonds, we're going to focus on their regular natural loose diamonds in comparison to a blockchain diamond from Brilliant Earth.
Most people find Blue Nile to be less expensive than Brilliant Earth. The main complaint about Brilliant Earth is their diamond prices.
A budget is understandable- but don't let the price tag dissuade you too much. Let's see how these two stack up against each other.
I've choose diamonds from both companies that are 1.51 carats, G color grades, and have SI1 clarity. The Brilliant Earth diamond is labeled as ideal cut and the Blue Nile one is Very Good. Both of them have GIA certification.
Remember that cushion cut diamonds can't actually be ideal, but it means that proportions are the best for that diamond shape and that diamond itself. So these ones are comparable with minor differences.
Despite their reputation, Brilliant Earth's diamond came out to be cheaper than Blue Nile's. I honestly didn't expect that. But don't expect them to always come out on top . That's why you should always compare specs and not settle on the first diamond you see.
Blue Nile vs Brilliant Earth On Reddit
While there's a lot of customer reviews on the internet at places like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Google Reviews, and Yelp, most people only file complaints about the retailer. This can be helpful, but we always take reviews with a grain of salt.
Instead, we check out Reddit and many subreddits that speak of diamonds and engagement rings. Here you can read both positive and negative experiences.
If I could list all the Blue Nile reviews off of Reddit, we'd be here for years. Clearly, they're one of the top picks for online diamond retailers.
Most customers have had a pleasant experience. The downside, is as they grow into a bigger company, more issues slip through the cracks. You'll find the same complaints about James Allen too, now that they're so popular.
You'll find reviews that do complain about their service and other issues. Remember that reading reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, as you don't know both sides of the situation if not presented with it.
And while you should recognize that reviews are opinions, some reviews go on to damage more than just one potential customer. Brilliant Earth reviews on Reddit are quite brutal, due to a particular reviewer.
Here's the story briefly. A jeweler in New York did an "investigation" into Brilliant Earth and found that their diamonds were coming from India instead of Canada like they said and other claims.
I'm a little confused because the diamonds are mined in Canada, then produced in India. This info is clearly stated in their descriptions.
Either way, a rumor like that impacted their reputation. Kay and Jared experienced a lot of this when accusations of their repair shops switching rings began circulating.
You'll find a split audience. Half of the people are customers that have already purchased and love their rings. Some say that Brilliant Earth's pricing is more expensive than other places like James Allen or Blue Nile.
Our Verdict: The Winner Is...
So, what's the bottom line?
In the battle of Brilliant Earth vs Blue Nile, we'll have to go with Brilliant Earth.
- Brilliant Earth offers lab diamonds, natural diamonds, and both natural and lab created colored gemstones. Blue Nile doesn't offer loose lab grown diamonds or semi-precious gemstones.
- Brilliant Earth offers customers a paid warranty to cover maintenance for 3 years and the option to renew it. Blue Nile has a manufacturer's warranty to cover defects, not wear and tear.
- Brilliant Earth gives you a 60 day return policy, Blue Nile only gives 30 days.
- Brilliant Earth is the only diamond company to have blockchain ethical diamonds.
- Brilliant Earth will let you book appointments in-store or online on the website. You'll have to contact the location to book an appointment at Blue Nile.
- Brilliant Earth offers GIA Diamond Origin Reports. Blue Nile has standard GIA Diamond Reports.
Don't count Blue Nile out though. Despite a couple various obvious flaws, they're still a top-notch online retailer. They are constantly head to head with James Allen and still have a much higher customer base than Brilliant Earth.
Both retailers are great choices to buy from, but Brilliant Earth seems to offer more services that buyers today are looking for.