February 17, 2018

Brilliant Earth Review: Pros and Cons

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Brilliant Earth is known for their ethically-sourced diamonds. But is the price worth it? Read our full review.

Brilliant Earth
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Overall Score

4.2

Price

4.0

Selection

3.5

Customer Service

4.0

Data

3.5

Social Responsibility

5.0

Unique

5.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Beyond conflict-free philosophy
  • Selection of lab-created diamonds
  • Beautiful and unique vintage settings
  • Smaller inventory of stones

Bottom Line

Good online retailer for socially-responsible diamonds and rings

Brilliant Earth is one of the most well-known diamond retailers. If you've been doing your diamond research online, chances are you've come across it.

This jewelry company sparks some extreme feelings among shoppers. It promises to only sell ethically-sourced diamonds. Many of its diamonds are then sold at a premium. But some question whether that premium is justified.

We're here to give you the low-down on Brilliant Earth.

Will this store match your ethical beliefs and offer a diamond at a good value?

In this review, you'll learn:

Who Brilliant Earth Is Best For

  • If you're socially conscious. Brilliant Earth's diamonds come from ethical mines without human rights abuses. It has a strong social mission to give back to diamond mining communities.

  • If you're looking for lab-created diamonds. Brilliant Earth has a large selection of lab diamonds. Another major advantage is that they cost less.

  • If you love vintage settings. Brilliant Earth has a huge collection of beautiful vintage rings. It has both one-of-a-kind antiques and vintage-inspired settings.

    Brilliant Earth

    Search for Diamonds

    Shop for diamonds at Brilliant Earth, a CreditDonkey recommended partner for socially-responsible diamonds.

We'll examine the pros and cons below. But first, let's highlight the current Brilliant Earth promotions and perks.

Brilliant Earth Promotions: September 2018

Brilliant Earth Philosophy

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Brilliant Earth was created in 2005 with a philosophy that goes beyond conflict-free.

Conflict-free merely means diamonds that have not been used to fund civil wars. But there are still other ethical concerns. Diamond mines often have unsafe working conditions and unfair wages.

Brilliant Earth's mission is to only source diamonds that:

  • Were not used to fund civil wars
  • Are clean of human rights abuses
  • Come from mines that pay fair wages
  • Come from mines with safe labor practices
  • Are mined with the least environmental impact

Canada is the leading country of responsible mining. But because the definition of ethically-sourced stones can be a little fluid, the mining practices in some other countries may fit the bill as well. Brilliant Earth also sources stones from Namibia, Russia, and Botswana.

Brilliant Earth appeals to the socially conscious shopper. If you're looking for the lowest prices, then there probably isn't much of a reason to shop at Brilliant Earth. Their prices are higher than a similar diamond of the same specs from another online retailer.

All diamonds come with a certificate of origin, showing that they have been ethically sourced.

Did you know: Brilliant Earth also sells ethically-sourced gemstones, including emeralds, sapphires, and rubies.

But Are They Ethical?

There have been some questions regarding Brilliant Earth's practices, mostly centering on whether the company's claims of countries of origin can be trusted.

Brilliant Earth has spoken up to set the record straight. It uses a chain of custody protocols to track each of their diamonds from the mine to the Brilliant Earth webstore. The protocols make sure that each supplier along the way accurately track, identify, and sort diamonds based on origin.

In 2016, Brilliant Earth also employed a neutral independent auditor - SCS Global Services - to conduct an audit of their tracking protocol. This company performs third-party evaluation of environmental, social, and quality claims.

SCS has reported that Brilliant Earth's suppliers are in conformance to the custody protocol, and that the diamonds can be verified to their origin. This should give buyers more confidence in their purchase.

Did you know: A diamond passes through several, if not a couple of dozen, hands on its way from a mine to a showroom.

Lab-Created Diamonds

© CreditDonkey

Brilliant Earth also has a large selection of lab-created diamonds. These are real diamonds identical in every way to naturally mined diamonds. They're just made in a lab.

Lab diamonds are environmentally friendly. They're also made in safe working environments with fair wages. And another huge plus - they cost a lot less. We've found that Brilliant Earth's lab diamonds cost about 20% less than a similar mined diamond.

Always wanted a pink or yellow diamond? Brilliant Earth also has lab-colored diamonds. Naturally colored diamonds are super expensive and rare. Lab-grown colored diamonds have the same beauty at lower prices.

Get the best diamond for the money. Read this diamond price chart.

Recycled Diamonds

The company also sells "recycled" diamonds. These are stones that have been taken from vintage rings or purchased from customers looking for an upgrade.

By reusing a stone, the company ensures that's one less diamond that needs to be mined.

Socially Responsible Metal

Brilliant Earth doesn't stop with ethical stones. All their gold and platinum jewelry have been recycled from old jewelry or industrial and electrical products.

The process of mining metals can be very environmentally harmful. Brilliant Earth looks to make use of metals that already exist in the market. This reduces the need to mine new metals.

All the metals Brilliant Earth uses are pure. You don't have to worry about receiving a lower quality of metal by going in this direction.

10 Advantages of Brilliant Earth

  • Socially responsible shopping. Brilliant Earth is the clear-cut leading jeweler for conflict-free diamonds and jewelry. Everything they offer, down to the packaging, is responsibly sourced.

  • Lab-grown diamonds. The company offers one of the world's largest collections of lab-created diamonds. These are a great eco-friendly choice. And you get a price advantage too.

  • Charitable giving. Brilliant Earth gives 5% of its profits to help provide economic development in diamond mining areas in Africa. They focus on areas that suffer from poor mining practices. They even started an initiative to build schools and provide education for children so they don't have to go work in the mines.

  • Unique settings. Brilliant Earth has beautiful rings that stand out from other jewelers. They specialize in vintage-inspired designs. They also have one-of-a-kind antique jewelry, which will give you a unique look. And if you can't find a ring you like, you can work with the company's designers to create your own.

    Tip: If you want the proposal to be a surprise, but want her to choose a setting she loves, you can propose with a temporary setting. Brilliant Earth can temporarily set the stone in their classic 18k white gold solitaire ring. Within 60 days of purchase, you can return the temp setting and choose another one. A $75 refurbishment fee will be deducted.

  • Real view. More than half of Brilliant Earth's diamonds have a real photo and/or 360-degree video. Being able to "see" the diamond is important on such a huge item. You can have more confidence in your purchase. Make sure you turn on the "Real View Available" filter in your search.

  • Flexible payment options. It offers many payment options. If you're unable to pay in full, they have a 12-month interest free option. You can also use a layaway plan and make monthly payments after an initial deposit.

  • Free shipping. Your purchase will be shipped to you for free. Returns within 30 days can be sent back for free too. This is for all U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia orders.

  • 30-day free return. If you're not happy with your purchase for whatever reason, you can get a full refund within 30 days.

  • 60-day free resizing. Brilliant Earth offers one free resizing. But some styles cannot be resized. Custom or engraved rings have a resizing fee.

  • Free lifetime warranty. You get free lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.

  • Lifetime diamond upgrade. At any time, you can trade in a loose diamond you've purchased from the company for a larger diamond. You get a full credit of the original purchase price. But the new diamond needs to be of at least 50% greater value. This does not apply for their gemstones or lab-created diamonds.

Disadvantages of Brilliant Earth

  • More expensive. Some diamonds cost more at Brilliant Earth. Generally, we've found that smaller diamonds (less than 1 carat) tend to be pricier than a diamond with the same specs at James Allen. However, if you're looking for a bigger diamond (over 1 carat), then the prices are very comparable.

  • Smaller inventory. Brilliant Earth doesn't carry as many jewelry options as some other jewelers. But there are still enough choices to satisfy most people.

  • Small number of stores. If you want to shop in person, Brilliant Earth may not be a great option for you. There are only seven cities that have Brilliant Earth showrooms.

Buying Process in Person

Brilliant Earth does have 7 showrooms in America. If you want to visit one, you'll want to make an appointment. A sales associate will take you through the inventory of rings.

Did you know: Brilliant Earth has showrooms in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., and Denver.

You can create a ring with their stones and settings. Or you can bring in your own rings to melt down and be remade into a newly designed ring. The stores also sell vintage rings.

You won't feel short on options when you shop at a Brilliant Earth store. The company may have a smaller selection than other jewelers, but they have a lot of unique rings. You'll have plenty of options to see.

Buying Process Online

If you prefer to shop online, Brilliant Earth delivers a pleasing experience. The website is easy to navigate. It's well organized by category and has a good search function. It's easy to find the exact piece of jewelry that you want.

Brilliant Earth has recently stepped up their photo game too. Now, more than half of the diamonds on their sites have a real photo and/or 360-degree video. This allows you to see a magnified photo of the actual stone. You'll be able to see any flaws on the diamond. So you can look for cheaper eye-clean diamonds.

To find diamonds with actual photos/videos, click on the "Real View Available" filter on the diamond search page. Diamonds without the real view filter will only show a stock photo.

You can have your online orders shipped for free. Packaging wise, the company uses eco-friendly natural wooden boxes. They're beautiful boxes that will work well as a gift box too.

How it Compares

Brilliant Earth vs Blue Nile:

 

Brilliant Earth

Blue Nile

 

Benefits and Features

SelectionEthically-mined diamonds from Canada, Russia, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. Selection of lab-created and recycled diamonds.Largest selection of online diamonds, sourced from suppliers around the world
Customer ServiceMonday - Sunday 7:00 am - 7:00 pm (PT) by phone or live chat.
24/7 customer service
DataGrading report; many diamonds have actual photo.
Grading report
Return Policy30-day free policy. Brilliant Earth provides the FedEx shipping label and free return shipping on all ring, loose diamond, and loose gemstone orders.30-day money back guarantee. Blue Nile will send you a fully insured free shipping label via email. Items must be in their original purchase condition, including all product documentation.
WarrantyLifetime warranty against on all manufacturing defects. This does not apply to Brilliant Earth's collection of estate and vintage jewelry.Lifetime manufacturer warranty. Terms and exclusions apply.
Buyback Diamond buyback program through Mondiamo based on market value.
Resizing1 free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase for US, Canada, UK, and Australia customers. Free shipping both ways. Custom and engraved rings are subject to resize fees. Eternity rings cannot be resized.Blue Nile provides complimentary resizing for Build Your Own RingsĀ®, and Diamond Bands when within the manufacturer's recommended sizing range, during the first year.
Upgrade PolicyGet 100% credit when you upgrade your loose diamond. New diamond must cost at least 50% more than the original diamond's value. Diamond must be in saleable condition with the original grading report. Upgrades are not available for lab-created diamonds.Lifetime diamond upgrade program on all GIA and AGSL graded diamonds. You will receive credit equal to 100% of the original price toward the purchase of a new diamond. The price of your new diamond must be at least twice the price of your original diamond. Your diamond must be in its original condition with the original diamond grading report.
Price
Selection
Customer Service
Data
Social Responsibility
Unique
 Visit SiteVisit Site

Brilliant Earth vs James Allen:

 

Brilliant Earth

James Allen

 

Benefits and Features

SelectionEthically-mined diamonds from Canada, Russia, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. Selection of lab-created and recycled diamonds.Inventory sourced from local diamond suppliers
Customer ServiceMonday - Sunday 7:00 am - 7:00 pm (PT) by phone or live chat.
24/7 customer service
DataGrading report; many diamonds have actual photo.Grading report, 360-degree HD video
Return Policy30-day free policy. Brilliant Earth provides the FedEx shipping label and free return shipping on all ring, loose diamond, and loose gemstone orders.If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, you may return it in its original, unworn condition within 30 days for a full refund or exchange. Free return shipping only applies to U.S customers and is limited to three per customer.
WarrantyLifetime warranty against on all manufacturing defects. This does not apply to Brilliant Earth's collection of estate and vintage jewelry.James Allen warrant that all items will be free from any manufacturing defects at time of delivery. James Allen will repair and maintain your jewelry for a lifetime. Lifetime warranty offers free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating and cleaning services.
Resizing1 free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase for US, Canada, UK, and Australia customers. Free shipping both ways. Custom and engraved rings are subject to resize fees. Eternity rings cannot be resized.All engagement rings and wedding bands, excluding eternity bands and alternative metals, may be resized once for free within the first 60 days of purchase.
Upgrade PolicyGet 100% credit when you upgrade your loose diamond. New diamond must cost at least 50% more than the original diamond's value. Diamond must be in saleable condition with the original grading report. Upgrades are not available for lab-created diamonds.Any loose diamond purchased from James Allen can be exchanged at 100% credit for any replacement diamond of at least 2X or greater value. The diamond that is being upgraded must be in original condition and accompanied by the original laboratory grading document.
Price
Selection
Customer Service
Data
Social Responsibility
Unique
 Visit SiteVisit Site

Bottom Line

Brilliant Earth has a great philosophy of going beyond just conflict-free. We really appreciate their mission. We also love their commitment to help mining communities.

Generally, the value is good for socially-responsible diamonds. Larger diamonds have very comparable prices with other online jewelers. However, smaller diamonds tend to be more expensive.

Brilliant Earth does have a large selection of lab-grown diamonds. If you want an ethical diamond at a lower price point, we highly recommend looking into that.

One thing for sure though, is that Brilliant Earth does offer gorgeous, unique settings. That too, may sway your decision.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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