Brilliant Earth Review | Read Before Buying
Should you buy a diamond engagement ring from Brilliant Earth?
Brilliant Earth has been established since 2005 and in that time it has carved out a niche within the diamond industry as the jeweler that goes above and beyond to ensure that its diamonds do as little harm as possible to the Earth and the community.
That’s a laudable goal, and if ethical purchasing is important to you then Brilliant Earth should definitely be a jeweler you consider. But should you buy from them?
As with all Brilliant Earth Reviews, that’s the question I’m going to help you decide on today.
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Brilliant Earth reviews
Before we get into my review of Brilliant Earth, I like to take a look at what other people are saying. Not only can this be a good way to gauge general sentiment, it can also be useful as a guide to things to look out for.
Overall, Brilliant Earth’s review scores across a large number of reviews and review platforms are very positive:
When reading any reviews of jewelers, it’s important to remember that buying an engagement ring is a very emotional time.
As a result, as well as the high number of 5 star reviews from happy buyers, there are also examples of reviews from buyers where things have not been straightforward.
Many of these issues are issues that affect all jewelers, whether online or brick and mortar stores.
Let’s take a look at a selection of reviews from various platforms:
5 star review: “Beyond conflict-free, and beyond GORGEOUS!”
Starting with a positive review, it’s clear that this person is extremely please with both the purchase experience and the ring itself:
I cannot say enough about Brilliant Earth. I really admire the company’s mission and values, and LOVE my ring (almost as much as I love my fiance). 😉
I had seen the ads for Brilliant Earth online and had started doing some research into the company. I value sustainability, and knew that I wanted my ring to be conflict-free. I really appreciated their commitment to giving back to those communities where they are working.
The more I read about Brilliant Earth, the more excited I became. It seemed too good to be true!
When the time came, my boyfriend and I made an appointment, and went to look at engagement rings. (Yes, I picked out my own ring.)
Their staff was friendly, and obviously well-trained in helping folks understand what they do/don’t like. Our associate helped me go back and forth, between this and that, really guiding me and helping be zero in on what I truly liked. As a result, I walked away with a BEAUTIFUL, custom-made ring that wows me to this day. The ring itself is a high-quality. It arrived right on schedule, and we haven’t had any issues! Once it came time to purchase our wedding bands, there wasn’t even a choice – we knew we were going right back to Brilliant Earth.
As I mentioned above, buying an engagement ring is a very emotional time in everyone’s life, so the majority of reviews are quite extreme – it’s uncommon to find a three star review relating to an engagement ring!
1 star review: “Bait and switch” claim
The following is an example of an obviously frustrated customer experiencing something that unfortunately can happen at any online jeweler:
Beware this Brilliant Earth company posted a diamond for a good deal. After placing the order in the following weeks I made plans and reservations for a romantic proposal.
A week later they called me to tell me the diamond that I selected was unavailable and offered me “comparable” diamonds that were smaller in carat size but MORE MONEY.
They clearly are running scams and have completely put me in a horrible position for my proposal plans. I had to cancel the order after opening the line of credit with them.
Many online jewelers use offshore suppliers to hold their inventory, and the same diamond may be available on several retailers’ websites at the same time. Sometimes, a diamond may therefore be sold by two retailers at similar times, with one buyer unfortunately missing out.
In this example, it sounds like Brilliant Earth could have conducted themselves better – I would hope that they would offer at least an equivalent quality diamond for the same price to counteract the disappointment of the original stone no longer being available.
2 star review: Lost melee stone
Again, this review is from an obviously-frustrated customer who experience post-purchase didn’t match up to the previously good buying experience:
My engagement ring is from Brilliant Earth so we purchased my wedding ring from the company as well. After two years of wearing the ring, a stone went missing.
I do wear the ring daily, as most people do with a wedding ring, but I do not do any rough work with my hands.
Well, the ring was not covered by the warranty and it will cost $170 to fix.
After just shy of two years of wearing the ring, this is disappointing. If I am lucky enough to live another 50 years and I continue to wear my wedding ring for a lifetime, which most people do, I will spend roughly $4,250 if I need to repair it every 2 years.
My hope was to purchase the lunette ring to go on the other side of my engagement ring for our 5th year anniversary but now I will have to take my business elsewhere.
We’ve already spent $10,000+ with this company and I don’t fee comfortable spending a penny more. It is sad because I am always complimented on my ring and I always pass on the Brilliant Earth name. I can no longer do this in good faith.
It is an unfortunate fact that melee diamonds, as set into pave bands or halo settings, and most jewelers won’t replace these after a certain period of time has lapsed.
Just like white gold rings need to be replated with rhodium every 18 months to 2 years, rings with melee stones may need to have stones re-set, no matter where it was purchased from.
5 star review: Great service and perfect ring
As with many reviews, Brilliant Earth’s conflict-free positioning and service are highlighted:
I always use to have this fear that jewelry/ring shopping would be stressful/problematic. I can honestly say that shopping with Brilliant Earth was one of the easiest experiences I had.
My partner (now fiancé!) and I had been discussing marriage and talks of an engagement ring came up. I advised him of my interest in ethical jewelry, and something that isn’t a diamond. My grandmother loved gemstones, and her love for them rubbed off on me over the years. After researching we found that brilliant earth had a generous selection of gemstones and was conflict free. Although I had ideas in mind I also wanted my partner to collaborate with me and look at rings. So we easily booked an appointment online at the Beverly Hills office for Black Friday 2020.
Finding the store was easy and everyone was masked. We had one whole room to ourselves, which made me feel super safe. Everyone also maintained their distance and there were appropriate glass/window barriers. Riley Johnson was our customer experience representative. She was extremely helpful, answered all my questions (no matter how silly they were), and was able to pinpoint the perfect gemstones and bands for us to look at. The appointment was smooth, did not feel rushed, and I was able to look at a number of options. Riley never pressured us about purchasing anything and even explained the differences between natural and lab created gems and how ethical each gem was. After I gave her an idea of which gems and bands I liked best, she created a ring online and emailed us the link with further resources. The email was sent immediately after the appointment.
While we both had an idea of the ring at this point, I had no real idea when the proposal would happen (was assuming maybe this spring or summer. It wasn’t until last week that he popped the question after a thoughtful dinner in the comfort of our own home.
The ring is absolutely flawless and exactly what we had envisioned/pictured. I can’t stop staring at it and have been showered with many compliments already. I never fail to tell people about where it’s from haha. It’s like, the air fryer of engagement rings.
In summation: We had a great experience, I received a beautiful ass ring, and we are very happy and pleased with the services of Brilliant Earth and their knowledgeable staff 🙂
Overall, the general sentiment of reviews of Brilliant Earth is positive – with an average score of 4.5 on WeddingWire from 482 reviews in June 2022:
It’s worth clicking through to see that while there are some frustrated people out there, the general sentiment is very positive.
Brilliant Earth’s position in the market: Beyond Conflict Free
One of the things I like that separates Brilliant Earth from their online competitors (and also almost every other jeweler out there) is their focus on ensuring their diamonds do as little harm as possible.
This has been a staple of their business model since they were founded in 2005 – the year before the film ‘Blood Diamond’ was released and awareness of conflict diamonds was raised around the world.
Brilliant Earth’s call their commitment ‘Beyond Conflict Free’:
The core tenets of Beyond Conflict Free are:
- Does Not Finance Rebel Movements (ie. don’t finance African wars)
- Protects Against Human Rights Abuses
- Minimize Environmental Degradation
- Maintain Safe and Responsible Labor Practices
- Support Community Development
Reading through that list, you may think that they’re things that every diamond retailer should be ensuring that they do too.
But as I’ve reviewed many jewellers across the world, it’s obvious that many just do the bare minimum, which is to adhere to ‘The Kimberley Process’. This is an agreement that the majority of the diamond trade has signed up to and which has been somewhat successful in removing conflict diamonds from the global supply chain, but isn’t infallible.
Brilliant Earth aim to go beyond this and have deployed technologies like blockchain, which enables them to track a diamond all the way through the supply chain, and GIA ‘Origin Reports’ which use chemical composition tests to determine where a diamond was originally mined.
The other one that stands out that is worth explaining is ‘Supports Community Development’.
While this may sound like a strange thing to focus on, for some countries, the diamond industry has become the largest export which has allowed them to develop faster than comparable countries.
The best example of this is Botswana which is a good example of how well-organised mining practices can have a positive effect on a community. Brilliant Earth is focusing on supporting other communities like the one around the Lungudi mine in Ivory Coast where they have built a school, or helping gold miners in Peru learn how to mine sustainably.
Lastly, Brilliant Earth also use recycled gold here in their jewelry, make their ring boxes from wood sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, and are certified as carbon free, offsetting their carbon emissions by contributing to rainforest conservation in Brazil.
In short, they’re doing the things that you would hope that a responsible business would be doing in 2022, but not every jeweler does.
In the past, Brilliant Earth has been subject to critical examination around just how effectively it can track diamonds back to their source, but as we’ll see, the current technology deployed can show beyond reasonable doubt where each stone was sourced from.
Brilliant Earth Diamond selection
Like most online jewelers, Brilliant Earth has a huge number of diamonds to choose from, in each of the 10 shapes most commonly used in diamond rings, as well as an easy-to-use search function, which will allow you find to find the balance of the 4Cs that is enough for you.
At the I was searching for diamonds for this review, Brilliant Earth offered 112,370 natural diamonds and 83,191 lab created diamonds:
That isn’t as many as some online retailers, but is definitely more than enough to ensure that I would always be able to find the right combination of diamond quality to fit a budget.
What I particularly like about Brilliant Earth is that, unlike many retailers, they give you more choice on what type of diamond to choose from, including:
- Blockchain-tracked diamonds
- Diamonds with GIA origin reports to show where they came from
- Hearts and arrows diamonds
- Recycled diamonds
- Lab-grown diamonds
Each of these will apply to a different type of diamond buyer, from those who are looking for the very highest cut quality (hearts and arrows), to those who want to ensure that they can known the exact source of their stone and see how it developed from a rough diamond to the final polished gem (blockchain tracked).
Click below to open up each of the tabs to read more:
Of the options available, the one I think is the smartest is the ability to choose a diamond that has been tracked on the blockchain throughout the supply chain.
For example, for this 1 carat diamond:
Can be tracked all the way back to the individual mine and the individual rough diamond that it was created from:
You can see this rough diamond at full size here.
When I first saw this, I was blown away – I can’t think of another product of business that would allow you to trace the final article back to the original raw materials.
The blockchain tracking then allows you to see how the rough diamond was assessed to be split into two different pieces used CAD modelling:
Again, you can see the full size image of this here, which shows that the original rough diamond was split into two separate stones
- The first would end up weighing 1.004 carats, and was 61.98% efficient in its use of the 1.62 carat of diamond rough
- The second would end weighing 1.048 carats and was 50.31% efficient in its use of the 2.083 carat of diamond rough
This may just be my inner diamond-nerd coming through, but I think that is super-cool, and is the sort of detail that can’t be found from most other retailers.
For me, knowing the story of a diamond’s origin and seeing where it came from adds a lot to the story and the specialness of it.
There are currently around 10,000 blockchain-tracked diamonds available through Brilliant Earth, which should be more than enough to find a stone that fits what you’re looking for if this appeals to you. You can check them out here.
GIA Origin Report
GIA origin reports are an extension to the standard GIA report, but also include the country that the diamond was originally mined in:
Countries that can be tracked back to include: Canada, Russia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Australia, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
As well as appearing on the certificate, the country of origin is also included in the laser inscription on the diamond’s girdle (the ring around the middle of the diamond)
GIA collects and analyzes physical measurements, spectroscopic data (how it interacts with light), and imaging of the diamond as a rough crystal before it is cut and polished to match it to the original rough diamond and the country of origin.
This isn’t as comprehensive as the blockchain tracking, or as cool, but it does mean that you can have some comfort that if a diamond says that it is Canadian, for example, that it really is.
Even above lab grown, or ethically sourced natural diamonds, recycled diamonds are the most eco-friendly of all choices.
These are diamonds that have previously been mined, cut, and polished, purchased, and are now being made available again.
Because they are repurposed, these diamonds require no new mining, and minimal new energy to produce.
Before being made available for sale, these diamonds are graded by an independent gemological lab, which means you can be sure of their quality and compare them to other diamonds on a like-for-like basis.
At the time of writing, Brilliant Earth had 383 recycled diamonds available to choose from:
This isn’t the largest selection, but you could get lucky and find one that matches what you’re looking for. In theory, this could be a great option for people looking for an ethically-sourced stone.
However, one issue with Brilliant Earth’s recycled diamonds is their price compared to a new diamond. For example, this 1.04 carat, G color, VS2 recycled diamond is priced at $9,130:
A non-recycled diamond with pretty much identical specs (G color, VS1 clarity but slightly lighter carat weight at 1.01) is priced around $1,400 lower at $7,760:
Brilliant Earth’s Hearts and arrows diamonds
‘Hearts and arrows’ is the name given to diamonds that have been cut to have exceptional symmetry, which can be seen when a special light is shined on it.
Perfect hearts and arrows looks like this:
You should be able to see that in the image on the left, each of the hearts are symmetrical and evenly spaced from the chevron in front of them ,which on the image on the right, each of the ‘arrows’ is perfectly straight with the head connected to the shaft.
Hearts and arrows is a ‘nice to have’ and perfect symmetry like this doesn’t necessarily mean that the diamond will sparkle better than one without hearts and arrows but which has proportions better optimised to reflect as much light as possible.
Brilliant Earth do offer a selection hearts and arrows diamonds, but this isn’t their specialty.
This diamond is marked as hearts and arrows and is priced slightly higher than a stone with equivalent specs that doesn’t isn’t H&A:
However, you should be able to see that its hearts aren’t all perfectly symmetrical.
It’s not terrible, and the symmetry is much better than a diamond that hasn’t been cut to create hearts and arrows would be, but it’s not perfect.
Even if you are willing to pay more, the symmetry is slightly better, but still not perfect:
For me, when I’m looking for a hearts and arrows diamond, I want it to be absolutely perfect – otherwise the diamond misses the point slightly.
While you may be able to find a perfect hearts and arrows diamond from Brilliant Earth if you look hard enough, there are other retailers in my recommended retailers list that specialise in this, which I would recommend above Brilliant Earth.
Brilliant Earth’s Lab-created diamonds
Lab-created diamonds have come a long way in the last three years in terms of acceptance, and they have now lost pretty much all of the stigma that was once associated with ‘synthetic diamonds’.
The reason for this is that they are chemically identical to natural diamonds and, for a good one, display the same physical and optical characteristics as natural diamonds, including the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle.
Lab created diamonds offer excellent value when compared to natural diamonds, as these two stones with identical specs show:
1 carat, G color, VS2 clarity natural diamond:
1 carat, G color, VS2 clarity lab-grown diamond:
The price of lab grown diamonds has fallen significantly in the last year, while natural diamond prices are increasing, which makes them an attractive proposition. Read our article on lab-grown diamonds for a full explanation of the pros and cons of lab grown stones.
If you’re looking for a lab-grown stone, Brilliant Earth offer a wide selection (over 80,000), including a good selection of less common cuts. At the time of writing, there are over 4,000 lab-grown emerald cut diamonds available – a greater choice than most retailers offer.
One feature of Brilliant Earth’s lab grown diamond selection that I really liked is that when a lab grown center diamond is chosen, I was shown settings that feature diamond side stones.
For example, this ring automatically changed its side stones to lab-grown after I selected a lab-grown center diamond:
While the setting above automatically changed to ‘lab diamond engagement ring’ to signify that the side stones are lab grown, not every setting does this.
However, most can have lab-grown diamonds used, but it may have to be requested, as the Brilliant Earth live chat confirmed:
While I would normally recommend a GIA reports for natural diamonds, at present IGI reports are far more common across the industry for lab-grown stones. The reason for this is that IGI reports give a more detailed grading for lab-grown diamonds than GIA reports: while the IGI report would tell you that a lab grown diamond is a G color and VS2 clarity, for the same diamond, GIA would only tell you that it is ‘near colorless’ and ‘very slightly included’. The IGI report is therefore much more helpful to help you identify the exact specs of a diamond and compare stones on a like-for-like basis.
Overall, I found that Brilliant Earth are doing a better job than most retailers in offering a wide selection of lab grown diamonds in a variety of shapes, as well as making it easy to stay consistent with your choice of lab grown diamond across the setting too, which most retailers currently do not offer.
Check out the current selection of lab-grown diamonds here.
One of the best things about Brilliant Earth’s diamond search function is how easy it is to search each of these factors, and even combine them.
I recommend you check out the search and have a play with each of the filters to see how it affects the selection available.
Brilliant Earth Engagement Ring Settings
Like many online retailers, Brilliant Earth offers a huge number of number of ring setting styles.
In fact, there are 278 available just for round diamonds, let alone all the other shapes.
If you know exactly what you want, it means that you are almost certainly going to find what you are looking for.
But if you aren’t 100% sure yet, it can be slightly overwhelming.
One thing that I really like about Brilliant Earth is the modern feel of their settings.
Instagram and pinterest pages dedicated to engagement rings are full of narrow and elegant bands with significant-sized stones, and this is a style you can easily recreate through Brilliant Earth with settings like the Four Prong Petit Comfort solitaire ring or the Ballad pavé ring.
Another thing I liked about the ring selection process is that I could see exactly how big the diamond I am examining will look on an actual ring itself using a simple slider:
Using the slider, it was easy for me to see the difference between a 3/4 carat diamond and a 2 carat stone:
Something to note on this setting: If you look at the prongs holding the diamond into the setting, you’ll notice that they are white gold, rather than the yellow gold of the band.
This ensure that the diamond doesn’t pick up any yellow tones from the yellow of the gold, which is a great feature to ensure that the diamond looks as white as possible. This is something I always look for when choosing a yellow gold setting.
Another nice touch I liked when choosing the ring setting is the ability to see what the ring will look like on a hand, including the ability to change the skin tone to be closer to the actual wearer’s.
Below you can see the 3/4 carat ring on the left, with the 2 carat on the right:
All of this aims to help you understand exactly what the ring you are buying will actually look like.
Lastly, one of my favourite features is the ‘Recently Purchased’ gallery, which is an incredible source of inspiration to see what other people are buying right now and to spark ideas on different combinations of diamond shape and setting style:
Even if you think you know what you’re looking for, I recommend you click through to see what other people are choosing and to see whether it can spark some inspiration for you too, or check out all of the settings available here.
Brilliant Earth Service
Most online retailers of engagement rings offer pretty much the exact same service guarantees:
- 30 day hassle-free returns
- Free shipping both was (if you decide to return)
- Lifetime manufacturing warranty
- Free resizing
These items aren’t a huge differentiator, but they’re a a bare minimum I expect to see when buying an engagement ring in 2022.
There are other service guarantees etc available too (you can see them all here), but these are the key things that should mean that you can buy with confidence that Brilliant Earth are going to stand behind their workmanship and allow you the flexibility to change something if you need to (within a reasonable time-frame).
One thing that I would recommend when buying from Brilliant Earth (or any jeweler that is custom-building a ring for you), is to allow enough time between when you order and when you plan to receive the ring.
When selecting your ring, you are provided with an estimate of when it will ship:
How long this will be will depend on where the diamond is located (many are held by suppliers offshore) and how complicated the setting is (a ring with diamonds set into the band will take longer to create than a simpler solitaire setting).
During the process of the ring being created, you’ll be provided regular updates on its status as it is created. Receiving these emails is pretty exciting as the ring you have chosen comes to life!
As with anything relying on a supply chain, there can be unforeseen delays. That could come from from Brilliant Earth’s suppliers or the postal service that is shipping to you, so to avoid frustration, I recommend building in a buffer for your timings on when you hope to receive the ring. By doing so, you’ll also be giving yourself some extra time to plan the perfect proposal!
Brilliant Earth International Guides
If you’re outside the USA, there are additional things to consider when making the decision on whether Brilliant Earth is the right retailer for you. Click below to access your local guide:
Brilliant Earth Pricing & Value
As an online retailer, Brilliant Earth benefits from the economies of scale as many online retailers, which allows them to offer significantly lower prices than traditional bricks-and-mortar jewelers.
But with all of the different options available, it can be difficult to know how each of the options compares to each other.
So I checked and compared.
I compared four diamonds with identical specs to see how they stacked up:
- Carat weight: 1 carat
- Cut: Super Ideal
- Color: G
- Clarity: VS2
The results are below:
Regular GIA Excellent cut:
GIA Origin Report:
At the time I was reviewing the options avaible:
- A Regular GIA excellent cut diamond with G color and VS2 clarity was $6,060.
- Adding the GIA origin report to this increase the price by exactly $500, to $6,560.
- Choosing the blockchain-tracking enabled diamond increase the price by a further $250, to $6,810.
- While a lab grown diamond with the same specs was priced at just $1,680.
While this is a limited sample (I just looked for the average price for each of these types of stones – you can almost certainly find less expensive and more expensive examples), it is a good indicator of how the different types of diamonds compare.
There is undoubtedly a price-premium to pay for the additional reassurance that the GIA origin report of the blockchain tracking offers. This is probably to be expected, as both of these require more procedures and therefore more cost during the course of the diamond production than a stone without.
Whether it is worth it is a personal decision, but for me, I think that the reassurance that they offer and knowing more about the story of the diamond are worth paying a premium for.
Brilliant Earth review
My final thoughts on Brilliant Earth
Brilliant Earth are an excellent choice for the conscious consumer.
While there are some mis-steps (recycled diamonds are too expensive, the hearts and arrows selection isn’t great), overall the selection of diamonds and settings are better than almost any other retailer.
For me, the real pick is the blockchain-tracked diamonds – a really awesome innovation that allows you to be certain of the origin of the stone and knowing the backstory of such a financially and emotionally significant purchase really appeals.
If you care about where about where products come from and the effect that they have on the earth, it should be an easy decision to choose Brilliant Earth for your diamond ring.
- Blockchain-tracked diamonds are a great innovation that allows you to understand the provenance of your stone
- Impressive sourcing policies.
- Excellent selection of beautiful and on-trend settings
- Very well priced, even compared to larger online jewelers
- Good service guarantees
- Not as strong with diamonds that aren’t its specialty e.g. hearts and arrows
- Recycled diamonds are a great idea, but too expensive
- Production estimates are longer than some other retailers – ensure you allow enough time for creation and shipping of your ring.