My philosophy in buying diamonds is that CUT is always king. This is because cut quality determines how much sparkle the diamond has and it mitigate shortfalls in other aspects of the 4Cs.
You see, better cut quality results in better brilliance and sparkle. This helps to mask inclusions and improve face up color of the diamond. On top of that, well cut diamonds look bigger because of better edge to edge brightness.
For these reasons, I recommend shopping within BlueNile’s signature collections since the diamonds have been curated for better cut quality.
*Update 2018: Blue Nile has rebranded their signature diamonds and labeled them “Astor”. Instead of GCAL reports, Astor diamonds are now accompanied by GemEx Diamond Light Performance reports.
On the whole, it is just a rebranding exercise and the overall quality of Astor is kept at identical standards to their previous signature diamonds.
At the time of writing this review, Blue Nile offers 5 shapes of diamonds for their signature lines; round, princess, emerald, asscher and cushion hearts & arrows.
The collections are accessible via their drop down navigation menu.
When I did my research and browsed through the signature diamond collections, I am actually pleased to see that they are generally well cut for light performance.
Most notably, the emerald, Asscher and cushion hearts and arrows inventories stand out for their depth of diamonds offered. Now, I can tell you this is a feature no other vendor (both online and offline) can come close to matching.
As a result, I was able to find good choices of diamonds across various carat sizes and budget ranges. Check out some of the outstanding diamonds I found below. If you want to find out more details about any individual stones, simply click on the corresponding images.
Blue Nile’s signature cushion diamonds display superb scintillation and contrast patterning similar to those offered by ideally cut rounds. This particular 1 carat cushion hearts and arrows diamond is a rare breed that offers good value for money.
Well cut Asschers are really hard to find because most are cut for weight retention instead of optical performance. This half-carat D VVS2 diamond is a fine example of one that would pass my standards to be purchase worthy.
Like Asscher cuts, emerald shaped diamonds that display good brightness and scintillation are very rare. Blue Nile does a great job in setting high standards for their signature emerald cut diamonds.
Princess cut diamonds are the 2nd most popular shape in the industry after the traditional round brilliant cut. If you are buying a princess cut diamond, you want to ensure that the girdle thickness is above a thin rating for better durability.
In this particular example, I picked out a colorless diamond with eyeclean SI1 clarity. And the good news is, it’s just one of the many that are available in their signature princess cut diamond collection.
It’s great that BlueNile has curated diamonds for cut quality before they get listed in their signature lines. This means that 90% of the work has been done for you.
However, every diamond is unique and there is always going to be some variances in cut quality. To cherry pick the very best of the best, you do need to perform a little work and some diligence.
Don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through the steps with some real life examples. Once you understand the things to look out for, it’s actually a pretty straightforward process…
The majority of diamonds will contain inclusions since they are naturally formed deep inside the Earth. You need to understand that it is perfectly OK to buy a diamond in the lower clarity range as long as the inclusions are eyeclean.
Here’s a fact; In terms of clarity, 99% of people cannot tell the differences between an eyeclean SI1 diamond and an IF diamond. Think about it, why should you pay a huge cash premium for an internally flawless diamond when can’t see inclusions with the naked eye?
Now, I’m sure the next question that comes to mind is; how do you determine eyecleanliness when buying online.
Well, I got you covered…
Read this proven step-by-step method that hundreds of readers had successfully used for their diamond selection. Once you had done that, all you need to do is to apply the knowledge to your own shopping.
Remember I said Cut is King earlier? I also mentioned you need to base your buying decision on facts and tangible information.
Let me show you how to perform an assessment of cut quality at BlueNile.
When reviewing a signature diamond, you can refer to the accompanying GCAL report to determine its cut precision and optical performance. You can do this by looking at the data under the “Hearts And Arrows”, “Optical Brilliance Analysis” and “Optical Symmetry Analysis” headers.
I listed an example of a diamond that passes my standards to be purchase worthy. Feel free to click on the image below and review the GCAL certificate I highlighted below…
To help you get a better idea on things to look out for, I had also included an example where the cut quality doesn’t pass my standards. Check out the extracted info from the GCAL report below…
GCAL data reveals light leakage and inconsistencies in facet precision.
Recently, I purchased a halo engagement ring from Blue Nile. Using the steps above, I chose a 1 carat F color SI1 clarity diamond. You can view details of the stone below…
Here’s a copy of the GIA report for your reference.
I had also extracted the relevant information from the GCAL report here:
As further proof that the 2-step method works, I captured the following Idealscope and ASET images of the diamond. Both photos indicate a diamond with very strong light performance.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome of the diamond ring purchase. Once you understand the things to look out for, selecting a beautiful diamond from Blue Nile is pretty easy.
On the next page, we will round up our review by performing an analysis on the craftsmanship of their ring setting (lots of pictures included!). I also made an unboxing video to show you the exact package you can expect to receive from BlueNile…