Brilliant Earth Review (2022)
- Exceptional dedication to social and environmental impact
- Carbon offsets and sustainably graded diamonds
- Great buying experience and service
- Large selection of lab-grown diamonds
- Competitive prices
- Not all diamonds have images and 360-degree inspection
- Pre-set jewelry expensive with sub-par diamond quality
- Limited selection of lab-grown diamond jewelry
Summary of Brilliant Earth Review
Brilliant Earth is one of the biggest online diamond jewelers, and chances are you will have come across their brand at some point. They were founded in 2005 and have grown quickly since. And there’s good reason for their fast ascent. Brilliant Earth has pioneered much of the renewed focus on ethical trade in mined diamond, pushing the industry to do better than the flawed Kimberly Process.
Brilliant Earth is well-known for selling conflict-free diamonds, which of course, is only relevant when you are considering mined diamonds. In addition, Brilliant Earth has invested heavily in minimizing the negative environmental impact and eliminating their carbon footprint.
Brilliant Earth also sells lab-grown diamonds, which are the ethical diamond choice. Lab-grown diamonds are, by nature, conflict-free. As part of their focus on conflict-free diamonds, they also sell the more ethical and climate-friendly choice of lab-created diamonds.
So we decided to review Brilliant Earth and see how they stack up to the competition. That’s why we chose to review Brilliant Earth.
In our Brilliant Earth review, we mainly assess their lab-grown diamond inventory and prices, the buying experience, and customer service.
In our Brilliant Earth review, we find that they live up to their goals of a more ethical and environmentally friendly way of selling diamonds. Coupled with competitive prices, an excellent diamond buying experience, great support, and service, we award Brilliant Earth one of our best ratings with an impressive 4.6 stars out of 5.
To learn more, keep reading our Brilliant Earth review.
- Who are Brilliant Earth?
- Brilliant Earth’s conflict-free mined, and lab-grown diamonds
- Brilliant Earth is climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable
- Brilliant Earth buying process
- Brilliant Earth diamond inspection
- Brilliant Earth diamond buying support
- Brilliant Earth lab-grown diamond prices
- Brilliant Earth Diamond shipping and returns
- Brilliant Earth Review Verdict
Who are Brilliant Earth?
Beth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg founded Brilliant Earth in 2005, intending to improve the ethical standards of the diamond industry. The founders did not find that the existing frameworks for the ethical diamond trade were adequate, something we have also highlighted.
We’ll get more into what this means below, but suffice to say, Brilliant Earth has worked hard to better the ethical practices and buying experience, namely when it comes to mined diamonds. They also focus on the environmental impact and strive to minimize their carbon footprint.
While we believe that lab-grown diamonds are the way forward for the diamond industry, we appreciate and applaud what Brilliant Earth has done and achieved in challenging the incumbents who might be more prone to turn a blind eye to the issues of the industry.
And it has paid off too. Today, consumers are much more aware of their consumption’s ethical and environmental footprint, and Brilliant Earth has been perfectly placed to answer this growing demand.
Are Brilliant Earth diamond jewelry sold in stores?
While Brilliant Earth is online-first, they have grown to establish 19 showrooms across the country (and counting). Brilliant Earth also has their own design studio in San Francisco. As we’ll bring up later in the Brilliant Earth review, their jewelry designs are impressive and have an extensive offering of classic, modern and creative jewelry designs.
Brilliant Earth not only sells mined diamonds with a higher ethical standard. They also have a large selection of lab-grown diamonds, which is well-aligned with their current focus on improving the diamond trade standards.
In our Brilliant Earth review, we’ll focus mainly on Brilliant Earth’s lab-created diamonds and jewelry, their inventory, prices, support and service, and the general buying experience. As part of our Brilliant Earth review, we’ll also touch on the environmental impact, an area where Brilliant Earth also excels.
Is Brilliant Earth legit?
Brilliant Earth is a well-known and trusted diamond jeweler. They are a leader in shaping and improving the ethical business practices of the diamond industry. Brilliant Earth is a certified and audited member of the Responsible Jewelry Council and has created the Beyond Conflict Free diamond standard. Brilliant Earth is a reputable and legit diamond seller with thousands of happy customers who share their enthusiasm for their ethical standards as well as their excellent service and excellent buying experience.
Brilliant Earth’s conflict-free mined, and lab-grown diamonds
Brilliant Earth was started to solve the ethical challenges of the mined diamond industry. And they have done much to further and improve the standards of selling mined diamonds. They are a certified member of the Responsible Jewelry Council and have developed the Beyond Conflict Free diamond standard.
They even employ blockchain technology to improve the traceability of mined diamonds. We appreciate that Brilliant Earth has done much to challenge and better the ethical standards of the diamond mining industry.
However, in our Brilliant Earth review, we’ll focus on Brilliant Earth’s lab-created diamonds and jewelry, which, as you might have learned, are always conflict-free. In fact, unlike mined diamonds, you can only be 100% sure when you purchase lab-grown diamonds.
And, despite lab-created diamonds being precisely the same as mined diamonds, they’re cheaper too! That’s why we believe lab-grown diamonds are the most ethical and sustainable diamond choice and the industry’s future.
Brilliant Earth is climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable
Beyond improvements to the trade of mined diamonds, Brilliant Earth invests a lot in minimizing any negative impact on the environment and the climate footprint.
Through a partnership with Carbonfund.org, Brilliant Earth offsets their traced carbon emissions by contributing to rainforest conservation in Brazil. Through the carbon offset, Brilliant Earth is now a certified carbon-free company.
In addition, Brilliant Earth offers a lab-grown diamond collection that is sustainably rated based on climate neutrality and investments in clean technology. Unfortunately, it’s only about 5% of their lab-grown diamond inventory, but nevertheless, it’s a great initiative and an excellent option for the environmentally-focused consumer.
While the lab-grown diamonds found at Brilliant Earth are not all produced using 100% sustainable energy, as you can read about in our Vrai review and in our Brilliant Earth vs Vrai comparison, offsetting their carbon emissions is coming close. Brilliant Earth’s approach is similar to that of Pandora, which you can read about in our Pandora Brilliance review. We are excited by Brilliant Earth’s commitment to limiting their climate impact and doing what they can for the environment, and they are at the forefront of the industry.
Similar to Vrai, Pandora, Clean Origin, and a few other pioneering diamond sellers, Brilliant Earth seeks to use recycled precious metals to minimize their footprint and help diminish the negative impacts of metal mining. This is another critical step in reducing the adverse effects of mining, be it gold, silver, or diamonds.
Brilliant Earth uses responsibly sourced wood ring boxes produced from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests. This, along with sending in shipping packaging from responsibly managed sources, showcases Brilliant Earth’s commitment to the environment and limiting any negative impact.
While Brilliant Earth is not alone in taking some of these initiatives, they are certainly among the leaders in environmental sustainability in the diamond industry. This is an essential factor in rating Brilliant Earth in our review, and we believe that alone should make you consider buying a lab-grown diamond at Brilliant Earth. We think that Brilliant Earth aced the ethical and environmental categories.
Next up in our Brilliant Earth review, we’ll start to look at their lab-grown diamond inventory.
Brilliant Earth loose lab-grown diamond inventory
When assessing diamond inventory in our reviews, we use a reference diamond, a lab diamond suitable for many purposes and a popular weight. In this review of Brilliant Earth, we’ll do the same.
Our reference diamond is a round brilliant-cut stone, weighing 0.93-1.07 carats (by going just under and over the popular 1-carat, you can sometimes find a marginally lower carat but much cheaper diamond). The clarity is VS1-2 with an I or J color grade (some will prefer a higher color grade, but most often, it’s unnecessary). The cut, of course, is always the best. With lab-grown diamonds, most often certified by IGI, that is ideal (for GIA, it’s excellent).
At the time of writing, 86% of the lab-grown diamond inventory at Brilliant Earth was certified by IGI, so we’ll focus on IGI-graded ideal-cut diamonds. The majority of the remaining diamonds are certified by GIA and GCAL, two other leading diamond institutes.
In total, Brilliant Earth offers more than 52,000 lab-grown diamonds, impressively on par with some of the competitors with the largest lab-created diamond inventories such as GemsNY and Ritani.
Filtering for our reference diamond characteristics, we find 395 IGI-graded ideal-cut diamonds in total (421 counting all grading institutes). That, too, is very impressive and among the most extensive selection, we’ve seen. And a large part of their selection is of very high quality. So you should have no problem finding a suitable diamond when shopping at Brilliant Earth.
The diamond cuts, in this case, includes a “super ideal”, which is a rating we have seen in several other reviews, such as James Allen, GemsNY, and Ritani. It’s an attempt at identifying particularly great diamonds. However, you should be aware that this is not a grade that the independent grading institute awarded but rather the diamond seller themselves.
Of the 395 lab-grown diamonds within the reference range, 19 are sustainably rated. This is a unique qualification to the lab-created diamonds at Brilliant Earth and one that very few other jewelers offer. In total, Brilliant Earth has 4,413 sustainably rated diamonds.
While there are only a few available, other diamond sellers, such as Friendly Diamonds or Helzberg Diamonds, don’t even have 19 diamonds in our reference field in total! So we think Brilliant Earth’s selection of sustainably rated lab diamonds is pretty solid.
In addition to our reference diamond, we have also found that Brilliant Earth has an extensive selection of fancy-shaped diamonds, such as cushion, emerald, and pear-shaped stones.
Lastly, Brilliant Earth has a decent selection of fancy-colored lab-grown diamonds. Being exceptionally rare in nature, lab-created colored diamonds carry significantly lower prices (at the same exact quality). So we recommend that you only consider lab-created colored diamonds unless money is no object. Regrettably, Brilliant Earth doesn’t have as many as we’ve seen elsewhere, but you should be able to find a beautiful colored diamond at Brilliant Earth if that’s what you’re looking for.
In all, in our Brilliant Earth review, we find that their selection of high-quality lab-grown diamonds is more than adequate, and you should have no problem finding the perfect diamond for your needs at Brilliant Earth.
Brilliant Earth pre-set lab-grown diamond inventory
Next, in our Brilliant Earth review, we look at their selection of pre-set diamond jewelry, including the variety of designs they offer and the quality of the diamond paired in their pre-sets.
Brilliant Earth currently offers 133 jewelry designs featuring lab-created diamonds. This is compared to 695 styles sporting mined diamonds. We would have liked to see as many lab-grown diamonds jewelry pieces available with lab-grown diamonds, or at least more.
That said, the selection is still decent, and the jewelry designs featured range from classic diamond studs earrings to contemporary designs and a good selection of creative and unique designs. Having their own design studio clearly benefits their collection. So while it may not be on par with Vrai Jewelry, you are likely to be able to find something to your liking. And if you’re looking for a classic piece, Brilliant Earth will have you covered.
One thing that we don’t like is that often the diamond quality is not mentioned. This is common practice across the industry, so perhaps not surprising. You’ll sometimes find that the diamond cut quality is unavailable, which is also the case with Brilliant Earth. That typically means that the cut is “very good” – which is, in fact, not very good. And that’s why we always recommend that you create your own jewelry.
Luckily, that is an option too, which we’ll look at next in the Brilliant Earth review.
Brilliant Earth create your own diamond jewelry
When shopping for diamond jewelry, we always recommend creating your own jewelry by picking the diamond stones yourself from the loose diamond inventory. Not all diamond jewelers allow you to do that, such as Pandora and Lightbox Jewelry, but leading diamond sellers do – including Brilliant Earth.
At Brilliant Earth, you can create your own lab-diamond rings (incl. engagement rings), earrings, and necklaces. It would have been great to see bracelets and other jewelry included. However, we find that the three categories’ selection is extensive and similar to the selection when choosing a mined diamond.
The process of building your own jewelry is very easy at Brilliant Earth, which is what we’ll go through in the following section of the Brilliant Earth review.
Brilliant Earth buying process
Buying a pre-set diamond jewelry piece is reasonably easy. You should look out for the quality of the diamond stone along with the other materials used in the piece, as well as the craftsmanship (the build quality, etc.). You usually don’t have to decide on the diamond stones since these will be pre-selected for you. Unfortunately, the quality is often sub-par, which is also the case when shopping at Brilliant Earth.
That’s why we highly recommend that you create your own jewelry by selecting the jewelry setting and diamonds separately. Luckily, this is possible at Brilliant Earth, and they have made the process easy. In this part of the Brilliant Earth review, we’ll walk through that.
Decide if you want to start by selecting the diamond or the settings. As mentioned above, you’ll likely be able to find a suitable and high-quality setting among the large selection of ring, necklace, and earring designs.
The biggest challenge is finding suitable jewelry for the diamond stones you pick. Some settings may not hold very large stones, while others do not come to their right with a too-small diamond. However, the real challenge is picking the perfect diamond.
If you are new to buying diamonds, we recommend you start with one of our buying guides, like how to buy a lab-grown diamond engagement ring or our step-by-step guide to buying a lab-grown diamond. You can also get a head start and our expert tips in our intro to lab-grown diamonds and the 4Cs.
At Brilliant Earth, they have made the process pretty straightforward. In this Brilliant Earth review of the buying process, we’ll create a lab-grown diamond ring.
First, you are presented with all diamonds and the option to whittle down the selection using the available filters. You will want to immediately select the best possible cut grade (most often ideal, when graded by IGI).
Next, pick shape, weight (carat), clarity, and color. Then, under more filters, you can decide if you want only to see the suitably graded diamonds, which will leave you with far fewer options, but ensure that the diamonds are certified environmentally friendly.
The number of filters available is pretty impressive, which will make the process of sifting through potentially thousands of potential diamonds much faster.
Once you have limited the selection, you can see the diamonds in Brilliant Earth’s inventory that fit your needs. From this overview, you can expand each diamond to see a few more details before moving to the view diamond page. That’s very handy and might save you some time.
Once you reach the individual diamond page, you are presented with more detailed information. If you are new to the diamond buying process, we recommend that you skip down to the helpful guide, “The Four C’s of Your Diamond”.
This gives you an easily digestible overview of the main characteristics of the diamond in question and how it sits on the various scales, along with helpful and handy explanations.
While you should not only rely on this quick overview, it’s a great place to start before you dive into the actual (and very important) diamond inspection process. In the next section of the Brilliant Earth review, we’ll take a closer look at that. But before that, there are a few more useful features available.
The first is found just below the 4Cs overview. It’s a comparison chart of alternative diamond options. You can see diamonds with higher or lower grades and immediately know the price differences. This helps set the chosen diamond in perspective and is a handy feature.
That said, it is a fairly crude comparison that only considers the stated grades and leaves out any deeper inspection of the diamond quality (two VS1 clarity diamonds can be vastly different). We would also have liked to see better alternatives suggested similar to what we saw in the Ritani review.
The last feature we’ll highlight before the next diamond inspection part of the Brilliant Earth review is the diamond size visualization. Other sellers have something similar, but true to Brilliant Earth’s ethical mission, you can see it using a range of skin tones and not only lighter ones, as is the case on many other sites. It’s the little things.
Once you have found a few diamonds that fit your criteria, the next step is to conduct a more thorough diamond inspection.
Brilliant Earth diamond inspection
In this part of our Brilliant Earth review, we’ll assess the features available for carrying out a detailed diamond inspection. This is a key part of any due diligence that should be performed before investing in a diamond. All leading diamond sellers offer features to allow for an in-depth inspection, including direct access to the diamond certificates, HD and 360-degree images and video, as well as more detailed information about the diamond.
As we highlighted earlier, you should only buy diamonds and diamond jewelry when you can see the certificate before making your purchase (except for tiny accent stones placed next to larger ones, which are not graded).
Brilliant Earth, fortunately, links directly to the diamond certificates. It’s an easy click, and the image quality is adequate for you to read all details, though you may have to zoom in a little. This should be expected of any diamond seller, but sadly, that’s often not the case. The diamond certificate details the 4Cs of the diamond and gives you additional information that can help you further assess the quality, such as the placements and size of diamond inclusions and blemishes.
Once you have studied the diamond certificate, you might want to look at the imperfections specified in the certificate. This requires studying high-quality images and a 360-degree view of the diamond. That will also allow you to get a better sense of the sparkle of the diamond and any issues.
At Brilliant Earth, this is not possible with all diamonds. Instead, a sample image is presented without a 360-degree image. We think that should be available for any diamond on their site. But, when we did a count, 86% of diamonds in their inventory have what they refer to as “Real View”. That is, HD and 360-degree images. So just stay clear of the remaining 14%.
For the large majority of diamonds with access to these features, Brilliant Earth allows you adequate ability to carry out your diamond inspection and due diligence, even if not as advanced and feature-rich as at James Allen.
In all, in our Brilliant Earth review, we find that it’s possible to perform the necessary diamond inspection before buying. If not, you can get help from their experts, which we’ll look at next.
Brilliant Earth diamond buying support
Purchasing a lab-grown diamond (or any diamond for that matter) is a challenging and complex process, requiring you to learn about lab-grown diamonds. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get a base understanding of diamonds before throwing yourself at the diamond buying process. But, even if you’re not an expert, there’s expert help to get.
The best diamond sellers offer honest and skilled guidance, often by a trained gemologist who you can chat with or set up an online appointment. James Allen, Clean Origin, and Ritani, With Clarity all offer this. And so does Brilliant Earth.
It’s effortless to set up an appointment with one of their experts. They will guide you to find the perfect diamond for you – even if it means suggesting something under your budget. That would probably rarely happen at your local mall jeweler.
Of course, it pays off to know a little first. So do your homework and have an idea about what you are looking for. We also suggest that you have already found some diamonds before your appointment that you can discuss.
Brilliant Earth also has excellent support via chat and email, and you’ll receive a similar level of support and knowledgeable service.
In our Brilliant Earth review, we find that they stack up well to the market leaders and do a great job at supporting you through the buying process – be it by making the necessary features available for inspection or direct buying support. Next, we’ll see if the prices at Brilliant Earth are also competitive.
Brilliant Earth lab-grown diamond prices
When assessing prices in our Brilliant Earth review, the first thing we look at is the price of loose diamonds. These are on paper easy to compare, though diamonds with the same characteristics (such as the 4 Cs) can be pretty similar. So instead, we compare several lab-grown diamonds across their inventory with their competitors to get an overview of their diamonds’ price level and quality.
Brilliant Earth loose lab-grown diamond prices
Using our reference diamond from our review of Brilliant Earth’s lab-grown diamond inventory, we look at their price levels. As mentioned, this is not straightforward, and our assessment is based on comparing Brilliant Earth’s total inventory and price level with the market and our best-reviewed diamond sellers.
Prices for our reference diamond start at $1,200 and go to $1,890. In-between the price ranges, we’ve found several great diamonds and competitive prices. Overall, the prices at Brilliant Earth are slightly above those of price-leaders Clean Origin, GemsNY, and Ritani – but only slightly. We find that their prices are also a tad lower than James Allen’s, another of our favorite sellers.
Prices for the sustainably graded diamonds are also fair and only in some cases a little higher than the other diamonds. However, we had expected a significant premium for these. So if you can find one that also fits your needs, we highly recommend going with a sustainably graded lab-grown diamond.
Based on our review of Brilliant Earth’s lab-grown diamond prices, we think they are very competitively priced and that you are very likely to get a great deal on your diamond, should you choose to pick a loose diamond or create your own jewelry.
Brilliant Earth pre-set lab-grown diamond jewelry prices
In our Brilliant Earth review, we also look at pre-set jewelry. Our reference here is a pair of the ever-popular diamond stud earrings set with a total carat weight of 1. These are, however, often set with lower quality diamonds, and as we noted above, this is also the case at Brilliant Earth. We, therefore, recommend that you create your own diamond stud earrings at Brilliant Earth (or any place, for that matter – as you can read in our Ritani review, they are one of the few exceptions to this rule).
At Brilliant Earth, their pair of 1 total carat diamond stud earrings cost $1,290, while a certified pair with a higher color and clarity grading and 18K gold costs $1,590. First, we recommend that you never buy uncertified diamonds. Luckily, the vast majority of diamonds at Brilliant Earth are certified and only select promotional items do not come with a certificate.
Second, $1,590 for the diamond stud earrings is fairly steep (though they are set in 18K gold, unlike other places using 14K). But, as you will have read above, Brilliant Earth’s prices on loose, high-quality diamonds are much more competitive, so you’ll be better off creating your own pair anyway. We recommend that you do that with any diamond seller.
Brilliant Earth Diamond shipping and returns
Diamond shipping and returns should always be free, and they should be easy and fully insured. All leading diamond sellers offer that, but surprisingly, many others do not (see, for example, our review of Helzberg Diamonds).
Brilliant Earth is luckily among the ones that do. Brilliant Earth has fully insured free shipping and return shipping through FedEx. Unfortunately, they do not offer Saturday and overnight delivery, which other jewelers such as James Allen and Clean Origin do, but it’s available for an additional $30. So before you put in a sizeable last-minute order, we suggest you contact them, and perhaps they’ll waive the fee.
You have 30 days to return your purchase at no cost, making shopping for diamonds at Brilliant Earth easy and stress-free. Of course, it’s not 100 days as Clean Origin, but it’s pretty standard and should allow you more than enough time to evaluate your purchase.
Brilliant Earth Review Verdict
Throughout our Brilliant Earth review, we’ve been impressed by their commitment to the ethical diamond trade and improving the environment by taking small but significant steps toward minimizing the carbon and environmental footprint.
As we have reviewed Brilliant Earth’s lab-grown diamond selection and jewelry, we have found that their inventory is extensive. And even if it’s not as big as a few competitors, you will be able to find a large selection of high-quality lab-grown diamonds suitable for your needs. We would have liked to see a more extensive selection of lab-grown jewelry. However, we suggest you create your own jewelry instead of buying pre-set jewelry anyway (to avoid sub-par pre-set diamond stones).
The buying process is straightforward, and we appreciate the helpful features such as showing alternative options and making the initial assessment of the diamond 4Cs easy. Their support, including the option to set up a virtual appointment, is excellent and on par with most leading diamond sellers.
The diamond inspection features, allowing you to conduct thorough due diligence, are more than adequate, though not always best in class. That said, we’re mostly happy with the ability to study the lab diamonds in their inventory.
Lastly, we find that their prices are competitive. They are not always as low as some of the lowest on the market, but it’s very close, and we don’t think the price differences should deter you from considering Brilliant Earth. Especially taking their environmental commitments into the picture, which to some extent offset the price difference.
In summary, we find that Brilliant Earth is among the very best lab-grown diamond sellers we have reviewed. That lands Brilliant Earth a fantastic review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, which puts that at the very top of our reviewed lab-grown diamond jewelers. We highly recommend Brilliant Earth to anyone shopping for lab-created diamond jewelry – particularly if you care about the climate and environment.
See how the Brilliant Earth review compares to other sellers in our lab-grown diamond seller reviews section and how Brilliant Earth’s sustainability stacks up against Vrai in our Vrai vs Brilliant Earth review.