This is an older review, please go to the new Brian Gavin Diamonds review here.
Brian Gavin Diamonds (BGD) is a Houston based company headed by Brian Gavin, a well-respected pioneer of the diamond industry. He is known as the man who is responsible for coming up with the standard of the hearts and arrows pattern that has become synonymous with precision diamond cutting and craftsmanship. BGD carries 3 lines of round diamonds, their Brian Gavin Signature Hearts & Arrows, their Brian Gavin “BLUE®”, and their Brian Gavin Select. BGD differs from other diamond vendors because they actually manufacture their H&A and Blue line of diamonds so they have the highest control over the quality of their product.
Brian Gavin Blue
Brian Gavin Diamonds markets their blue line towards two kinds of consumers. The first are those who love the effect of fluorescence, the second kind are those who are seeking value for money. If you want to learn more about fluorescence, please check out my basics tutorial here. Brian Gavin Diamonds addresses the concerns many consumers have about fluorescence by guaranteeing that the stone has “no negative effect on the diamond’s performance whatsoever”. The Brian Gavin Blue is also marketed to be cut to super-ideal proportions. An interesting thing is that right after this statement, BGD says that their Blue Line of diamonds may have an AGS 1 grade in polish and symmetry.
Lets have a closer look at the BGD Blues to see if they really do represent such good value for money. Below are the specs of a random 1.013 GVS2 BGD Blue.
From the idealscope, it seems that at least in terms of light performance, BGD’s claims hold true. However, because BGD tells us that the BGD Blue line can have physical symmetry issues, they are not marketing these as H&A. This should be obvious otherwise they would call these BGD Blue Hearts & Arrows!
One thing I noticed is that many of the BGD Blue diamonds have what appears to be very symmetric arrows, perhaps even better looking than those in their signature H&A range. There are several potential reasons for this and it is most likely due to photography. It takes significant resources to produce a perfectly level image so it is understandable that vendors don’t spend resources unnecessarily increasing end costs for the consumer. So since the H&As come with a hearts image to judge optical symmetry, the light performance images do not have to be as symmetrical. On the other hand, the BGD Blues do not come with hearts images and it is therefore more important that the light performance images also show a bit more of their optical symmetry.
Nevertheless, when purchasing a BGD Blue, I recommend finding one that has AGS0 in both polish and symmetry grades. You can also try to request a hearts image for the stone in question. I have been made aware that some vendors that don’t post such information can still get it to you if you ask nicely.
The final point about purchasing a BGD blue is that you really go understand and manage your expectations with regards to purchasing a fluorescent stone. I will mention that fluorescence has a huge impact on price. It would not surprise me to find them up to 20% cheaper than comparable stones without fluorescence. Fluorescent stones are also harder to sell as the market for them is much smaller and therefore the resale value of these stones will likely be adversely affected.
When you buy from Brian Gavin Diamonds, you are paying for a quality brand and craftsmanship. Do not expect the prices to be cheap, a 1.232ct HVS1 H&A was listed at a price of $12,144 and a 1.236 HVS1 BGD Blue was $10,088. Compare this to a 1.223 HVS1 ACA from Whiteflash listed at a price of $11,716 and a 1.260 HVS1 Expert Selection from Whiteflash listed at a price of $10,639.
The BGD H&A’s come standard with AGS Platinium Light Performance Report, actual picture, ASET, Idealscope, and Hearts Image. An eye-cleanliness assessment will be given for SI1 and SI2 stones. It would be nice though if they could give more information such as the variances on their diamonds from a Sarin report. The BGD Blues don’t come with a hearts image but have an actual picture of the blue fluorescence. I have to mention that these pictures do seem to exaggerate the fluorescent effect. Please make sure you manage your expectations accordingly with your research. As for the information in general, they seem to be fairly standard and it would be nice to see more information regarding the variances of the proportions given.
I’m very impressed with how BGD has quickly responded to some of the issues I had with their interface. It is now possible to input specific values for carat weight and price. They also have a new 360-degree view of the diamond. Against a black background, their implementation of this feature is great for viewing inclusions and leakage but it is not as good for viewing color. I do admit that the diamonds look spectacular as displayed and I am a big fan of the 360-degree view; just give it a few seconds of loading time.
Ease of Searching for a Diamond
Searching for a diamond on the BGD website is fairly easy. They have a familiar interface that you will quickly get used to even if it is your first time. It would be nice for them to add the ability to expand the diamond search to see more information about the diamonds such as thumbnails, but the speediness of the site makes up for it to some extent. I also find that their “Similar Diamonds” tab and “Diamond Comparison” tab seem to be more user friendly than similar features on other sites as it only displays when I click on them and the 6 results returned also seem very helpful.
Value Adding Policies
BGD offers a 15-day inspection period on diamonds. This I would say is below industry average. I have been told by Brian Gavin that they do make exceptions on a case-by-case basis so if you’re concerned about this then I am sure that they will accommodate to your plans. BGD also has a lifetime upgrade program. For this please pay a bit more attention. BGD offers 100% of the original purchase price for upgrading a BGD Signature H&A diamond.
If you are upgrading a BGD Blue, you get 100% of the original purchase if you upgrade to another BGD Blue. However, if you upgrade to a BGD Signature H&A diamond, you only receive 95% of the original purchase amount. Curious, but worth knowing! Also worth knowing is that the conditions of all upgrades require an upgrade of 2 of the following 3 stats: size, colour, or clarity. This is fancy wording for you must upgrade either 1 grade in colour or 1 grade in clarity even if you go for a stone that is only 0.01ct larger in size.
I would rate this upgrade policy as average for the industry. It is also interesting to note that BGD will upgrade AGSL graded ACA stones graded between September 1998 and 30 November 2008, which are diamonds purchased from Whiteflash during the time Brian was in charge of the production of these diamonds there. Finally there are $50 and $100 referral checks available depending on the referral purchase amount. For details, you can read it yourself at BGD’s website.
Brian Gavin Diamonds cut and sell some of the world’s most beautiful diamonds. The BGD Hearts & Arrows diamond has some features that make it recognisable as a brand, but their is still a degree of freedom here for prosumers to choose a diamond that fit their personal preferences in terms of the character of the diamond. If you’re an H&A purist, then there’s no better person to buy an H&A diamond other than from the man who created the standard for H&A in the first place. That man is of course, Brian Gavin.
I have found that BGD excels in sculpting picture perfect hearts & arrows and I really couldn’t find any fault with their H&A range. But if you’re looking for hearts and arrows, you won’t find it easily in their BGD Blue line. The BGD Blue line is up to 20% cheaper than their signature H&A, but when compared to other vendors, there are cheaper options out there. By paying the BGD premium, you gain peace of mind by knowing that the diamond’s fluorescence does not negatively affect the diamond, something that is invaluable when purchasing online. Find a BGD Blue that is cut with the optical symmetry of a BGD H&A and I think you may have yourself a winning combination!