The diamond industry has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. After a lot of the unethical and environmentally detrimental practices of the industry were finally brought to light, new emphasis was placed on transparency, labor laws, and environmental responsibility.
Brilliant Earth and Clean Origin are both companies that are particularly adamant about only selling ethical, sustainable diamonds and jewelry. Ethical practices, especially when they pertain to labor and the environment, are very important to me, and for that reason, I love both companies.
In this article, I’ll take a look at both online jewelry companies and discuss how they compare, including what they offer, what I like and dislike about each of them, and what the experience of shopping online with them is like.
Whether you already try to purchase ethical and environmentally friendly jewelry, or you’re new to the concept and are curious, I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to check out more shops like Brilliant Earth and Clean Origin.
Bottom Line Up Front
I think that both of these companies are awesome, but I have to say my personal favorite is Brilliant Earth. You just can’t beat their selection and variety. If you’re specifically looking for a lab-grown diamond, however, I would recommend checking out Clean Origin first. Their customer experience and prices are just a little better than Brilliant Earth’s, in my opinion.
Main Differences Between Brilliant Earth vs Clean Origin
- Brilliant Earth sells both natural and lab-grown diamonds, whereas Clean Origin only sells lab-grown diamonds.
- Brilliant Earth sells a variety of types of precious and semi-precious gemstones, whereas Clean Origin exclusively sells diamonds.
- Brilliant Earth has a huge selection of very varied jewelry, whereas Clean Origin has a smaller selection of diamond jewelry.
- Brilliant Earth offers free 30 day returns, whereas Clean Origin offers free 100 day returns.
- Brilliant Earth offers free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase, whereas Clean Origin offers free ring resizing within 100 days of purchase.
- Brilliant Earth has over a dozen brick and mortar showrooms across the country, whereas Clean Origin is a strictly online company.
It’s almost easier to talk about the main similarities between these two companies:
- Both Brilliant Earth and Clean Origin specialize in custom engagement rings.
- Both sell loose stones as well as custom and preset jewelry.
- Both companies emphasize ethical, sustainable, and eco-friendly stones and jewelry.
- Both Brilliant Earth and Clean Origin have excellent customer service.
Intro to Brilliant Earth
Brilliant Earth is one of the most well known names in online jewelry sales. They were founded in 2005 with a focus on ethical, sustainable jewelry and gemstones. They support causes dedicated to social justice and environmental health. By offsetting their carbon emissions through contributions to rainforest conservation in Brazil, Brilliant Earth has been able to become a certified carbon free company.
- Brilliant Earth sells a huge selection of jewelry and gemstones, with a lot of variety of both types and styles.
- They have 24/7 customer service.
- Brilliant Earth sells ethical and sustainable jewelry and gemstones.
- They have more than a dozen brick and mortar jewelry stores across the country.
- Their website features high-quality photos, HD video, and 360 views of both engagement rings and gemstones.
- Brilliant Earth is more expensive than many of their competitors.
- They don’t sell preset diamond rings, but they do have several preset gemstone rings for sale.
Intro to Clean Origin
Clean Origin was founded in 2017 by a team of industry professionals. They exclusively sell ethical, sustainable lab-grown diamonds and lab-grown diamond jewelry. They place particular emphasis on the experience of their team, all of whom have worked in the diamond industry for a minimum of five years.
- Clean Origin offers a 100 day return policy.
- All of their lab-grown diamonds are ethical and environmentally friendly.
- Their website features quality photos and 360 degree views.
- Clean Origin doesn’t offer any variety of types of gemstones.
- Their customer service is not available 24/7.
What Does Brilliant Earth Sell?
When it comes to engagement rings, Brilliant Earth focuses on customization. They have an extensive selection of loose stones that can be purchased on their own or paired with a Brilliant Earth setting to create a custom piece of jewelry.
Natural Diamonds — Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds
“Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds” are Brilliant Earth’s natural diamonds that go beyond the conflict free diamond industry standards of the Kimberley Process. Brilliant Earth only selects natural diamonds that are mined following safe and responsible labor practices, support community development, and have a minimal environmental impact.
Brilliant Earth’s selection of loose lab-grown diamonds is even larger than Clean Origin’s, despite Clean Origin focusing exclusively on lab diamonds. They have over 100,000 lab-grown diamonds for sale in ten popular shapes.
Lab Colored Diamonds
Brilliant Earth has one of the best selections of colored lab-grown diamonds available, both in terms of quantity available and variety of colors. They have almost 500 loose red, pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue stones available in several popular cuts.
I don’t think that recycled diamonds get the recognition they deserve when we talk about sustainability in jewelry. Recycled diamonds are one of the most ethical and environmentally friendly choices for a center stone because they already exist and require no further mining or even creation in a lab. I love that Brilliant Earth has around a thousand loose recycled diamonds for sale on their site.
After recycled diamonds, moissanite might be my runner-up favorite for ethical and environmentally friendly jewelry. Moissanite is grown in a lab, but it’s not the same as a lab-grown diamond. It’s a completely different, unique gemstone that’s nearly as hard and even more sparkly than a diamond. Brilliant Earth carries over a hundred different loose moissanite stones.
I absolutely adore non-traditional stones for engagement rings! Brilliant Earth has a huge selection of emeralds, sapphires, morganite, aquamarine, and alexandrite among other gemstones that can be purchased loose or used in one of their settings to create a custom ring!
Brilliant Earth has hundreds of options for both men’s and women’s engagement ring settings that can be paired with any of their loose stones. They can easily be sorted by style or metal type, and you can view images of them set with the stone you choose, which makes it really easy to picture exactly what your custom ring will look like!
There are hundreds of options for wedding bands on Brilliant Earth. They have men’s, women’s, and gender-neutral bands, all of which can be sorted by style. I really like the feature on the site that allows you to select your Brilliant Earth engagement ring to see a list of wedding bands that can be paired with it. It’s like creating your own custom bridal set!
Preset Gemstone Rings
Brilliant Earth has a variety of preset sapphire, aquamarine, morganite, and moissanite rings. Any of them would make a lovely alternative engagement ring or special occasion ring.
The fine jewelry selection at Brilliant Earth is just as large as any of their other offerings. They have a ton of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and charms in various gemstones and pearls.
I love that things are broken down into categories like “birthstone jewelry” and “jewelry that gives back,” it’s a very convenient feature, especially when you’re shopping for gifts. They also have a website feature where you can create your own custom necklace or earrings using their loose stones.
What Does Clean Origin Sell?
Loose Lab Grown Diamonds
Clean Origin specializes in eye-clear lab-grown diamonds. They have a selection of thousands of diamonds in various popular shapes, sizes, and color ratings. The diamonds can be purchased loose or paired with one of Clean Origin’s settings to create a custom engagement ring.
Colored Lab-Grown Diamonds
Clean origin stocks around a hundred yellow, blue, and pink lab-created diamonds. They come in a range of color intensities and various popular shapes.
Colored diamonds do not appear automatically while using the engagement ring customization feature on the website, but if you select a setting and add it to your cart and then go back and select “colored diamonds” from the diamond drop-down menu, you’ll be able to select a colored diamond and add it to your chosen setting.
Clean Origin carries several hundred options for engagement ring settings. They can be easily sorted by selecting your metal type, stone shape, or preferred style from the drop-down menus.
I like that styles are sorted into “collections” such as “Art Deco Engagement Rings,” “Non-Binary Engagement Rings,” “Sapphire Engagement Rings,” “Unique Rings,” and even “Quick Ship Engagement Rings.” The ability to narrow down selections and find exactly what I’m looking for is something I really value in an online shopping experience.
Preset Engagement Rings
While I can’t say I necessarily recommend procrastinating on purchasing an engagement ring, sometimes life happens and you need something that will ship quickly. Clean Origin has some classic, simple solitaire rings in select sizes that are available to ship within 24 hours.
I really like Clean Origin’s bridal set collection. They have a lot of unique and interesting designs I haven’t seen before at other jewelry retailers. I especially like the intertwined nature-inspired designs, and the perfectly mismatched pairs.
Most of Clean Origin’s wedding bands are eternity bands or bands set with diamonds in some capacity, which makes sense considering they’re a diamond company. They have some select solid metal options as well, and offer both men’s and women’s styles.
Clean Origin’s fine jewelry selection is mostly populated with classic diamond pieces. You’re probably not going to find any especially unique or out of the box styles, but they do carry a very nice selection of tennis bracelets, diamond pendants, and colorless, pink, or blue diamond stud earrings, among other things.
I really like that their website features a category of jewelry “for the big day” as part of the wedding drop down menu. It’s a great place to find simple diamond pieces to complete a bridal look.
Selection Winner: Brilliant Earth
I think that Clean Origin has a great selection of lab-grown diamonds, but beyond that they can’t really compete with Brilliant Earth. Brilliant Earth just has so much more variety, as well as a larger overall selection. They even have more lab-grown diamonds than Clean Origin does.
Customer Experience Head to Head
- Brilliant Earth offers a comparison feature, which allows you to compare diamonds side by side.
- Items are listed on Brilliant Earth along with high quality photos, 360 degree views, and sometimes video. Their diamonds come with grading reports.
- They have a dozen brick and mortar showrooms around the country.
- They offer 24/7 customer service available via phone or chat.
- Brilliant Earth’s jewelry comes with free shipping, a lifetime warranty, and 30 day free returns.
- They offer free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase.
- They offer a free diamond upgrade program. You can exchange your Brilliant Earth diamond for credit towards a new diamond, as long as the new diamond is worth at least 50% more than the original diamond.
- Brilliant Earth offers 12 month financing and layaway plans.
- Clean Origin’s website features a lot of informative copy, not just about individual pieces but about collections as well. I appreciate that they include information at the bottom of each page such as “Styles of Vintage Engagement Rings” and “Tips for Buying Vintage Engagement Rings” on the vintage style rings page. I think this type of information can be really helpful for people who know what they like when they see it, but aren’t quite sure what an “art deco” or “nature-inspired” ring even looks like.
- Items are listed with high quality photos and 360 degree views.
- Clean Origin operates fully online and has no brick and mortar locations.
- Clean Origin’s customer service is available via chat during extended business hours, but not 24/7. They can also be reached by phone or email.
- Clean Origin offers free shipping (including free overnight shipping on custom engagement rings and loose diamonds.) They also offer a lifetime warranty, and 100 day free returns.
- Clean Origin offers free ring resizing within 100 days of purchase.
- They offer financing through affirm but no layaway plans.
Customer Experience Winner: Clean Origin
Despite them not offering 24/7 customer service, I think Clean Origin is the winner when it comes to customer experience. I really like that they offer an additional 40 days on their ring sizing and 70 on their return policy when compared with Brilliant Earth. They also have a ton of useful information on their website to help steer shoppers in the right direction.
Cost Comparison Winner: Clean Origin
Both companies offer a pretty big range of prices, but when specifically comparing similar lab-grown loose diamonds and jewelry pieces, Clean Origin tends to be slightly cheaper than Brilliant Earth.
Comparative Summary Table
|Brilliant Earth||Clean Origin|
|Diamond Selection||Thousands of ethically mined and lab grown diamonds||Thousands of lab-grown diamonds|
|Other Gemstones||Large selection of precious, semi-precious, and lab grown stones||No other gemstones, though they do sell colored lab-grown diamonds|
|Variety of Jewelry||9/10||5/10|
|Descriptions/Photos||Video, 360 degree views, photos, grading report||Photos, 360 degree views, grading report/certificate|
|Customer Service||24/7 customer support||Limited customer support hours|
|Warranty||Limited lifetime warranty||Limited lifetime warranty|
|Return Policy||30 day free returns||100 day free returns|
|Unique Features||Specializes in customization, huge selection, charitable contributions.||Tons of informative material on website, emphasis on experience of staff|
Other Alternative Sites
If after reading this you’ve come to the conclusion that neither of these sites are for you, that’s ok! I suggest checking out some of the following websites instead:
- James Allen is a great source for both loose diamonds and diamond jewelry.
- Blue Nile has an extensive selection of all kinds of jewelry and gemstones.
- Diamond Nexus sells their own proprietary diamond simulates, which look very similar to a real diamond for a fraction of the cost.
- Tiffany and Co sells stunning, classic engagement rings, jewelry, and designer gift items.
Answer: Yes, lab-grown diamonds are 100% real diamonds. They are molecularly identical to mined diamonds. The only difference is that lab diamonds are grown in a lab and natural diamonds are dug up from the earth.
Answer: No, lab grown diamonds are not cubic zirconia. Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds and are completely identical to mined diamonds. Cubic zirconia is a less expensive lower quality stone.
Answer: Lab diamonds sparkle just as much as mined diamonds. They are completely identical in every way. A diamond’s sparkle is dependent upon how it was cut, not how it was formed.
Both Brilliant Earth and Clean Origin sell beautiful, ethical jewelry and diamonds, but my favorite of the two is Brilliant Earth, with one caveat. If you’re looking specifically for a lab-grown diamond, I would check out Clean Origin first.
Their prices are a little better than Brilliant Earth, and they’ve got a better return policy should you need to use it. If you’re looking for anything else, however, you’ll be out of luck. That’s why I selected Brilliant Earth as my favorite of the two. You just can’t beat their selection and variety of both gemstones and jewelry.