Brilliant Earth, a Hidden Gem with Nothing to Hide

Ethically sourced engagement rings shine at this Back Bay storefront.

brilliant earth

“Quintessa” diamond ring, starting at $2,750, Brilliant Earth. / Photograph courtesy of Brilliant Earth

When MIT grad Beth Gerstein’s boyfriend proposed to her in 2004, she wanted the rock to be 100 percent guilt-free. But when she started talking to jewelers, she was taken aback by how little they had to say about where the diamonds came from. This lack of transparency in the industry inspired Gerstein to team up with friend and Stanford graduate school classmate Eric Grossberg to create a jewelry company devoted to conflict-free bling. In 2005 they launched Brilliant Earth, which crafts its completely customizable rings using only responsibly mined gemstones and recycled metals.

After developing an online following in Boston, the pair opened their first East Coast showroom on Newbury Street this past January. “Boston is a really educated city,” says Kathryn Money, Brilliant Earth’s vice president of strategy and merchandising. “And millennials are socially minded people. They care about the ethical sourcing behind the product.”

brilliant earth owners

Brilliant Earth cofounders Eric Grossberg and Beth Gerstein. / Photograph courtesy of Brilliant Earth

Many jewels are vetted through the Kimberley Process, a certification program created in 2003 to help control diamond production and trade, but Brilliant Earth takes it even further, requiring their suppliers to provide documentation and screening beyond the industry standard. The company traces its diamonds (sourced from Russia, South Africa, Canada, Botswana, and Namibia) from the moment they’re mined to the final cutting and polishing stages.

“We take into account violence, abuse of human rights, poverty, child labor, and pollution,” Money says. “We also evaluate the sourcing of precious metals, which can be a really destructive environmental process.”

Brilliant Earth also gives back, donating 5 percent of its profits to communities ravaged by unethical diamond mining. This past summer, the company founded a mobile elementary school in a rural mining community in southwest Congo.

“The kids sing a song every morning that includes a thank-you to Brilliant Earth,” Money says. “That was a really touching moment. Those 25 kids would have been mining diamonds instead of attending school.”