Wondering who's better, James Allen or Clean Origin?
Perfect, you're in the right place! In this expert Learning Jewelry guide, you'll learn:
- Who has the best shopping experience?
- Which company has the better warranty?
- Where can you get the best value for the price?
- What are customer reviews saying?
Both James Allen and Clean Origin are excellent diamond vendors to buy diamonds from. Each of them have their highlights and their drawbacks. But which is better? You be the judge of this VS breakdown between these two diamond retailers.
Since Clean Origin doesn't sell natural diamonds, we'll be pitting James Allen's lab grown diamonds against theirs in this match-up. Remember, lab grown diamonds have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as a natural mined diamond.
When we talk about shopping experience, we're talking about what a jewelry store- online or physical- offers their customers. From selection, to grading reports, to showroom options, the shopping experience is what a store brings to the table.
James Allen has a lot to offer to customers who stumble upon their website. They sell mined diamonds, lab grown, colored gemstones, fancy colored diamonds, lab grown yellow diamonds and diamond jewelry. All of James Allen's diamonds are conflict-free.
Like I said, a lot to offer.
But let's focus on their lab grown diamonds. Currently, they offer colorless and lab created fancy yellow diamonds.
The lab diamond section has around 14,000 colorless IGI certified lab grown diamonds with varying diamond grades.
The 360˚ viewer at James Allen is my favorite, with its crystal-clear view and controllable toggling. It makes it easy to spot blemishes, though most lab diamonds have better clarity.
One thing I've noticed about James Allen's lab diamonds is that there's not much variance among the diamond grades. For example, if you were trying to save a little more money by choosing a lower color grade, that's not really an option.
If you're searching for an Excellent cut 1 carat round diamond with H color, you won't find it here. All of their 1.00 carat diamonds are D color and above with the exception of maybe 3 diamonds. They also only have 220 Excellent cut Round diamonds with eye-clean clarity grades (VS2 and above).
So, if you're trying to get specific, you might have a harder time finding a diamond you like. But they also have a multitude of ring settings to choose from, with around 250 to choose from. They also have a new Ring Studio which allows you to further customize certain settings like changing your ring head to rose gold and still keeping the band yellow gold.
James Allen offers a 30 day money back guarantee with their fine jewelry and a free lifetime warranty. The warranty covers routine repairs that your jewelry will need over the years.
Clean Origin offers a slightly different experience when going to their website. They have a very clean and organized design. All of the diamonds they sell are lab grown only and are ethically sourced. Don't confuse this with sustainably sourced though, because that's a claim that isn't fully true about lab diamonds.
They have a lot of lab grown diamonds to choose from, including a fine jewelry collection. Not only can you find customize lab diamond solitaire pendants or diamond earrings, but you actually have the option of various types of lab diamond jewelry like this stunning necklace below.
Clean Origin is going to have a lot more options in loose lab diamonds. They carry color grades all the way down to K and SI clarity grades. They have around 300 1 carat diamonds with various diamond grades. The reason why they have so few is because they tend to carry diamonds with larger carat weights.
Many people searching for the best lab made diamonds know they can get more carat for less by going the lab diamond route, as long as they know they're sacrificing resale value. Remember, lab diamonds are basically worthless after purchase and don't make good investments.
They have a two 360˚ viewers, but you might get stuck with the crappy one. They've got a V30 viewer that allows you to see the diamond from all different angles. It has a lot of little features to play around it. Not necessary, but hey I'll take it.
The other viewer is called the DiaCam 360. Personally, I think kind of dumb if you're looking for inclusions because the light reflection creates blind spots and the diamond looks gray against a gray background.
Clean Origin's lab diamonds may be GIA, IGI, or GCAL certified.
Even though Clean Origin is a specialty diamond retailer, they still have 250 ring styles for you to choose from. I really like the Perfect Fit Collection. It features slimmed down sides of your ring shank that allow the ring to fit to your finger without spinning. These are perfect for those with top heavy rings that might tilt or spin.
They don't have a lifetime warranty to cover routine repairs, which is one of my least favorite things about them and a lot of online retailers. To make up for it, they have the best return policy I've seen at an online retailer, with a 100 day money back guarantee.
One of the biggest things that can make or break a company in the diamond industry-regardless of pricing is bad customer service. People are more likely to buy from a place with helpful and attentive associates, even if means paying a little bit more.
I've spoken with James Allen's customer service personally for answers to questions and they've always given adequate and timely responses. Not once have I ever had a rude person talk to me or annoyed with me because I don't want to buy anything.
Their customer service is available 24/7, for those of you who are late night shoppers. You can contact them via email, phone, or chat for questions or sales guidance. Because their associates don't make any commission off of sales, you can be sure you're not getting biased advice like you might at a popular chain retailer.
In addition to their operations and website team, James Allen also has diamond experts that you can chat one on one with if you find a loose diamond you want to know more about. They can go over every detail of your chosen center stone and ring setting, including your grading report.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am very aware of the negative reviews about James Allen. I've had a look on their Better Business Bureau page and can see many different complaints. Some seem warranted, while others not so much. What I can see is how many resolved and responses their are to said complaints.
I think that we must acknowledge that most companies will have complaints, but how they handle, respond, and address complaints is incredibly important in a good customer service.
Clean Origin's customer service runs a little bit differently than James Allen's. They are still available via email, phone, and live chat, but not 24/7. They are open Mon-Fri from 8am EST to midnight. On the weekends, Saturday from 10am-7pm and Sunday from 10am-midnight.
They also give customers the ability to schedule an appointment with their diamond experts to answer any questions you might have about them or lab diamonds in general.
For the most part, these are pretty decent hours, except maybe for someone who works late into the night. I also think it's a little strange how early they close on Saturday. Most jewelry stores like Zales are open late on those evening because people are more likely to buy a piece of jewelry on the weekends. But maybe that's not the same as an online store.
Clean Origin has excellent reviews on their Trustpilot page, though recent reviews don't look that great. After reading through a few of them, I can kind of play devil's advocate.
For example, one complaint was about a defective ring that they returned within the 100 day return policy timeframe. Per the policy, rings that have been bought again can't be returned. This is to stop people from taking advantage of the policy.
She says that even if the new ring has a similar issue, they said she couldn't return it. Well, I understand how that could make someone weary, especially if they've just purchased a defective ring.
In our heads, if something has a 10% chance of happening to us and it happens to us once, we think it's going to happen again. It doesn't increase the chances of it, you still have the same 10% chance like everyone else.
What I'm saying is the likelihood of that happening again is slim to none. Clean Origin knows that, so that's why they built the policy. But who knows, if that really did happen and you had the pictures to prove it, they might make an exception. But they can't tell you that off the bat.
That's why I always say it's helpful to read reviews and complaints, but remember that they are biased.
Warranties are important when you're buying an engagement ring or wedding band since you plan to wear them often and for years at a time.
Jewelry needs routine maintenance over the years to keep your stones in place, your white gold looking silvery white by rhodium plating, and to keep your ring from snagging.
James Allen offers a free lifetime warranty with all of their rings and other diamond jewelry. They also offer one free resizing within the first year, just in case you didn't get the right size.
You might hear of other companies offering lifetime resizing. You should only resize your ring if absolutely necessary. Only go up or down 1-2 sizes. It weakens your metal and can compromise the design of your ring if you frequently work on it.
The warranty covers routine maintenance like rhodium plating white gold, cleaning and polishing, tightening diamonds, and retipping prongs.
While the warranty is free, you do pay the shipping fee for $35, if you're in the US or Canada. For other countries, it is $50. Still, even just rhodium plating one diamond engagement ring can cost between $60 to $120.
As explained in our Kay Jewelers review, some big retailers boast about replacing missing diamonds with their free warranty, but be careful with this especially regarding center stones.
You don't get to pick where your inclusions are, so they can replace your 1 carat I diamond, but what happens when it's replaced with another I diamond with a big dark inclusion across the surface? No thanks. It's warranties like this that fool customers.
Clean Origin offers a lifetime manufacturer's warranty, which is what I like to call a "copout". I hate that they even use the word warranty. Blue Nile does the same thing too.
Read also: Blue Nile vs Clean Origin Compared
The lifetime manufacturer's warranty covers design flaws and defects. For example, if you've purchased a Clean Origin lab diamond ring and you find that over the next year, the same diamond keeps falling out. That's a defect in the design of the ring, not if it's just worn down over the years.
You'll have to pay for things like rhodium plating, tightening your diamonds and gemstones, and rebuilding worn down prongs. Fortunately, when you buy lab grown diamonds, you're already saving a great deal of money that can be put towards fixing your ring as needed down the road.
Price vs Value
Obviously, the natural diamonds at James Allen are going to be more expensive than the lab grown diamonds at James Allen. So, we'll go ahead and compare James Allen's lab diamonds to Clean Origin's lab diamonds.
Here we have a 2.05 carat ideal cut VS1, G Color, lab grown diamond from James Allen's inventory. It comes with an IGI certification and is priced at $6,600.
I've pulled a similar diamond with the same grades from Clean Origin. This 2.05 carat ideal cut VS1, G Color, lab grown diamond from Clean Origin is priced at $5,503.
In this case, Clean Origin would have the better price. I've taken a look at some of the other diamond pricing between the two and can say that prices are pretty close to each other.
Keep in mind that James Allen has a lifetime warranty which saves you on the cost of routine repairs over the years while Clean Origin repairs are out of pocket.
Both of these retailers are pretty close when it comes to price, so it's completely up to you on which company has better benefits in addition to prices.
Reddit has become a popular breeding ground for engagement rings and retailer reviews with their different communities. Here, real customers ask advice, questions, and show off their new engagement rings and wedding bands.
Many of our online retailers have customers on Reddit.
James Allen has one of the strongest presences on Reddit as an online diamond retailer. They participate under the name jamesallenrings. They don't spend their time pestering customers to buy their jewelry, but rather thanking customers that have purchased with them or offering diamond advice to those asking.
You can find posts all over Reddit talking about James Allen all over r/EngagementRings. Overall, it is one of the most recommended when buying diamond engagement rings.
That aside, you really don't see a ton of people talking about their lab diamonds on Reddit. Some do, but most people are buying the natural diamonds from James Allen rather than the lab diamonds.
Here, you can find a post of someone who has purchased a pear cut lab diamond from James Allen.
In this link, you can also see the exact diamond online and compare to the customer's video in the Reddit.
Clean Origin has a much lighter presence in the different subreddits. I can't find too many people talking much about them as they're a newer company, but the few that I have had good things to say about them.
Clean Origin has an account on Reddit under their name, but it doesn't look like they've been active in over a year. I definitely think they could stand to work on that, but as we know 2020 really threw us all through a loop.
I do find it cool that Clean Origin has Reddit Reviews actually posted to their website though. That makes it super convenient for the customer to see what other people are saying about them not only on their website where they control the content but a user generated forum as well.
You won't really find negative reviews about Clean Origin on Reddit but mainly just comparing them to other lab diamonds retailers.
Bottom Line: James Allen For Lab Grown Diamonds
So, when it comes to lab grown diamonds, who is better?
James Allen is our pick for the best place to buy lab grown diamonds. Their library more than surpasses Clean Origin by the thousands, giving you a wider range of options to choose from. You'll have much better luck finding diamonds under 2 carats at James Allen than you would Clean Origin.
Even though they came out a tad more expensive, James Allen remains in close quarters in diamond prices to Clean Origin. However, their lifetime maintenance repairs definitely save you more money over the years.
James Allen is far more active in the world than Clean Origin. They are almost always mentioned when looking for loose diamonds in general and have a substantial list of testimonies and customer reviews. Clean Origin just isn't that popular.
Either one of these retailers would be great to shop from, but James Allen just seems to have a better selection and better benefits down the road.