Wondering who's better, James Allen or Shane Co.?
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?
Bottom Line Upfront:
James Allen is a better online retailer of jewelry, with better warranty options and better value for the price. They specialize in online sales with their 360° HD images of every diamond, no pushy salespeople, and hassle-free return policy.
Although both James Allen and Shane Co. are reasonable options for diamond rings, James Allen wins overall in the comparison.
The overall shopping experience between James Allen and Shane Co. are similar, as they both sell loose diamonds and ring settings. There are some distinct differences though.
James Allen is one of the leading online retailers in the diamond industry. Along with Blue Nile, their name is known all over the web. They frequent top spots in many of our reviews.
They offer you a more casual and pressure-free diamond shopping experience without ever leaving your home. In addition to natural diamonds, they offer lab grown diamonds, fancy colored diamonds, and the most popular colored gemstones.
James Allen has one of the largest loose diamond inventories online, which means plenty of diamonds for you to choose from.
Even though you can't see the diamond in person, they have a crystal clear 360˚ viewer that allows you to control the diamond to make sure there aren't any obvious inclusions or blemishes. I find online viewers better than looking through a gem microscope in person.
You'll find that most of their diamonds are going to be certified by the GIA or IGI. They may have 1 or 2 from the AGS. We recommend only buying GIA certified or AGS certified diamonds.
In addition to over 600,000 loose diamonds, they offer around 250 ring settings altogether, though different ones will fit different diamond shapes.
If you decide you don't like your engagement ring or wedding band from James Allen, you have 30 day free returns.
Read also: James Allen Full Review
The Shane Company is another jewelry store that has been catching attention in the engagement community. It's similar to Helzberg and Zales. Like Helzberg, they are family owned and operated by father and son team Tom Shane and Rordan Shane.
They operate both online and in-store with around 14 physical locations. Online, you can build your own engagement ring by loose diamond, gemstone, ring setting, and even budget. They don't carry lab diamonds though.
Shane Co has a pretty decent selection of loose diamonds online, with over 13,000 in tow. You can select your diamond grades and filter just like James Allen. Their diamonds are going to be GIA, GSI, HRD, or graded by themselves. The GIA graded diamonds are going to be only ones worth getting.
I do like that they carry smaller carat weights in their inventory. The smallest carat weight James Allen carries is a 1/2 carat. Nice to know you could order side diamonds or melee stones if you wanted.
You can view some of their diamonds through a 360˚ viewer, but they have no way to sort them so you'll have to scroll. I always prefer controllable viewers, but this one is not up to par. You have to blow up the picture in order to use the 360˚ function.
Half the time I can't even get it to work. It either won't show the buttons or you can't drag it. After messing with it, I finally got it working and now it does fine. I definitely think it's really blurry though.
Check it out below:
If you don't like your diamond engagement ring from Shane Co Diamonds, you have 60 days to return in-store or online.
Read also: James Allen vs Rare Carat
One of the biggest reasons companies lose customers is because of the service. These two companies share two different styles of customer service. Let's see which is better.
James Allen's customer team is made up of a mix of some GIA certified gemologists, and some trained associates. They are available 24/7 via email, live chat, or phone.
You can easily shop the site and build your own ring without needing help from an associate. Many online places make you follow up with something at a store or have to call and add a warranty. Nope, you can do the whole process people-free.
But if you do want to talk to a diamond expert about a specific diamond, all you have to do is click the Real Time Inspection button on the page you're looking at. They can actually go over the diamond with you in great detail and explain specifics that some customers may not know.
The only real thing that you have to inquire further about if you really want to know is to view the GIA report you'll have to call for it, but most people aren't worried about that. However, Blue Nile allows you to see the report on their site.
The best thing about James Allen's customer service is that they aren't paid off of commission, nor do they need to meet a sales goal in order to put food on the table. They're also not shoving credit apps down your throat like places such as Kay or Jared. You can be sure they're giving legitimate unbiased advice.
Because Shane Co. operates like Zales, Kay, Jared, and Helzberg Diamonds, they have both an online customer service and salespeople in local stores.
One of the things that I think is pretty cool that Shane Co offers their customers is the ability to look up their repair jobs online. You don't understand how many phone calls a day the staff at Kay stores spend looking up repair jobs. This is something they should implement. It's less of a headache for everyone, and Shane Co. gets that.
Shane Co. prides themselves on not being like those other brick and mortar retailers because they're on a non-commissioned structure. So are all of the Kay, Zales, and Jared associates. They pay base plus commission and base can run 10-16 an hour.
Shane Co employees may not get commission, but that doesn't stop them from running their sales associates just as hard.
Check out this featured review off of Shane Co's Indeed page:
Regardless of commission structure, employees are under high pressure sales goals to meet and go aggressively after their sales. You won't find any James Allen employees doing that.
Lots of people don't think they need a warranty with their engagement and wedding rings, but I'm telling you that you should. Engagement rings are made of natural metals and they aren't impervious.
Most rings are made out of real gold and it's a soft metal, vulnerable to nicks, scratching, and even fading. This has nothing to do with the actual craftsmanship of ring, but the daily wear and tear of natural materials.
James Allen give their customers a free lifetime warranty with almost every jewelry purchase. If you are only purchasing a loose stone or a wedding ring that can't be worked on by a jeweler like a tungsten wedding band, you won't get one.
But for ring settings (designer or not) and fine jewelry, the routine maintenance is covered. Wear and tear events like rhodium plating white gold, tightening stones, and retipping prongs are covered. Events like rebuilding prongs, reshaping a ring, and damage will be a cost.
You don't need to sign up for this warranty either, it's already understood that you have it. They also give you a free resizing within the first year. If it's a type of ring that can't be sized, you'll have to utilize the 30 day free returns. Otherwise, you'll have to talk to customer service. I can't guarantee anything.
You can either take your ring to Jared the Galleria of Jewelry stores and have them send it off to one of their repair shops, or you can send it directly to James Allen HQ. Customers have to pay $30 shipping fee there, and they'll pay the return shipping. You don't have to do that if you bring it to Jared.
Shane Co has a free lifetime warranty as well and it's similar to the other big retailers. The big difference is that Shane Co gives you free center stone replacement and free metal work.
Soldering bands, clasp repair, rhodium, prong rebuilding, etc. are all covered under this. You also get unlimited sizing, though we don't recommend sizing your ring more than 1 or 2 times and only 1-2 sizes up or down.
Places like Kay or Zales offer the free diamond replacement and then you have to pay for the metal warranty to be covered for life.
And like these stores, Shane Co requires you get your ring inspected every 6 months at their store. If you can't get to a store, you can ship it to them via Shaneco.com. This is the one thing that's required to maintain your warranty. You do have to pay the shipping fee there and insure it
Initially, I could see the appeal about getting a diamond replaced if it fell out or was lost. And they all say they'll give you same quality or better.
But not every customer realizes that every diamond is different.
If you have a diamond that has I clarity to VS2 clarity, it may potentially have dark inclusions on the face of the diamond. There's no guarantee that the diamond that's replacing your lost stone won't have an unsightly inclusion smack in the middle.
You don't get to pick your diamond. It might be the same grade, but the inclusions are going to be placed differently.
Rings that have alternative metals don't get this warranty. Extensive damage to a ring, like accidentally damaging it in the disposal isn't covered either.
Price vs Value
For most people, how much a ring is going to cost them is at the forefront of their mind. Often before features and added benefits. But sometimes you can get an excellent priced diamond with no benefits, or you could find yourself paying a little more on your debit or credit card, but saving money in the long run.
Sometimes it's not about the price tag, but the overall value of said price tag years down the road.
Today, I've chosen a 1.4 carat ideal cut diamond with VS2 clarity and H color grade from James Allen's website. It has Excellent polish and symmetry, and no fluorescence. It's $10,750. It also has a GIA certificate.
I've chosen a similar diamond from Shane Company's website that has the same diamond grades, but the polish is only Very Good. It also has a GIA certificate. This round diamond is going to run you about $11,925.
The round diamond above is going to cost around $1000 more from Shane Co than if you bought the same one from James Allen. And James Allen's should have slightly better light performance because of its excellent polish.
What I can say is that Shane Co.'s prices are going to be better than the prices at Kay, Zales, or Jared. You'll probably have a better experience at Shane Co. than one of those places. Many times, their uncertified diamonds are thousands more expensive than one at James Allen with GIA certification and better diamond grades.
Of course, you should always remember that it's not always the price tag that makes the better pick for your wallet.
The value of what you're getting is important too. Things that add value may include free appraisals, warranties, diamond upgrades, discount events, and extra freebies. You should always choose the retailer that works best for your situation.
While there's a lot of customer reviews on the internet at places like the Better Business Bureau, Google Reviews, and Yelp, most people only file complaints about the retailer. This can be helpful, but we always take reviews with a grain of salt.
Instead, we check out Reddit and many subreddits that speak of diamonds and engagement rings.
James Allen and Blue Nile are probably going to be the most popular posts on all the popular diamonds, engagement rings, and wedding proposal subreddits. You'll find numerous posts all over Reddit by both customers and the company themselves.
Under the Redditor name, Jamesallenrings, the company has an active associate in the subreddits commenting on customer posts and offering diamond advice. They of course, throw their name out there, but there's no pressure or anything. I've even seen other Redditors recommend to others to message their account.
James Allen's customer service extends not only to JamesAllen.com, but in many other customer review sites as well.
Shane Co.'s presence on Reddit was a little unexpected. Personally, I didn't know much about the company, but it seems many, many people do. So much so, that they are included in memes.
From what I can understand, Shane Co had a very persistent marketing team and everyone around the store knew their name. They were once pretty popular, but not so much now.
You don't see many posts about them in recent times and most mentions are memes rather than purchases.
There are a few people who have asked about buying diamonds with a company like Shane Co. vs an online retailer similar to James Allen.
Check this post below:
One response urges the OP to consider buying online rather than at Shane Co. They mention how Shane Co diamonds are overpriced and low quality. Plus, they also state that being locked into a company because of a warranty isn't always a good thing.
But that's what gets people. They have an excellent warranty, better than most retailers out there. For some, that might weigh out better than a cheaper high quality diamond. They might not even know the difference.
People will compromise on quality if they think they're getting a good deal.
Our Recommended Pick:
James Allen for Cheaper Engagement Rings
In the battle of James Allen vs Shane Co, we're going to have to go with James Allen.
- James Allen has crystal clear 360˚ viewing on every diamond. Shane Co has it on some of their diamonds, and it's pretty blurry and glitchy (at least in Google Chrome).
- James Allen's associates are pressure-free. Shane Co. has salespeople trying to make sales goals in their stores.
- James Allen's diamond pricing is much cheaper than Shane Co.
- James Allen has a stronger reputation and customer base on the web. You can find many experiences and reviews all over.
Overall, the experience you receive at James Allen seems more convenient and better for those with tighter budget.